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Old 02-13-2009, 12:26 PM   #21
 
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I would feel a little disappointed and hurt if a friend acted that way towards me. Part of friendship is trying to be helpful and caring when your friend is facing problems. It seems like a brush-off if her response is a one-size-fits-all suggestion to pray or find Jesus. JMO.
That's how I felt. A very old friend of mine "found Jesus" some time back. Right before my brother died (five years ago), I emailed a bunch of my friends from childhood and high school to let them know that he probably didn't have very long. Since we were kids together, they knew him, so I wanted to let them know. My friend who got religion had the balls to email back, "Lis, has your brother found Jesus yet? It's not too late." Frankly, she's lucky I wasn't able to reach through the computer monitor and throttle her. Needless to say, we're no longer friends.

Before I get into my full-on rant, let me explain my views on religion - it won't take long. Lapsed Catholic, don't really go to church much anymore. But I do believe in God to an extent, I believe in heaven to an extent. I'm not firm on religion, but I believe in the possibilities of it. Tell you what - prove it to me beyond a shadow of a doubt, one way or the other, and that's what I'll believe.

Anyway - it pissed me off for many reasons, based on my personal beliefs. First, you had to know my brother. He was the honest-to-god nicest guy on the planet, and I'm not just saying that because he's gone and I miss him. That was the truth. I never saw a guy with more geniune friends. His funeral was standing room only after the pews were gone - the church was bursting at the seams.

Second - The whole "has he found Jesus?" bit implies that he had something to atone for. Like, he was this horrible person who had to make himself right with God before he could get into heaven. He wasn't a saint - he was just a regular sweet, good guy, and sure he made mistakes. But if there's anyone who lived a clean lifestyle who shouldn't have any trouble in the afterlife, whether that means heaven or a higher plane or what, it was him.

Third - you know, I can see that coming from someone who doesn't know him, but she freaking knew him. I think that's what made me the angriest. For god's sake, she was over at our house nearly every day from age 11 through 18 - out of ALL of my friends, she knew what he was like. She knew what an absolute sweetheart he was. Christ, it was insulting, especially coming from her.

Here's the first story we tell about my brother when someone asks what he was like. Back in the late 80s or so, my brother and sister-in-law were walking down the street one night, very late November, and it was freezing, just bitterly cold. There was this homeless woman sitting on the sidewalk, and she was barefoot. They walked past her for a few steps, and then my brother stopped. He backtracked to her - then he took his shoes off, peeled the socks off his feet, and gave them to her. Then stepped barefoot back into his shoes. Okay? That's the kind of guy this so-called "friend" thought needed saving - a guy who literally gave the socks off of his feet to a freezing, barefoot homeless woman. I'll tell you, if my parents ever had to worry about any of their four kids getting into heaven, he's the one they didn't have to sweat it out about.

I guess my point is - agreeing with sarah42 - is that a friend who suddenly acts like they know nothing about you so that they can blab their new found religious beliefs at you like it's some "one size fits all" problem solver isn't really what I'd call a friend.

Of course, that's not to imply that all religious people are like that. My oldest friend in the world is a die hard Pentacostal, and he and his wife wouldn't dream of throwing religion around in peoples' faces. In fact, he was shocked when I told him what our other friend had said to me!

I wonder there too - is it the difference between people who have "found" religion very suddenly, or those who were raised into it from the time they were born? The former friend who said that about my brother was "born again" after a fair amount of hell-raising in our youth. My friend who's the Pentacostal was raised in his religion since birth. It's something to think about.
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Old 02-13-2009, 12:40 PM   #22
 
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Sairis, if your friend is truly happy in her new found faith, I say simply try to be happy for her. I know that it can be scary to think that you and your friend may be growing apart, but that’s the best advice I can give. At the same time, I really believe that she should be respectful towards you and your beliefs as well, and it would probably be a good idea to express this to her. You both should try to accept each other as you are.

New converts do tend to be the most zealous, but IME, they do tend to have a lot less zeal in a shorter amount of time than those that were “raised in” their faiths. Don’t count on her leaving her faith behind, but I believe that she will mellow out with time as other posters have put it.

Sometimes people are very pushy when they experience something new in their life, whether it be a new marriage, child, home purchase, whatever, and I think in some cases they are pushy because if others make the same decisions they have made, it somehow validates their own decision and they feel more secure that they made the right choice. So just know that her trying to push her faith on you has more to do with the way she feels than it does about you.
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Old 02-13-2009, 12:49 PM   #23
 
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She had a difficult experience recently that led to her becoming religious. She lives in California, so we don't get to talk often. Yesterday we talked about a few different things, and I was taken aback because when I first learned of her new-found religious beliefs I didn't think she'd be one of those people who insist that if your life sucks it's due to lack of faith. I'm not an atheist, I believe in God, but I don't believe in religion.

Basically I told my friend how beaten down I am these days because aside from the heartbreak, my unemployment claim is still pending, so I'm stressing out about that. Plus she knows about my life before all of this as well. And she told me how I need to pray and find God and basically that'll help me find happiness without worrying about external factors. I tried to tell her that there are perfectly happy people in the world who don't believe in God at all. I wasn't trying to argue with her or make her think she's wrong for feeling the way she does, I just wanted her to understand that not everybody can view life that way. She actually said that those people who don't believe aren't truly happy. They're pretending! Basically, I'm miserable because I don't have peace within myself and that is acquired through faith in God.

Aside from that, we were talking about men and I asked her if she had done the deed in all this time we hadn't talked. She told me she's waiting until she's married. I mentioned that she'd been involved in sexual activity and she basically said it's not too late to regret those things done in the past! Again, I stepped lightly and said that if she should fall madly in love with someone, it might seem a lot harder to go through with that. I did not get into why I think it's best to have sex with someone before you marry them because I didn't want to offend her in any way.

Mostly I just can't believe how much my friend has changed and that she now believes religion is the best medicine for everyone. It can get dicey sometimes to talk to her because I love her dearly and I don't want to offend her, but I also don't really like being told that the solution to my problems is believing in God more and praying.
everyone else in the free world aside, what is it about her telling you to develop more faith in God during your trying times that is unsettling to you? isn't faith in God what all believers have in common? maybe i don't understand what it is about God that you do believe and how that governs your life.

and why would you try to talk her out of her new convictions about sex outside of marriage by saying that it might be more difficult for her if she meets someone and falls in love now?

i can understand you needing her to listen to your woes instead of preaching to you and how that might be offputting to you.
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Old 02-13-2009, 01:41 PM   #24
 
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Does she seem happy? If she's happy then good for her!
I wouldn't argue with her. Don't bite your tongue, but if she truly believes all this then what's the point, yk? She's sharing with you because if turning to religion has been positive for her, she thinks you can benefit from it too. If she brings it up again, tell her to pray for you and change the subject.
Sairis, I bet she'd tell you that her whole point is that she's turned to God, not to religion, and that because she cares for you, she'd like you to know the same happiness and fulfillment that she's found. I'm sure she truly thinks He would help ease the burden of whatever's going on in your life. But it's easy for someone new to anything to be too enthusiastically pushy with the best intentions in the world - from God to curl care

And I agree with Po that most people, regardless of their beliefs, are pitiful at finding the "right" thing to say when offering condolences. But, really, what can anyone say that doesn't come off as trite?
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Old 02-13-2009, 06:07 PM   #25
 
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I wasn't trying to talk her out of her new convictions. It was just a bit hard for me to believe that she has gotten to the point where she now believes this.

My friend is extremely caring and compassionate, so I guess it's a little strange that now she thinks about things being "morally right" in people's lives. In a sense, I find this takes away from her naturally compassionate, understanding personality.
We talked a lot, and she certainly offered plenty of comfort. I just find the conversation turns awkward when she says that if you just look towards God you'll find happiness, because as I said, while I'm not an atheist, I take issue with someone saying that only through God can one find happiness.
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Old 02-13-2009, 06:12 PM   #26
 
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A lot of religous folks seem to use religion as a cop out for offering real friendship, empathy, and advice. It's so much easier to say "pray about it, ask jesus for help" than to be a real friend.

When my nephew died, my SIL was so put off by most condolence comments being religous based. She felt like people just said their stock religious lines and felt like they had done their part in comforting her. It was all so trite and unhelpful.

I tend to unload ultra-religous types from my life. They get so boring.
I'd never thought about it this way, but you are so right.

I had a very close friend who suddenly "found G-d." I love her dearly, but being a Yankee I'm fairly uncomfortable with using G-d's name in casual conversation. Phrases like, "I am so very blessed by G-d's grace" don't really tumble out of my mouth in casual conversation, and it feels a little awkward when someone else says them. I never know how to respond!
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Old 02-13-2009, 06:16 PM   #27
 
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Here's the first story we tell about my brother when someone asks what he was like. Back in the late 80s or so, my brother and sister-in-law were walking down the street one night, very late November, and it was freezing, just bitterly cold. There was this homeless woman sitting on the sidewalk, and she was barefoot. They walked past her for a few steps, and then my brother stopped. He backtracked to her - then he took his shoes off, peeled the socks off his feet, and gave them to her. Then stepped barefoot back into his shoes. Okay? That's the kind of guy this so-called "friend" thought needed saving - a guy who literally gave the socks off of his feet to a freezing, barefoot homeless woman. I'll tell you, if my parents ever had to worry about any of their four kids getting into heaven, he's the one they didn't have to sweat it out about.
*guano*
One of the things people have said about helpful things to say when people tell you that they've lost a family member is to ask them what he or she was like. It seems like every time that it's been appropriate that I've responded that way it's been received positively. Any other suggestions?

Also - your brother sounds like an amazing person.
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Old 02-13-2009, 08:11 PM   #28
 
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I just find the conversation turns awkward when she says that if you just look towards God you'll find happiness, because as I said, while I'm not an atheist, I take issue with someone saying that only through God can one find happiness.
I hear you. When I run into situations like this, I try to take the heart of what they're saying and discard the rest.

For them, turning to God is what did it. But everyone has their own path, some religious, some spiritual, some of the everyday world.

So, in my head, I just substitute "a higher power" or "spirituality" or "calling" whenever I hear the word "God."

I give a ton of latitude. They're not trying to be hurtful, so I try not to take it that way.

I do agree, however, that if this sort of singlemindedness went on too long, it would be hard to take and the friendship would probably wane.
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Old 02-13-2009, 09:23 PM   #29
 
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Here's the first story we tell about my brother when someone asks what he was like. Back in the late 80s or so, my brother and sister-in-law were walking down the street one night, very late November, and it was freezing, just bitterly cold. There was this homeless woman sitting on the sidewalk, and she was barefoot. They walked past her for a few steps, and then my brother stopped. He backtracked to her - then he took his shoes off, peeled the socks off his feet, and gave them to her. Then stepped barefoot back into his shoes. Okay? That's the kind of guy this so-called "friend" thought needed saving - a guy who literally gave the socks off of his feet to a freezing, barefoot homeless woman. I'll tell you, if my parents ever had to worry about any of their four kids getting into heaven, he's the one they didn't have to sweat it out about.
*guano*
One of the things people have said about helpful things to say when people tell you that they've lost a family member is to ask them what he or she was like. It seems like every time that it's been appropriate that I've responded that way it's been received positively. Any other suggestions?

Also - your brother sounds like an amazing person.
Guano back to you - but I think you removed the quotes incorrectly. That was my brother, not Sarah's. It's okay, it probably happened because I'd quoted her at the beginning of my post, and you deleted too far. And yeah - he was pretty amazing. I was introduced to this very kind woman by a friend about a month after my brother died. My friend had mentioned to her that I had just lost him. When the woman met me, the first thing she said to me after our initial introduction - she offered her condolences, and then said to me, "Tell me about your brother. What was he like?" Of course, I started bawling immediately, but mostly because of the kindness of her gesture, that someone wanted to hear how great he was. And thanks very much for what you said, Newcurly, that was very nice of you. (End of guano!)
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Old 02-14-2009, 08:32 AM   #30
 
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This isn't a reply to the OP, just a comment on some of the other replies.

I don't want to get into the religious debate, but I thought I would try to explain why some (Christian) people say the things they do in difficult situations.

They may sound cold and harsh and not relevant to you, but I'll just let you know where they are coming from. (They are coming from what God says to do in the Bible.)

- For example Christians aren't saying ask Jesus for help as a cop out to being a real freind...

...they believe the all-powerful God can cure disease (and all a friend can really do is provide comfort and casseroles, etc.) So Christians think...go right to God, the source of all power and ask for help. (Best chance for most-effective help).


- Another example...again God says that it doesn't matter how good or kind anyone is....it doesn't get them into heaven. God says the only way to heaven is through his son Jesus...

...so again the Christian is thinking if someone is close to death, hopefully this person knows Jesus so they will go to heaven. (Best outcome)


So in reality these are very "loving" things these people are saying. They want to ensure that your loved ones get the most effective help out there---God's power (not mere human efforts).

Again, we don't need to debate whether you believe in God, the Bible, (been done many times on this board) etc....

I'm just providing a Christian point of view, that some of you may not be familiar with!
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Old 02-14-2009, 08:43 AM   #31
 
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This isn't a reply to the OP, just a comment on some of the other replies.

I don't want to get into the religious debate, but I thought I would try to explain why some (Christian) people say the things they do in difficult situations.

They may sound cold and harsh and not relevant to you, but I'll just let you know where they are coming from. (They are coming from what God says to do in the Bible.)

- For example Christians aren't saying ask Jesus for help as a cop out to being a real freind...

...they believe the all-powerful God can cure disease (and all a friend can really do is provide comfort and casseroles, etc.) So Christians think...go right to God, the source of all power and ask for help.


- Another example...again God says that it doesn't matter how good or kind anyone is....it doesn't get them into heaven. God says the only way to heaven is through his son Jesus...

...so again the Christian is thinking if someone is close to death, hopefully this person knows Jesus so they will go to heaven.


So in reality these are very "loving" things these people are saying. They want to ensure that your loved ones get the most effective help out there---God's power (not mere human efforts).

Again, we don't need to debate whether you believe in God, the Bible, (been done many times on this board) etc....

I'm just providing a Christian point of view, that some of you may not be familiar with!
But if you know that person isn't religious, then why go there? I mean, when in rome. . . . Why not try to comfort them in a way that they find comforting instead of what you would?

For me personally, some of those things that christians like to say to comfort, are quite frankly counter-productive if you're looking for a convert.
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Old 02-14-2009, 09:05 AM   #32
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Priscilla View Post
This isn't a reply to the OP, just a comment on some of the other replies.

I don't want to get into the religious debate, but I thought I would try to explain why some (Christian) people say the things they do in difficult situations.

They may sound cold and harsh and not relevant to you, but I'll just let you know where they are coming from. (They are coming from what God says to do in the Bible.)

- For example Christians aren't saying ask Jesus for help as a cop out to being a real freind...

...they believe the all-powerful God can cure disease (and all a friend can really do is provide comfort and casseroles, etc.) So Christians think...go right to God, the source of all power and ask for help.


- Another example...again God says that it doesn't matter how good or kind anyone is....it doesn't get them into heaven. God says the only way to heaven is through his son Jesus...

...so again the Christian is thinking if someone is close to death, hopefully this person knows Jesus so they will go to heaven.


So in reality these are very "loving" things these people are saying. They want to ensure that your loved ones get the most effective help out there---God's power (not mere human efforts).

Again, we don't need to debate whether you believe in God, the Bible, (been done many times on this board) etc....

I'm just providing a Christian point of view, that some of you may not be familiar with!
But if you know that person isn't religious, then why go there? I mean, when in rome. . . . Why not try to comfort them in a way that they find comforting instead of what you would?

For me personally, some of those things that christians like to say to comfort, are quite frankly counter-productive if you're looking for a convert.
Priscilla is right. And I think you answered your own question. The Bible says we are to help make converts of non Christians (partly by sharing how God has helped us) and it does not advocate a "when in Rome" mindset at all. Quite the opposite, Christians are to be obviously set apart from the rest of the world in our behaviors and "in the world but not of the world."
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Old 02-14-2009, 09:34 AM   #33
 
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Originally Posted by cympreni View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by Priscilla View Post
This isn't a reply to the OP, just a comment on some of the other replies.

I don't want to get into the religious debate, but I thought I would try to explain why some (Christian) people say the things they do in difficult situations.

They may sound cold and harsh and not relevant to you, but I'll just let you know where they are coming from. (They are coming from what God says to do in the Bible.)

- For example Christians aren't saying ask Jesus for help as a cop out to being a real freind...

...they believe the all-powerful God can cure disease (and all a friend can really do is provide comfort and casseroles, etc.) So Christians think...go right to God, the source of all power and ask for help.


- Another example...again God says that it doesn't matter how good or kind anyone is....it doesn't get them into heaven. God says the only way to heaven is through his son Jesus...

...so again the Christian is thinking if someone is close to death, hopefully this person knows Jesus so they will go to heaven.


So in reality these are very "loving" things these people are saying. They want to ensure that your loved ones get the most effective help out there---God's power (not mere human efforts).

Again, we don't need to debate whether you believe in God, the Bible, (been done many times on this board) etc....

I'm just providing a Christian point of view, that some of you may not be familiar with!
But if you know that person isn't religious, then why go there? I mean, when in rome. . . . Why not try to comfort them in a way that they find comforting instead of what you would?

For me personally, some of those things that christians like to say to comfort, are quite frankly counter-productive if you're looking for a convert.
Priscilla is right. And I think you answered your own question. The Bible says we are to help make converts of non Christians (partly by sharing how God has helped us) and it does not advocate a "when in Rome" mindset at all. Quite the opposite, Christians are to be obviously set apart from the rest of the world in our behaviors and "in the world but not of the world."
So I guess at some point you'd have to make a choice between being a "good christian" and being a good friend. Because that stuff is just as likely to turn a person away from god and you. To a non-christian, christian comfort phrases can be considered insulting, offensive, minimizing.
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Old 02-14-2009, 10:45 AM   #34
 
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But if you know that person isn't religious, then why go there? I mean, when in rome. . . . Why not try to comfort them in a way that they find comforting instead of what you would?

For me personally, some of those things that christians like to say to comfort, are quite frankly counter-productive if you're looking for a convert.
Priscilla is right. And I think you answered your own question. The Bible says we are to help make converts of non Christians (partly by sharing how God has helped us) and it does not advocate a "when in Rome" mindset at all. Quite the opposite, Christians are to be obviously set apart from the rest of the world in our behaviors and "in the world but not of the world."
So I guess at some point you'd have to make a choice between being a "good christian" and being a good friend.
To many Christians, they are not mutually exclusive terms.

Quote:
To a non-christian, christian comfort phrases can be considered insulting, offensive, minimizing.
But so can comments from non Christians. As I think many people here agree, there's nothing anyone can really say that won't possibly be considered trite or unhelpful.
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Old 02-14-2009, 11:03 AM   #35
 
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Priscilla is right. And I think you answered your own question. The Bible says we are to help make converts of non Christians (partly by sharing how God has helped us) and it does not advocate a "when in Rome" mindset at all. Quite the opposite, Christians are to be obviously set apart from the rest of the world in our behaviors and "in the world but not of the world."
So I guess at some point you'd have to make a choice between being a "good christian" and being a good friend.
To many Christians, they are not mutually exclusive terms.

Quote:
To a non-christian, christian comfort phrases can be considered insulting, offensive, minimizing.
But so can comments from non Christians. As I think many people here agree, there's nothing anyone can really say that won't possibly be considered trite or unhelpful.
And to many they are mutually exclusive. If you want to give comfort to people, give them what that want not what you want for them. When you give something, it's about them, not you. It's like the a husband giving his wife a drill that he wants, and she won't use.
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Old 02-14-2009, 11:25 AM   #36
 
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But if you know that person isn't religious, then why go there? I mean, when in rome. . . . Why not try to comfort them in a way that they find comforting instead of what you would?
but the OP does believe in God, which is why i'm confused about why she seems to be focusing more on defending nonbelievers than being receptive to a beneficial message that could possibly help her, from a friend who has good intentions.

i don't know the tone in which her friend was talking to her. maybe that is what put her off.
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Old 02-14-2009, 11:37 AM   #37
 
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But if you know that person isn't religious, then why go there? I mean, when in rome. . . . Why not try to comfort them in a way that they find comforting instead of what you would?
but the OP does believe in God, which is why i'm confused about why she seems to be focusing more on defending nonbelievers than being receptive to a beneficial message that could possibly help her, from a friend who has good intentions.

i don't know the tone in which her friend was talking to her. maybe that is what put her off.
but obviously she's not religious enough to find those messages comforting.
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Old 02-14-2009, 11:49 AM   #38
 
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And to many they are mutually exclusive. If you want to give comfort to people, give them what that want not what you want for them. When you give something, it's about them, not you. It's like the a husband giving his wife a drill that he wants, and she won't use.
I agree. And that's what I meant when I went into my big rambling rant about what my ex-friend said about my brother before he died. It was what she wanted, it was her agenda. To sit there and say that this incredibly kind, sweet, good guy needed to get right with Jesus before he died was just ridiculous, which is exactly what I meant. My other buddy, the one who's Pentacostal, is honestly the only religious person I've ever met who doesn't shove their views onto other people. So many religious people I've met don't take other peoples' lives and situations into consideration. It's just "Give yourself over to God and it'll all be okay." And it's very often not that cut and dried, nor should it be.

And like I said before - I do believe in God. The problem is that I can't prove it. And if you can't prove that there's this all-holy being upstairs who's going to make things right, you'd better have your act together in a whole lot of ways. When you have problems going on in your life, when you've lost a job, or if you have a seriously sick family member, or whatever you may need comfort or advice about, you'd better have a Plan B in mind in the event that turning everything over to God doesn't solve that for you.
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Old 02-14-2009, 11:53 AM   #39
 
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A lot of religous folks seem to use religion as a cop out for offering real friendship, empathy, and advice. It's so much easier to say "pray about it, ask jesus for help" than to be a real friend.

When my nephew died, my SIL was so put off by most condolence comments being religous based. She felt like people just said their stock religious lines and felt like they had done their part in comforting her. It was all so trite and unhelpful.

I tend to unload ultra-religous types from my life. They get so boring.
My niece talked to her "religious" Mom about getting her tubes tied. She was 40 & really didn't want children. Her Mom told her to pray about it. My niece then called me. We had a good talk & she made her decision based on what she truly wanted to do. She told me she felt her Mom copped out on being a Mom. She didn't understand why her Mom couldn't talk to her about this. I told her it was probably because it went against her religious beliefs. My niece told me she needed her Mom, not some religious belief.
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Old 02-14-2009, 11:54 AM   #40
 
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Cymp - I guess what people believe is a commandment from God supercedes what their friends feel at the moment. Plus, as much as people should give grieving friends what they want, people can only give from what they have or where they are.

Lisa - Is saying "Give yourself over to God and it'll all be okay" really shoving religion down someone's throat? You might say it's a pat answer, but it doesn't sound forceful at all.
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