DEAR ABBY: I was best friends with "Joanne" after we met in middle school. She comes from a conservative Christian family and has three successful siblings. This has made her quirky, media-driven pursuits and city life a disappointment to her family. When we were teens and she learned that I was a straight ally for gay rights, she came out to me as a lesbian, but for years only I and a few close friends knew.
Once she was an adult and her family found out, they practically disowned her and made their disapproval and "shame" very clear. Unfortunately, due to some family problems of my own, I moved away, and we communicated only periodically for the last couple of years until recently. I was shocked when she informed me that she is going to become a nun.
Abby, I have no problem with her faith (I attend an LGBT-friendly church), but I'm afraid Joanne is doing it for all the wrong reasons. For the 15 years I have known her, she has been an open-minded, culture-loving social butterfly, and she doesn't seem to have changed much personality-wise. Naturally, her family is thrilled with her decision because it means she will never date another woman or be a part of "that lifestyle."
I know Joanne is an adult and these choices are hers to make, but I'm afraid she is being guilted into a life she will ultimately regret. How do I express my concerns to her without being offensive? -- KATHY IN NEW YORK
DEAR KATHY: Before you "express your concerns," I think you should have enough respect for your friend's intelligence to ask her what has prompted this life-changing decision, and what it will entail.
Will she be joining an order that wears a habit? (Not all nuns do anymore.) Will she be taking a vow of silence and shutting herself off from the world for a life of prayer and contemplation, or will she be working to help underprivileged communities? Does she plan to remain in the United States, or join an order like Mother Teresa's in some other country?
If you show an interest rather than "concern," I'm sure she will be glad to answer any questions you may have without becoming offended.