I am pondering and turning sentences around in my mind. I already have a pile of papers covered in writing. But I am still wondering if I should write about this topic, although my friend encouraged me to do so?
Then I have a phone call, a very pertinent one. We talk about the same thing. How could we approach a person who is struggling with doubts or has already given up faith? What would be the good way to make contact and discuss?
Should I encourage my child to continue to be friends with a young person who has given up faith, or should I suggest withdrawing from such friendship – fearing that my child might also end up denying his or her faith? If I were in a similar situation, how would I hope that others would approach me or my child? Would it be okay for them to reject me and avoid me like someone with plague? To leave me out because I am no longer part of the group?
I understand that parents worry about their children, but it would be good to remember that love works better than hatred and rejection.
It might be useful to follow the advice my godmother gave me when I was young: Keep in contact with those who have given up their faith and talk about faith. Most importantly: show them you care – even when they strongly disagree with you about faith.
I have often fondly remembered my godmother. She took her role as a godparent seriously, supporting my parents in their efforts to bring up their children in Christian faith.
When a dear person gives up his or her faith, many kinds of emotions are tangled up in our minds. If that person is our child, we may look at the errors we feel we have made while bringing up that child. We may feel angry, powerless, fearful, doubting, disappointed and sad. But we also feel love and gratitude toward that dear person.
I have personally found consolation in sermons, songs of Zion and prayer as well as discussions. It is comforting to hear a child or a friend say that they feel loved by both their family and their friends. That those people accept them as individuals, although they may not always accept the things they have done. It has been touching to hear comments like this: “It was good you wanted to talk about this.” or “Thanks for coming to bring me home”.
Especially when talking with our own children, we tend to mix emotions and facts. We may aim at constructive discussion, yet end up with anything but. There may be sulking, loud arguments or refusal to listen.
We sometimes seem to find suitable words quite easily and be able to approach the other person with a loving and merciful attitude. We may be able to speak directly but appreciatively. But there may also be so much strain between the parties that, no matter what we say, our words only make things worse.
Yet, silence is never a good solution in the long run. Problems are reflected in interpersonal relations even if they are not discussed. Secrecy does not promote sincerity.
I believe in the importance of discussion. Or interaction in general, even in writing. If you wrote a diary when you were young, it would be good to go back to your diary entries. That may help you to understand the young person’s way of thinking.
I have found that things rarely clear up if you simply turn them over in your own mind. At least my imagination may turn minor concerns into huge monsters! Whenever you dare to open your mouth and unburden your mind to someone, even a complete stranger, you will find you are not alone with your thoughts.
You may also find support somewhere quite unexpected. My thoughts have occasionally been clarified by a discussion with someone who has values completely different from mine but has a lot of life experience.
I have been wondering about the experiences of some of my acquaintances. Believers came to ask a person how he was doing only after he had lost his faith. Before that, no-one had been interested in his life. Another acquaintance told me that no-one asked her why she had given up her faith. She said it seemed like no-one really cared.
Maybe, overall, we should be more interested in other people. Do were really want to know how they are doing? Or is it easier to remain ignorant? Should we do like the old believers did and ask: ”Do you have peace with God? How is your faith?”
And what if we also had the courage to discuss faith with unbelievers? The way my parents did 25 years ago. We had two casual acquaintances come into our home who did not know each other. When the latter was greeted with ”God’s Peace”, he said, “Unfortunately, I cannot return that greeting yet.”
To me that situation did not seem at all embarrassing. Rather it was touching. And what was best, that man was given the grace to believe his sins forgiven that very same evening. He is still believing.
That event was so significant to me that I still feel a special bond with the people who were present that evening. I remember if often and hope that all people who do not yet believe would experience the miracle of repentance.
Let us keep our doors open and care about others. "For as long as there is life there is hope."
Text: Salla Pätsi
Translation: Sirkka-Liisa Leinonen
You will find the original blog post here.
Ihmisten kohdatessa ensimmäistä kertaa tehdään havaintoja. Huomio saattaa kiinnittyä ulkoisiin seikkoihin tai vaikkapa puhetapaan. Tämä ei kerro paljoa vieraan ihmisen persoonasta tai elämästä. Vasta keskustelut auttavat tutustumaan syvemmin.
Kirjoittajat eri puolilta maailmaa kertovat siitä, kuinka Jumala on johdattanut heidät valtakuntaansa. Kertomuksia yhdistää kokemus kotiinpaluusta, Raamatun mukaisen uskon löytymisestä ja uskovaisten välisestä rakkaudesta.
Kuuden edesmenneen puhujan elämänvaiheet piirtävät kuvaa uskosta ja elämästä menneinä vuosikymmeninä. Heidän kokemuksensa myös syventävät kristillisyyttä koetelleiden hajaannusten historiaa.
Eeva Kontiokarin runoissa tarkastellaan ikääntymistä lempeällä huumorilla ja elämänkokemuksen tuomalla viisaudella.
Äänite vie Muhoksen Suviseurojen valmisteluihin liittyneeseen yhteislaulutapahtumaan Oulun tuomiokirkkoon.