Whenever I interact with people who aren’t Orthodox, or more specifically people who aren’t religious, I have that moment: how will they react when I bring up God?
Thankfully, I’ve found nothing but support for my faith from my friends, but I can’t say that it’s always easy to have friends who don’t immediately know where I’m coming from.
And I have to admit that I’ve had the thought: would my life be easier if I only interacted with Orthodox people? It would certainly be easier to not have to explain my decisions in terms of my relationship with Christ, if people just understood. If we all had the same belief system. But it wouldn’t be a life in this society, in which views, opinions, and lifestyles differ greatly.
The reality is sometimes people just won’t understand why you can’t go to brunch on Sunday, they won’t care what obligations you have to Christ, and they won’t know why you place those obligations before them (and, in some cases, yourself).
Personally, when I was younger, I grappled with my faith a lot. So you can imagine that a lot of my friends, specifically the friends I made when I was younger, are not Orthodox, because I was not a practicing Orthodox Christian, although I have grown to be. This group of friends have known me for a long time. Like, an embarrassingly long time (For proof- see the picture. Don't judge).
Consequently, they’ve seen me through...well, everything. Even though these friends aren’t close to Christ right now, or at least not in the way that I am, they’re amazing, supportive, caring, compassionate, helpful, loving friends (along with every other positive adjective that I may have forgotten). They’ve been the beacons who have brought me closer to Christ, whether they knew it, or were trying to, or not.
And that’s because they have helped me become more Christ-like. They’ve taught me to love them, to remain loyal to them, and not to judge them. I’ve communicated with them as Christ would communicate with anyone, regardless of their relationship with Him.
So even if they don’t understand why I turn down Sunday brunch, my friends who aren’t Orthodox are exactly the type of people who I want in my life. Because while it might be easier to only hang out with the people who share my worldview, I’m grateful for the people who don’t always agree with me, who constructively criticize me and guide me with the most loving and beautiful of intentions, regardless of their religion. I want them in my life, and I need them in my life, because they are a part of my journey towards the Kingdom.
Image credits: Depositphotos
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Maria is the Administrative Coordinator of Y2AM. She is a New York native who isn't completely sold on the city's charm, yet has never left. A proud graduate of Fordham University and occasional runner, she is happiest whenever chocolate, a sale, or a good Gilmore Girls reference is involved.