“Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted. Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. If anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself.” Galations 6:1-3
I wasn’t really shocked at the way this particular email had begun…it was par for the course. All the emails I had received from other “caring sisters” had begun in a similar fashion—the scripture references were just different. It was what followed that surprised me.
She started out by saying that as she was holding her new granddaughter, “god had put me on her heart.” That’s code for, the sisters and I were all gossiping about you the other day because we don’t have lives and I was picked to be the next one to try and find out what in the hell is going on with you. She said she was approaching me with “fear and trembling,” because she was afraid her own pride would get in the way, etc. She said that she was wondering what was going on with me and then proceeded to present two options; either I had fallen into a deep pit that only God could pull me out of or “God forbid,” I had become an apostate. I sat there and could not believe my eyes. It’s true, by Christian standards I am an apostate, but she didn’t know that. All she knew was that I hadn’t been going to her church. I was taken aback. She went on to inquire as to why I hadn’t returned her calls…geez, I wonder? She reminded me that we were friends (which we really weren’t and hadn’t been for a while) She reminded me that I had entrusted her with caring for my children on occasion and why wouldn’t I share my burdens with her now? The fact that I had been the subject of gossip between her and the other women at church aside, why would I share my “burden” with her? If I honestly shared with her the decisions that I had come to, it would only confirm her fears and she would act accordingly. And those of us who have “left the faith,” know what that means. What could I say to her–“Yes, you are right. I am an apostate…I don’t embrace fundamentalist Christianity anymore, let’s drink to my new found freedom, eh?” I don’t think so
She told me I needed to get back into church and that she didn’t care where I went as long as it was a church that believed blah, blah blah…you must comply with the collective…blah, blah blah. I consulted a fellow de-convert, who thinks like me to help with a response and she did and also gave me much comedic relief, which I sorely needed. I knew I had two choices; ignore the email completely or respond honestly with strong boundaries in place. By the way, personal boundaries, I’ve discovered, are a foreign concept to Fundamentalist Christians. I opted for a third,(isn’t that just like me) I wrote back and just quickly said to “fear not– I need some time to think about all you have said, but be patient with me.” In other words, “I’m pissed as hell and you don’t want to know what my response would be right now.” That garnered a quick note from her saying that of course she would be patient with me because, well, God had been so patient with her. Huh?
Several weeks passed, and I still had not composed a response to her—hey, a thousand years is a day to god alright? She wrote again. It was actually humorous, You would have thought the first email had never taken place, “Hey Barbsie “(gaaa) she wrote, “just checkin’ in to see how you are. How’s school going anyway?” Let me just say here that she had never given a hang about me going back to school, and was very negative about it actually. She went on in a very casual fashion and asked if we could get together for coffee or lunch sometime. I thought, “yes, that’s a grand idea, it’s definitely on my list of things to do, right after poking out my eyes…”I wrote back quickly this time, telling her I was busy and in reference to her other email, I told her I was a bit surprised that she considered us such close friends; I told her why and that I would share my burdens with those I felt I could trust and that she had enough to worry about without having to worry about me and that she should do just that. I think I made it sound a little nicer, but maybe not.
She responded that she was taken aback at my response that she was just wanted to stay in touch (I guess the holy spirit had removed all memory of that first email) She told me she still had a book of mine that I had loaned her by D.A. Carson (shiver) and that she was only wanting to get together for coffee to return it and could she just bring it by sometime? (Oh, god, please don’t drop by my house) I have a feeling that she will drop by eventually, with other “sisters” in tow. I can only hope that I will have had enough of a good Syrah to make it worth my while. I will respond to that email in due time or should I say god’s time…..
Next up: Emails full of love part two.