Ask an Apostle: My Atheist Friends Think I’m Weird
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Q: I have friends who are atheists and I am a faithful believer. It seems like every time I talk about my faith, I’m met with doubts and strange looks. How can I pray for them and help them one day become believers?
A: A series of somewhat clichéd and inattributable sayings come to mind when I think about your question: you can’t want something more for someone than they want for themselves. You can lead a horse to water, but you cannot make it drink. You cannot change others, you can only change yourself. I think all of these kinds of proverbs are relevant to your situation in that they point out that you can’t help someone become anything if they’re opposed to becoming. It’s a harsh reality for parents, spouses, teachers, friends, neighbors and well, humans everywhere.
But here’s another piece of wisdom, not so cliché and popularly attributed to St. Francis of Assisi from our own religious tradition: “Preach the gospel daily. If necessary, use words. If talking about your faith only causes skepticism, why not try to refrain from talking about it and instead demonstrate your faith through your actions? Show your friends God’s merciful forgiveness by letting go of past grudges and hurts. Emulate the radical acceptance of Jesus by listening with openness and curiosity to the stories your friends share. Be the hands and feet of Christ in your own little circle of the world, keep praying for your friends, and just let God do the rest, whatever it is.