5 out of 5 friends agree, I’m not an atheist…?

It was Mother’s Day yesterday, and we hosted my family this year.  Once everyone had gone home and our kids were napping, the wife and I sat on the couch to relax.

Me: Can I get you a beer?

Her: Coffee stout please!

Yes, my wife has better taste in beer than your significant other does.  You are jealous, as you should be.

Me: I saw Reese at church today.  She was on coffee duty.

The wife stayed home to prepare for my family’s arrival.  If you haven’t read my previous posts about slowly coming out, Reese is the one friend/church member that my wife told about my loss of faith.

Her: Oh yeah?  What did you guys talk about?

Me: Nothing really, I just gave her a big hug and thanked her for being a good friend to you.  But she did say “we’ve been there, it’s ok we’ve been there.”  What’s that about?

Her: Well you remember when Robert had his severe depression, he didn’t want to go to church.  He did see the point of it all.  He didn’t think it was worth the time to pray.

Me: Oooo, maybe I shouldn’t tell him that I’m an atheist.

Her: ?

Me: Well, I don’t want to tell a depressed person who has finally found purpose through God that his friend/pastor doesn’t believe in God.  I mean, it’d be awkward telling him I’m an atheist.

Her: You do realize that none of your friends [that you’ve come out to] think you’re an atheist.

Me: Damn this is a good coffee stout!

obama-looking-pissed-annoyed(sigh) :\

Ok, so I don’t want to challenge my wife’s errant view of my beliefs.  This is obviously too much for her to handle all at once, and to be fair I was also in denial about my atheism for months.  It’s only been 7 days for her.  It’s not really too difficult for me to have patience with her as she process this, but my friends are pissing me off.  I’m not sure how many conversations she’s had with my other friends but I’d really appreciate it if they didn’t fill her with false hope.

Looks like I’ll be making some phone calls today.

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23 thoughts on “5 out of 5 friends agree, I’m not an atheist…?

  1. Hi John,

    I recently began following your story. So far I think you’re doing everything the right way. It’s breaking my heart, even so. There is no good way to do this!

    I had to comment on this your most recent blog post. Do you think your spouse and friends are hoping that your recent lack of belief is just a momentary aberration, similar to your friend’s short episode of disbelief during the time he was suicidally depressed? I just get a sense that they are hoping that you are just “lashing out” at God right now, and that your atheism is a mere symptom of some kind of clinical depression.

    I could be wrong.

    All my best to you,

    Judy

    Liked by 2 people

    • I think they’re hoping that’s the case. I think, at least my wife, wants my lack of faith to be temporary. That’s probably old roomie’s position too. But the airport drive friend really surprises me, especially since he’s agnostic.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I can’t say that my story is the same as yours as I’ve never had strong faith. I grew up in a catholic family, but the type that only went to church on holidays. I finally came to the conclusion that I was an atheist when I was in high school. I kept it quiet from everyone but my truly close friend.

    I slowly became more open about it during college. I had one friend email me saying she was worried about where I would go when I died (yeesh!). I’ve had family members tell me they are disappointed in me yet really have no logical explanation as to why they are. I politely tell them that in reality they are 99% atheistic. There are thousands of gods out there that they reject. I’m simply rejecting all of them. I respect their thoughts and I hope they can respect mine.

    I met my husband during school and he is Catholic. We both respect each others beliefs. He prays rosary at night while I read a book. I will attend church with him during holidays to keep him company. I even ask him about the prayers and rituals. It is a wonderful learning experience. We constantly question each other, but there is no hate to it and no intention of trying to sway the other to believe differently. I hope you and your wife can eventually get to that point.

    You’ll be surprised at how strong of a support system there is for atheists. We all have your back!

    Liked by 4 people

  3. Yes, my wife has better taste in beer than your significant other does. You are jealous, as you should be.

    Oh really? My wife, who is the daughter of a Pentecostal pastor, didn’t try beer until she was 39 years old. Her first beer was a Troeg’s Java Head. Even though I cautioned that she may not like something so heavy for her first beer, she really enjoyed it.

    Since then, she’s confirmed that she likes stouts and stronger brews over other kinds of beer. Guinness Stout is too weak for her; she prefers Guinness EXTRA Stout.

    We’ve gone from no beer in the house, ever, to me having to say, “Uh, I’m starting to gain weight. Can we cut back on the beer a bit?”

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Hi John,

    I’m a former Pentecostal Sunday School teacher with almost seven years outside the church, and about six years into openly admitted atheism. It took a good couple of years to admit to *myself* that I wasn’t feeling it anymore.

    It took my husband about a year to go from “You’re not an atheist and I don’t want to talk about it” to grudging acceptance, and another four to admit his own loss of faith to me.

    It’s a hard road, but the freedom to be true to yourself is worth it. We get this life, and that is all we know we will get. No sense in squandering it in order to please the sensibilities of others.

    You have my empathy and my best wishes.

    Alyson

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Hi John,

    I agree that your wife, and most likely your friends, probably think this is just a phase. And don’t be too hard on your agnostic friend, he probably is just trying to be sensitive to your wife’s feelings and isn’t sure what to say to her, so he’s trying to make her feel safe in the only way he knows how. But he *does* need to know that by painting you as just having a momentary “crisis of faith”, he is setting your wife up for a harder fall later, and is doing you a disservice. You know your heart and this isn’t just some flight of fancy. This is something that is a part of you. This is a gut-wrenching, world view changing thing that you didn’t, and would never have decided to, choose. It just is. And once you know there is no god, you can’t really pretend there is. As much as you might want to. It would be like pretending that your childhood teddy bear can protect you from a burglar. If someone breaks in, no matter how much you want to believe in your teddy bear…you will call 911, because you know that “teddy” isn’t going to save you.

    I used to be a very hard-core christian. I attended several years of Seminary when I was in Junior High and High School (and actually corrected the teachers on occasion). I took my scriptures to school every day and read them at lunch time. I even converted one person when I was in Basic Training, who went on to be baptized at a nearby church. Several times I seriously considered becoming a Chaplain. So, in some ways, I think I can understand your situation. It is hard to lose your faith. To lose that which you have relied on as truth for so much of your life. It is like losing a part of yourself. But it is also liberating. To know that there is no hell. No eternal punishment. No one watching you all the time. No one to judge you. That you are responsible for your own actions. That you, and only you, are responsible for the things you do, for good, or for ill. That there is no instant forgiveness if you harm someone. That you actually have to be careful and try not to harm people and, when you do harm them, you have to make amends in a very real sense – that is a heavy burden, but it is a freeing one. I am my own person. I am no one’s puppet.

    I do want to honor your wife and her reaction to your loss of belief. She is taking it much better than some have. I remember when my mother asked me if I still believed in god. I didn’t want to hurt her, but I also didn’t feel that I could lie to her. So I was honest and told her that no, I did not believe in god. When I asked her if she still loved me, she said, “I guess I still love you.” It broke my heart to have my own mother doubt her love for me. The fact that your wife does love you, even if she is confused and afraid, speaks well of her. She needs time to un-mingle the tendrils of her faith with her love of you. This is not an easy process and not everyone can do it. Give her time, love and understanding and hopefully things will turn out well.

    I understand that with around 1,500 visitors (and probably more every day), as well as dealing with your wife, children, other family members, friends, and more, you must be overwhelmed to say the least. Don’t feel obligated to respond to each of us. I know you want to, and I think each of us would feel honored if you did, but you have other priorities right now. Take care of you and your family first. We are but phantoms – internet figments passing by, thankful to be a part of your journey.

    With kindness and compassion,
    Hawk

    Liked by 4 people

  6. Get used to it, John. My parents and siblings have known for several years now and still hope that one day I’ll come back to my senses. LOL You have five Christian friends? You deserve a pat on the back. Only one Christian remained my friend after I left the dark side, but she still pushes the god button when ever she can. 😉

    Btw, when you say “The wife” in the context in which you are using it, it comes across as depersonalizing.

    Like

  7. From what I’ve read on how your friends have taken the news, I’ve got a feeling they’re trying to offer you support. Remember, they can’t read your mind, so they can’t know for sure how long you’ve been going through the issue and how serious you’ve been questioning each step of the way. They’ve got to look at it from their own perspective, and if they’re believers, they’ll have a much harder time coming to grips with the idea that not believing in God is even an option. It’s going to be hard for them to empathize, and since they are still believers, for them to try and put themselves in your shoes it would just seem like being burnt out. I don’t think the message they are trying to convey is a dictation on how you should or do believe, just an attempt at reassurance.

    Not to impose any judgement, since I don’t know your friends, but there is also quite the stigma against atheists in many circles. While they may not hold those same ideas, it is possible they could be influenced by them. Again, I don’t know, but there is the possibility. This is 5 out of 5 Christian friends, correct? Do you have any atheist friends you could try talking to? Or just any non-Christian friends? See if talking to someone who isn’t starting out from the position of faith might alter their perspective of your situation and get you a different result.

    Like

    • The 5 people who know are very close to us which is why they were let in on my little secret. While I do know non-religious people, none of them are part of my innermost circle.

      Like

  8. This is Ashley from catholicismontherocks.blogspot.com . I went through much of that with my family. (My husband is still a committed Christian). One thing I finally came to realize was that I didn’t need the validation of the people around me. Most of my friends were deeply invested in their faith and the faith community. They were committed to the doctrines I now found unacceptable. It was tough. But, I have managed to keep many of them as friends. I just don’t try to find like-mindedness in this regard from them. It is challenging. But having others to communicate with helps. Peace!

    Like

  9. John,

    You haven’t mentioned this, but I wonder if your friends and wife aren’t suffering from pretty severe cognitive dissonance. You can’t “really” be an atheist in their minds, because they know you’re a good person, and everyone knows atheists can’t be good people!

    Maybe you’ll help break through a bit if you unpack for them what atheism means to you — that is, that you’re just using the word to answer a single question. Being an atheist doesn’t mean you’ve changed your political views, your social views, your views on good beer, on friendship, on any of that stuff. YOU know this (because you’ve been reading Linda LaScola’s blog.) But they probably don’t. For them, “atheism” is a big, scary word that probably means you’re some unholy amalgamation of Christopher Hitchens, Richard Dawkins, and those Satanists that were supposedly ritually sacrificing kids in the 1980s.

    Just keep letting them know that being an atheist doesn’t mean you aren’t still the person they know and love. You’ll get there.

    Liked by 4 people

  10. Going through change is a difficult process. You’re absolutely doing the right things by building a resume and exploring your job options.

    When you come out on the other end of this, I don’t think you’ll have any regrets.

    When you’re ready, I recommend reading “The God Delusion” by Richard Dawkins.

    Like

  11. as a pastor I’m sure you are familiar with the 5 stages of grief, if not – now would be the time to familiarize yourself with that because it’s something that you are currently experiencing (at a different stage than everyone else) and that everyone else that you love is going to experience as they grieve what will be perceive as a change in who you are (until they reach acceptance.)

    Parts of this process are a real bear. My own denial lasted for a couple of years, my anger lasted for 4 years…and the depression – even 9 years later, still shows up sometimes, but I’m happier now than I ever was when I was afraid for all the people I love…and that’s something I didn’t think I could ever be without god. You can be too, and you will be with the right support and love from those around you.

    Liked by 1 person

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