Cowardice?

I’ve been going through some problems lately with my faith and the biggest problem I’m having is with cowardice. I was wondering if anyone could help me and suggest a way to right this?

I’ll start with saying that I’m a man, and already I know that a man shouldn’t be a coward when it comes to his faith but he should be firm in it and proud of it. It’s just that whenever I talk about my faith with others, or also talking about other social issues like about my pro-life views or my pro-traditional marriage views, I get so nervous and my thinking is so disordered that I don’t make good statements.

A lot of times I’m the only Catholic around, and I know that I should say something, to show that I don’t agree with what the group around me is saying, and not let, for example, their promotion of a woman’s “choice” to abort her child stand unopposed.

This very issue came up recently but I ended up saying nothing because I was so shaken that I don’t think it would even have done any good to open my mouth, my voice was all shaky (rather like it was the first time I asked a girl out on a date :D)

And this even has to do with my Catholic faith itself as well.

I can sit here in the privacy of my room and think about what I believe and why, but when I talk about it to others, or even now just imagining talking about it to others, I don’t feel confident. And I know that this comes across in my voice and in my body language. I’m so obsessed with what others might say, and I’m afraid I might just get defeated in an argument and make Catholicism look bad.

How do I become a cool calm and collected man when it comes to these issues? And how do I get to the point where I can share my faith with confidence?

Should I go and study theology, philosophy and apologetics more? The problem I forsee though is that I’ve thought about the abortion issue enough to consider most of the arguments for it and why they’re wrong, and I know that I could type up a good response against abortion on the internet. But a much better way to defend life would be to reason with others about it in person. But the last time I had the chance I was an emotional wreck so I just shut up.

Can you suggest any good ways to stop caring so much about what others might think about me?

Do you think I might simply have an anxiety problem?

I can’t diagnose “an anxiety problem”, but it is perfectly normal to feel anxious in a social situation you feel you are not prepared for.

There is IMNAAHO nothing wrong with declining a debate you don’t think you can win. Why waste the effort? Maybe read up more on the issues if you think this situation will come up again.

ICXC NIKA

First, you do not have to respond to each violation against truth or the Church.

Second, most people who are against the Church and Her teachings are very emotional and/or illogical in their arguing, so I think one has to pick and choose one’s times and places for actual discussion. Do not take on abortion advocates when they are protesting for example: it’s an exercise in futility! OTOH, it might be good to gently explain the Church’s position if someone you are close to says they are ok with abortion in cases of rape.

Third, if you feel called to do this, “practice” online in writing. This will give you the chance to see how these discussions go. do not sit in the privacy of your room thinking about it. Our imaginations are rather wild things and will take us to being ruler of the world or to being beaten by a crowd in just a few minutes, and we end up with unrealistic expectations.

Fourth: the way I see it is that all I need to do is to explain the Church’s position and answer sincere questions. I am in no way obliged to argue or to win the argument. And losing the argument does not mean i am wrong.

Most people who are invested in being (pro-abortion, atheist, etc) are not interested in finding the truth. They will argue *badly, *swtching topics, pulling out emotional arguments, and dismissing yours. A true discussion occurs when the participants are interested in finding the truth. If one or more participants are not interested in finding the truth, then they will do anything to keep a new idea out of their mind. Don’t believe them when they say they are open-minded and tolerant–they don’t know the meanings of these words!

And most importantly: what will help you more than anything else is prayer and mortification. Allow God to build up virtue within you. Pray and read a little bit from spiritual books every day. Remember to allow God to work through you rather than your doing it yourself!**

This is a clear case of “Human respect” - the fear of what others will think about us if we say something that they will think is"weird", or “fanatical” or whatever it is that you imagine they may think. It is common, but it needs to be overcome. Whatever human beings think of us is, really, irrelevant. It is what God thinks of us that matters.

Pray for the strength to be able to answer calmly and courageously. Practice a few short sentences about each of the subjects that cause you difficulty and place your trust in the Holy Spirit and your Guardian Angel. Those sentences do not have to be inflammatory, but should quietly state the truth regarding the subject.

After you succeed in this a few times, you will become more confident.

The only way we develop a virtue is by practicing it! Remember the saying “practice makes perfect” is not true! Practice makes permanent. So, practice stating the truth in charity and stating the truth charity will become permanent.

We all have anxiety issues of one type or another, but it doesn’t sound as if you have a debilitating condition, if that’s what you mean. You just don’t have a talent for oral argument - and that’s not at all uncommon. You do, however, seem to have a way with the written word.

My husband is a trail lawyer. He absolutely comes alive in front of a jury. He can effectively weave an argument that would have you believing the world was flat and the moon is made of green cheese. One of his partners, on the other hand, has never set foot in a courtroom. Just the thought of standing up in court turns him into a quivering mass of jelly. But that guy has a brilliant legal mind and can write a brief with the very best of them. Everyone else in the firm comes to him when a written argument is needed. My point is, even though your talents might not make you an effective oral advocate, you might find success and satisfaction in writing articles or essays arguing your position on these important topics.

BTW, this has nothing to do with cowardice or “being a man.”

The fact that you speak up at all shows that you have more courage than many believers. And discernment is called for on deciding whether or not to hold our tongues in any given situation. But I do appreciate the advice I was given once: “Speak up, even if your voice cracks.”

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