Counting the Cost

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.

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4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. selfexamine
    Feb 04, 2007 @ 02:55:48

    Hmmmmm……… So, if your “friends” actually knew that you were examining your faith and your doubts about Christianity, you think they might drop you from thier list of “friends”? Are they really true friends? Does being thier friend hing itself on like beliefs? I’ve seen many in the church ostracize those who even bring the subject up. So, you don’t bring it up. You don’t discuss it. You just continue on down this road, put up a front and make everyone else happy that you fit in to “their” world. But your miserable and keep these thoughts to yourself. You put your own beliefs, thoughts, feelings, on the back burner. Maybe you share them with someone but you fear it will get out. I doubt you’ll be roomies with Hitler. There’s a huge difference between blatant evil and one who is just examining their beliefs. And your likely not an atheist just yet. Probably not even an agnostic. Maybe just a Christian asking lots of questions like many do but won’t admit to.
    Don’t you wish you had someone you could just sit on the couch and talk this all out with? A true friend would be there to listen and support. It might make your “coming out” a little easier.

    Reply

  2. notabarbie
    Feb 05, 2007 @ 12:40:14

    I don’t think Hitler and I will be roomies either, but if I continue to reject orthodox Christianity, my friends believe that Hitler and I will wind up in the same place. In Fundamentalist Christianity there is no lesser Hell. That’s just the way it is. You either follow Christ or you don’t. There’s no in between. I can tell from your comment that you are unfamiliar with Fundamentalist Christianity, otherwise you would know that friendship does depend on “like beliefs,” sadly. And as much as I would like to believe differently, having someone to talk to and support me won’t make my “coming out” any easier. Thank you for the nice comment though.

    Reply

  3. Terry S.
    Mar 20, 2007 @ 23:58:09

    It has been made plain to me that you are correct in your assertion that so called “friendship” amongst fundamentalist christians is largely dependent upon a like-mindedness regarding faith. Anyone who splits from the fold often finds themselves tacitly, and in some instances openly shunned by their former “friends.”

    Reading Zoe’s and other blogs of various people’s accounts of their experiences upon leaving the church are often heart wrenching and intense.

    While I have never been heavily involved in any religious tradition, most of my wife’s family are catholic – some devout, some not. Some know of my non-belief, most do not. Even after nearly 35 years of marriage, I still generally tread lightly on matters of faith with them.

    I suppose some of my motives are selfish, but I do need to consider the welfare of my wife and kids. While I am to a point that I will not actively hide my position, I remain circumspect as to when and to whom I am willing to share my thoughts on the subjects of religion, god and afterlife. If it serves no positive purpose, I just figure that it is not worth stirring up the pot.

    As you indicate, it seems that it would be easier just to go back into the fold. But one cannot simply manufacture faith, and for most living such a lie would ultimately prove unbearable.

    I have occasionally toyed with the idea of joining a church just for the opportunity to sing in a choir. But when I think of what all that would entail, it just makes me shudder. I won’t claim to be “Mr. Honesty Personified,” but neither am I a particularly duplicitous person. It would drive me nuts.

    Embracing agnosticsm or atheism can be a lonely endeavor in our heavily religious country. It was heartening for me to discover the literally hundreds of non-believer blogs. Reading some of them does make one feel not quite so alone.

    TLS

    Reply

  4. notabarbie
    Mar 22, 2007 @ 05:27:50

    Thanks Terry, What you have to say is always wise and insightful.

    It can be very lonely, but it feels better to be true to myself rather than be constantly biting my tongue to the point of massive pain.

    You are lucky that you never got entrenched in religion…you have a much healthier perspective because of it I believe.

    And for God’s sakes, don’t join that choir. Run! Run like the wind.

    Thanks for reading,
    Barb

    Reply

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