Thank God for Atheists in my life

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While it might seem like a funny phrasing, or a malicious/bad taste plan-on-words, I am sincere in my statement:

Thank God for the Atheists in my life.

One is a person I only know via Facebook, she is one of the most endearing, kind, open, loving, supportive and active listening people I know! We have invested in life together, sharing of what’s going on, the good and the bad, and everything in between.  She does a good job at active listening which I appreciate. She dives deep into what going on in my life, and she is sincere.
When I think about my friendship with her I think what makes it work so well is our transparency with one another, and in addition to that she has a good knack of knowing when to speak and when to listen.

The other individual is someone I used to work with, a guy is amazing at his job and meeting individuals who have mental illnesses where they are on their terms. I am proud of him and how well he does his job which is sometimes very thankless. Apart from being a good worker, he is articulate, thoughtful, and very caring. He recently joined me to and from our mutual friend’s wedding and it was great to converse with him, but more so to the point, share life in community with him.

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So why do I say all this about my friends who are Atheists? Because I have removed myself from the framework that says I will listen to good counsel solely from Christians; I am no longer a fan of the tribalism that Christians produce, the us vs. them paradigm; I consider myself a follower of Christ but I will take good counsel from those who are outside of my faith and beliefs.

Even still as I examine my own faith and beliefs I realize they aren’t what they were 10 years ago, or even 5, or even 1 for that matter. I think God has been leading me to be more intentional with my life, in the way I spend it as well as the way I invest it, and as a result I figuratively as well as literally choose to prepare an open table for all whom I come into contact with. My friends who are Atheists have never been legalistic or dogmatic about their views, nor have they have never come across as rude and aggressive. Take note Christians, that you can love God and love others holistically as well as faithfully by simply doing good to others and this can be pointed back to God. As St. Francis of Assisi said; “preach the gospel at all times, and when necessary, use words.”

It’s good to know people in life, in community, who are doing what they can to make the world a better place. It might not look like how I do it, but if it betters humanity holistically I for one will not be bothered in what’s being done regardless of what a person believes or doesn’t.

~Nathanael~

11/31 – Something about me people seem to compliment

Something about me people seem to compliment

People tend to compliment me on my active listening skills, that is listening to what someone has to say and engaging them based on what they had to say. I don’t listen solely to do this but over the years that it is important to listen, to remember names, to engage in dialogue and do what I can to remember a person’s story.

Everyone has a story, now whether they think their feel like sharing their story it’s up to them…but I actively listen, because people matter, people’s personal narrative of where they’ve been and what has shaped their lives is also important.

I am doing what I can to judge less and actively listen more, because some times I start writing off someone because…well there are many reasons, but they’re not right reasons and I guess I get convicted by the Holy Spirit to not judge and just be with that individual and listen. God has also given me the lack of fear (for lack of better words) to engage strangers in dialogue, doesn’t always mean that they’ll talk to me but there are times that they will.
I like going to Chicago, to which I’ll be going there next Thursday with my bro Mark, and one thing I like doing is going to Millennium Park/”The Bean” because there are always a lot of people checking it out, photographing themselves, and enjoying nice weather when the weather is nice…but I primarily like it because it gives me time to engage strangers in conversation, and when people start talking and there’s a conversation, the “stranger” label drops and you find commonalities with the person you’ve just met…this isn’t everyone’s forte but I try to make it mine, I mean, what do I have to lose asking a person how their day is going and then some? 🙂

Like I mentioned previously, people matter, and I guess that’s my motivation to love on them in the simplest of ways by active listening to their stories.

~Nathanael~