A few weeks ago I had dinner with a few friends who are christian and know that I am no longer a believer. Parts of it were uncomfortable for me and I’ve been contemplating those discomforts for weeks now. I’ve let them stew and eat at me.
I’m not quite sure how to handle the expectation to join hands and pray. It’s one thing to quietly be respectful as someone blesses the food. It’s a whole different experience to be involved in a hand-joining prayer giving thanks for one another, blessing the food, and praying for those who are hurting. Some lines felt like little jabs at the lost (me), other lines contrived and rehearsed, and others genuine pleas for god’s help. How am I going to handle these prayers in the future? On the one hand I think it is somewhat disrespectful for them to assume that I am completely comfortable with participating. But on the other hand I haven’t said the words, “It’s fine if you would like to pray but I am going to opt out.” I guess admitting that I don’t believe in Jesus, god, or christianity has not been clear enough. It’s ultimately my responsibility to grow a backbone and lay my boundaries. So after weeks of contemplation I will take the fall for this one although I’m still not sure how I will handle group prayers in the future. My backbone is a slow slow grower.
Without going in to much detail, the friends decided to openly criticize another person (whom they barely know). They called that person unfit because she has no spirituality and causes other people to question their faith. All her mistakes in life are due to not being a christian. I simply observed this conversation thinking the whole time, “Do they even realize that what they are saying about her they are saying about me? I am not a christian so I’m unfit? I’m an unfit parent because I teach my boys to question? Every mistake I make will be due to my lack of faith in Jesus? Are they intentionally saying these things without regard to my feelings? Ouch!”
I did eventually chime in that I thought it was unfair to speak about another person in such a manner especially without knowing their story. I just got blank stares in return. Nice.
Those two discomforts have been eating at me for weeks now. I have viewed them as outright signs of attack and disrespect against me until I opened up a National Geographic today and read the most moving story about women in Afghanistan and their fight to be free. Wow! I got slapped with a heavy dose of much needed perspective!
Women are fighting to be free from the most horrific abuses. They are fighting for such simple freedoms and human rights. Human rights that I enjoy every single day of my life. I have a husband who loves and respects me. These women only want to know love. I have the freedom to voice my opinion on religion and politics. These women are far from those freedoms. I have freedom to educate myself, give birth in a hospital, and show my face. These women are making dangerous strides to also have those rights.
Reading this article gave me the perspective to let go of the silly things that hurt my feelings. I feel so petty. So juvenile.
Who cares if I held hands and listened to prayers to a god I don’t believe in! And who cares if someone thinks I am not a capable parent or a fit enough citizen because I don’t claim a god! I’m finished feeling uncomfortable over nonsensical things. I will just keep appreciating my freedoms to claim my truths and accepting the discomforts (not persecution) that comes with those claims.
Perspective is EVERYTHING!!!!
Please take a few minutes to read this beautiful article.