If your friend is feeling sad or depressed
Originally appeared online in the teen series Q&A - October 4, 2022
Q: How can I help a friend who’s feeling sad or depressed?
A: I was at an event for my college when I noticed that one of my friends didn’t seem to be doing well. I didn’t want to ask her what was going on, since I wasn’t sure if she really was sad or what. But if she was sad or depressed, I did want to help her. So I went back to my dorm room, and I started praying the way I’ve learned in Christian Science—talking to God, asking God for help, and listening. In my prayer I said, “God, if there is something I need to know, please tell me.”
One day, about a week later, I was playing some hymns from the Christian Science Hymnal on the piano after a meeting when my friend came over and wanted me to play hymns for her. As I played, I noticed that she had tears in her eyes, so I stopped and asked her if everything was OK.
That’s when she told me that her boyfriend had broken up with her. Out of nowhere, he’d said he didn’t want to be with her anymore. She said she felt so sad and valueless.
It was a little intimidating, because I haven’t been through an experience like that myself, so at first I wasn’t sure what to say or do. But I also felt like this was the moment God had prepared me for, so I felt extremely humble to be there, and to be listening to what God was telling me and knowing that He was also speaking to her about His own nature as Love.
As she kept sharing her feelings, I had the idea to remind her about how God cares for each one of us as His child. To God we are infinitely valuable, and all that God gives us, including His perfect love, can never be taken away from us.
I was also able to say, “Yes, this may be a moment when you don’t feel that. Maybe it seems like God’s love isn’t here right now. But we learn in Christian Science that this is just a suggestion that God is not All, that Love is not All. But Love is All, and ever present, so we can turn away from these suggestions and feel Love’s presence, no matter what is going on in our lives.”
She was extremely receptive and became peaceful as we talked. And, long story short, she’s now doing very, very well. I know she kept praying after we talked. And she said later that she had found comfort and that the pain and sadness had vanished.
It’s God’s job to care for His children. And our job is to let that care be expressed in the words we say to our friends.
The lesson I learned from this—and I think this can be useful for anyone who wants to help a friend—is that we don’t have to be afraid of helping someone who is struggling. Thoughts come to all of us that say things like “I’m not going to be able to say anything”; “I’m not going to be able to comfort this person or bring them peace.” But right in that moment we have the opportunity to know that this is not our job; it’s God’s job. It’s God’s job to comfort His children and care for His children. And our job is to let that love and care and comfort be expressed in our prayers about our friends and in the words we say to our friends.
Mary Baker Eddy wrote, “Man is the expression of God’s being” (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 470). This assures us that we’re not working on our own. God is doing the caring, and we are the expression of that care, so we are always equipped to help our friends in just the right way, and God will show us how.
Want to hear more from Arnold? Check out the Sentinel Watch, “How can I think about . . . depression?”