How do I talk to my friend, who has fallen away from the church? She focuses on criticism and it brings me down. I don’t want to lose her as a friend. I find that I feel sad after I talk to her and it puts a damper on my day.
You post is a hard one to read. I think all of us know that friendship is among the most valuable gifts in today’s society, and it saddens me to see people treat the concept of “friendship” in a dismissive way. Life can be challenging and difficult, and often times in life we need to rely on others, especially good friends to help us get through it. The Prophet Joseph Smith said that “friendship is one of the grand fundamental principles of ‘Mormonism.’” and he was, of course, correct. One doesn’t need to go back as far as Joseph Smith. Recent prophets have also given us wise counsel on friendship. President Thomas S. Monson correctly said;
“Everyone needs good friends. Your circle of friends will greatly influence your thinking and behavior, just as you will theirs. When you share common values with your friends, you can strengthen and encourage each other.” “Preparation Brings Blessings,” Ensign, May 2010, p. 65.
My heart breaks for people who don’t have good friends.
When friends and loved ones fall away from the church, that can certainly add a layer of stress to the relationship. I admire you Megan, because I know of people who, after hearing of someone falling away from the church, would simply cut all ties with them and walk away. While I’m not saying that should never be done, it’s a drastic step that should only be used in rare circumstances. I do not believe this is one of those cases, for you said you yourself “do not want to lose her as a friend.” However, you also state that you “feel sad” after talking to her” and it “puts a damper on your day.”
Communication in every relationship is key. It could be a spouse, a boyfriend, a sister, a parent, and yes, a friend. Perhaps in this case it would be best to communicate with her that you are no longer comfortable hearing her critique the church, and would rather you focus on other mutually shared interests and hobbies. After all, I hope and pray your friendship was based in many things, not just that you shared a similar faith. If she is a good friend, than she’ll respect your wishes and understand that the topic bothers and offends you. Therefore, she won’t bring it up anymore and the problem will be solved. If she refuses to take your request into consideration, than it might be time to further evaluate the friendship and see if it’s still a positive in your life.
I hesitate to say the final sentence of the above paragraph, for obvious reasons. Good friends are incredibly valuable in life, and can enrich us in so many ways. Severing a friendship should only be done after every other possibility to save the friendship is attempted. After all, sometimes when you break a friendship you can never get it back, and you don’t know what you have until it is gone.
You are in my prayers Megan,