We were all standing in a circle, holding hands–praying. It was a good friend’s birthday party and, as always, we were having a great time. I’ve known most of the people there for over 10 years; some 20 and we have had some really fun times. We were friends—forever friends. That’s what I believed anyway. We really didn’t talk much about God or theology, but we would always pray before we ate. My dear friend Dorothy began to pray “And Lord we just thank you for all our friends here, who we love so much. We know that we wouldn’t even be friends if it weren’t for you. You and your Son Jesus are the only thing that ties us together.” She continued on, but I didn’t hear anything after that. I was stunned. All I could think of was that I didn’t believe anymore and what I would lose if they that.
As the prayer ended, I looked around at everyone and I thought of all the things that bind us together as friends and none of them had anything to do with religion or our faith. My hope is that she didn’t really mean exactly what she said and that, in the end, we will remain fast friends. As I consider that now, I find myself thinking that the only thing worse than losing her and her husband as friends, would be them thinking of me with pity– an apostate who needs to be saved—someone condemned to Hell.
It’s moments like that, that make me wish I’d never stepped out of the box and let myself examine my beliefs more closely. Why, oh why, can’t I just be like my Christian friends that go right back to it, no matter what happens, without questioning. I know deep down that I can’t go back. Even if I wanted to, I can’t make myself believe something that I see as kind of silly now. I can’t make myself go back and embrace a belief that their religion is the one true religion, and any other belief will send you straight to hell. Yep, Hitler and me, we’re gonna be roomies. No, I could never go back to believing that, but I always can’t see myself sharing my change of heart to any of my Christian friends.
There are many reasons why I haven’t articulated to my friends and loved ones, about my journey out of Evangelical Christianity. I think it’s because I’m not sure where I’m headed. I’m still exploring it all. I’m not sure what I believe yet; only time will tell. I don’t want to let the cat of the bag, so to speak, before I can articulate better. It’s just too risky. In the mean time, I’m going to enjoy my friends for as long as I can and just hope our conversations don’t get too theologically deep…I have this problem; I can’t seem to keep my thoughts and ideas to myself in certain circumstances. I imagine my “coming out,” like most notable events in my life, will be unplanned, unrehearsed, and spectacular.