I’m so excited to introduce you to my friend, Sarah Elizabeth Beckman. Sarah and I met years ago when I spoke for her church’s retreat. Since then, Sarah and her family have moved and God’s called her to an amazing speaking and writing ministry. Her new book, Alongside: A Practical Guide for Loving Your Neighbor in their Time of Trial  releases TODAY!

Most of you know about the symbiotic journey my friend Emma and her family shared while we walked Emma Home after her breast cancer metastasized. I would have LOVED to have had Sarah’s new book when I was walking that journey out with the Barnhart family.

Whether it’s Cancer, death of a loved one, long-term illness or another significant challenge, we all know someone facing trial. We wonder: “What can I do to help?”

Filled with practical tools, personal experience and insights from those who’ve faced hardship, Sarah Beckman delicately weaves together action and inspiration to create this comprehensive resource. Alongside will become your trusted guidebook so you’ll know exactly how to bring life-giving help, hope and encouragement to people you care about in their greatest time of need.

will help you:

  • Overcome the insecurity of doing the wrong thing
  • Gain confidence to love well with tangible actions
  • Discern between helpful and unhelpful words to say
  • Identify personalized ways to serve more effectively
  • Live out the Biblical command to love your neighbor

See? Isn’t this a book that we all need, so that we can be prepared to love like Jesus loved? Here’s what Sarah has to say about how to avoid feeling guilty when a friend or loved one is in need …

Sarah …

I remember the day I found out one of my son’s former teammates lost his Mom to cancer.  I knew her through sports, and worked with her on several occasions.  This woman was a faithful volunteer, a hard-worker and devoted Mom.  She was always positive, willing to serve, selfless and kind.  I didn’t know her well, but what I did know, I admired.

Whenever I saw her at games I tried not to bother her, because I knew she was just grateful for a few “normal” hours in the midst of treatments, illness and hardship, even if it did mean sitting on hard, metal bleachers to watch her son play the game he loved.  If we did catch up for a few moments, I’d ask how she was, but I didn’t know her illness had progressed because I didn’t stay in touch with her after the season ended.

But the day I learned she passed away, I felt sad, but I also felt guilty.  Did I do enough for her?  Was I a loving friend?

Maybe you’ve found yourself in this place, too.  

It’s been said; guilt is a wasted emotion. But when we care for people and don’t reach out, and then the time has passed or maybe it’s “too late”, guilt is normal.  So how can we move forward?  Or how can do better next time?

When someone you know is facing trial, illness or loss, instead of feeling guilty, you can decide ways to appropriately help by asking these questions:

  1. What is the nature of our relationship? 

It’s important to assess your relationship in order to know what actions to take.  In Alongside, I classify relationships using a Tier System to decide what Tier you are to the person in need:

  • Tier 1: caregiver/family/close friend
  • Tier 2: friend/neighbor/co-worker/shared interest; church, sports, organizations
  • Tier 3: acquaintance/friend/knowledge by association of groups or people
  • Tier 4: infrequent interaction/don’t know personally

In this case, I was a Tier 3 relationship.  (Shared interest: sports, but more of an acquaintance) This is a very valuable piece of information.  Based on the Tier system, I recognized I was not an essential part of her support network, (I wasn’t a Tier 1 or 2) so my help would look different.

This Mom did call me and ask specifically for my help keeping her health status confidential from the players, so she could keep her son’s life as normal as possible while she underwent treatment. She also asked me, as the Team Mom, to watch out for her son, and keep the coaches informed.

For her, in that time and place, and based on our level of relationship, that was enough.

Which helped me in hindsight to understand that I shouldn’t feel guilty, because we aren’t called to help every single person we know who’s facing trial.  Further, we don’t have to try to do everything; we are just called to do our part.

What I could do, and what was asked, I did.  That is enough.

My advice: Assess your relationship, and lose the guilt if you’ve done what’s appropriate, or if your relationship isn’t a Tier where it’s appropriate to serve on a deeper level.

  1. Am I trying to make myself feel better?

In one conversation with this Mom, I offered several times, even pushed, to bring her family a meal—to no avail.  She was very clear and kind in telling me what she needed was what she had already asked for, keeping the coaches informed, watching out for her son during football while she was out of town, and not sharing her situation with his teammates.

My job then was to honor her request and not overwhelm her with things she didn’t need or want.

We have to remember it’s about that person’s needs, not about our need to do more. Examine your motives.  Ask yourself: Why do I want to do more? Is it to make myself feel better?

My advice:  It’s not about you.  It’s about the person you’re trying to help.  The person in crisis gets to decide what they need, not you!

If hearing this story today made you think of someone you know or love who’s facing trial, and you haven’t reached out in some way, let this be the day you do! But if you’ve been feeling guilty, assess the situation based on these two questions and move forward. Guilt IS a wasted emotion.  Don’t let it bog you down, let it spur you on to love someone else!

For more practical ways to support those you care about in the rough patches of life, you can pick up a copy of Sarah Beckman’s, Alongside: A Practical Guide for Loving Your Neighbor in their Time of Trial, which releases February 14, 2017. www.alongsidebook.com


Sarah Beckman is an author and speaker, living in Albuquerque, NM with her husband, Craig, of 24 years. They have three delightful children ages 15, 17, and 20.  Her experience on both sides of the “bed”—both being helped and helping others—provide her authentic viewpoint for her book, Alongside.  When she’s not writing or speaking, you might find her in the kitchen creating something to share with a “neighbor” in need. Her passion for loving her neighbor has fueled her life and ministry for over 10 years, giving her the opportunity to address audiences across the country. She has a B.A. in Journalism from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and also works as a communications coach and corporate trainer.

You can follow Sarah Beckman on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. You can also read more about her ministry at www.sarahbeckman.org and more about her new release at www.alongsidebook.com  #alongsidebook