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My friends aren't Christians

This is about religion. I am a Catholic and tons of people I know are atheist. I often get mad at them and start complaining about it. I just want the atheists to believe in their maker, but I can't seem to do so. Can you help?

Hey girl, I'm sorry you are struggling to get your friends to see things the way you do. Unfortunately, that's something that you will experience throughout the course of your life. May as well learn ways to handle it early on instead of continuously feeling frustrated as you try to persuade others to understand, right?

Make friends who have similar beliefs
Although some will agree with your viewpoint, others will feel strongly about their own very different beliefs. It might help you not to feel so alone if you join a youth group at your church, or find a religious club at school. That way, you can bond with other teens who share your similar faith. That is not to say that you should avoid everyone who believes something different than you do, but try to form friendships with people who understand where you are coming from.

Walk a mile in the other person's shoes
It's important not to be insensitive to other people's ideas. Imagine if someone was criticizing your faith. How would that make you feel? Try to learn how to respect the beliefs of every person you meet. Don't get me wrong, girl, that's a hard skill to master, but remember, it does not mean that you need to accept everything they say. It does mean that you shouldn’t criticize others for how they see things. Imagining how you would feel if your beliefs were called into question is a great way to discern if you are being too judgmental.

Recognize boundaries
Every person has a very unique life experience. You need to recognize that you can’t always understand every individual's story. What events have made or shaped them? Do they have their own personal reasons for believing or disbelieving what you preach? These are questions you probably don’t have the answers to. If you wind up on the topic of religion in conversation, try to see the signals the other person sends you. If you sense it is a touchy subject, talk about something else! Avoid conflict by recognizing boundaries.

Understand that difference is beautiful
Envision a world where everyone looks exactly the same, goes to the same places and says the same things. It’s a pretty boring place, right? You'll soon realize that it is the differences between us that make life so interesting. Instead of seeing the inconsistencies between us as a flaw, take interest in them. Try to understand what others say about what they believe. Listen to their ideas. This will make you a much more well-rounded person when all is said and done.

Props to you though, chica, for your strong convictions and the courage you have shown by asking for advice on such a controversial topic!

BY KELLY HATTER ON 5/31/2011 8:00:00 AM


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