Friends and faith


#1

Hi everyone-
There are a number of threads kind of similar to this, so I apologize if I should have just added to one of them.
Anyhoo, I just wanted to talk a little about where I am, and see if anyone can relate.
For about 10 years, I lived a completely secular life. It was all about me - earthly pleasures if you know what I mean.
I came back to the church about two years ago, and since then, it has been a (very) slow process in getting closer to God.
Now, my closest family is nearly 500 miles away, and I only have two friends who are Catholic (I sponsored their conversions!). I see them once a week at mass, and sparingly throughout the week if I’m lucky. Everyone else I know (in proximity, anyway) is from my “old” life.
As I have journeyed closer to God, there have obviously been a number of things in my life that I have struggled to change. As I have undergone these changes, I have drifted apart from most of my “friends”. It has really gotten to the point where any time I am around any of them, it turns into an occasion to sin.
Occasionally, I’ll go out and have a few drinks just to see some people, but beyond that, I can’t stand to be around them because of their lifestyle (not trying to sound judgmental).
Now I feel very alone, all the time.
Sometimes I look at them and see how happy they “appear” to be, and I wonder if I got it all wrong. Don’t get me wrong - I feel like my faith is strong - but it causes pause sometimes. I even remember how life was “before God,” and I think that maybe I was happier back then. A bunch of fleeting pleasures seems better than none at all sometimes.
I’m single - and not dating - but I’m in love with a girl from the “old life”. She’s in a pretty abusive relationship right now, and uses some “ungodly” things to try and ease the pain, but, needless to say, I don’t have a whole lot of contact with her, either. That’s a different story, anyway.
The point is, I don’t really have much contact with anyone outside of work and the occaisional conversation with a family member (I know, I need to do a better job of keeping in touch).
Oh! Also, I’m in my mid-late 20’s and it seems like everyone in my Parrish is either much older or younger than me. Everyone is great, but it’s hard to connect.
Sorry for rambling so much - this wasn’t supposed to be such a long post - but I guess my questions are -
-Does anyone else feel like the apparent “happiness” of those around them in their sinful behavior causes you to doubt your faith at times?
-Does anyone feel “alone” in their faith while (it seems like) everyone around them is “going about their merry way”?
-And, if so, how do you go about fulfilling needs outside of your spiritual life?

Thanks, and I’m looking forward to chatting with some of you about all this. I rarely get to do that!


#2

Hi, :slight_smile:

Good for you for having the courage to change things in your life… :slight_smile: this can be really hard to do…

sometimes I feel this way… I used to be an agnostic and all my friends were non Christians… and we would go out clubbing partying, etc. And now I don’t do that sort of thing anymore, and they do. I’ve made Christian friends, but when I get together with my old friends sometimes I feel really out of place… I don’t feel like I belong. And I go to university, and I feel like most people are into different things than I am… sometimes I do feel lonely there.

About the “happiness”… I remember when I lived that life, I was always cheerful and smiling and people did think that I was happy. But I don’t think it was very real… many times I just tried persuading myself that I was “having fun” and that’s “what matters”. But is it really what matters? I think I’m honestly happier now as a Christian. It’s not always fun, no. Sometimes it’s very difficult. But - I think I’m happier in a deeper less superficial way. That’s something I know, not something I have to persuade myself of… There’s much more peace… when people sin, for a while it’s “fun”, but - later on, it just feels empty. Our hearts were made for God, and we’re restless until we find rest in Him…we try other things, but eventually they only increase the emptiness, - we try to find something in the world that only God offers! With faith, it just gets better over time, as you grow. When people live sinful lives, often they have the illusion that they’ll get something out of it, but in the end sin only takes away. It really is just an illusion… you only lived this “secular” life until your mid 20s, if I read correctly? Perhaps you wouldn’t have the same perspective on it if you have lived it for 50 years :wink: I have not, but I know someone who has, and they sincerely wish they had discovered God earlier… because the more a person lives in sin, the more it takes away from your soul. Christ says, what is the point of gaining the world but losing your soul? :slight_smile: Eventually, people become slaves to sin, they have no freedom…but God wants to make us His free sons and daughters, and He doesn’t tempt us to virtue like the devil tempts to sin - the devil makes it fun at first, just to get us addicted, and then eventually when the person is enslaved to sin, the ‘fun’ goes away and is often replaced with despair…

Another point - and this isn’t really popular, but see what you think - the Christian life is about dying to self, and sacrifice. We try to love God, regardless of what we feel, even if we don’t experience any consolations. The Saints talked a lot about this. In fact, if you ever feel really alone in your faith…try reading about the Saints (or better yet, what they wrote) because it’s really encouraging and with some of them, like St Therese of Lisieux, you can see the joy they felt being with God… it is good to read spiritual books in general, I love reading about the Saints and also CS Lewis books.

anyway, - for our natural selves, it’s all about ‘me me me’… what can we get out of our faith, etc… but as we grow, as we eventually die to self, it becomes more about pleasing God. There IS lots of joy in knowing Him. And we know we will be happy in Heaven. But eventually, it just becomes all about doing His will… consider what St Bernadette said: "O Divine Jesus, impress on my heart a disposition like that of a certain man who loved your cross so much that he used to say if after serving you for a hundred years his only recompense were the grace to suffer one hour for love of You, he would believe all his service too well rewarded"
I know this is a difficult teaching, it is for me too, but - the world is consumed with itself… but we are to live for God. And what He gives us is greater than what the world gives… the better we get to know Him, the more we see that. The Saints (and many who are not Saints) spent hours at Eucharistic Adoration…not because they have to, but because they felt God’s love there so strongly. And His love is better than anything. That is why the martyrs were able to endure terrible torments and death and persecution…because they knew the love of God is greater.

God bless


#3

Thanks Monica4316!
You know, a part of me already knows a lot of what you are saying, and hearing it from another “regular” person helps a lot!
I think you hit the nail on the head when you talked about dying to oneself.
I started drinking and “partying” at an early age, and spent about a decade thinking only of "me, me, me."
I still fall into sin - some sins are a lot more frequently than others - but, you know, now that I think about it, it is amazing how far I’ve come since I came (back) home! And I know that I couldn’t have done it without God.
Of course, I’m still a smoker… one thing at a time I guess…:blush:
When I read what you typed, I just think to myself, "How selfish of me to want what is easy!"
The spirit is willing, but the flesh is often so weak. Sometimes I think sins of the world are so attractive just because they are so physically tangible.
I think my main problem is that feeling of being alone. I’ve always kept very few “friends” - you know, like-minded, true friends. Acquaintances have always been numerous, but I’ve never really relied on a lot of people. I guess now it just seems like I have nobody nearby to “walk this journey” with me - to be there to encourage me. Sometimes it seems like it’s just me and Father in the confessional.
Oh well, things change, it just takes time sometimes. Patience is definitely something I have always lacked. In the meantime, there is always God and the communion of saints.
In fact, I think I’ll drive to the Parrish and spend some time meditating in front of the statue of our Blessed Mother before I go to bed.
I sincerely want to thank you for taking so much time to respond to my post! It really does mean a lot to me. I really took to heart everything you said. I always try to remind myself that God never said this all would be easy. Quite the opposite in fact.
Oh, and study hard! My lifestyle kept me in school for eight years (and no, I’m not a doctor)! It sounds like you’ll finish up a little quicker than I did.:slight_smile:
Thanks again, and may God bless you every day!


#4

Thank you for sharing your heart with us. To answer your question: I sometimes feel extremely alone in my faith. However, I read in St. Mary Faustina’s Diary: Divine Mercy in My Soul that Jesus spoke to her repeatedly and told her not to rely on other creatures. I have also realized that the one time when I felt the presence of God the most in an utterly tangible way, leaving me 0% percent room to doubt even if I wanted to and being blessed to have a spiritual experience similar to that of St. Teresa of Avila, was when I was at my 100% most alone. You see that Jesus is alone during his temptation in the desert, and the prophets such as Jonah or Moses or disciples such as St. Paul tend to be alone when God directly speaks to them through supernatural experiences. :eek: Maybe a spiritual director might help you in your walk and maybe your sufferings can be offered up as redemptive sufferings. :blush:

From notebook 1 # 295

…Yes I will be with you always, if you always remain a little child and fear nothing. As I was your beginning here, so I will also be your end. Do not rely on creatures, even in the smallest things, because this displeases me. I want to be alone in your soul. I will give light and strength to your soul and you will learn from My representative that I am in you, and your uncertainty will vanish like mist before the rays of the sun.

saint-faustina.com/Diary/DMIMS6.shtml

*Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with Thee. Blessed art Thou among women and blessed is the fruit of Thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. Amen. *

Come Holy Spirit, come by means of the powerful intercession of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, your well beloved spouse. Come Holy Spirit, come by means of the powerful intercession of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, your well beloved spouse. Come Holy Spirit, come by means of the powerful intercession of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, your well beloved spouse.

For the sake of his sorrowful passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world! For the sake of his sorrowful passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world! For the sake of his sorrowful passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world!

O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee!
Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary, pray for us!

*Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with Thee. Blessed art Thou among women and blessed is the fruit of Thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. Amen. *


#5

Thank you so much AveSantaMaria-
You know, I think so much about those around me sometimes, and how selfish they seem to me. Of course, I miss how selfish I can be when I do that. It’s like that saying about how when you point your finger at someone, there’s three fingers pointing right back at you…
You know, you’re right. The decision to turn to God has been difficult for me at times, but it is silly of me to think that His grace cannot help me to overcome my feelings of loneliness.
I guess that I am pretty impressionable. The faith (or lack there of) of those around me kept me from seeing the truth for the longest time, I sometimes feel like I need the faith of those who love God to help my faith, too.
I will definitely spend more time getting to know the Saints.
I guess I just need to pray for the strength to be able to DO what I already know I SHOULD do.
As for a spiritual director, I don’t really knowing how to find one. I already feel like I am a burden of the two priests we have, especially with the frequency I attend confession. Here in the south, there are not a lot of Catholic Parishes. The two priests we have are spread very thin over a large, multi-county area, and I often feel like there are people more deserving and needing of Father’s time then me. I wouldn’t really know where to begin…
Thank you for your words of encouragement and your prayers, and may God’s graces bless you in abundance…


#6

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