Since my last post, I’ve thought a lot about how atheists are spoken of, how we are treated, how demonized we all are. I don’t have a persecution complex or anything like that. As much as I would like to say it’s not all that bad, I know that it is. The reality is, we are so maligned that even the people closest to us can rationalize turning their backs on us. I believe they feel righteous in some way.
Today I’m going to share a letter my sister wrote to me soon after I had started doubting my belief in god and while I was going through one of the most difficult times in my life.I do this because I want others, who have had their families turn their backs on them, to know it’s not them and they are not alone.
I’ll spare you the background for now, except to say that our relationship had been extremely close up until I shared my doubts about god. I think the letter speaks for itself. Here it is:
“I don’t want to hurt you with my words, but I have to speak the truth. I’m tired. You’ve never made it easy to talk with you about my feelings regarding our relationship. I send you these words from my heart. I can no longer hide from the truth of my feelings and I want to be up front and honest with you from now on. I’m tired of being ‘fake’ due to fear and I certainly no longer want to patronize you. That isn’t fair to you.
I love you very much because you are my sister. I forgive you. I have no ill will towards you, just deep sadness for many reasons, most of which we’ve discussed already. I am deeply sad because I have developed a wall between you and I that I cannot seem to break down. I have trust issues with you that hopefully will one day go away. That in no way means that I don’t love you deeply and cherish you as my sister. That will never change. Also, I love you with a deep love that can only come from Christ. My heart breaks over hearing what you have to say about our Savior, but that is not why I am choosing to distance my self from you. Hopefully you will search your heart and discover what you need to do to repair our relationship.
Just so you know, the reason why I have never questioned your beliefs, and this may sound harsh, but over one year ago I was advised by several trusted people who know me and are familiar with our relationship, not to speak with you about why you have hardened your heart towards God because you’ve had such a strong influence on me over the years and it is dangerous to speak with you about the ‘earthly wisdom’ that you claim that you’ve been enlightened by. I can’t put it any other way. I have to be open and honest with you.
I will continue to pray that you find Jesus Christ in the midst of your pain.
As a follower of Christ I would be doing you an injustice if I did not give you this verse: John 15:5 – ‘I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.’ I have attached John 15 that I am praying you will read.
All my love, Brenda”
So there it is. Retyping it is like reading it for the first time–painful. When people you love reject you for being an atheist, it’s the most helpless feeling in the world, but like they say on The Sopranos, “Whad’ya gonna do?” Nothing, but know it’s not you; it’s them. The truth is, although I miss my sister, I would not give up the freedom I have in the hopes that one day, she will consider me once again worthy of her love. I tried that a for so long and all it did was leave me broken.
My advice, move on. Stop trying to get loved ones to stop rejecting you. If they truly love you, they will find you. Instead surround yourself with people who love you for who you are, and you in turn love others for who they are. There is nothing like it–I promise.