I need some strength


#1

Right now I guess I’m going on a spiritual journey, trying to find my way back to God. It’s a long, treacherous road with much to learn on the way but I know I’m going to get there. This is something I am ecstatic about because I’ve finally learned that I CAN be happy, and my life CAN have meaning.

There is one matter, however, that has been causing me a lot of distress. My friends. Sadly they are not too excited about my journey and would rather like to see me give up. This has me questioning friendships I have held for almost a decade. Are they going to constantly make me feel ashamed of my faith and cause me to fall down? Should they not pick me up???

They have been constantly telling me that my faith in God is an illusion in order to develop a sense of security; this is a notion i truly do not understand.Another friend tried to tell me that religion can become an addiction for people who have no belief in themselves. I just don’t understand.

I really need some advice; how do I get the strength to carry myself through this difficult time? Has anyone else been through a situation like this? How do you stand up to these faith-bullies? I will not be deterred!


#2

would you hang on to friends who constantly worked to tear down your spouse and your marriage? Who disparaged you for going back to school and getting your degree to better your life? Who made fun of your job, your work, your employer and made you feel your career was worthless?

Sounds like it is a crisis of friendship, not of faith, and discernment is needed on the true meaning of friendship.


#3

This would be correct but I feel that it has something to with my faith as well,if I am to lose friends, then I am going to be rather lonely. Although yes I know, if they were real friends then this would not be happening, I am just feeling confused.


#4

I’ve had a couple people come to me for help: not few of them became good friends.
When I declared I was considering a vocation and naturally became more strict in my ways regarding Catholic theology, not a few of them simply turned back. Some got angry, upset and the contact simply stopped.

I have a couple of good friends I disagree with a lot - especially due to my faith. Quite a lot think that Christianity is “Bulls**t”…

But then again, one may avoid the topic of religion and talk about something else.

I have made clear to my friends, that they need not tell me anything that they do not wish to hear my opinions on :stuck_out_tongue:


#5

and if you grow stronger in your faith, meet others who share your values, get more active in your parish, in service to the poor in some ministry or apostolate, you will also be well on the way to making new friends, better friends, real friends.


#6

Sometimes you do need to make a break with friends who come between you and God.

It may be that you don’t need to entirely dismiss these friendships. Sometimes it’s a matter of reducing rather than eliminating contact. It would be wonderful if at some point you could be the one who shows the Truth to these friends.

In the mean time you ought to see if you can cultivate some new friendships with faithful Catholics who can support you on your faith journey.


#7

What’s left of my nuclear family is like that. They’re ardent atheists. There’s nothing you can do, but distance yourself. It’s time for new friends. God is worth it.


#8

Many years ago when I came back to the Sacraments after being away for five years, I was so happy to be making new friends. What a difference between someone who shares your values and lifts you up!

Jesus first!

Be patient and ask the Lord to bring new friends into your life. Start getting involved with your parish in some way and that would be a start.


#9

Chelsea…You seem to be a very wise young person; and you’ve said it yourself. These are “bullies”. Anyone who “bullies” you, is not a friend.

I agree with the advice about joining whatever youth groups you have at your parish. Make new friends! There are so many great young people in our parish youth group. I’m sure yours is similar.

Let NO ONE seperate you from Jesus. Because He is the ONE, TRUE FRIEND… that you do NOT want to lose. God bless. You are in my prayers.


#10

Praisethestorm9,

Saint Augustine of Hippo went through a similar situation with his friends. I recommend reading The Confessions of St. Augustine. :slight_smile:


#11

Hello,

A lot of wise, spiritually-centered people have already commented, so I don’t know what I can possibly add which will be of much value. Nonetheless, I feel like commenting…

I feel like commenting because I have been there…and sometimes am still there…

Back during college, at a time during which I was trying to cultivate a relationship with my estranged biological father, he conveyed to me some very wise words which, despite the fact that our relationship failed for various reasons, have remained with me ever since. He told me, “You will always be able to count all your true friends on one hand.” It sounds depressing, yes, but I’ve more or less found those words to be true. Even my then-girlfriend, who I imagined could always be counted on, proved contrary to her word – but I, too, proved contrary to my word to her. And isn’t that just the way of it? Relationships – any relationship, for that matter – are two way streets: you give a little, you receive a little.

In time, if you stick with Catholicism, you’ll probably find that these friendships dissolve in their own good time. It goes from being generally unresponsive to conversation which you agee with to eventually not accepting invitations, which is alot easier than stating (rather uncharitably, sometimes), “We shouldn’t be friends anymore.”

I stopped hanging out with friends whose behavior I disagreed with, and by sudden disinterest in hanging out with them I was accused of arrogance, among other things. I made a point to tell them, “It’s not you, it’s me.” Because it was me. I was making changes in my life. And these changes included no more late nights. I made other plans – “Sorry, guys, but there’s an event (at church) which I’m going to, and I won’t be making it out tonight.”

Sometimes, though, you just gotta come out and say it: “John, please, as my friend, listen to me: This is something that I’ve gotta do for me. I’m not asking you to agree with me, but as my friend, could you please respect my decision?”

I hate confrontations.


#12

You’re treveling the road less traveled, at least one traveled not by your current friends.

As others have suggested join a group with similar values (the KC is one such group). Your old friends may become a little more distant, but your new friends will be much closer. Real friends accept you for who you really are. They certainly would not put you down for trying to make yourself into a better person.

Some of these friends may be feeling a bit guilty that you’re doing what they should be doing. I guess to some of my old friends, I may appear to them to be a religious fanatic, too dependent on my faith or using my faith as a crutch.


#13

That is so wonderful that you are seeking God :slight_smile: I know it can be really tough when people around you don’t understand. I used to be an agnostic and only one of my friends believed in God. Then I decided to become a Christian, and it did cause some conflict with some people I know. Not only did people question my faith, but my new lifestyle. It was hard. Then later on, I decided to become a Catholic (I was Protestant before) and that met with even more opposition.

I’ve learned that sometimes we do have to let people go. It doesn’t mean not being their friend anymore. But maybe limiting the time you spend with them, and finding more Christian friends or at least those who are more supportive/understanding. It’s the responsibility of a good friend to build you up, not tear you down. If you find that your friends are having a negative influence on you, it might be a good idea to not meet up with them as much until you’re more sure of things.

If you find that you can’t do this, - here’s another thought I had back then… people who criticize faith in God don’t really know what it is like. To them, it makes no sense at all because they’ve never had the experience. If you try to explain it to them, it’s like explaining what friendship is like to a person who’s never had a friend. This isn’t to say that we’re “superior” to non believers, rather that we can’t show them what it’s like to know God except through our example. :slight_smile: people might be drawn to God just because of how we act. He helps us be joyful, peaceful, and kind to others. This does take some time and spiritual growth but it’s a great journey…even when it’s hard, there’s always that sense of meaning.

If your friends say, you want security and meaning so you believe in God - well CS Lewis said if we long for meaning that means it’s out there somewhere. We experience hunger because there is food, and if there was no such thing we’d never be hungry.

I suggest making some Christian friends and reading some encouraging books :slight_smile: especially by Saints like St Therese of Lisieux… and apologetics like Mere Christianity by CS Lewis. Also, remember we’re never alone, even if we feel lonely in our faith… God is always with us, we are part of the Church, and we’re surrounded by the “cloud of witnesses” - Our Lady, all the angels and Saints, and they all love us very much.

God bless you!


#14

:slight_smile: also I was thinking, - it helps to attend a good Catholic conference or retreat. Because you get to meet so many strong believes there and that’s pretty encouraging. Although I’m still in the process of entering the Church, I had the opportunity to go to a Catholic young adult conference this winter (with Catholic Christian Outreach in Canada). It was amazing and I got to meet lots of great people there. It’s important to choose the right retreat but if you do ever get the chance to go, it can be a good experience :slight_smile:


#15

Thankyou all for your advice it was very helpful. I have spoken to a few of my friends and just told them how things were going to be from now on. I don’t know if the message has gotten through to them, but irregardless I know that I am going to continue with what i NEED and WANT to do!
I’m joining the youth group at my church next week and this summer I’m going to be volunteering for habbitat for humanity with my boyfriend, who is also a devout catholic and a few friends of various other denominations. I think that this wil help me occupy my mind with more positive things!

Thankyou everyone and godbless


#16

some friends…

I hvae been through this… and continue to go through it… I live in a mostly non-Catholic area… & am persecuted something terrible… even by the Catholics sometimes… because a lot of them are… well, you get my drift…

anyway… as far as that comment about religoin becoming an addiction… Well, for one thing, i wish everyone in the world had that addiction… What a wonderful world it could be…

You said it yourself: faith-bullies… I’d get them out of my life if it was me (of course, you are not me…) but Jesus said not to be unequally yoked w/ unbelivers… No, that was St. Paul… but anyway… I’ve learned the hard way how true it is that we should NOT be unequally yoked…

I was really close with this one guy friend (I"m female… he wasn’t my boyfriend)… for years and ye ars… and things were fine when i was just calling myself Chrsitian. When i got deep into the Catholic faith, he started abusing me and etc… until i just cut off contact altogether…

you speak of being made to feel ashamed of your f aith… No one can do tht but you… but it is difficult not to feel tht way when you hear negative stuff all the time… so again, if it were me, i’d ditch these so called friends… You can do better…


#17

My response to the addiction accusation was a question of wether or not they would rather me become a substance abuser :shrug:

I mean really, why do people persecute catholics so much, and the thing that i find most ironic is the fact i go to a CATHOLIC school?!


#18

sign ofthe times…

the world is getting crazier andcrazier by the day… because people are getting further and further from Christ and his Church…

Well, at least some are coming toward Her… I heard something about Bush becoming Catholic… but have yet to find out if Pres Bush or his brother, Jeb…???


#19

Chelsea,

I can definately relate, as I’ve had to cut ties with some people I’ve been friends with since elementary school. I chickened out several times even mentioning that we have grown apart and what was important to them wasn’t important to me and vis a versa. Right before I was able to tell them that since we were not the same people who befriended each other, I literally opened my bible to a random page and read Matthew 10:14 “And whoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words, when you depart out of that house or city, shake off the dust of your feet.” After inviting them to Mass (and getting laughed at and scorned) a few times, and trying to mention that what I was doing was not God’s will (again, more laughter and scorn), I realized that I could do no more, so I thanked them for their years of friendship and promised that I would pray for them.

It has not been very easy, but now a few months after I have done it, my faith has continued to grow. Not continously, as I do have my dry periods, but in comparison to what it was like before, I have made some strides. As far as making new friends, I would like to point out that a friend does not have to be someone your own age. I consider my 60+ sponsor a friend, as well as some of the older members of my parish. My closest friend is 13 years older than I am, but the age issue really doesn’t come up.

I also noticed that one of your locations is Maryville, TN. If you have the transportation, I would also recommend going to the John XXIII center at UTK when you’re in TN. Since it’s on campus, there are many college students that go there.

I will be praying for you!

Ericka


#20

Funnily enough I will be attending UTK in the fall so I will most certainly give that a try. Thankyou


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