People need space and time before they are willing to talk about what’s most important to them. Perhaps even more than that, they need security. Of course a sense of security can only be cultivated over time and with space.
This is particularly true when it comes to spiritual conversations. As a Christian, I see myself as a bit of an exception with reservations. My love for God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit is on the tip of my tongue. It’s something that I could talk about at the tip of a hat. But there are other topics that I would not delve into without some assurance of goodwill and understanding on the part of the listener. So while I may easily talk about how often I pray and what good comes of it, I may hesitate on a topic such as attending church.
The error many Christians commit is they assume everyone wants to talk on the same level about God as they would among themselves. The bottom line is that some folks have vague beliefs, but may not want to discuss them until they have a feeling of security, just as I’m not quite comfortable with my beliefs about attending church. Before pressing into a spiritual conversation with someone, a necessary step is ensuring that the other person feels comfortable. The topic is too important to recklessly jump into a fragile domain.
It’s a gift to be open with others. When someone is open they also place a burden and responsiblity on the listener to respond with charity and to protect the information that is shared. No matter how off center they may be, it’s generally a bad idea to attack another person’s beliefs. Ask thoughtful questions and raise gentle objections? Certainly. But never, ever violate the trust. Never attack someone’s spiritual thoughts.
They have a value that someone has attached to them, and stealing them away with clever arguments and rebuttals will only cause trouble and a breech of trust. If a person spends his/her time defending poorly conceived beliefs, how will they ever find the time to pick up what is real?