Q: My older bother is in a bad relationship. He knows she is mentally abusing him, but he lets her walk all over him anyway. Me and my entire family have talked to him alone and together, and I’ve been praying, but I feel like I’m at a dead end. I don’t want him to have to learn the hard way, or to lose him forever to this girl. My family is slowly giving up on trying because we don’t know what else to do. How can I help him and not give up on him?
Your love for your brother is so beautiful! I know how it feels to want to get through to someone you love who seems to be on a crash-course to regret, and to feel like you’re hitting a wall—a dead end. And in those moments it’s so natural and easy to give in to desperation or despair. So let me encourage you today with a few tips to remember when someone you love is making dumb choices. (You’re already doing the first two, which is awesome!)
- Offer wise advice when you’re able to. You don’t have to be preachy, or hit anyone over the head with a beefy Bible. Usually advice is best received when it is paired with twenty times as much listening and “being there” as actual advice!
- Pray. God listens. Even if you don’t see the results you’re hoping for, keep on praying.
- Separate yourself from the other person. Internalizing someone else’s bad choices—taking them on as our own—is so dangerous emotionally. As much as we want to be there for the other person, we still need healthy separation from their “stuff.” We’ll help them best when we have a clear head by keeping a little emotional distance from their choices.
- Recognize that they have free will. I think this might be the hardest one to do. At the end of the day, God has given each of us the freedom to make our own choices. We don’t get to do it for each other, as much as we’d sometimes like to! 😉 But that takes some of the pressure off, too. Because that person is responsible for their choices, you aren’t. Make sure you’re not acting or feeling like the buck stops with you.
- Remember that they have a personal story with God, just like you do. Each of us has an individual life story. Sometimes the twists, turns and deepest heartaches in those pages are what make the final redemption so meaningful. You never know what the last page of their life will say, or how these crazy hard times will actually make the finished story all the more beautiful.
- Keep loving. First Corinthians 13:7 says, “Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.” No matter how bleak it looks, no matter how many times you thought they were going to pull it together but then didn’t, never stop loving, hoping and believing that the best is yet to come.
When someone you love so much looks like they are ruining their life, these tips are hard to live out—I know! But I hope they will give you something to hold onto today.
By the way, you are a great sister, and he is lucky to have you!