It started innocently enough–dinner with friends. A Christian couple we have known for years—good food, good wine, a good time to be had by all and then came the question from my friend, Dorothy; the same friend that had prayed, about Jesus being the tie that binds us in friendship, at their last party:
“Are you going to women’s retreat and will you room with me?”
It seemed simple enough. My throat tightened a little, but I remained calm, “No, I’m not going this year,” I said. I felt better just in saying it.
“Well, why not?” she surprised me by asking. You need to understand, this is not typically a confrontational woman. She asked, so I answered.
“Because I just don’t want to this year.” That seemed simple enough. What I thought, but didn’t say was, “I’d rather have my eyes poked out.”
She continued with her query, which was feeling more and more like an interrogation. ”Well, why don’t you want to?”
Okay, maybe I should put it another way: “It’s just not something I’m interested in right now, please don’t take it personally.” Then it happened—something changed.
“But I do take it personally, where are you at spiritually, anyway?”
Her whole face had changed. Mind you this was not said kindly or lovingly. I felt my heart start to race.
I said, “Look, I just don’t want to go.”
The immediate response was, “I get it; don’t worry you won’t see me asking you to go again.”
Ouch, that was a bit stinging. Now, I was confused. Okay, I thought, get me out of here or pour me another glass of wine, no, wait, just give me the bottle. I tried to explain to her that I had already been asked by a couple of other women and I was feeling a little pressured.
She responded by snidely saying, “Oh, well, you must have way more friends than me, because no one else has asked me, you must be lucky that way.”
I was completely and utterly stunned. I was wondering if I should offer to give her back the knife she had just shoved into my sternum, but I refrained.
She proceeded to accuse me of shutting her out and why don’t I go to church so much anymore, etc., etc. I was wondering why she wouldn’t have had this discussion in private instead of in a public place, around other people. I mean, if she had truly cared about me and my wellbeing, she would have, right?
I would have loved to have poured my heart out to her; shared with her my journey and my de-conversion process, but looking at her and seeing her reaction, I knew I couldn’t. It would have been inappropriate. I know it will come out eventually and the thought of it makes me want to run like the wind. The hard reality is our friendship is contingent on me being a Christian. I’m learning this the hard way.
Finally the evening ended (thankfully) and she gave me a big hug and said, “I will always be your friend.”
I hugged her back and asked, “No matter what?”
She said, “Yes.”
I cried all the way home knowing in my heart it wasn’t true.
I expected an apology call the next day. I mean, she really was unkind, and it would be like her to be remorseful, but I didn’t receive one. I did receive a cute note three days later telling me she was praying for me…thank God.