“Should anyone ask you the reason for this hope of yours, be ever ready to reply, but speak gently and respectfully.” – 1 Peter 3:15
I found myself frequently in that awkward situation of trying to explain “what I do.” I stay at home, I write for a Catholic website, I am an evangelist, a Catholic Writer, and I am about to volunteer one more time! This is my life. But somehow I never thought that this would make for a very interesting conversation that win me lots of new friends. Sometimes it’s hard to talk about the things that are truly meaningful to us because in doing so, we make ourselves vulnerable. We open ourselves up to the scrutiny and judgment of others. But the alternative is to live and interact with people in a superficial way, where we resign ourselves to discussing work and the weather importantly, though, it wouldn’t begin to explain what these things really mean to me. My family often got into “lively” discussions about all kinds of things. Sex, politics, religion, you name it…nothing was off-limits. Still, it’s one thing when it’s family and quite another when it’s a co-worker or casual acquaintance. You have to choose your words carefully. So it got me thinking: How do we go deeper in our conversations? How can we engage others in discussing things that are really important to us? As Christians, we are called to witness to the love of Christ in our lives, but we must be creative and find ways to share our beliefs without being pushy or preachy. Be genuinely interested in getting to know people. I’ve found that if I want to talk about what I do, I usually start by saying that I volunteer a lot – even people with no faith recognize the good that’s been done in the world through volunteerism. But if possible, I like to explain that my faith that compels me to do so. Sure, I’ve been blessed in my life and want to give back! I want to help make the world a better place – to bring hope and love to others in whatever way I can. And I always try to present my vocation- to evangelize- in a positive light! Being a good listener is key, to let the conversation flow naturally. If you want to talk about your faith or it comes up in conversation, start with easy topics. Try to avoid most of the hot button issues and stick to areas of common ground. When I tell someone I’m Catholic, usually the first thing they ask is something about Pope Francis. I was in Rome and I saw him, Yes, of course, we all love him. It’s a great opportunity to explain how important the pope’s role is – how we respect and follow him regardless of our personal likes and dislikes. Never be afraid to let your feelings show. We get so used to being “on” all the time and worry about what people think, that our conversation becomes stilted. Remember, it’s okay to be a “fool” for Christ. And trust that the Holy Spirit will give you the right words! Also God has a great sense of humour and so should we. Sometimes you’ve just got to laugh at how things turn out or where God takes you. God takes us out of our comfort zone and into “uncharted territory.” But the good part is, He never asks us to go there alone!