Our camping trip was actually organized by my old roommate. He had his hands full all weekend, and was also busy trying to get laid (he’s going through a divorce). Despite his promiscuous activities, he’s the most “Christian” friend I know from when we all went to church together. I wasn’t planning on telling him that I’m an atheist until after I’ve secured secular employment.
Apparently when I drunk told my second friend, a lady nearby heard us. She’s a coworker of my old roommate. She told him that he needs to talk to me about what’s going on in my life.
So he called me on Monday.
Old Roomie (OR): “So Liz told me that there was something you should talk to me about. You know, something you should probably talk about with one of your best friends.”
Me: “Really, like what?”
OR: “I think you know what.”
Me: “I’ll have to call you back tomorrow. My wife is here and now is not a good time to talk about this.”
Tuesday, after the wife leaves to go talk to one of her closest friends I call OR back.
Me: “So, I’m kinda an atheist”
Why do I keep saying this. “Kinda an atheist”, wtf does that even mean? That’s like being kinda pregnant.
OR: “Really what do you mean?”
Me: “I just lost the ability to believe. It wasn’t a choice, I just lost it. I don’t believe God exists”
I go on to talk about the fears and concerns I have about becoming an atheist. I talk about the utter shock of my wife. I talk about the drive to the airport talk I had with our other friend
Me: “I’m really worried that I have no transferable job skills.”
OR: “Hold up, that’s not true. You’ve got skills and no doubt you of all people can get a good job.”
My old roomie seems to be very successful career wise. He did have one small business fail, but he’s been consistently employed in his career field since I met him when he was 19. He’s an IT guy.
OR: “I don’t understand why you think you’re an atheist.”
Me: “Umm, what? Cuz I don’t believe in God or any spiritual/supernatural explanation of reality. Doesn’t that qualify?”
OR: “So what do you believe?”
Me: “Nothing. I believe in nothing. I have, like no beliefs. Hence a-theism, without theology/god.”
OR: “I don’t think you’re an atheist. I just think you’re burned out. I think you’re tired of stupid people, and your life is hard, and you are wondering what’s the deal with God. I’ve been there, in the midst of my dissolving marriage, in so much pain, I’ve had a hard time believing in God, but I can’t possibly believe there is no God. Listen I don’t say this because I know you or your situation, I say this because I’ve listened to what you’ve said. I don’t think you’re an atheist. You’re just burned out.”
Me: “Uh, Ok…?”
We move to what it feels like to lose faith
Me: “Listen, I’m not saying it’s the same as divorce, but it feels like it’s similar. I feel like I’m getting divorced from God. I trusted him, I loved him, and he let me down by…you know… not being there when I needed him. Of course its kinda not his fault since he never existed. But the pain of a dissolving relationship is real even if God is not. This feels like a divorce.”
OR: “You know, listening to you, I get that. Yeah, this sounds a lot like divorce. And divorce hurts, it hurts a lot.”
Me: “Yes, and this hurts. It hurts a lot. And I wish I was wrong. I wish I was… wrong. I want to be wrong. I don’t want to be an atheist. My life would 100% easier if I just believed. My wife wouldn’t worry about me, I can keep my job… I would know that God is there to take care of me and family. I want to be wrong.”
“I want to be wrong, I’m just… not.”
“And I don’t want to be the person everyone is ‘praying for’. I don’t want people to treat me like there’s something wrong with me or I’m just not trying hard enough. I just want to be me. I want to be accepted for who I am. I want to be friends with people. And I want…(tears)…and I want my wife to like me. I don’t want her to resent me. I don’t want her to think i’m going to hell. I just want her to love me, and stay with me. There’s nothing wrong with me, I just don’t believe because I can’t. I didn’t choose this, it just happened to me.”
Finally OR moves to be more empathetic.
OR: “Well, I know you weren’t eager to tell me, but don’t worry, I don’t think less of you. You’re still my friend and I still support you. I think your wrong, but that’s not important. I think you and your wife will be ok. And I know you said you don’t want to be the person everyone prays for, but…I’ll be praying for you and your wife.
Me: “I know. It’s doesn’t offend me that you’re praying for me. If the roles were reversed, I’d be praying for you.”
After we hang up he sends a text to my wife expressing sympathy. They later end up talking, it was a good talk.