“So you really think that up there in the clouds—there are people floating and we’re all going to go there when we die? You think—” He pauses and wakes up the computer in front of us and types “Heaven” into Google.
I cringe a little bit as the first image comes up. It’s pink clouds and babies in diapers playing the harps. “You think that’s real?” He jabs his fingers at the screen.
It was one of many conversations I’d had with my coworker. Other topics included: Why do you have to go to church? Do you hate gay people? Do you pray to Jesus or God or all of them? Do you hear voices? Do you really think you’ll never have sex until you’re married?
And let me tell you, every single question made me sweat.
Not because I didn’t know where I stood but because every time I said it aloud, I could see the “crazy” label flashing across his eyes. He openly told me over and over that he didn’t get it. All he knew about Christianity came from TV shows like 7th Heaven and scandals that made news headlines. Which made it even more bizarre to him when he met me for the first time and found out someone genuinely believed “this stuff”.
He was never interrogating me—we had become good friends while working together, bonding over TV shows, good food, and our shared appreciation for sarcastic jokes. We talked about everything in life—including him trying to figure out how I could actually believe there was a God.
His own point of view was very open. He definitely didn’t believe in some things aligned with the Church but he didn’t hate it. And yet, I could feel myself walking on eggshells when we approached topics I knew we would drastically not align on. Would he hate me for what I believe? Would we stop being friends? Would I forever be labelled at work?
From my experience, it is not easy talking to people with different points of view. But the biggest problem I had? I made it way more complicated than it needed to be.
When I went in open to a conversation rather than scared I would have to defend myself, I realized how simple it was. It’s just a conversation, not an argument. I was being my own worst enemy by assuming he was making judgment calls about me. But if I wasn’t making them of him; why did I think he would make them of me?
And our friendship only got stronger. Christian or non-Christian, all friendships are about mutual trust and mutual respect and finding deeper empathy for the other. The more you lean into it, the more you build a foundation for something we can all agree on: loving people well. Which kind of just sounds a lot like what Jesus calls us to in the first place.
I want my friend to know God. But that doesn’t happen without friendship. It grows and builds just like any—talking about the things that are important to us and continue to love them as best as we know how.