If only it could have been that simple...
I'll never forget the day, the specific moment that I realized that everything I believed Christianity to be was a farce. I don't really know why it came down to this one defining moment because my husband had been pointing out so many problems with the Bible, from its history of assemblage and questionable authorship to its downright shameful treatment of, well, just about everybody. And while I was at a point of actually listening and processing these issues, I was still desperately clinging to any shred of faith that remained.
We were visiting my mom and dad, and it was my birthday, 2016. As my husband and I sat in the living room of my parents' home, we were discussing morality and whence it came. Being the knowledgeable Christian that I was, I wisely pointed to the Ten Commandments as a guide to moral standards. With that, he responded by asking which Ten Commandments I was referring to, Exodus 20 or Exodus 34? I remember thinking, You've got to be kidding me. Well, they must match, right? Nope. And right there the cracks in my foundation spread until it all crumbled away. I know- it's rather ridiculous, maybe even embarrassing that that one little detail destroyed what was left of my faith, but it hit me like a ton of bricks. The God of the universe made a mistake. After Moses broke the first set of commandments, God provided a second set, the very tablets that would be placed in the Ark of the Covenant. They should have matched perfectly. I mean, of all the things to get right, wouldn't the Ten Commandments be somewhere at the top of the list? Well, I suppose that's what happens when mere humans are writing the Bible, and there is no captain at the helm.
The remainder of the visit with my family was surreal. I just kept thinking, I don't think I'm a Christian anymore, a simple thought that carried with it huge implications when your very identity is your religion. I read Dan Barker's Godless almost the entire 6 hour journey home. ( It was already on my Kindle thanks to my husband.) Several weeks passed as I spent every free minute reading counter apologetics. Although I was thrilled at the prospects of there being no thought police or place of eternal damnation, the burden of secrecy towards my family left me feeling like I was hiding a part of myself, a part that I didn't feel I should be ashamed of.
Undoubtedly, there are many nuanced reasons to not "come out" to your family, but I just knew that the next time I saw my dad, I would talk to him. He was the one that just might understand. Unfortunately, that opportunity never came, as he passed away shortly after that visit. Allowing several months to pass, I felt compelled to talk to someone because I was growing so weary of pretending to be something that I was not. My sister, she would understand. Remember the backfire effect? Suffice to say, it didn't go well. Knowing that my mom was still heavily grieving the death of my dad, I had no intentions of talking to her about my deconversion, at least not anytime soon. No point in adding a "spiritual death" to her already broken heart. No matter, my sister talked to her for me. I know she was devastated and still is.
So, here we are, almost two years later. And while there is a part of me that feels proud to have emerged out of my Christian haze, to break the cycle, there is another part of me that struggles with being a huge disappointment to my family. I'm a people-pleaser by nature, so it's quite stressful for me to fall short of what my family expected from me and be the black sheep. This is further reiterated every time I go home, and I'm handed a Christian tract or Bible study because, you know, real Christians don't lose their religion. Despite all of this, I have no regrets. I have two girls who need to know that they can be proud of who they are, that they don't have to hide who they are or are not. And they are looking to me and to my husband to set that example for them.
By the way, I've found a productive way to deal with my stress. Stay tuned for the next post!