If you’re just jumping into this conversation, I hope you will go back and read the first 4 parts of this series for some context. I’ve been talking about the problem of codependent friendships which are rooted in idolatry and casting a vision for the purpose of Biblical friendship.

STEPS TOWARD FREEDOM

If it is evident that you have been idolizing a person in your life and have become emotionally dependent on them, here are some basic steps you can take to move toward freedom. Please keep in mind that the degree of which these steps are needed is based on how deeply entrenched you are in relational idolatry. For the one who calls her accountability partner too often before talking to God, some simple confession and repentance to another friend may be sufficient. For the one who yearns for spring break to be over so she can cuddle up with her roommate in bed again, these steps are far more important.

It’s also important to remember that different situations call for different things. This is where the wisdom and guidance of others is crucial. For example, even though emotional dependencies can form between two spouses, no form of separation is ever good in a marriage. An emotional dependency on a guy should be treated differently than an emotional dependency on a girl.

  1. Be Honest and Repent

Be honest with yourself. Though it is painful to stare our sin in the eye, we can never make it go away by ignoring it. If we refuse to face the reality of our sin, we will only enlarge the consequences and prolong the pain.

Be honest with God. Talk to Him openly about your friend and how you feel about her. Openly confess your desire to run to her before Him. Repent and agree with God that finding your worth, purpose, belonging, and security in anything other than Him is idolatry. It is forsaking Him, the Fountain of Living Waters and turning to a broken, leaky cistern that cannot hold water (Jeremiah 2:12-13). Ask God to save you from the stronghold of codependency.

Be honest with another person who is not the friend you’re dependent on.  Find a stable, trustworthy, mature Christian woman to talk to. Tell her you’ve become too dependent on your friend and have given her more weight in your life than God. Ask for prayer, accountability, and counsel. Though it may be tempting, it is not wise to share with the one you are dependent on first. Though you should eventually talk openly about these things with you friend, to do so right away often backfires and causes deeper attachment. Of course, the importance of how and when to talk with the friend you’re dependent on will be contingent on how deep and long lasting the attachment has been.

  1. Gradually Separate Yourself

Create some distance from this friend in different ways, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. This may mean spending more time in groups. Saying no to some of those one-on-one times. Refrain from intimate emotional and spiritual conversations like confessing sin, praying together, etc. If you live together, invite people over to hang out. Or get out of the house to do homework, run errands, etc. This step may naturally bring up a healthy conversation about why you need space and give you a chance to confess any sin on your part and a desire to grow in health spiritually and in your friendship.

  1. Prepare for Grief

Letting go of a dependent relationship is painful. When you have put all your eggs in one basket, it can feel terrifying to move away from that basket. Because you may have treated this friend like your significant other, this could feel like a break-up. Allow yourself to grieve for a season. Talk to that trustworthy, mature Christian woman about it, and talk to God about. Read the Psalms. Journal about how you feel. And know that this season of grieving will pass.

  1. Cultivate Other Friendships

This may be difficult and scary at first. You might be used to the false security of “one friend who will always accept you and never let you down or disappointed you.” But remember, the only one who will never let us down in God Himself. Cultivating other friendships will also help us keep our hope in Him, not in people. You will likely have to take steps to make friends when you don’t feel like it. But walk in faith, and trust God with your whole heart, not a person.

  1. See a Biblical Counselor

While most people assume counseling is only for traumatic situations, it is a great thing for everyone to do once in a while. If you have the means, consider finding a Biblical counselor that you can see a few times as you make the journey out of codependency. Having a safe place to discuss these things with a trained professional who loves Jesus is invaluable.

  1. Cultivate Intimacy With God!

Last not because it isn’t important, but because this step should always be on the forefront of your mind, is cultivating intimacy with God. He is the best friend you can have and the only True, Faithful, and Reliable One.

FOR THOSE WHO HAVE BEEN SEXUAL WITH A FRIEND

If you’ve been down this road far enough to allow your friendship to become sexual, please hear me: YOU ARE NOT ALONE. There are others who have been where you are and are now walking in freedom; many happily married at that! No sin is beyond the incredible redeeming work of God!

Am I a lesbian?

This is the first question many ask. Because you have had sexual encounters with someone of the same gender and to some degree it felt natural and desirable, this is a normal question to ask. We live in a world that would tell you, yes you likely are a lesbian, or are at least bisexual.

But let me be very clear, the answer is no. You are not a lesbian. While “lesbian, gay, homosexual, bisexual” may be chosen as identity descriptions, ultimately, they are all lifestyle descriptions.

God doesn’t make lesbian women and heterosexual women. He makes women.

God doesn’t make gay men and straight men. He makes men.

“Male and female He created them.” Genesis 1:27

This is really important for us to understand. Remember our study of Romans 1? By worshipping a person, you invite perversion into your life and may be given over to passionate sexual desires for the same gender that feel natural and normal. This does not mean you are homosexual by identity. Rather, it means that you are experiencing the consequences of a wrong object of worship.

We are all capable of distorted sexuality. No one is above this.

“If anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself.” Galatians 6:3

Separation is Crucial

If you’re friendship has gone as far as sexuality, the importance of a season of total separation from this friend cannot be understated. Because of the fierce nature of sexual sin, we are called to flee, to run away as quickly as possible. (2 Tim 2:22, 1 Thess 4:3) Though this is a difficult step to take for some, it is vital. Involve an older, godly woman who can hold you accountable and strengthen you in this time by pointing you to Jesus, your great Savior, Redeemer, and True Friend!

Counseling is Vital

Because there are some unique repercussions to sexuality in a same-gender friendship, a good Biblical counselor can provide the support, tools, clarity you need to move forward into freedom and a healthy view of your sexuality.

Writer’s Bio: Kelly Needham is a servant of Jesus Christ. Wife to Jimmy. Mom to 2 sweet girls. This article is originally published at www.kellyneedham.com. Used with permission.