Strained Friendship

Dear Ginger

I have this friend that started cutting herself the other day. I told my teacher at school and now my friend hates me for telling. I don’t know what to do because I really want to keep her as a friend. –A

Dear A,

I want you to know how brave you are. Thank you for taking the time to send in your question, and for caring enough about your friend to make sure she gets the help that she really needs. I am so sorry that you are hurting because of this situation.

While it feels like your action damaged your friendship at the moment, your courage to seek help for your friend is actually the best thing you could have done for her.

The truth is that many teens cope with the hard stuff in their lives by keeping those things to themselves. I know because that’s exactly what I did. I didn’t like the way my body looked and I was desperate for attention, so I began hurting my body in secret. The first step in my healing was the day that I told someone about my dark secret. By bringing my hurt and struggle out in the open it gave that struggle less power. Satan loves to keep us trapped in our secrets.

I do think there are some things you can consider as you work toward healing in this friendship.

  1. Pray for your friend. She needs you to be her friend, but more than anything – she needs to turn to the Great Healer, God. Her hurts are deeper than just on her skin. Cutting is an indication that her heart is in so much pain. Pray for your friend every time that you think of her.
  2. Give her time and space. As you give her a chance to determine how she really feels, continue to develop your relationship with the Lord. Why don’t you try reading some of these verses and then journal about what they have to say regarding friendships, hurt, and healing: Psalm 27:14 and 147:3, Proverbs 12:26 and 18:24, Philippians 4:6-7, 1 Peter 5:7, 1 John 4:7.
  3. Don’t gossip about the situation. I applaud you for telling a teacher. I am so proud of you for speaking up because I know it probably wasn’t easy. But I also want to remind you that this isn’t something you need to share with other friends at school. The quickest way to create an even bigger wedge in this friendship is to have rumors flying about your friend that somehow started because of something you said.
  4. Be ready to listen when she’s finally ready to talk again. I know from experience how much you might want to interject and explain all your reasons for telling, but she’s going to need ample time to explain why she feels hurt and even betrayed.
  5. Be genuine! Tell you friend how you feel about the situation and why it was so important for you to tell the teacher. Make sure you never make her feel as though you are the perfect one and she’s the one with issues. We all have problems and we all experience and process pain in different ways.
  6. Be empathetic. Make sure your friend knows that you care. If we move past pain too quickly and want things “to just get back to normal” before we have time to process them, we miss out on an opportunity to give love to a friend who is really hurting.
  7. Make sure YOU are sharing with a trusted adult about how you are handling the situation. This is going to be a challenging time, especially if your relationship is strained for a while. Open up and share with a teacher, youth leader, counselor or parent about what you are thinking and feeling.

A – thank you for being the kind of friend that helps rather than just stands by and watches someone fall.

Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble. Likewise, two people lying close together can keep each other warm. But how can one be warm alone? A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.” Ecclesiastes 4:9-12, NLT


  • In my experience, if/when she gets healthy again, she’ll come back to thank you. Until she owns her unhealthy coping and all beneath that, and until she owns her journey toward recovery… until she’s her own friend, she can’t really be a healthy friend to anyone else either.