Challenge: What if Someone Doesn’t Want to Listen?

Posted: April 12, 2011 by Amy Hall in Choosing My Religion, Weekly Challenge

Here’s a question Brett received on Facebook:

Not too long ago I met this girl, and she is having a really tough time in life right now. In fact, she has had a tough life. She has a bad family connection and looks for comfort in wrong places. I’ve been trying to get her to know Christ, but she is total atheist. As many times I have mentioned God in conversations, she changes the subject. I was wondering if you have any advice for me to help her out and show her how much she needs the Lord.

If your friend were hurting as this person’s friend is hurting, what would you do? What would you say? How would you communicate the truth about God to her? We’ll see what Brett has to say on Thursday, but for now, we want to hear your ideas.

  1. Bryant says:

    I would start with prayer. I mean if this person doesn’t want to listen it might take some divine intervention to soften her heart. If a person doesn’t want to change they probably aren’t going to change so I would start with prayer. Another thing I would do, being a guy, is get some girls to love on her. If she is looking for “comfort in the wrong places” some females you lover her and are good influences might be a big help, especially girls who have been in her shoes. From her history (tough life, bad family connection, looking for comfort in all the wrong places) I can imagine it’s hard to HEAR that there is a loving God when all she knows are not so loving people so I think she needs to be shown love.

    Loving her(yet not condoning the behavior) will allow the spirit to work on her and a door will be opened. Good works, lead to good favor, which open the way for the good news.

    • Bryant says:

      Correction: “If she is looking for “comfort in the wrong places” some females to love on her and who are good influences might be a big help…”

  2. bobby says:

    its going to be hard to teach someone about something they dont belive in and if i was you i would try to approach at a more Secular level then a religious level

  3. Rob says:

    Preach less, love more. Earn the right to be heard.

  4. Sam Harper says:

    Write her a letter. Then she can’t interrupt you. 🙂 And everybody likes to get a letter in the mail. Not an email, but a letter! Invite her to write one back. People are sometimes more open in letters than in every day conversation.

    • Amy Hall says:

      That’s actually a really interesting idea. Do you think a letter would be more effective than an email? It would certainly be weightier and harder to just forget about.

  5. Albert says:

    I think all the suggestions so far are good ones.

    I think I would do what is first said, pray for her and be her friend.

    Don’t judge her for thinking differently.

    Ask questions to understand why she believes what she believes. Get to the bottom of what is keeping her from believing. With such a tough life, it’s very possible she is extremely turned off from religion, Jesus, etc. because of past experiences.

    Lend an ear and show her that you are interested in her.
    Allow her to let you in so that you can then understand how to share.

    Planet seeds of truth so that she can start making sense of something she has shut out.

    But above all, show her that she is important. Encourage her and help her make it through the tough issues she is dealing with. Not just tell her you care, but show it by doing something that can help her out. If she is dealing with something financial, get your Christian friends to pitch in and help her out. If it is emotional, be there for her. Spend the time.

    I don’t know where the saying started but the goes something like, You might be the only Jesus she ever knows. If that is the case, show love, compassion, tenderness and kindness.

    She doesn’t need religion. She doesn’t need you to “save” her. She needs the love and compassion, the tenderness and kindness from you.

    And when she gets that, she will see Christ. She will be drawn to him.

    Then you will have an open door to share with her.

  6. Philip Motes says:

    Being a philosophy major and someone who is constantly in my head, it is a little bit ironic that this is the first challenge that I’m responding to! While most of the challenges on this blog are intellectual, this one is much more emotional; it is a matter of the heart, not so much the mind. While a ready response to the problem of evil/suffering may be necessary in the conversation, the issue needs to be directed at the more emotional level. This brings to mind a conversation I had with a girl named Patience. She was more or less an agnostic; she was open to the possibility that God or a “higher power” existed, but she wasn’t sure, and she especially had a hard time believing in a good God who would allow so much suffering. She didn’t raise this issue so much as an argument, but more as an expression of anger and resentment toward God for allowing so much suffering in her own life. Her story is one of the most tragic that I have ever heard; my heart genuinely broke for her. It’s very likely that this is the same case with the girl referred to in the challenge. I would need to get more details about where this girl is coming from. Our approach is going to vary depending on each individual, but what follows is a general guideline from my own experience, which I have attempted to put into single-word points. None of which are as cool as the word “Absosmurfly,” I might add. (lol Sam)

    1.) Pray. As others have already mentioned above, prayer is absolutely essential. Pray that the Holy Spirit will work on her heart and that He will give you wisdom and the right words to say. Perhaps most importantly, pray that you will be able to exemplify the love and compassion of Jesus in your interactions. As Albert has already pointed out, this is really what she needs.

    2.) Listen. It is a wise, tactical approach to do more listening than talking. In order for her to listen to you, you may have to listen to her first. Next time you have a conversation with her, don’t jump straight into talking about God. Instead, lead the conversation with questions about her, what she is going through and where she is coming from; then let her do the talking. Listen attentively, letting her know that you care about what she has to say and you are there for her. Gently ask questions to pry a little deeper. Don’t push her too far, too fast though; you want to make sure that she is comfortable. If she knows she can talk to you without feeling judged, this will build a lot of necessary trust.

    3.) Relate. It is important to try to connect with her on a deeper level. You may not agree with her conclusions, but everyone can relate with going through tough times. Perhaps you have struggled with the same things that she has, or something similar. Patience shared with me that she had a very abusive father. I, too, had an abusive father; so, right there I was able to connect with her. Reflect on those tough times in your own life and be sympathetic and understanding. There are two basic responses a person can make in the face of suffering- either they can pull away from God, or they can draw closer to Him. This leads to the fourth point.

    4.) Share. When you feel that the ground has been softened, so to speak, you can then begin to share something about your own testimony. It’s okay to be a little vulnerable here. If she has opened up to you, then you should likewise share something personal with her. At this point, it will be appropriate to talk about God. In fact, she may even ask you herself. In my conversation with Patience, after I had shared my own story, she asked me very sincerely, “why would God allow that to happen to you?” The conversation then totally shifted; she was actually granting God’s existence now! The door was then open for me to share with her how God comforted and strengthened me during that time. I would not be here right now if it was not for God’s constant hand of protection on my life. We may not always know why God allows things to happen, but we can know that God is not a God who sits back indifferent about it. He is a God who grieves with us in our suffering and can relate with us. He provided a solution to evil and suffering in the person of Jesus Christ, who suffered on the cross more than anyone can imagine. Point her to the cross. From there, trust the Holy Spirit to do the rest.

  7. Amy Hall says:

    Update on the challenge response: Brett has been at events in Texas the past couple days, so he won’t be able to get his video response up until tomorrow. But look for it then!