Q: I just recently ended a relationship with an atheist. Was I wrong for going out with him in the first place? While I dated him, I totally felt like I could convince him that Catholicism is a wonderful thing. Instead, I felt like I was offending the Lord. Was I wrong for going out with my atheist boyfriend?
A: Not in the least. Please, don’t feel guilty about that choice in your life. If your intent was to show yourself as a person of faith and to maybe try to encourage him to see beyond the narrow, lonely view of the world atheism professes, then I don’t see anything you should be guilty about.
I do hope that you might have learned something from all this though. That people will change when they are ready, not when we want them to. I met so many people throughout my time as a priest who tried to “change” the people that they had in their lives. Some demanding total make over of the other person’s life. Some just wanting them to like the same stuff they liked. But in every one of those cases, the people who did change did it because they felt it to be the right time for them to change. The few times when someone “changed” just to make the other person happy…eventually both sides of the couple start to feel miserable.
I offer you an example from Pope JP II’s life. He had a dream, a constant prayer that his people in Poland would be free…that the walls of terror and religious oppression would come to an end. He worked and prayed for this for decades and we all know that the walls did come down and religious freedom returned. But it wasn’t because the Holy Father pushed his in and forced them to change. Instead, he prayed his way into their hearts and got the whole world to join in that prayer. That’s how God calls us to work, through letting us show Him.
You did nothing wrong…in fact I encourage you for caring so much about this young man and keep praying for him. It may take a while, but prayer has been known to change the world, maybe your prayers for him may open his heart to change when he is ready to hear God’s call.