To My Non-Christian Friends
For many years I’ve wanted to write about the things I wish my non-Christian friends understood about my faith. I’ve never felt as though I could do the idea justice and I worried that I’d alienate you or you’d think I’m trying to judge or convert you but I’ve decided that it’s time to try.
I’ve received many messages this week from other people who are worried that if they express their faith people will link us to religious extremists, whose views we do not share. I just want to be accepted for who I am and that person happens to be a Christian. Most of my friends are not Christians who attend services regularly or believe that God has a plan for their lives. We have other things in common and I am grateful for their presence in my life.
I have a deep and abiding faith. It governs every decision. Although I wish you did too because I want you to have the comfort it has given me, I truly don’t judge you for not having an interest in God or believing in him. That’s your business. I just want you to be happy and live your best life. Really.
Faith is a path not a destination. I haven’t figured out every aspect of my faith. I believe in Evil for example but not unbaptized babies or the good people of other faiths like the Dalai Lama burning in Hell for example. Faith evolves and being comfortable with ambiguity is part of being a person of faith in my mind.
I think God calls all of us to his table. You may be screening your calls and I have no problem with that. I screened mine for the first 30 years of my life because I wasn’t ready. You may never be ready and I’m not over here judging you and thinking that you’re going to burn in Hell for all eternity because aren’t on the God Squad.
Faith sometimes seems very distant, too distant at times, and sometimes, usually when I really, really need it, floods my heart. But when it’s in the forefront of my thinking and decisions, I’m the best version of myself.
People of faith can choose which aspects of the faith that are the primary influence in their lives. My God is compassionate toward me, understands and forgives me when I make bad choices and wants me to use my time, treasure and talents in a way that makes the world better. Because I’m human, I’m not always able to live up to that goal. I often fall short but it’s clear what God wants me to do most of the time. The hard part is that my ego, greed, fear and fatigue and my worst qualities sometimes make me want to throw a tantrum like a 5 year old because doing the right thing is often really, really hard. I think he wants good things for you too, even if you’re not a believer.
I rarely use the word “sin” which is so associated with Christianity because it tends to be a black or white sort of word. I also am uncomfortable with the “born sinners” concept. I find it more useful to my life to think in terms of good and bad choices and good or bad intent.
I believe in science. As one dear friend used to say, “Reading the Bible is not like reading a newspaper or science textbook. The Bible is intended to help us understand God’s plan. We need to read the Bible to look between the lines for God’s messages to us.”
When I pray I don’t pray for a wish list of things I want to happen. I pray for discernment and wisdom, to know what to do and how to do it. I pray for comfort when things look like they are going to be painful or hard. I pray for acceptance to help me figure out what to do when I’ve suffered a loss.
I want to understand your beliefs. I want you to understand the importance of mine to me. We don’t need to believe the same things. We just need to understand and respect the importance that each has in the life of the other. Mostly I wish you peace, regardless of your beliefs and I’m glad you’re my friend.
I am comfortably agnostic. I will never know and that’s just fine with me. But I do think this is interesting: “My God is compassionate toward me, understands and forgives me when I make bad choices and wants me to use my time, treasure and talents in a way that makes the world better. Because I’m human, I’m not always able to live up to that goal. I often fall short but it’s clear what God wants me to do most of the time. The hard part is that my ego, greed, fear and fatigue and my worst qualities sometimes make me want to throw a tantrum like a 5 year old because doing the right thing is often really, really hard. I think he wants good things for you too, even if you’re not a believer.”
*I* am compassionate toward me… I want to use my time and energy and talents in a way that makes the world better… I sometimes throw a tantrum because doing the right thing is hard. (And when I do I try to take a deep breath and resume acting like a grown-up…) I don’t need a belief in a higher power to work towards a better self or a better world. I just need a sincere intention, with follow-through, to do so.
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Well written! Thank you.
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I loved reading your new post. My religious background is Christian, but not with one particular religion. Since I moved to Kentucky, many moons ago, I have noticed many Churches splitting to create new Churches. Often due to member disagreement, but not really a religious disagreement. Lately I witness ministers loosing their jobs due to personal indiscretions or inappropriate spending of the Church money’s. This really bothered me seeing a growing, family oriented Church in town loose a wonderful Minister due to rumors started by a member that may or may not have been true about the minister. He resigned just to save the Church.
I do my best to not judge others. I look to God to guide me and to accept things I can not control or change. I have friends of many different religions as well as non believers. I never had children, but if I did I would want to expose them to a good Church that does not judge, but loves all.
As I age it is easier for me to declare my faith. I admit to having problems reading the Bible, but I think that is because I know it has been rewritten many times to suit the times. I believe in heaven, but some thoughts about a place known as hell I question.
My husband was raised Catholic. He was in a serious accident as a child. He actually could have died twice in one day at the age of eleven. After many months of recovery my husband asked his Dad why he did not die. His Dad told him ” I guess you were not good enough for the Lord, but too good for the Devil!” I thank God every day that he did not die when he was eleven, nor when he was in an automobile accident, or when he started drinking and became an alcoholic. He also was homeless twice during cold northern winters. When we met on the Internet, but not on a dating site, he pursued me. I am glad he was honest with me, I am glad I did not judge him when he told me he was divorced three times. I believe God brought us to each other. He needed me to help him escape from the evils he was fighting and I needed him to help me accept the changes in my parents and their eventual deaths.
That is why I believe in God. God is always there for me, during good times and bad times.
I too, am a Christian (Catholic) who knows and loves people who share the same qualities and values as I do, and who do not practice a faith, or believe in a higher power (my best friend, family members, etc). I am grateful and honored that they are in my life because of the gifts and or common experiences we have shared with each other. We want the people in our lives to experience the same joy we have and how we came to that joy, but we respect that it happens different ways for different people. I thank you for sharing your authentic self in this blog.
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Thank you Candy. I feel in many ways that it took me decades to be able to write this post. I really appreciate your kind words.
Absolutely wonderful post.
Weeks, you may enjoy this brief book I’ve been reading…slowly, so I can ponder each chapter. Mudhouse Sabbath by Lauren F. Winner. She “invites Christians to enrich their faith with eleven spiritual practices from Judaism.” She converted from orthodox Judaism to Christianity.
Thank you Weeks for sharing your thoughts, they were helpful to me today.
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I am very happy to hear that my writing was helpful to you today. Peace.