We can empathize and sympathize with others if they are sick, tired, upset, etc… But we don’t have to complain about our lives, too.
- “I’m so sorry to hear that. It sounds tough.”
- “Oh, no. I hate that you are so exhausted. That’s no fun.”
- “Hey, is there anything I can do to help?”
It’s a good thing to want to be a supportive friend.
If a Friend Has Significant Issues Going on:
- Listen and hear her heart and pain. Try to understand the situation.
- Validate her feelings.
- Relate to her struggle. (Without complaining about or disrespecting anyone in my life.)
- Pray with her about the situation and invite God into the situation to work for His glory.
- Do a spiritual checkup with her to be sure she is receiving good things from God.
- Possibly share some things I have learned that have helped me in similar situations.
- Offer insights or possible helpful resources as the Lord leads.
- Make sure she is safe – if she is facing abuse or something truly awful, she may need more help and resources for a very difficult situation.
It depends on the relationship – and how much time we have – how we would approach another woman in this situation. Ultimately, we will need the wisdom and power of the Holy Spirit to give us exactly the right words to share in each scenario. We want women to feel validated and supported. And then we want to be able to point them to the hope that is available to them in Christ. We may even be able to witness and share the gospel with them if they don’t know the Lord. Or if they know the Lord already, but are struggling with faith, we may be able to encourage them to yield to His Lordship. God may help us see exactly what they need.
Some women may be open to some positive new suggestions from us. Especially those who are really close to us. Others would not be. Some may be offended if we try to encourage them to look for good things in their lives. We can’t force anyone to change her thinking. We can invite them to. But if they clearly don’t want to, we can respect their decision. That is their choice to make. We can back away.
If a Friend Has a Pretty Good Situation, but Just Has a Habit of Complaining
Some women in our lives may not have big problems in their lives or marriages, they may just be in a bad habit of thinking and talking about only negative things. In a situation like that, I may be able to gently mention some blessings she has in her life, or encourage her to think about the good things in her life. I may even invite her – in a sweet, friendly way – to join me on a fast from negative words. Who knows, she may be excited about it!
If Someone Is Very Emotionally/Spiritually Toxic
- As for a person who stirs up division, after warning him once and then twice, have nothing more to do with him. Titus 3:10
- Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character.” 1 Cor. 15:33
- Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm. Prov. 13:20
- A dishonest man spreads strife, and a whisperer separates close friends. Prov. 16:28
- Whoever covers an offense seeks love, but he who repeats a matter separates close friends. Prov. 17:9
- Make no friendship with a man given to anger, nor go with a wrathful man, lest you learn his ways and entangle yourself in a snare. Prov. 22:24-25
- Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. Eph. 4:29
- Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 1 Thess. 5:18
- And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. Rom. 8:28
- Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Phil. 4:8
How Does Bad Company Corrupt Good Character? www.gotquestions.org
Is It Good to Have Close Friendships with Unbelievers? www.gotquestions.org
Prayers for Wives with Critical, Harsh Husbands – by Radiant
For emotionally destructive friendships or extended family relationships, please check out Leslie Vernick’s resources here.