My wife and I are converts to Catholicism. We live in the same area as my family and there has been a lot of conflict with them lately, especially since the holiday season has begun and we’re all together more often. None of them are religious (most of them are agnostic or into New Age). The religious differences don’t bother us, but it does bother them.
To say that they’re hostile to our beliefs would be an understatement. Occasionally they make serious comments threatening us about how dangerous and silly our Christian faith is, but mostly the conflict is in the form of “jokes” and “casual comments.” They’ll say something that is critical of or belittles our faith, and if we try to defend ourselves they’ll react as if we’re the ones stirring up trouble because they were “just joking.” When we’ve tried to have talks with them about respecting our beliefs it has never gone well since there are a lot of communication issues between us.
My wife and I have been praying about it but aren’t sure what to do. On the one hand we do love them and want to show them love, on the other hand we sometimes wonder if these situations don’t push us beyond our abilities to be charitable. Sometimes we consider taking a step back from family involvement, but the problem is that they would feel insulted if we went that route, and we don’t want to “abandon” them.
I guess the fundamental issues are:
- How do you balance showing Christian love to people with defending frequent attacks on your beliefs, especially when you feel pushed to your limit?
- Is there ever a time to temporarily withdraw from engaging with family members who are (I don’t know how else to put this) driving you crazy?
- If so, how do you do that without hurting their feelings?
If you or your readers have any advice we would appreciate it.
This person mentioned that he is going to consult with a trusted spiritual advisor on the matter, but I wanted to put the question out there since I know a lot of people struggle with this. Anyone have any good advice or books to recommend that might offer inspiration to people in this situation?
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