So… it happened. Those five little words many atheists dread finally came from my father: “Do you believe in god?” I’ve been expecting it. Preparing for it. But I was still sad when he asked. Because I knew the answer would hurt him… and the answer would destroy my mother.
I was honest and told him my full deconversion story. He was accepting, but holds onto the belief that I will “recognize the error of my ways” and “accept Christ as my savior” on my death bed, so that I will join him and my mom in heaven. He sees this as a phase. And… that’s okay. It gives him comfort and that’s more important to me than brutal honesty.
I haven’t spoken to my mom on the topic yet, but I know my father shared what I told him. She’s incredibly hurt and is taking it personally. And honestly… I get it. She truly believes that I will be going to hell because I am an atheist. She’s not being intentionally cruel or hurtful… she’s terrified. And she feels that she’s failed as a mother. God is the most important thing in her life and her daughter is “rejecting Him.” I get it. I really do.
I suspect my name will be added to prayer lists and I’m prepared for people from my old church to come to the house. I imagine I will be hearing many “God did this” stories and conversion stories and be given apologetic books for holidays and birthdays. And, again, it’s okay. I’ll be kind, but honest. Gracious, but firm.
Anyway, the point of this post is simply to say, try to be kind to your religious loved ones. Yes, they are indoctrinated. Yes, they say very hurtful things. Yes, they believe nonsense. But… they BELIEVE IT. And most truly do want the best for you. I think about how I would feel if my 7-year-old grew up to be a far right religious conservative that fights against gay rights. I would feel like I failed. I would. And my parents feel the same way about me.
It’s sad. It hurts. But… it just is. So, I’ll be the best I can be. Good without God. And hopefully, in my parents eyes, that will still count for something. ~JJ
as much as I miss her, I’m glad I don’t have to have this conversation with my mother…