Q: My dad is Jewish and mom is Catholic. None of us go to church (or temple).My dad is against me being a Christian and going to church. I haven’t even told him that my life is dedicated to God. I have to hide my Bible and all my crosses from him. It makes me so angry knowing he won’t accept me for who I am. And on top of that, my few close friends here are not Christian. Mostly atheists. I just feel alone. Like in the book of Daniel—he was so true to God and had so much strength. But it’s just so hard when no one around is encouraging or accepting my life for Jesus. Any suggestions to help me deal with this?
I’ve been thinking about you and your question all week, asking God to open my eyes to whatever He would have me share with you. I kept hoping He’d give me an easy answer, but He kept leading me back to what you said: “Daniel was so true to God and had so much strength.” …I think you may have answered your own question!
Throughout the Bible we see men and women who had to walk very lonely roads in their faith. Not only Daniel, but King David, Mary (Jesus’ mom), the Apostle Paul…I could go on and on. Each one understood that it’s just stinkin’ hard when “no one around is encouraging or accepting [your] life for Jesus.” They realized there are no pat answers; no easy way out. That’s why Paul wrote words like these to encourage us:
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting Him, He endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now He is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. Think of all the hostility He endured from sinful people; then you won’t become weary and give up. After all, you have not yet given your lives in your struggle against sin.
So take a new grip with your tired hands and strengthen your weak knees. Mark out a straight path for your feet so that those who are weak and lame will not fall but become strong. Work at living in peace with everyone, and work at living a holy life, for those who are not holy will not see the Lord. (Hebrews 12:1-4, 12-14, New Living Translation)
Jesus Himself walked a lonely road most of His life. Think about it: How could any of His family or friends completely understand His perfect, sinless life or His incredible intimacy with God? That’s why He’s our perfect example when we feel isolated and alone in our beliefs. So, like Paul said, don’t “become weary or give up.”
Paul gives some really practical advice in verses 12-14. The best advice I can give you is to listen to his advice! “Mark out a straight path for your feet….Work at living in peace with everyone, and work at living a holy life.” Those three steps will set you up for success, no matter how alone you are.
What does it mean to “mark a straight path for your feet”? When I go hiking in the mountains around Hume, I always have to watch the trail ahead of me. I keep an eye out for dangers (rocks, logs, big holes, bears–you get the idea), and for distractions (like a fork in the trail that would lead me the wrong way). The same is true in your life. If you want to stand strong in your faith, you have to make sure the trail you’re on is a safe one. While you can’t do anything right now to change your parents (though God may choose to change them through your example), you can choose the friends you have, how you spend your free time, what you watch and think about, etc. As much as you are able, surround yourself with people and things that will keep you walking on the right path. I’m not going to lie–it’s going to take work! You have to be deliberate about it.
“Work at living at peace with everyone,” which includes your parents. As they see the godly fruit in your life over time, it will speak to them without any words. First Peter 3:1-2 says, “Even if some refuse to obey the Good News, your godly lives will speak to them without any words. They will be won over by observing your pure and reverent lives.” (This passage is speaking to wives about their husbands, but I believe God wants the same of daughters toward their parents!)
“Work at living a holy life.” You can do this no matter who supports or doesn’t support your faith. But the only way you’ll know how to become more and more set apart from the world (which is what holiness means) is if you spend time reading God’s Word and talking to Him through prayer. There are also a ton of great books out there, written by godly men and women who have been there. If you’re not getting spiritual input from your parents, or from a church, or from your friends, you’re going to dry right up if you’re not getting fed somewhere! If you have an iPod, you could even download Christian messages and listen to them on your way to school, or you could buy all the summer messages from Hume Lake on CD and listen to one a week. Just some ideas. Where you get that input is up to you, but please seek it out. Your spiritual survival depends on it.
Okay, this answer is borderline novel length, so I better wrap it up!
Let me sum up this marathon answer: You’re right. It’s stinkin’ hard trying to live a godly life solo. So do everything you can to find godly influences and input from any source you can think of, and steer clear of negative influences (whether friends, media, or whatever else). Common sense, I guess, but sometimes we need those reminders.
I love you, and I’m here for you, sis. If you need more encouragement in the months to come, you know where to come!