Religious differences didn’t break up my family.

comments 4
the godless side / the post-God side

Compared to last year, my parents’ visit this time around was phenomenal.  That word is strong, but it is contrasted with the worst week I have experienced.

I was actually pretty shocked at how gracious and loving my parents were this year.  They spent 2.5 weeks here with us and stated their main purpose was twofold (1) to see us, of course, and (2) to do whatever they could to help us with our startup tea business.  It was as if they came here on a missions service trip, demonstrating selfless labor on our behalf nearly the entire time they were here.  In addition, my parents are becoming elderly.  My mom was in her forties when she gave birth to me.  Their energy levels are waning.  And yet, despite the intense summer heat and our energizer bunny I mean toddler, their dedicated work ethic never waned.

Incredibly humbling.  To have two people take nearly 3 weeks off work, drive over a thousand miles, and spend their entire “vacation” serving us??  I was pretty blown away.  Nothing reflects the heart of Christ more to me than selflessness and servanthood.  Did I say Christ?  Now, obviously I don’t believe Jesus is the reason for human goodness.  I used to.  But, their actions last year definitely reflected a negative image on their current beliefs and were great reasons for me to see religion as destructive.  This time?  It definitely left a better taste in my mouth.

Yet, their pain about my apostasy still made itself apparent from time to time, such as my mom’s tears during our first meal together as we invited my dad to say grace.  The constant worry etched into the pained wrinkles spoke loudly of their thoughts of me and my family.  Conversations about politics and gay marriage got heated, indicative to them of our continuing heathenism.  Although the time spent we all spent working was a welcome distraction that allowed for awkward silences to not be awkward, I still felt a cloud of anxiety lined with eggshells.

Running a start-up small business out of one’s home is an incredible amount of work.  Much more than I ever would have imagined.  Add a toddler into the mix and turn half your employees into slow-moving pregnant women in their third-trimester (it’s just my husband and I), and we were drowning in work over our heads.  My parents’ presence here was not only welcome, it gave us a necessary hand-up to be able to conquer the rest of this super-busy summer for us.  I am incredibly grateful for them, their servitude, their support, and their love.

Despite the incredible dysfunction that remains, healing has come to my family.   That brings me an indescribable relief, for I was a child haunted with the burdens that I seemingly carried alone of a broken relationship with my mother and father.  This probably sounds ridiculous, but I constantly worried about their untimely death or my own, for I would then always regret our last year together as one painted with sorrow, rejection, dysfunction.  We’ve got a LONG way to go to be truly emotionally healthy, but I can finally, finally rest well at night.

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The Author

I'm a closet atheist christian missionary. Paradigm shifts happen frequently for those who allow themselves to think critically about currently held beliefs and openly about new ones. I’ve developed the skill, or perhaps addiction, for change but the community around me is slow to catch up -- and would damn me if they knew where I stood.

4 Comments

  1. Have missed your posts, glad to see this one. Just realized, you have “tea” in your pseudonym. Was that intentional when you started or just a happy coincidence (since we are pretty sure it wasn’t a “god-incidence”)? 🙂

    How wonderful and encouraging. Nothing can take the place of family love, and when you’ve had it and seen it shatter, that is a daunting and lonely thing. Your parents sound like good solid people who needed time to get over the shock of your revelation and remember just how much they love you. I admire your ability to be honest with them and stand your ground.

    My mother doesn’t have a clue. She’s in her 70s, physically strong but emotionally fragile. I’m afraid learning the truth would be worse than if I died. Initially she might even wish I’d died last year, because then at least I would be saved. I think she would come around like your parents concerning life things, but in her heart and mind she would be grieving for me 24/7. And I would never hear the end of it.

    I am especially envious that you and your husband are walking this path together. My husband thinks I am still “struggling” with my faith. I’m not, it’s gone, but I don’t know how to tell him that because it might ruin us. When I try to talk, I feel defensive and in the wrong and can’t find the words; it is so raw and his pained look slays me. I am afraid to break the special connection we have, to alienate him. I cannot imagine my life without him.

    I long to live honestly and openly with the people I love the most. I also long to live the remainder of my life peacefully and in harmony with those same people. I fear shattering those relationships irreparably and am not sure I am strong enough to open this particular Pandora’s box. I’ve lived with various secrets all of my life, most of them related to religious beliefs. I am prepared to soldier on with this one.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Haha I never realized the “tea” connection! When I started this blog I hadn’t started our tea business yet, though as a lover of tea I toyed with the idea of creating a tea-themed name. Fun to know I did so unintentionally 🙂

      Thank you for your encouragement about my family 🙂 I can totally relate to your trepidation about telling your mother though. Your fear (and reality of what it would bring!) sounds so familiar to me. My mother is also in her 70s and is emotionally fragile. I don’t blame you at all for your hesitation in telling her. I’m very glad I did, but I definitely DEFINITELY would not have said that a year ago. Her pain is still very evident. I’m actually very surprised she did as well as she did during this visit.

      I honestly cannot imagine what it would be like to walk this path alone without one’s spouse. I honestly wonder if one of the initial “leaps of unfaith” for me occurred because I was too scared to remain a believer while my husband disbelieved because I wouldn’t be able to bear the idea of him being hell-bound. In reality, I know this is ridiculous because I don’t think beliefs can be chosen. But it is definitely a very scary reality. Have you told anyone close to you about your unbelief?

      Your story sounds so like mine. Your fears about breaking relationship. We were originally planning on living the next 3 years of our lives closeted in secret, still “preaching the gospel” to those “in need” while keeping our true beliefs hidden. Living a lie eventually became to great a burden. I can’t imagine (actually, I really think I can) the burden you are bearing right now. Know that you are not alone!!

      Like

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