A couple of months ago, I was having lunch with a friend of mine and I was sharing with her how some of my other friends and acquaintances had been responding to the fact that I was no longer attending church. Now, she’s a believer and knows I’m not attending church and she completely understands why, but she isn’t aware that I’m no longer a Christian. She said it was hard for her to believe that people would be so intrusive and that maybe I was just a tad paranoid. I laughed and said, “Maybe I am.” It bothered me a little that she thought that, but it did sound a little unbelievable and I appreciated her honesty. Just about that time, a familiar face walked up to our table. “Oh god,” I thought. The uninvited visitor was a guy who attends the church I had attended before I gave up the faith. He is involved in the leadership there. We knew each other fairly well, but we weren’t buddies or anything.
“Hey how have you been? Are you still attending unnamed church?” Let me just mention here that he was fully aware that I was no longer going to there.
I looked up at him and smiled. “I’m great John, and no, I’m not.” I wanted to say, and you know it, but I refrained.
He went on to inquire about how long it had been and I told him a few months (he knew that too).
When he had walked up, it had to have been obvious that my friend and I were having a private conversation, but that didn’t seem to matter to him. I turned back to my friend to continue talking.
“So where are you attending now?” (Sheesh, are you still here?)
I stopped, and turned to look at him. I tried to appear surprised that he was still standing there. “Actually nowhere at the moment,” I answered and then I just stared at him-waiting for what I knew would be the next question.
“Do you mind if I ask you if you are looking for a church?”
I was feeling a bit braver now and responded with, “Actually, I do mind.”
He must have assumed what my answer would have been because, he didn’t even miss a beat. It was almost as if he hadn’t heard what I said, and smiling, he responded with, “Oh, living the life of a pagan, eh?”
It was all too easy, “living it and loving it,” I answered.
He seemed a bit taken aback at first, but knowing my dry sense of humor and thinking I was kidding I guess, his smile returned and he said, “Well, thankfully under grace, we can all do that for a time.”
I was done. I told him to say hi to his wife for me and I turned again to my friend, whose mouth was agape by this time. I smirked at her and he tottered off.
I let a sigh of relief escape my lips and I just looked at her. She apologized for doubting me earlier and could not believe that he had been so rude to interrupt us and grill me like that. Especially sense it was obvious I was not interested in having a discussion with him. I felt exonerated. She was pissed. His living under grace “for a time,” comment had not escaped her and she did not like it at all. I was encouraged by that.
Even though my friend is unaware at this point of my de-conversion, the way she has seen Christians treat me these days, has had a big impact on her. From my sister to other friends, she has seen the toll their treatment it has taken on me. She made the comment the other day, “Boy Christians sure do shoot their wounded, don’t they?” I remember thinking, yes, yes they do. I think when I tell her about my unbelief, the last thing she will be is shocked.
Next up: emails full of love