I have a friend who purposely chooses to live in sin and keeps saying she knows what she’s doing is wrong but she is so deep where she may be on the verge of suicide. I tried talking with her but she’s always trying to avoid me. When I tell her truth with love, she thinks I’m against her and am cursing her. A few days ago I really felt like The Lord wanted me to tell her what was on my heart but she said she was busy which was a lie. I don’t want to pretend everything is okay. Have any suggestions?
Hey my dear friend: Please first let me commend you on caring so much and genuinely wanting to see your friend be okay.
There’s a very tricky balance in dealing with this, because you want to know when to back up or step in, when to encourage and when to challenge, when to be patient and when to provoke. I’m afraid I’ll be inadequate to give you all the right moves on this, and anything I say will most assuredly fall short.
But the bigger picture here is: You can’t really save your friend. You’re not responsible for saving anyone; only God saves. I know you probably know that already, but we take on such a burden because we care so much, and if you take on a savior-mentality — whether on purpose or subconsciously — you will beat yourself up for everything that happens, and that’s unfair for both you and your friend.
The really hard part in this whole thing is that anything you say or do right now might actually make things worse, because people living in their own kingdom can’t really hear anything else.
It almost has to be outright rebellion for her to come back to her senses. That’s how it happened with the Prodigal. He rebelled against his own rebellion. For most prodigals, going back to church and to God has to feel like a war against their own selves. This means they have to want it, and there’s nothing in the world you can do to make someone want something.
This doesn’t mean you do nothing. Yes, step in when necessary. Speak up when you must. Say the truth with grace always. If it comes down to suicide, then intervene as hard as possible.
But one thing you can do is pray (even for five seconds) before you step into your friend’s vicinity. Sometimes God will push you back. Other times God will give you the green light. But if you’re not praying for these things, you’ll more likely act in your own flesh: and this will quickly become coercive and driven by persuasion instead of God’s power and your genuine heart. Praying before you take action will constantly re-orient back to God’s grace and His wisdom. You’ll need all this moving forward. We can’t do it on our own.
When your friend is all dried up on the end of her rope and has gone as far as she can with her choices — she will find you, if so long as you’ve been gracious and kind. That means there will be a lot of waiting involved. You’ll need to know when to give that space.
Please don’t over-burden yourself in the meantime. Pray for her, pray for yourself, and by all means: go have fun with her. Show her a good time. Show her that life can’t always be about the struggle. Take her out for a huge hamburger or a Netflix night or ice-skating or a cookie bake-off. Show her the alternative, that life can be just grand, and that God wants that for her more than you do.
Will be throwing you a prayer, my friend.