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Sending Christian support to non-Christians?


swimmermom3
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If you are Christian, do you send bible verses and quotes to non-Christians who are experiencing a time of crisis (non-spiritual)?  If so, how do you think they receive the note?

 

Our family is going through a crisis and we received cards from family members in support. I was so grateful for the kind notes, but one made me, well, I don't know if furious is the right word, but instead of feeling comforted, I felt hurt.

 

As an agnostic, if you, as a person of faith, tell me that you are praying for me or my family, I appreciate your thoughtfulness and wouldn't be offended.  If you "witness" to me in a time of personal crisis, I feel like you are taking advantage and that the "prayers" and sermons on God's goodness are for your benefit, not mine. Why do it? My initial reaction was "One more failing pointed out, how fantastic." 

 

Is there another way to view this that in my somewhat emotional state that I am not seeing?

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BTDT.  I don't know.  In those cases I let it go.  I guess they express things in the way that makes sense to them.  At least I didn't feel that any who did that did so knowing that it could potentially upset me. 

 

Uh huh, thank you, throw card in trash.....rinse and repeat...

 

I will now drink a beer in your honor.  :cheers2:

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I'm sorry that someone hurt you.

 

If you could share the quote or sentiment expressed, it would be easier to offer some insight into the other person's possible thought processes behind offering it. Without knowing either the quote or the person, it could range anywhere from "You evil sinner, if you accepted Christ, this wouldn't have happened!" to "I'm so sorry you're hurting; this is a thought that comforts me and I hope it will comfort you as well" (though obviously even if it was the second, it did not have the desired effect).

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I sometimes wonder if it's them trying to make themselves feel better.  They may not admit to it or see it as such, but if they know it's not something that will make you feel better or touch you in a positive caring way what other purpose would it serve?  Either they are clueless, very possible, or self centered. 

 

 

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I'm sorry that someone hurt you.

 

If you could share the quote or sentiment expressed, it would be easier to offer some insight into the other person's possible thought processes behind offering it. Without knowing either the quote or the person, it could range anywhere from "You evil sinner, if you accepted Christ, this wouldn't have happened!" to "I'm so sorry you're hurting; this is a thought that comforts me and I hope it will comfort you as well" (though obviously even if it was the second, it did not have the desired effect).

 

I think the part in bold would be the person's intent even though they know we are not practicing.

 

..."sincere prayer that you will know that:

 

'God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.' Ps. 46"

 

"May you know this truth as your firm foundation in these days ahead."

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I think the part in bold would be the person's intent even though they know we are not practicing.

 

..."sincere prayer that you will know that:

 

'God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.' Ps. 46"

 

"May you know this truth as your firm foundation in these days ahead."

 

Which to a non believer sounds like, "The great SparklyUnicorn is our refuge and strength.  She guides us with her magical uplifting horn and rainbow goodness." 

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I think you get to feel how you feel. Whatever they intended, the message was hurtful and you shouldn't have to feel burdened to try to find the positive spin. Sometimes people just have no clue. :( I'm sorry.

 

I don't send out Christianese to people who do not share my faith, or whose interpretations/doctrine/traditions are different even within Christendom. I will say something that reflects my own faith, the "I'm praying for you" thing, but NEVER will I tell anybody what I think God will do or how I think they should be feeling or behaving as they go through their trials. Partly because I have no right, but also because I know (from experience) that people's spirituality and thoughts toward God can go unexpectedly kerflooey during serious trials and it's SO intrusive of ANYONE to assume anything. It's a MYOB area to me.

 

If I'm trying to comfort someone who I know to be negatively distracted by religion or borderline hostile to Christianity in particular, they will receive hugs and good thoughts and "thinking of you" type speech. I can say all of that just as sincerely as I can tell people that I'm praying.

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I think the part in bold would be the person's intent even though they know we are not practicing.

 

..."sincere prayer that you will know that:

 

'God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.' Ps. 46"

 

"May you know this truth as your firm foundation in these days ahead."

That would bug me. They must know it's not going to comfort a non-christian, so it comes across like proselytizing.

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I think the part in bold would be the person's intent even though they know we are not practicing.

 

..."sincere prayer that you will know that:

 

'God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.' Ps. 46"

 

"May you know this truth as your firm foundation in these days ahead."

 

That is very presumptuous. That's the kind of thing you affirm, if you believe it, after the person-in-trouble says something like it, but not something you would say to someone who has never claimed a belief in any such thing.

 

In my perfect universe.

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Yikes, that is insensitive, given that your religious beliefs do not align with theirs!

 

It sounds like the person is falling back on the ideas that would be of comfort to him or her, rather than thinking clearly about what would be of comfort to you. Those sentiments are exactly what I would need to hear, for example, and similar to what I would *pray for* an unbelieving or non-practicing friend (that God would provide a preferred outcome to the situation, and peace and comfort to my friend, and that He would use the situation somehow to draw my friend to Himself). However, what I would *say to* an unbeliever or non-practicing person would be very different (I'm praying for you, let me help you in whatever practical way you need, I'm available to talk or listen or sit with you, etc).

 

It's an unfortunate reality that many of us are incapable of (or worse, unwilling to) removing ourselves from the situation enough to respond in any way other than "this is what I think I would want to hear, so it must be what you want or need to hear as well." I think it's particularly a failing of those who don't have much experience dealing with people from other cultures, backgrounds, or beliefs. (I know I used to be much worse about it than I am now, after living outside the U.S. and as an ethnic and religious minority for the first time in my life!)

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If they're just agnostic or meh, I'll send my normal condolences as thoughtfully as possible. If they're atheist or absolutely detest Christianity I'll usally self edit more strongly for religious language. But I'm a believer, everyone who knows me knows this, and that's a fundamental part of the way I see tragedy. I can try to not be overt about it, but it colors any comments I'd offer.

 

I don't know anyone for whom that would be a massive issue, fortunately.

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I'm sorry you're going through a rough time.

 

As for that card, I think it is in poor taste and frankly selfish.  Sure, it might make the person sending it feel better, but s/he is supposed to be thinking of *you*.  It's kind of like picking out a gift for someone - you don't send someone something that *you* want but is clearly something that they would not want.  I mean, be thoughtful, people! Think of what the recipient would want, not what you want the recipient to want.

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I wouldn't send that to a nonbeliever.  I don't even typically tell nonbelievers I am praying for them, ever since a friend who is an atheist told me in no uncertain terms where I could put my prayers when I said that to her when she was going through a difficult divorce.  I stick with "I'm sorry."  "I'm thinking of you."  "I hope things are better soon."

 

And I say all those things to you, now. 

 

 

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If they're just agnostic or meh, I'll send my normal condolences as thoughtfully as possible. If they're atheist or absolutely detest Christianity I'll usally self edit more strongly for religious language. But I'm a believer, everyone who knows me knows this, and that's a fundamental part of the way I see tragedy. I can try to not be overt about it, but it colors any comments I'd offer.

 

I don't know anyone for whom that would be a massive issue, fortunately.

 

I get that.  It does sound like a bit much in this case though.

Years ago my grandmother gave me a book of poems.  Many were somewhat religious, but I have to say it was a nice poetry book.  I was not bugged by it.  I read it often and found it uplifting.  Being an atheist doesn't necessarily mean someone can't appreciate stuff.  But then there are limits.

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If they have a track record of being a jerk, I'd circular file the card and not give it another thought. If they've been kind in the past, I'd chalk it up to not knowing what to say and falling back on a formula phrase. Keep the kind wishes and chuck the awkward language.

 

I hope your crisis passes soon.

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Which to a non believer sounds like, "The great SparklyUnicorn is our refuge and strength. She guides us with her magical uplifting horn and rainbow goodness."

Well, I do generally expect you to uplift and guide me. Is that wrong?

 

Yes, that would be an affront to receive. It would feel like an obligation met by grabbing some random card rather than an expression of sympathy by someone who cares.

 

One of my dearest friends is a very devout Christian. I go to her when I have something troubling me because she *knows* me and helps me think through situations. Sometimes, she uses bible verses in a way of explaining how she would approach whatever it is. That's ok. I get that. If she says "I love you and you know you are in my prayers while you walk through this" I take that as the loving expression it is. If she sent me verses, I would be offended.

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Normal condolences to me is "sorry for your loss" and if from religious folk "I'll pray for you" or something along those lines. Not telling people how hey should grieve or that they should be finding refuge in god, which is how that card would have come across to me. Also, my personal hot button is "it was god's will". I absolutely despise hearing that. 

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In my experience a lot of Christians don't know how to be not Christian. They can't communicate in a non churchy way because they're so used to it. It drove me *crazy* when I converted. I'm sorry about the problem they caused.

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In my experience a lot of Christians don't know how to be not Christian. They can't communicate in a non churchy way because they're so used to it. It drove me *crazy* when I converted. I'm sorry about the problem they caused.

 

My premise is that Christians shouldn't say a lot of this stuff to fellow Christians, either, because of the high level of presumption involved, but I guess that's a different discussion.

 

Just -- when my son was in ICU, I didn't do so well with all the God talk. I was holding on to God internally, in my own way, but I wanted flesh-and-blood people on the ground being real about suffering and fear, and I wanted answers from his medical team. Other than that it was, "Enough, I can't climb into your head and accept all these glib phrases and this oh-so-holy perspective right now. I'll see you in church."

 

(((((Swimmermom)))) I'm not sure entirely what you're looking for in this thread so I hope I'm not saying non-useful things, but I hope we're all at least being helpful by affirming that the card was inappropriate. I'm so sorry for your troubles right now.

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I send overtly Christian cards to overtly Christian family and friends. If they are not, or I don't know, it will be more neutral. "I'm sorry; you'll be in my thoughts and prayers, etc." Ie, my Wiccan associate has not received overtly Christian things during crisis (or any other time for that matter), even though she is well aware where I stand.

 

I am sorry you are going through a hard time.

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Normal condolences to me is "sorry for your loss" and if from religious folk "I'll pray for you" or something along those lines. Not telling people how hey should grieve or that they should be finding refuge in god, which is how that card would have come across to me. Also, my personal hot button is "it was god's will". I absolutely despise hearing that.

I'm a Christian and I still don't say that. I believe it, but only an ass says that to someone who is grieving. It is not situationally appropriate comfort for almost every person. Unless you're inside that circle of grief, don't do it. If you're in a broader, farther ring of that circle, your job is to not burden those deeper toward the epicenter of grief.

 

Something along the lines of "I'm so sorry for your struggles, I'm praying for your comfort. How can I help you?" works for almost everyone.

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If you are Christian, do you send bible verses and quotes to non-Christians who are experiencing a time of crisis (non-spiritual)? If so, how do you think they receive the note?

 

Our family is going through a crisis and we received cards from family members in support. I was so grateful for the kind notes, but one made me, well, I don't know if furious is the right word, but instead of feeling comforted, I felt hurt.

 

As an agnostic, if you, as a person of faith, tell me that you are praying for me or my family, I appreciate your thoughtfulness and wouldn't be offended. If you "witness" to me in a time of personal crisis, I feel like you are taking advantage and that the "prayers" and sermons on God's goodness are for your benefit, not mine. Why do it? My initial reaction was "One more failing pointed out, how fantastic."

 

Is there another way to view this that in my somewhat emotional state that I am not seeing?

:grouphug: I'm sorry you're going through a difficult time right now.

 

I'm also sorry some whose opinion obviously means something to you - is clueless in how to offer effective support. (whatever the reason.). I do know people who give support more for their own benefit than the person they are supposedly helping. (both religious and not.) I have also observed, those who do so - are weak in faith/personal fortitude and do it as much to convince themselves. pity them.

 

My mother was agnostic - there were times I could speak with her about my religious beliefs, feelings, and experiences, and times I couldn't. for reasons I won't go into, I do believe she appreciated those times and they were mutually beneficial to our relationship. the last time I spoke to her (had no idea it would be the last time) I did share with her my conviction that God loved her, for herself, and wanted good things for her. and that timescale is not limited to what we know as mortality. (after she died, I found out some things that another relative had been saying to her :cursing: :zombiechase: :cursing: :cursing: :cursing: . . . let's just say, I really think I was inspired. we'd had plans to go look at Christmas lights two days later.)

 

 

(conversely my brother, who says he's religious - but changes beliefs every few years, I think he doesn't know what he believes - is constantly lecturing me for my lack of spirituality because I don't share with him. . . . .I don't cast my pearls before swine :leaving: . . . )

Eta: now he's into new age. He sends me links with lectures.

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I think the part in bold would be the person's intent even though they know we are not practicing.

 

..."sincere prayer that you will know that:

 

'God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.' Ps. 46"

 

"May you know this truth as your firm foundation in these days ahead."

 

I'm a practicing Christian.  I will be honest - I would shudder, roll my eyes BIG TIME, smh and throw it away.  might even rant a little - depending upon the relationship with the person.   and file them in the category of being completely clueless for future reference. (and not to expect any practical emotional support in times of need.)

 

 

 

some of it may also come with people rejecting social convention in attempts to be "more authentic".  there's a reason social convention came up with "I'm so sorry for your loss; what can I do to help?; praying for you, etc."  it prevents "authentic" people from being "authentic idiots" and saying things that do more harm than good.

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One of the hardest thing for me to deal with when my brother and my niece died was the well meaning people who told me that, "They are in a better place now," or "They are with God now." I found no comfort in this, and while I completely understand that this is how they may see death, it was offensive to me in my most vulnerable moment. I couldn't imagine how anyone would think there was a better place than right here on earth with our family and friends. I would never dream of saying to a Christian or anyone else of faith (or anyone at all actually), "Now their energy has dispersed and they have begun to biodegrade, " even though this is comforting to me. 

 

I don't think anyone is trying to be offensive. In fact, I think they are trying to give comfort in a way that makes sense to them, but it's not always appropriate nor well received. 

 

Hugs. 

 

 

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I probably wouldn't send a verse or quote to a non-Christian, unless I already had a pretty close relationship with that person.  But I don't know.  I think if I did, it would be in the "this is comforting/meaningful to me" vein, and I think I would try to find a verse about God's sympathy and care more than one about His goodness, right at that moment.  I wouldn't be sending it in a conversion sort of vein, not right then.  (Now if the person asked more, that would be different.)  But if I care about someone enough to send a note like that, I might find that I wanted to share a favorite verse that had been peaceful and comforting to me in the past.

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I heard that sentiment - including that exact verse, lol - a lot in the South, so maybe it's a regional thing?  But then, as a practicing Christian, I found it comforting, but I myself wouldn't have sent that to anyone outside of, say, my church or someone else that I knew would feel similarly.  Sending it to a non-Christian?  "Oh, hey, if you believed in God, He'd have helped you feel better by now, but since you don't, have fun feeling sucky and stuff!"

 

If this is the first time the relative is being preachy, I'd chalk it up to not knowing how to offer comfort not couched in Christianese.  If it isn't, I'd round-file any further correspondence from them.  I have zero patience or respect for people who use someone else's tragedy or crisis to proselytize to them.

 

I hope things get better for your family soon  :grouphug:

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If you are Christian, do you send bible verses and quotes to non-Christians who are experiencing a time of crisis (non-spiritual)?  If so, how do you think they receive the note?

 

Our family is going through a crisis and we received cards from family members in support. I was so grateful for the kind notes, but one made me, well, I don't know if furious is the right word, but instead of feeling comforted, I felt hurt.

 

As an agnostic, if you, as a person of faith, tell me that you are praying for me or my family, I appreciate your thoughtfulness and wouldn't be offended.  If you "witness" to me in a time of personal crisis, I feel like you are taking advantage and that the "prayers" and sermons on God's goodness are for your benefit, not mine. Why do it? My initial reaction was "One more failing pointed out, how fantastic." 

 

Is there another way to view this that in my somewhat emotional state that I am not seeing?

 

I'm so sorry you are in crisis, and I'm sorry that you've had insult added to your injury. That's not ok, and I hope it stops.

 

To the first question: Not usually, or at least not knowingly.

 

Not-knowingly kind of explains itself: if I'm a numbskull and have forgotten a person's faith status and assumed we share a religion without thinking it through, that could happen. Because I'm a bit of a numbskull.

 

By 'not usually' I mean that, in the context of some relationships where I am openly of faith A, and they are openly of faith/not B, and we honour each other, I might be inclined to say something in the spirit of, "Here's a bit of something from my context that might resonate for you." -- But I would add that as message as explicit context, if I was going to do it.

 

---

 

I think another way to view this 'witnessing' is from the perspective of a 'true believer'. They *honestly* think that if you will only choose faith, you will receive a miraculous drenching of comfort and peace. They *do* think that's what will happen. They hate to see you suffer so badly when (from their perspective) comfort is mere inches from you.

 

People who 'witness' are have a variety of motives, but very few think of "your" conversion as some 'advantage' to themselves. It's unusual for people to do witnessing just for the sake of spiritual brownie points or to increase the scope, power and population of their faith group -- yeah, maybe some, but, really, not all. Not most. That's why they don't see it as 'taking advantage' of you in a vulnerable spot. They are blind to the 'advantage' angle -- they think faith is a genuinely useful crisis-helper.

 

So, maybe you do have a brownie-point seeker on you hands. You are a good judge of character, and the motives of 'witnessers' do vary, and are sometimes mixed. But, no matter the motives, they are not comforting you, and they are not actually providing an opportunity for the comfort of God to enter your life by speach-ifying and making you feel inadequate. They are supposed to *be* the comfort of God, not jut talk about it. So: boundary and bean dip them good and proper. It will be good for them.

 

They are like a well-meaning elderly neighbour who really really wants to lend you his power tools for all kinds of projects he imagines up for you. You want neither the projects or the tools, and he's too dense to really get it. It's not that they are looking for an 'advantage' in your weakness. It's that they genuinely think that the thing they are offering will be concretely and directly useful to you. After all, it's been really useful to them. They just want to share their tools.

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If you are Christian, do you send bible verses and quotes to non-Christians who are experiencing a time of crisis (non-spiritual)?  If so, how do you think they receive the note?

 

Our family is going through a crisis and we received cards from family members in support. I was so grateful for the kind notes, but one made me, well, I don't know if furious is the right word, but instead of feeling comforted, I felt hurt.

 

As an agnostic, if you, as a person of faith, tell me that you are praying for me or my family, I appreciate your thoughtfulness and wouldn't be offended.  If you "witness" to me in a time of personal crisis, I feel like you are taking advantage and that the "prayers" and sermons on God's goodness are for your benefit, not mine. Why do it? My initial reaction was "One more failing pointed out, how fantastic." 

 

Is there another way to view this that in my somewhat emotional state that I am not seeing?

 

No, I would not send Bible verses to my friends who are not Christian.  In fact, I would generally avoid saying that I'm praying for a non-believer because I know how that used to make me feel when the situation was reversed and people said that to me.

 

I'm sorry that you were hurt by the comment.  I agree 100% with what you said bolded above.  Sometimes people, Christian or not, respond awkwardly or inappropriately when another is hurting.

 

You asked how you might view it.  I'd do my best to forget about it, and I, in your situation, would do what I could to distance myself a bit more from that person.

 

And I'm sorry that your family is going through a hard time right now.

 

:grouphug: :grouphug: :grouphug:

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Is the person who sent this card in old age?  From my experience, elderly Christians think everyone is Christian and just reference God in all of their conversations.

 

Does this person know you are agnostic?  Have you ever had a conversation with them about your beliefs?  If so, I think they were inappropriate.  If not, that could explain things a little.  Maybe they think you are somewhere in the middle and this situation could sway you in one direction?  (Not that that is appropriate.)

 

Try not to read too much into it.  Take care of yourself during this difficult time.

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I'm so sorry you are in crisis, and I'm sorry that you've had insult added to your injury. That's not ok, and I hope it stops.

 

To the first question: Not usually, or at least not knowingly.

 

Not-knowingly kind of explains itself: if I'm a numbskull and have forgotten a person's faith status and assumed we share a religion without thinking it through, that could happen. Because I'm a bit of a numbskull.

 

By 'not usually' I mean that, in the context of some relationships where I am openly of faith A, and they are openly of faith/not B, and we honour each other, I might be inclined to say something in the spirit of, "Here's a bit of something from my context that might resonate for you." -- But I would add that as message as explicit context, if I was going to do it.

 

---

 

I think another way to view this 'witnessing' is from the perspective of a 'true believer'. They *honestly* think that if you will only choose faith, you will receive a miraculous drenching of comfort and peace. They *do* think that's what will happen. They hate to see you suffer so badly when (from their perspective) comfort is mere inches from you.

 

People who 'witness' are have a variety of motives, but very few think of "your" conversion as some 'advantage' to themselves. It's unusual for people to do witnessing just for the sake of spiritual brownie points or to increase the scope, power and population of their faith group -- yeah, maybe some, but, really, not all. Not most. That's why they don't see it as 'taking advantage' of you in a vulnerable spot. They are blind to the 'advantage' angle -- they think faith is a genuinely useful crisis-helper.

 

So, maybe you do have a brownie-point seeker on you hands. You are a good judge of character, and the motives of 'witnessers' do vary, and are sometimes mixed. But, no matter the motives, they are not comforting you, and they are not actually providing an opportunity for the comfort of God to enter your life by speach-ifying and making you feel inadequate. They are supposed to *be* the comfort of God, not jut talk about it. So: boundary and bean dip them good and proper. It will be good for them.

 

They are like a well-meaning elderly neighbour who really really wants to lend you his power tools for all kinds of projects he imagines up for you. You want neither the projects or the tools, and he's too dense to really get it. It's not that they are looking for an 'advantage' in your weakness. It's that they genuinely think that the thing they are offering will be concretely and directly useful to you. After all, it's been really useful to them. They just want to share their tools.

Are we neighbors? I think you might be talking about my husband. I am so sorry. He just thinks everything is better with a power tool. I am glad you understand he is NOT TRYING to win points with Home Depot. He just really believes your life would elevated if you used some of the crap from our garage. He might be a little offended though if he knew you thought he was elderly.  :lol:

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I probably wouldn't send a verse or quote to a non-Christian, unless I already had a pretty close relationship with that person.  But I don't know.  I think if I did, it would be in the "this is comforting/meaningful to me" vein, and I think I would try to find a verse about God's sympathy and care more than one about His goodness, right at that moment.  I wouldn't be sending it in a conversion sort of vein, not right then.  (Now if the person asked more, that would be different.)  But if I care about someone enough to send a note like that, I might find that I wanted to share a favorite verse that had been peaceful and comforting to me in the past.

 

I seriously hope that in light of what you have just read written by non-Christians who have been offended by actions such as this that you will refrain from doing it. It isn't appreciated and in addition to not being helpful is actually hurtful.  

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I heard that sentiment - including that exact verse, lol - a lot in the South, so maybe it's a regional thing?  

 

I hope things get better for your family soon  :grouphug:

 

 it might also be a generational thing.  I've encountered things along that line more from older women.  e.g. 70s and up. 

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I have heard people say "in my tradition, we do this (light a candle, say this prayer, sing this song, burn this incense, etc etc ) I know this is not your belief but may I do this for you? "  & I'm totally fine with that. In fact, I'm very grateful. 

But receiving that kind of quote? NOPE. That is passive aggressive.

it also strikes me that even the most tone deaf Christians tend not to do that to people of *different* faiths. It's when you say you're atheist that somehow the filters go off.

 

If I was feeling particularly ticked I'd pack up God is Not Great and The God Delusion and send it to the person.

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I see it the same as sending to someone of any other religion.  We have one relative who would send us things like this knowing we were Jewish in times of crisis and even follow up with smug phone calls about the prayers for us and if we "received the message." It was very insulting and definitely made us distance from certain people.  If someone does not know my religious leanings, I'll forgive it.  If they do and knowingly go out of their way to shove it in my face, I will just cut contact until I feel things can be discussed respectfully.  Luckily that has only happened to me once or twice as an adult.   

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I wouldn't do that. However, it's almost expected by older relatives and persons to do so. You ignore it. If it were someone under, say 60 or 70, I would be upset. However, wait to deal with it. Think whether they meant well or if they were just being intentionally insensitive.

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I would definitely NOT try to proselytize to a non-Christian in tough times.  I usually just offer condolences and support.

 

That said, I would really just roll my eyes and toss it.  I am a Christian, but I have not always been, and I'm sure they meant well in their own way and I would brush it off.

 

I am sorry for your hard times.   :grouphug:

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If you are Christian, do you send bible verses and quotes to non-Christians who are experiencing a time of crisis (non-spiritual)?  If so, how do you think they receive the note?

 

 

I never have, nor would I send a card like that to anyone, even if the person was a Christian.  I think that quoting scripture at someone who is suffering is rude and hurtful.  You mourn with those who are mourning, you don't lecture them.  

 

 

Our family is going through a crisis and we received cards from family members in support. I was so grateful for the kind notes, but one made me, well, I don't know if furious is the right word, but instead of feeling comforted, I felt hurt.

 

As an agnostic, if you, as a person of faith, tell me that you are praying for me or my family, I appreciate your thoughtfulness and wouldn't be offended.  If you "witness" to me in a time of personal crisis, I feel like you are taking advantage and that the "prayers" and sermons on God's goodness are for your benefit, not mine. Why do it? My initial reaction was "One more failing pointed out, how fantastic." 

 

Is there another way to view this that in my somewhat emotional state that I am not seeing?

 

 

This is the way I would view it: I would think that the person, because he or she is a Christian, likes to purchase "Christian" sounding cards.  The person thinks such cards are more sincere and appropriate.  He or she has never really thought through what the card is saying or what it really means.  It is sent with the intention of comfort not in order to be preachy.

 

I don't know if that is or was true for the individual who sent you the card, but that is how I would view it.   

 

 

I'm so sorry that you were hurt.  You are not failing.  :grouphug: 

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Oy.  Wow.  You are right to be hurt and miffed.

 

Sounds like someone is very full of themselves to send stuff like that when you're facing a crisis.  That kind of thing really is all about making the focus on them, not your situation. 

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I think the part in bold would be the person's intent even though they know we are not practicing.

 

..."sincere prayer that you will know that:

 

'God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.' Ps. 46"

 

"May you know this truth as your firm foundation in these days ahead."

 

I would be really annoyed and insulted by this. This isn't saying "I'm praying that you find the strength and comfort you need in this difficult time," it's saying "I'm praying that you will accept my religion now that your life is difficult." That's not only passive-aggressive, it really borders on narcissistic IMO. 

 

 

I'm so sorry for what you guys are going through.  :grouphug:

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You all know I think you are a lovely group of people and I appreciate the kind words, support, and yes, the prayers too.

 

 

If they're just agnostic or meh, I'll send my normal condolences as thoughtfully as possible. If they're atheist or absolutely detest Christianity I'll usally self edit more strongly for religious language. But I'm a believer, everyone who knows me knows this, and that's a fundamental part of the way I see tragedy. I can try to not be overt about it, but it colors any comments I'd offer.

I don't know anyone for whom that would be a massive issue, fortunately.

 

Arctic Mama, the sentiment that you expressed here in bold is along similar lines to what I read into the card I received. I had an intensely physical response to it, probably in part, because I am wound tight, whereas normally I would do the eye roll, mutter "yeah, thanks," and drop it into the garbage.  Your statement and the card come across as your needs and beliefs being of the primary importance in the equation. What you believe is paramount, whereas the recipient's own beliefs aren't worth honoring. You will deliver your beliefs regardless of whether or not they offer comfort. Again, my question is "If you cannot respect the other person, then why would you send the card?"  It makes no sense to me. Why inject "you" and your beliefs into a space of a pain?

 

You and I have had great conversations, so I hope you know I am asking this sincerely.

 

My premise is that Christians shouldn't say a lot of this stuff to fellow Christians, either, because of the high level of presumption involved, but I guess that's a different discussion.

 

Just -- when my son was in ICU, I didn't do so well with all the God talk. I was holding on to God internally, in my own way, but I wanted flesh-and-blood people on the ground being real about suffering and fear, and I wanted answers from his medical team. Other than that it was, "Enough, I can't climb into your head and accept all these glib phrases and this oh-so-holy perspective right now. I'll see you in church."
 

(((((Swimmermom)))) I'm not sure entirely what you're looking for in this thread so I hope I'm not saying non-useful things, but I hope we're all at least being helpful by affirming that the card was inappropriate. I'm so sorry for your troubles right now.

 

I think I started the thread because I don't entirely trust my own responses and perceptions right now. They feel a bit overly emotional. Of course, now that I write that I think, "And you had to go to an internet forum to work that out?" :blushing:  But shoot, you all have helped me educate my kids and pick out washers and dryers, so I figured you would have some useful insights.

 

Your ICU experience makes me think of being told that an illness was genetic. The person meant to offer comfort in the idea that it wasn't something completely in my control. However, at that point in time, I very much needed to have some element of control, so even a "It's genetic, but there are many things you can do to mitigate the illness," would probably had a better impact. As it was, I was left briefly with the feeling that my obsession with my child's father was now the cause of the child's illness. Bad breeding, you know. Stress makes people view things differently than normal.

 

I'm so sorry you are in crisis, and I'm sorry that you've had insult added to your injury. That's not ok, and I hope it stops.

 

To the first question: Not usually, or at least not knowingly.

 

Not-knowingly kind of explains itself: if I'm a numbskull and have forgotten a person's faith status and assumed we share a religion without thinking it through, that could happen. Because I'm a bit of a numbskull.

 

By 'not usually' I mean that, in the context of some relationships where I am openly of faith A, and they are openly of faith/not B, and we honour each other, I might be inclined to say something in the spirit of, "Here's a bit of something from my context that might resonate for you." -- But I would add that as message as explicit context, if I was going to do it.
 

---

 

I think another way to view this 'witnessing' is from the perspective of a 'true believer'. They *honestly* think that if you will only choose faith, you will receive a miraculous drenching of comfort and peace. They *do* think that's what will happen. They hate to see you suffer so badly when (from their perspective) comfort is mere inches from you.

 

People who 'witness' are have a variety of motives, but very few think of "your" conversion as some 'advantage' to themselves. It's unusual for people to do witnessing just for the sake of spiritual brownie points or to increase the scope, power and population of their faith group -- yeah, maybe some, but, really, not all. Not most. That's why they don't see it as 'taking advantage' of you in a vulnerable spot. They are blind to the 'advantage' angle -- they think faith is a genuinely useful crisis-helper.

 

So, maybe you do have a brownie-point seeker on you hands. You are a good judge of character, and the motives of 'witnessers' do vary, and are sometimes mixed. But, no matter the motives, they are not comforting you, and they are not actually providing an opportunity for the comfort of God to enter your life by speach-ifying and making you feel inadequate. They are supposed to *be* the comfort of God, not jut talk about it. So: boundary and bean dip them good and proper. It will be good for them.

 

They are like a well-meaning elderly neighbour who really really wants to lend you his power tools for all kinds of projects he imagines up for you. You want neither the projects or the tools, and he's too dense to really get it. It's not that they are looking for an 'advantage' in your weakness. It's that they genuinely think that the thing they are offering will be concretely and directly useful to you. After all, it's been really useful to them. They just want to share their tools.

 

Thank you for a genuinely good LOL moment. The tool analogy is perfect.  The "true believer" idea makes sense and I could probably run with it and shrug it all off if we hadn't received two other cards from family members who are also "true believers" (one is a minister) that were very comforting without the bible verses or references to "foundations." They felt more sincere and genuine. They took into account who we really are , not who they want us to be.

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It makes me roll my eyes, because it's so obviously been a marketing opportunity for the people doing it. Almost like 'let's hit her with bible verses while she's down.'

This is my experience. I have heard it taught from the pulpit that grief is a good opportunity to "minister" to non believers. "Show them the love of God when they need it the most." However, it is usually helpful actions that are recommended, and yes the goal is conversion. But it's because they love you, don't you know.

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I have heard people say "in my tradition, we do this (light a candle, say this prayer, sing this song, burn this incense, etc etc ) I know this is not your belief but may I do this for you? " & I'm totally fine with that. In fact, I'm very grateful.

 

But receiving that kind of quote? NOPE. That is passive aggressive.

 

it also strikes me that even the most tone deaf Christians tend not to do that to people of *different* faiths. It's when you say you're atheist that somehow the filters go off.

 

If I was feeling particularly ticked I'd pack up God is Not Great and The God Delusion and send it to the person.

They'd deserve it. I can't not be Christian, but there are so much less offensive ways to offer comfort.

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You all know I think you are a lovely group of people and I appreciate the kind words, support, and yes, the prayers too.

 

 

 

Arctic Mama, the sentiment that you expressed here in bold is along similar lines to what I read into the card I received. I had an intensely physical response to it, probably in part, because I am wound tight, whereas normally I would do the eye roll, mutter "yeah, thanks," and drop it into the garbage. Your statement and the card come across as your needs and beliefs being of the primary importance in the equation. What you believe is paramount, whereas the recipient's own beliefs aren't worth honoring. You will deliver your beliefs regardless of whether or not they offer comfort. Again, my question is "If you cannot respect the other person, then why would you send the card?" It makes no sense to me. Why inject "you" and your beliefs into a space of a pain?

 

You and I have had great conversations, so I hope you know I am asking this sincerely.

 

What I meant was that I'm Christian and it colors my worldview to the point I might not realize there was something 'religious' in my attempt to offer condolences, even if I was trying to self edit. In being sincere in trying to help, I'd probably still make some oblique reference to a higher power or divine comfort in strife because I wouldn't realize it. It wouldn't be intentional though! Certainly not what that person said. If I'm trying super hard to be tactful I tend to just say "I'm so sorry. Hugs to your family!". That feels impersonal to me, but if it was a very anti-God friend who I wanted to show my love and concern, I'd rather risk being terse and saying something that being absent when they need comfort, or accidentally offending them by giving a more detailed and personal note. It really depends on the person, but because the goal is showing them love in a way that they'd feel it, I'd be working very hard to catch any subconscious worldview interjection. However since everyone knows I'm a Christian I assume they'd assume it slipped by on accident, which would be the truth :)

 

Make more sense?

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Personally, I would appreciate anyone's expression of concern or sympathy even if I disagreed with the actual message, as long as I thought the person's intentions were good. And honestly, if someone takes the time to send a card, I appreciate the gesture. Most people don't bother to do that.

 

I wouldn't be thrilled with the message in the card you received, either, but I would still be thankful that they made the effort to try to be kind and comforting in their own way.

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Thank you for a genuinely good LOL moment. The tool analogy is perfect. The "true believer" idea makes sense and I could probably run with it and shrug it all off if we hadn't received two other cards from family members who are also "true believers" (one is a minister) that were very comforting without the bible verses or references to "foundations." They felt more sincere and genuine. They took into account who we really are , not who they want us to be.

I'm glad you know at least some "true believers" that are better at being sensitive and empathetic. Our friend who sent the card may eventually learn what does and does not help (which is why bean-dipping him/her will be good for him/her). I didn't meant to imply that everyone who believes in a "true" way is likely to be heavy-handed in their communication: just that it's a thing that can come from that perspective.

 

Another analogy: It's like a woman who got married 15 years ago pressing all her boxed up decorations and unsolicited tips, tricks, and *amazing ideas* to a newer bride to be. Well meaning, but yikes, so annoying! (I was doing that last week, with the tips and tricks. I noticed and stopped.)

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