Q & R: who can I talk to?
A reader writes ...
Hi my name is yyy, I live in zzz and am 20-something years old. I have to state right off the bat that I really have no idea what I am doing right now writing this email. I almost feel like a crazed teenybopper teenager, so I apologize now for the excitedness and potentially unorganized thought patterns.
So I just finished reading your book "A New Kind of Christian" and I have to say that I am absolutely blown away. I can't tell you how much of a God send your words were for me. I felt as if God was speaking directly to me using you. Like I said I am absolutely in awe right now, which is in large the reason I can't fully convey everything I feel I would like to you right now. To read your words and the words of your friend Neo was like reading a transcribed dialogue between a friend of mine and I that has literally been going on for the past few years. The only problem I have found in my own personal conversations is that the friend of mine with whom I can speak so blatantly with is in fact not a Christian. Now this really doesn't actually pose a problem for me however my wife seems to think that I should only be having these conversations with other Christian men. This does however pose a problem for me.
Here's the Q:
I was raised in a very strict non-denominational church for my entire life. Every Sunday was church and Wednesday was bible study and Christmas vacation from school was winter bible camp and likewise for summer. I have to say that I do in fact consider myself very lucky. However, as I started to come into my own, and become my own man, I started making decisions for myself and started analyzing things from my own perspective. Honestly pastor, all I could see was hypocrisy. It broke my heart. I tried to look past it, I tried to rationalize it, and I tried to join it. I failed. All I could see was utter hypocrisy everywhere I looked. From my dad coming home every day, turning on Fox news and yelling at the TV (always very negative) until he passed out, The church spending all their money on new buildings, new landscapes, new playgrounds etc., to my peers at school evangelizing till they turn blue then turning around smoking pot and drinking when they though no one was looking. So honestly, as far as I could tell from my own new found perspective, it seemed that almost everything I had been raised in was false. Maybe false isn't the right word because I never stopped believing that Jesus Died for me and God IS the loving creator of all. I just started believing that this hypocritical Christian way of being was not for me at all. Enough said right. ... If you feel it in your heart to write back with any insight on how I should address my wife on how to have spiritual talks with people of slightly different beliefs then I would literally love to know what you think on the specific issue. ... I know however, that you are a busy man with lots of people to talk to so I take no offense if no response is given. Like I said, the whole point of this email was to thank you for writing what you did and not being afraid of how some people might take it. Jesus said lots of things that lots of people didn’t like hearing.
Thanks for your note. I'm so glad the book was helpful to you. This isn't the best place to try to offer marriage counseling (!), but let me encourage you to do three things.
1. Tell your wife you want to take her concerns seriously.
2. Try to really "hear" her concerns. Don't defend yourself at all. Don't correct anything that is wrong. Just listen deeply and thank her for helping you understand. Try to put back into your own words what she's saying, and don't move forward until she's satisfied that you fully understand.
3. Then see if she would be interested in setting up another time to talk where she could try to understand your concerns.
The goal in all of this should be understanding, not agreement ... I've found (both in marriage and during my years as a pastor) that if you seek agreement, you often don't get understanding. If you seek understanding, agreement often works itself out.