For myself, it tends not to matter whether my friends are Christian or non, if there's a certain amount of rapport they will tend not to be draining. If they can carry on a conversation, I can talk about anything, surface level or deep. I have a couple of friends who I can talk with at length about issues of God, the Bible, and scholarly or real-world application. I have a friend who can talk with me about frustrations with God and the universe, and I listen and ask clarifying questions...doesn't drain me. I do get drained sometimes with people who don't share similar interests, but I'll just sleep it off.
Regarding the essay you've provided a link to, I have a few thoughts. Feel free to disregard anything or everything if you feel I've missed the point.
I've been in a little bit of a funk lately. I've got a few different friends who, for awhile now, have all been making self-destructive choices in their lives. Some of these choices may not be causing them any immediate problems, but are instead contributing to long-term issues that have and will continue to cripple them socially, emotionally and most of all spiritually, if they remain on the same course.
I hate to be bleak about it, but maybe some of them actually do know exactly what their doing, and don't care if it is self destructive.
In each of these relationships I'm very limited in my ability to help. Certainly due to limitations in my own knowledge and strength of character. But the limitations I'm feeling the most are those imposed by the ones I want to encourage and help. So rather than try to force anything on them, I stand by and watch helplessly as they choose pain and separation from God.
The "Ivory Tower" effect might complicate matters a bit, particularly if it's been spotted out by the friends you are concerned about. It's an obvious target for cynical and/or skeptical regard.
Along a different line of thought, the fact that you've used that wording “force anything on them” suggests to me that you do actually think or realize that pushing further will be an intrusion. On a Christian forum I've run across mention by Christians that they are wary of discussing spiritual matters with people experiencing doubt or going through a painful crisis, particularly if they are angry or rejecting God, on the grounds that their attempted intervention will alienate a person further from God. You have identified the boundaries your friends have set.
In another topic on the Geek Central/Spirit Blade Forums, you mention struggling to justify to yourself the time and effort invested in making friends feel comfortable enough with you to take you into their confidence and delve into deeper concerns. Is this a one sided issue, or could you imagine that your friends are also evaluating the investment in time and energy on their part as well? Do you think you've spent enough time with them that you feel like you should be getting to that point? They might feel entirely different about that. If you put yourself in their shoes, with some idea about what drives and motivates you, Paeter, would your answer be the same? If they're communicating to you that their not ready, maybe from their perspective you might appear to be too impatient to “get to the good parts.”
It's an ache that renews itself almost regularly as I spend time with each of these guys. It stays with me for days before fading and then catches me by surprise at seemingly random times, causing me to take time out to pray for them, or maybe reconnect with them again, at which time "the aching cycle" continues.
In one sense, it's an affirmation that you are preoccupied with being a good friend to these people, to the extent that it preys on your mind. On the other hand, it does sound like you are getting locked in on your own suffering on their behalf or God's behalf. You've opened 2 or 3 topics and wrote an essay for your blog about stuff that seems to be interrelated. How bad is their situation? This might sound like a calllous question, but whose need is the most pressing in these circumstances...who is suffering more? The follow up question from that is, of course, whose need is greater?
Maybe the answer is as simple as just being there for them as a bright spot in their lives
. But if you're fixated on heavy matters, and constantly encouraging/pestering about subject matters you
want to talk about that might well aggravate or increase their frustration or suffering...well, who is that going to be good for? So, you can be a source of joy and fun in their lives, or chase after what you want them to talk about, or you can ditch them.
But my point of conclusion is this: Relationships, as wonderful as they are, will hurt sometimes. People in "faith crisis mode" are more than worth investing time and discomfort in. But as believers we should also invest in relationships that can build us up. Even those of us who often find ourselves as the one teaching or encouraging others.
I have to say, I can't get my head around what you're communicating here. You mentioned the Game Genie and cheat codes and skipping levels as a prelude to this, but it's hard to gauge the course of action you've decided to resolutely take. Are you saying that you're keeping your non-believing/faith-crisis-mode friends, but intending to add more Christian friends into the mix to keep a good balance? Are you saying that you are going to need to give yourself some space from your friends who are going through crises? Or are you saying that your keeping the mechanics of your actions (seeing both types of friends) but just tweaking the balance in small ways, or tweaking your own internal thought processes?