"Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude and insult you, and denounce your name as evil on account of the Son of Man." —Luke 6:22
Friendship is one of the most beautiful, mysterious, and precious gifts this side of Heaven. Good friends are a treasure, a healing balm—and sometimes one of the hardest things to find...or keep. If your friends reject your faith, it can be devastating and lonely. You have a huge part of you that you long to share with people, yet they just can't understand it. Friendships with people who are hostile toward your faith may vanish without you having to decide, or they may linger, causing more pain if you do not distance yourself, or they may eventually blossom into something completely different.
Some friendships will naturally fade over time, and that's OK. Much of it depends on if you both are willing and able to put in the effort to understand and care for one another.
One of the hallmarks of a true friend, however, is a respect for the other person. If you have a friend who refuses to respect your faith, then it is going to be very hard to continue that friendship. You will need to evaluate if the relationship is worth salvaging or not. What is your relationship built on, if not respect and love for each other?
I have a friend who is very anti-Christian, and yet she and I have beautiful conversations because she respects me enough to listen to why my faith is important to me. And I do the same for her. She tells me about her way of spirituality, and I share mine. She has turned her back on Christianity, but she still takes the time to listen to me, to ask me questions, to see what I am beyond what she thinks of "Christianity" in general.
Your true friends will care about the things important to you. Your faith is part of you. You are a Child of God. Your entire self has been remade. Not everyone is going to be able to understand that or embrace it. And, while it's hard, remember that Jesus warned that this would happen...
"If the world hates you, realize that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, the world would love its own; but because you do not belong to the world, and I have chosen you out of the world, the world hates you. Remember the word I spoke to you, 'No slave is greater than his master.' If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. And they will do all these things to you on account of my name, because they do not know the one who sent me." —John 15:18-21
Our faith is foolish to people who don't understand. I know it hurts to have a friend treat you and your faith with such disrespect and disregard, but don't let it discourage you or cause your faith to waver. The Gospels (and human history) are full of the stories of people who are abandoned or cut off by friends, colleagues, and even family when they begin to follow Christ. If this describes you, if you lose some friends because of your faith, count yourself among some pretty amazing company.
Yes, it might mean being a little lonely for a while, but keep faithful to your prayers, asking God to bring you friendships that will strengthen your faith not cut it down. God may surprise you with a friend your mind and heart cannot even imagine.
Surround yourself with people who can help you on this journey. Look around your school, your neighborhood, your church. There could be someone else who is looking for a friend like YOU!
Keep your chin up and your heart open to the love God is pouring into you—even as your friends walk away or struggle to accept your faith. If you find that a friendship is taking you away from God, then it's probably time to walk away. Or if you are strong enough, wait and see what happens. Maybe an atheist friend will begin to see the beauty of your faith. Or maybe they will put in earbuds when you speak of your faith and slowly drift away while you draw closer to God.
Keep these friends in prayer too, asking God to work in their hearts, even if it isn't through you.
Brianna is a manager at her favorite childhood bookstore. She is likely to be found curled up with a book and her black cat, Bear, talking to a stranger, dancing outside in a thunderstorm, singing Disney songs while making cookies, or snuggling her best friend's baby while drinking coffee. Her heart is fueled by the desire to help people find their unique wings and use them in whatever capacity God has created them for. She is passionate about seeing and finding Christ in the secular world wherever she can.