As I mentioned in my last post my mother in law passed away. What I haven’t mentioned is that even though I was raised a Christian and have gone to church pretty much all my life, I am in the process of de-converting for many reasons. As I have begun to take the blinders off, I have been shocked at what Christians say to other Christians when they try to comfort them. It has been painfully apparent since my MIL’s death. The hardest thing for me is that I have done the very same thing and I am appalled that I have.
When I have shared with Christian friends about my grief over the loss of my MIL, it seems like the very first thing on their lips is, “Was she saved or was she a believer?” Why do they ask this? I try to figure out why I did it as well, and for the life of me I have no clue. I guess, if by biblical standards, she was a believer then they could comfort me with the idea that she is now in “paradise.” On the other hand, if she isn’t considered “saved,” then they have just reminded me that she is “burning in hell.”
Most of my Christian friends aren’t yet aware that I don’t embrace their beliefs anymore and so I can’t really respond the way I would like to, but what I do say is, “Well, I’m not really qualified to make that call.” Then I tell them that I believe she is at peace now. Some are fine with that answer, some push further: “Well, did she make a profession of faith?” Or, “Did you share the gospel with her?” Why, oh why, on god’s green earth would people do that? I want to scream at them, “Why do you care, she’s dead now!?” It’s not like we can bring her back and save her. In my heart of hearts I know they are, in some strange way, trying to make me feel better, but they need to stop and think about what they are asking. Oh, wait a minute, that would mean they would have to think and…well…for some reason evangelicals have a hard time doing that outside of their box. I have a suggestion though, why not just say, “Wow, I’m sorry for your loss, hang in there.”
I have encountered this strange behavior when I have shared with Christians that my sis in law has terminal breast cancer. Instead of comforting me and realizing how hard it is to think I will probably lose her soon too, they instruct me on how to save her, to “Make sure” she totally understands she has no other way to get to heaven then by believing very specific things. They remind me it’s my responsibility to tell her how to get her saved–that I may be her last hope. All I want to do is love her and spend as much time as possible with her and to comfort her and her husband. That is what the Christian God is all about…right? Dear Christian friends, please, just say, “Wow, I’m so sorry. I’ll pray for her and you and if I can do anything, let me know.” How hard is that…gosh!