Do you have a negative reaction, when you hear the phrase, “on the outside looking in?” Who wants to be on the outside looking in, right? Actually, when you think about it, there are some circumstances where that is exactly where you want to be.
Take fundamentalist Christianity for instance; I am very happy to be on the outside, looking in on that. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t easy getting out and I’m still kind of wedged in between being completely bound and being completely free. I think what prevents me from being completely free is that most of my Christian friends and acquaintances do not know the extent of my journey. A few of them know I’m not going to church, but I can tell by the way they talk to me, that they really have no idea how, “far gone” I am. I have actually amazed myself at how close to the chest I have held my cards. Typically my style is to lay them all out on the table very proudly and let the chips fall where they may.
I have to admit that it gets very tough sometimes. For example when I ask someone if they’ve taken care of something and they say they are, “waiting on the Lord to direct them,” and nothing gets done or when someone tells me of a school project their child has done on ancient civilizations and how they ended their presentation with, “if you want to know the true creation story, see Genesis 1,” and they think that is really nailing it, it takes everything within me not to challenge them. I believe the reason I am able to do it, is because I have been there and I have done that, I know what their reaction would be and I feel for them and yet I am embarrassed for them and for the old me.
All my life, when ever I have learned something new, something interesting or something that had an impact on me, I always had to share it with others. It’s as if, if I didn’t do it, I would explode. That’s how it is for me now; feeling like I’m going to burst. To my friends I want to say, “When was the last time God personally came to you and told you what you should do? He does expect us to use our brains and thinking abilities,” or “how do you know Genesis 1 is true? Have you ever explored its origins with extra biblical writings? I’m curious who you think wrote it and if you realize there are a lot of problems with it and many others books of the Bible too. I know though, that in doing that, I will put a permanent wedge between us. In their eyes I would become the lost sinner, the heretic, the apostate in need of pity and salvation. Maybe not with everyone, maybe there would be someone who has struggled with the same questions that I have. Maybe my words will set them on the path to freedom also; I don’t know, but as strong as I am, it’s hard to take that risk.
Now that my sister knows and I see how she is coping or rather, not coping with the news, I find myself facing the reality of what it will mean to come out; that is to come out to everyone with everything. Sometimes I fantasize about it and it makes me feel very strong, but when I encounter the looks, the prying questions and worse yet the gossip, from just not attending my old church, I feel my heart rate increase and I actually feel slightly afraid; afraid and sad too. I want to ask my Christian friends, “Why can’t we all just care for one another and enjoy one another for who we are as fellow humans, not caring when beliefs are different from ours, but celebrating that?” Just because I’m not a Christian anymore doesn’t mean I’m not the same person. I still love to read and study, just not the Bible. I still have a warped sense of humor, I still love everything outdoors and I still love to sing, just not in a church. I’m still everything I was that you enjoyed hanging out with so much before, only without the Christian label. Why does that have to change? Having been there, I have a pretty good idea of what that answer would be and I have no satisfactory response to them and that’s why I don’t speak out, or ask and why I fear the day they will ask me, because when they ask, I will have to tell them.