Maintaining a painful relationship for their spiritual health?

Hi everyone,

I have a very close friend who has decided to lead a life that is contrary to the word of God. This is someone who would have said at one point that they were born again. After reading a lot of unfortunate philosophies and believing them, this friend has now discarded the Bible as a book with some good principles. Person also now says that while the God of the Old Testament may have been cruel, God today has evolved and changed just like we humans.

My relationship with this person has become increasingly painful, as I watch them drift farther and farther away from the God they used to know and Truth as presented in the Bible. I believe that it is important for me to maintain my relationship with this person because very few people in their life are a good influence. But it is extremely painful for me to remain in close contact with this person because I care about them so much and I see them damaging themselves.

How can I balance their need for a relationship with someone who will be a good testimony and my emotional sanity?

Does anyone have any experience with family members abandoning their faith? How did you handle it?

Thanks!

4 Likes

Hi ErikaS!

It’s really rough having a family member turn away from God. My sister turned away from Him a couple years ago and it’s been awful to experience how that has affected her life, habits, and even how she talks. One thing that I’ve found as a great comfort in times like this is having a strong, Christian support in your life to encourage you and keep you going. For example, my church has small groups, where a group of similar aged guys meets up once a week. It doesn’t sound like a lot, but they became like a second family for me, and really helped me get through that season. I would also tell you to pray for them and just trust God that He will use your presence in their life to show them who Jesus is. I’ll be praying for you and your friend ErikaS!

3 Likes

Thanks so much for sharing your story!

How have you handled the difficulties of growing apart? Has that been a challenge for your relationship?

2 Likes

It’s definitely been rough, I wont lie. It always is when a family member or close friend turns from Jesus. However, I would like to point you to Mark 10:29-30, which says “So Jesus answered and said, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for my sake and the gospel’s, who shall not receive a hundredfold now in this time — houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions — and in the age to come, eternal life.’” I know that’s a long two verses, but that passage was and is a great comfort to me, since Jesus promises that those who have lost family for His sake will gain what they lost a hundred times over in this life; and I hope that it brings comfort to you to. Another thing that really helped was again, having a strong, Christian support in my life that I was comfortable around (that’s really important, because you can tell whoever it is what’s going on and not feel ashamed, and then they can be there for you in person and in prayer), and that really cared about me and what was going on in my life. Having that kind of support in times like these is invaluable. Also, pray for them continually. God has given us the great power of prayer, and it should not be underestimated; because prayer is a direct line to the throne room of heaven. You may not see the effects of your prayers for this person (I didn’t), but I certainly do believe that God hears and answers them; but I also know that God works on a different timetable than us humans and that His timing is perfect, and mine is not. I would tell you to trust in God in this time and situation, because He knows what He’s doing and His ways are higher than our ways (Isaiah 55:9). Finally, another thing that still gives me hope to this very second is Lee Strobel’s story. If you haven’t heard it, I would recommend that you look him up on YouTube and give it a listen. The fact that God took someone who was so ingrained into atheism, cynicism, and a hedonistic way of life, and turned that man around into a pastor (and I believe he’s also on the RZIM Team), that gives me hope for my sister. And it gives me hope for your friend/family member who turned away from Jesus.
God loves you ErikaS!!

3 Likes

Thanks so much! I really appreciate your reply!

1 Like

@ErikaS so sorry for this struggle.

I remember praying for my sister who was far from God, “whatever it takes, Jesus.” It took terminal cancer to bring her home to Jesus. It took terminal cancer for her to be healed of thinking she was unloved. Though I’ve lost her for a time, I’ve gained her for eternity.

I think you can be honest with her. Let her know that sometimes it’s hard to stay close because her eternal outcome matters to you…deeply. That it’s very hard to watch someone adopt self-destructive behaviors. That being said, do you best to love her, but know that God respects her will.

In The Prodigal Son parable, the son had to return from the far country. When he did the Father ran to him with joy and loving acceptance. But he did have to choose first to return to his father’s home. That’s not a choice you can make for your friend. But you can let her know you will run to her with joy when she comes home.

I agree with Jimmy, prayer is the most powerful tool.

1 Like

Thank you so much!