Real Question from a Teen:
I am the only Christian in my family, and I’ve found this to be a really difficult obstacle in my wanting to pursue Jesus.
How can I convince my family that I’m not crazy for believing in God?
How can I get them to accept who I am and why I have chosen to live this way?
Our Real Answer:
Sweet friend, you’re not alone. There are many of us who know what it is like to be the only Christian in their family. It’s such a bummer, because when we’re passionate about something — like our faith –we want those we love the most to share it with us, right?
When I first became a Christian, I thought that if I shared the Scriptures with my family and friends, and told them about how I came to believe in Jesus as my Savior, then they would understand and want to know Jesus personally, too. But instead, I met resistance and grew very discouraged. I felt like I was failing at communicating the Gospel. And at times, I felt like you — discouraged because it seemed like they thought I was crazy.
It is natural to want our family to support our decision to follow the Lord and to join us in it.
There’s eternity hanging in the balance.
We want them to be with us in heaven, when our time on this earth is done.
And our heart breaks to think of it any other way.
Nearly twenty years have passed since my life took a u-turn on a new course of following Jesus, and I’ve never given up on wanting my family to do the same. But I’ve come to realize that I’m not the Holy Spirit. I can’t make them believe what I believe. Only God can work in their hearts and minds to reveal what I’ve come to see as true. I’ve had to learn how to embrace my faith alone — determined to grow in the knowledge of the Word and how I lived it out — without the expectation of their support.
So how do we live as the only one in our family who follows Jesus?
We have to learn how to lean into the Lord and receive His strength, through spending time with Him in prayer and in reading Scriptures. We also have to make a commitment to connect with our brothers and sisters in Christ. God has designed the body of Christ to become our extended family. The ways we wish could connect with our own parents and siblings on a spiritual level, we have to turn to our friends and mentors from church for their input and love.
The family of God, however, doesn’t replace our parents and siblings. It just expands and enhances the gift of relationships in our lives. We still have to invest time and energy into nurturing the connection with our family, realizing that God has created these relationships on purpose (even if they have endured the effects of sin). The simplest way to do this is with practicing a Colossians 3:12 lifestyle:
Colossians 3:12-14 NIV
Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved,
clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.
Bear with each other
and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone.
Forgive as the Lord forgave you.
And over all these virtues put on love,
which binds them all together in perfect unity.
Enter into your relationship with your family knowing whose you are: You are God’s chosen, holy and dearly loved. Don’t let anything they say to you or about you change your confidence in Christ.
Everyday, put on more than clothes. Put on compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience, so that when you engage with your family, you do so in a Christ-like manner. Your interactions matter as much as your words.
Bear up, sister, and forgive. Yes, forgive. As many times as you need to do so, forgive. Don’t let a bitter root get stuck in your heart and wreck your relationships, along with stealing your joy for life.
Put on love. That’s the hardest part. Of course you love your family, that’s why you want them to know the Lord. But love is an action, not a feeling. You’ll have to make a decision to be loving toward them even when they are not loving your faith. Download the Give Me Love resource to learn what it means to really love your family.
And pray for them. As you strive to love your family, in spite of them not loving Jesus like you do, commit to praying for them. Seek the Lord on their behalf. The call on your life isn’t for you to change those you love. God is the changer of lives. Instead, let Him use you as you seek Him first and allow His work to overflow through you. Living this way with them won’t guarantee that they will embrace your faith. But it will leave you with no regrets.
Matthew 6:33 NIV
But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
Friend, remember, you are never alone when you belong to the family of God. While you’re learning how to cling to Jesus and live for Him, your example may be just what God intends to use to bring your family into His family.
Do you have a question you’d like us to answer?
All of our the Real Q&As have been penned by teen girls desperately seeking real answers to the challenges they face every day.
In the safe-haven of ETC gatherings, these questions were submitted on index cards. We know the girl that wrote this question isn’t the only one who feels this way, so we’re sharing with you what we expressed to her. If you’d like to submit a question, click this link and use the form on the sidebar.