Let's Talk …

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Some people just don't think about other people's problems; they're too busy with their own pain. That doesn't mean they don't care about others; it just doesn't always occur to them to ask about their friends' lives. You seem to have the intuition to ask about your friends' problems. That's why people expect you to be the listener and not the person in need of help. But as you're discovering, that can be frustrating.

I've been in your shoes. Lots of people come to me to talk about their problems. But, like everyone else, I have struggles of my own to talk about. For me, the best place to do this is in a support group at my church. This small group gets together once a week to spend time sharing and praying for each other. Because I'm able to talk openly about myself in the group, I feel I'm better prepared to counsel my friends.

If you continue to experience the frustration you feel now, it will become more and more difficult for you to be the caring friend you want to be. By leaning on others for support when you need it, you'll be an even better source of help to your friends. So it's important for you to meet regularly with a small group of friends who can bring you support and encouragement. If you don't know where to find such a group, ask your youth pastor for help. Ask if you can team up with others who can offer you not only a shoulder to lean on, but a chance to air your frustrations and receive wise counsel and advice.

You may also want to take a look at the people you hang around with. If all your friends are needy, I suggest you actively pursue a few friendships where there is some mutual give-and-take in the relationship. Several years ago I was feeling really drained and friendless. then I looked at the people I was spending time with. Almost all of them were people who demanded a lot of attention from me. For some reason I was surrounded by needy people. I realized I needed a few friends who would fill me up, rather than drain me. Sure, these people have their share of problems, but they're also friends who show an interest in my life.

Good, caring friends are hard to find. Your friends are fortunate to have you in their lives. I wish you the best as you find a few more friends who can offer you the same support you've given to others.

I Don't Like My Sister's Husband

My older sister recently married a guy I don't get along with. He's not a Christian, and he's blatantly disrespectful of my family's Christianity. I'm especially concerned that he will influence my sister and she'll lose her faith. I'm afraid to stand up to him, because I don't want to cause problems in the family. I don't know what to do.

I want to make a challenging suggestion to you. Try to win your new brother-in-law over by loving and serving him. Grab your Bible and read John 13:1-17. In this incredible scene, Jesus teaches us that following Christ means serving others. Jesus, the Son of God, humbled himself and washed his disciples' feet, showing them he was not only their teacher and Lord, but their servant too. He then tells them to follow his example and serve each other.

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