Hey everyone, looking for some advice here. I recently relocated with my wife to her home state. We have lived here for almost 2 years now, so “recently” is a bit of an overstatement. Unfortunately, I have been unable to connect with anyone on more than an acquaintance level. Worse, I rarely (if ever) hear from my friends back home despite attempts to contact them.
More background…I am working on a masters in theology and am active in my parish as a lector, altar server, a member of the marketing committee and volunteer for the picnic.
I met one person at work who no longer works for the same organization who I have limited email contact with. He claims that any discussion of my faith is off-putting and that is why I’m struggling. My brother came in town this weekend and we spent most of the time disagreeing about living a “good” life. He left saying “you should stop taking things so seriously”. Both of these men are atheists. Lastly, I live in a primarily protestant state.
So how does a devoutly Catholic, happily married man go about making friends without compromising his faith. I need advice here…I’ve been lingering on this for a couple months now and have no idea. Any good saints worth reading on building quality relationships in the modern world? I’m not looking for someone to bounce theology off of. I just don’t understand why I can’t make a good friendship.
It sounds like the obvious places to try and make friends would be with your fellow parishioners and students. Any chance of inviting another lector over for dinner or getting together with a classmate?
Let’s see…you’ve been given a couple of clues. Could it be that you’re coming off as unidimensional, holier than thou or just a chore to be around? Being a good Catholic doesn’t exclude the possibilty of having fun, a sense of humor, or interest in things other than moralistic, philosophical conversations.
Try developing a hobby that has nothing to do with your religion. Whether tennis, cycling, skiing, rock climbing, cooking, wine appreciation/tasting…take a class, join a group and focus on developing some connection with people based on a shared interest/hobby and NOT religion. Extend yourself a little, practice a virtue like hospitality and invite someone new into your home to share a meal. Plan an outing (brunch, TGIF, etc) where you take the lead and pick a restaurant and meet there for some fun, lighthearted conversation.
Not every topic is one on which friends will agree–and that’s OK. Parenting styles, religious practice, political affiliation, etc. can differ greatly and yet you can appreciate the richness and companionship a wide diversity of people can bring to your life. If you limit yourself to being friends with only those people who are exactly like you…you’re list of friends is going to be short and not nearly as interesting as if you open yourself up to the possibility of a varied group of friends.
A good point, and there are many wonderful people in my parish. We don’t really have a good network though (or at least I haven’t been able to find it). Not to mention that many of my fellow parishioners are considerably (30 years +) older than I am, which isn’t a problem, and they seem to like me, but I’m not sure that they want to socialize. There is one fellow lector who is about my age, and I’ve tried talking with him but we haven’t hit it off. Unfortunately, I have one other limitation. I’m not a sports fan and I live in a sports town…a college sports town at that. He and most of the other men in my stage of life that I’ve met since I’ve moved here seem to really focus on the sports.
All of this sounds like excuse as I type it, so maybe I’m just not trying hard enough…I’m just at my wits end. The reason I asked about saints that may be more focused on practical life is that I have been studying doctrine for so long that I feel it may be good for me to dig into something other than that facet of the faith.
This has actually been said to me, by the same guy you quoted…
I’m with you, I get your point. But on the other hand, I have a hard time standing for debauchery, which my brother revels in and comments on regularly. This is my point. Am I to stand by silently while he discusses the attributes of some woman he finds attractive? Or how about when it comes to discussing the up coming election and the other guy I mentioned is a Barack (the most pro-abortion candidate in history) Obama supporter. I don’t know how to do it. You are right about finding common interests, like hiking. I love to hike…on the other hand, hiking is a quiet sport if there is no discussion along the way. It is the discussion that gets me in trouble apparently. Maybe I’m not ready to hear what you are saying to me…or maybe I disagree. Our faith is of primary importance in our life and rightfully so.
The society has secularized in such a way that it is unlikely that you can find the average person in a class (or anywhere else, except the parish and even there it is becoming less common) that has the same underlying beliefs as you, so that when you do go hiking, you can discuss politics without arguing. Or just briefly touch the subject because you already agree and there isn’t anything else to say so you can move on to other topics.
My point is, if one subject comes up while sharing that common interest and it is a matter of major disagreement due to basic beliefs, that friendship becomes very limited very quickly.
I think it is okay to let people be who they are, you know let them express themselves. That kind of opens the door for them to be ok with who you are, and being open to letting you express yourself. I work at a university and the majority of people there are liberals and quite a lot are agnostics. I am friendly and don’t get into arguments or stand in judgment of them. In return, I’ve had quite a few interesting conversations where people were receptive to me sharing my faith. The sort of cool thing is that a lot of the luke warm Catholics I work with will come to me to ask me questions because they know that I am serious about my faith and will give them a straight answer without judging them. I would say I have a good variety of friends at work, and am becoming closer friends with those that I have some things in common with.
I personally don’t understand why you would want to discuss politics with friends at all, especially if you know your ‘peers’ disagree with you. The art of a good conversation involves staying away from highly polarizing topics, or at least being able to see one another’s point of view should you disagree.
If you really want to discuss politics, join a local campaign, it is an election year. Perhaps you should attempt to learn about the local sport, at least it would give you something to build on in a conversation.
It sounds to me like you are too quick to judge people before you really get to know them, or are looking for reasons to rule people out. Just because someone isn’t devout doesn’t mean they can be a good person or a good friend. Some of my best friends and I disagree over politics and religion, but thankfully I didn’t rule them out based one belief of theirs. If somebody makes a statement contrary to your beliefs, let them know your views (briefly,) then artfully change the topic to something less controversial. The next time you get together with them, they will likely avoid that topic and look for neutral ground.
The question seems to be whether you are looking for someone with your identical values and beliefs or someone you can have a good time with (and maybe even be a little different than?) It seems to me that if you want long term, committed friendships, you might have to settle for somebody that may be less than perfect. Friends like these might actually diversify your life a little bit and actually make you a better person.
Your wife should be your best friend and the one person you should have most in common with. As for those other people you try to build friendships with, I understand your concern, but you must remember what St. Paul said in 1 Corinthians chapter 9:
Although I am free in regard to all, I have made myself a slave to all so as to win over as many as possible.
To the Jews I became like a Jew to win over Jews; to those under the law I became like one under the law–though I myself am not under the law–to win over those under the law.
To those outside the law I became like one outside the law–though I am not outside God’s law but within the law of Christ–to win over those outside the law.
To the weak I became weak, to win over the weak. I have become all things to all, to save at least some.
All this I do for the sake of the gospel, so that I too may have a share in it.
I find that this quote helps me to remember that all my interactions with family and friends must not initially revolve around faith discussions because they are not where I am in their faith journey (and God also has a good way of reminding me that I’m not as far as I think I am, but one must be open to recieve that humbling message from God). Also, you should not be hesitant to befriend those in your parish who are 30 years older than you. Some of my dearest friends in the past and present have usually been/are 20+ years older than I am. Then again, I grew up socializing with everyone in my family so I am comfortable being around all ages.
Does your diocese have a web site? If so that might have some activities/organizations that draw from a bigger pool of the diocese. There may even be organizations for adults.
I don’t think there is anything wrong with your enjoying being around other catholics socially. I have friends who are catholic and some friends who aren’t, and as much as I love and have fun with both, I just hate it when something come up, like an unmarried couple moving in together to test it out or a pharmacist resenting the plan b pill now available at his pharmacy, it is sometimes really uncomfortable with the non catholics.
I just wanted to say to you that I know exactly what you are experiencing. I think a lot of people on these boards probably do and that is probably why(in part) we are all here. It’s VERY hard to find anyone these days to talk to when you are taking being a Catholic seriously, which is unfortunate. Myself, even being involved at my daughter’s Catholic school, and parish, and even within my own family, there is NO ONE, Catholic or not, who I can really jive with on a deeper than acquaintance level. And, I live in a pretty Catholic state.:shrug:
Anyway…I feel what you are saying. And, I don’t think it is too much to ask for you to be able to find a friend who shares your interests. If your main interest in life is all things Catholic then it will be hard for you to find someone who shares that. Wanting to share your interest doesn’t make you off putting or a wet blanket. It will be hard, to have a deeper friendship with someone who does not accept that about you, or will not listen to or discuss that which is an integral part of who you are.
I don’t know of any saint off hand that is patron of ‘friendships’, but you do have a guardian angel who can surely help you in this area. How about focusing on being Jesus’ best friend? Visiting him in adoration? Maybe in making that your main focus you will fill the gap that you are feeling in the friendship department.
In my old city, the place I found really good friendships with people who were like-minded was through my parish bible study. My parish didn’t have a “young adult” bible study-- it was all older people and during the weekday! So, I started one on Tuesday nights. We had many people come and go during the 10 years I did bible study-- but the core group remained and I made some very close friends.
In my new town there is not a lot of parish life and I have found it difficult to make friends. My DH and I are in a different place spiritually than our peer group. And, I am in a different place socially and educationally than most of the folks around here. I’ve decided that having one good friend-- my DH-- is about all I will have here. I’ve started to accept that.
I have to agree with Island Oak’s assessment… I caught onto those exact same clues from your posts.
Having friends doesn’t mean you have to agree with them 100%. :shrug:
We have lots of friends who aren’t Catholic and have completely different views on politics and morality… that doesn’t mean we aren’t called to friendship with these people… and heck, maybe God may WANT our positive influence in their lives!.. You can’t exactly evangelize to those who already believe, can you?
I do understand that everyone has different personalities… some Catholics require similar-minded friends in order to not feel threatened or challenged in their faith. If that’s the case, then I’m sorry you’re struggling in finding friends!
I guess we’re just different… our faith isn’t dependent on those who are around us… it’s not going to waiver because we spend time with “heathens”… in fact, we often feel called to have strong friendships with sinners… how else would God be able to influence their lives except through people who demonstrate it and live it actively!
Find a hobby get off the subject of religion. Go out to dinner with your friends… enjoy a funny movie… laugh… tease each other… that’s what friendships are about!
It’s great that you love the faith and want to live it to the full but you should not make it your ENTIRE life.
As someone has already said, get yourself a hobby. Why don’t you like sports? Give them a try. Go for a few beers with your brother. Sure, he may not have your beliefs but he is probably a decent bloke.
Also, don’t judge everyone else by your moral standards. Not everyone will have the same morals as you. Just worry about yourself. Live your life the best you can according to your morals, and let others do the same. If they are interested in the Catholic faith, they will ask you about it. Don’t feel the need to push it down their throat.
The best advice I could give would be to have fun. Operate in non religious circles. Have a life that is separate from the Church. I’m not telling you to lead a double life or a sinful one, all I’m saying is that you need to broaden your social network.
Remember, being holy does not mean being boring. Look at St Philip Neri. He loved playing practical jokes, and he also played soccer on the streets of Rome. Here was a man who was totally committed to the faith but was also able to have fun.
I appreciate the direction to St. Philip Neri. I will most certainly take a look at him.
I also appreciate the other comments above, by all who replied. Please remember, I’m someone struggling with a dilemma, not a person looking to get scolded for my outlook on how to live my faith. Once again, a major part of the question is that each of us views living the faith differently. Fortunately or unfortunately, I tend to bristle at injustice, whether it is displayed in the media or in conversation. I’m learning how to handle those situations with tact, but at the same time, someone above mentioned being a positive influence on the people we meet. If we don’t comment regarding injustice, how can we be any influence? When do we stand up and say enough is enough, when we are so secularized that there is little left in our faith? Moral relativism is an evil. Everything from commericals to daily conversation are filled with attacks on righteousness. How about the fact that when you want to stop at a store and you are with someone, you have to explain that you aren’t shopping at that closer or more convenient drug store or supermarket because their pharmacy carries the “morning-after” pill? You can’t avoid that conversation unless you give up your conviction. This is just one example of many. One cannot watch a television show with a friend, because if you are offended by the content of the show or the commercials, your choice to leave or turn it off becomes a matter of conversation.
If you are consciously aware of the overwhelming effect of secularism on society, you can’t avoid these conversations. This ISN’T about judging others, if anything it is about being judged - as “boring”, as “unidimensional”, as “a chore”. The quoted words are what I’ve been referred to as thus far in this thread.
I’m experiencing the same problem here as I do elsewhere. Now, I’m not dense, egotistical or prideful enough to think that I’m always right. I recognize I have a dilemma, or I wouldn’t have asked the question.
Fortunately, as someone mentioned above, my wife is my best friend and we are living our vocation so very happily.
Lastly, as for sports, I’m just not interested. I’ve tried, honestly. I’m not saying there is anything wrong with sport, it just doesn’t hold my interest.
How about the fact that when you want to stop at a store and you are with someone, you have to explain that you aren’t shopping at that closer or more convenient drug store or supermarket because their pharmacy carries the “morning-after” pill? You can’t avoid that conversation unless you give up your conviction. This is just one example of many. One cannot watch a television show with a friend, because if you are offended by the content of the show or the commercials
There in lies the problem. Don’t take everything so seriously. But more important than that, you don’t have to explain yourself to anyone but God. If someone asks why you’re going to a particular store, just say that you prefer it over the other one. You don’t have to give them too much information. It might freak them out a little.
I really do commend your desire to live the faith. However, don’t be too fanatical. Excess is always bad, even in religion. I consider myself a faithful Catholic, but I do not avoid shops that sell condoms nor do I turn the TV off because of the content of some shows. You have to live in the world, and unfortunately sin abounds. You need to be a witness to the faith in a more subtle way. Who knows, you may even bring your new friends to Christ.
However, if you want friends outside of church related activities, you cannot let the whole situation be dominated by your scruples. I had this problem myself. Nowadays, I keep the faith but I do not condemn my friends because of the choices they make. I relax and pray that they may come to Christ one day. I hope that I may be the catalyst for this.
Average people (by that I mean non-Catholics) do not share our morals. I do not try to force my faith on anyone, but if they are interested I am more than happy to share it with them. I hope that I can lead people to Christ by example, not simply by being preachy.
I hope you find what you are looking for. I will pray that you find a good group of friends. Have you considered joining the gym? What about bowling? Or going to the local bar for a few beers?
when it comes to explaining some of the reasons why or why you don’t do certain things, try to bring in a secular comparison like “Just as so-and-so doesn’t listen to Rush Limbaugh based on their belief, I don’t watch programxyz due to my beliefs.” Or if it comes to an inappropriate program say something along the lines of “I love my wife and cherish our marriage so I don’t want to put temptation in my way because I know that I am weak and could possibly have a reaction to looking at the scantly dressed women in that show.”
Hi, Kevin. Some people responding to you seem pretty judgmental. Obviously, they don’t understand, and so have nothing to offer you except criticism.
I would venture a guess that your issue probably is not 100% about being devout, but that’s ok. Some of your issue is because you are devout and don’t fall into the same relationship patterns as the men you are around. What is there for you to change about that? Nothing.
Another factor probably is your personality, because even people with radically different beliefs than the mainstream are sometimes very personally popular because of people-oriented personalities. But so what? You are who you are, and you do not have to pretend to be someone that you are not to form relationships. Some people naturally attract many friends, others have only a few close relationships.
I say this without any judgment, because I have always struggled to form close friendships. I wish that I could- but I cannot. People who judge you and expect you to just “be different” are simply ignorant of how really capable some people are of doing that. I found out after my child was diagnosed with mild autism that I have Asperger’s, and so I truly cannot be what others expect me to be.
That may not be your issue, but the advice is still the same. Don’t attempt to adjust who you are for other people, simply be open to everyone, and eventually you will find someone who is on your wavelength. Just keep looking, and stay open.