Dear Love: I’m Not What You Think I Am

radicalrelationsheartI had someone inside The Clergy Project point out that if my wife ever saw the post I’ve been making, it would make things awkward between us.  Sharing the intimate moments of our darkest time might not be something she’d be to happy about.

hmmmm

It got me thinking; what if I could write in such a way that if she read this blog she’d leave with a better understanding of who I am?  So I think I’ll title these posts “Dear Love”.

If she doesn’t ever get a chance to read this, perhaps some of you can use these posts to explain to your loved ones that atheists aren’t what others think we are.

—————————————————————

Dear Love,

I’m probably not what you think I am.

I can only imagine how strange it must be for me to tell you I’m an atheist.  It might conjure up images of angry bloggers, scientists, or those activists trying to ban Christmas trees at airports.

That’s not me.

I’ve never read a book by Richard Dawkins, I’m not a huge of Pen Gillette, and I like Christmas trees.  Honest!  I can only imagine what you’ve heard about atheists through the years via sermons, Facebook posts, news reports, and angry cable news celebrities that claim people like are what are destroying America.

Oh, and if you ever been on Reddit…yeah… that’s not me either. (I’m looking at you r/atheism)

As you begin to try to understand me, you’ll be tempted to look around at the other atheists you’ve heard about.  You will then naturally associate them with me.  All of their pitfalls, all of their jerks, all of their activities, all of their “beliefs”.  You will naturally assume that I must be like them, but I’m not. As an atheist I have virtually nothing in common with any other atheist in the world.

Let me help you understand.

You have nothing in common with these people

You have nothing in common with these people

How much do you have in common with the Roman Catholic nun who sees the Virgin Mary on a piece of toast?  How much do you have in common with the Charismatics who roll around the floor barking like dogs claiming it’s the Holy Spirit?  How much do you have in common with the Westboro Baptist Church nuts who protest at funerals with signs that say “Thank God for dead soldiers”?  Nothing.  You have nothing in common with those people.  You are nothing like them.  And yet these are all Christians.  If someone who knew nothing of the bible looked at all these people and concluded that you, as a Christian, must be like these other people, they’d be dead wrong.  And yet for as little as you have in common with those other Christians, I have far less in common with other atheists.

All an atheist is is a person who when asked “do you believe there is a god?”, we answer “probably not.”  That’s it.  That’s all.  There is no political requirements, there’s no agreed upon set of rules, there’s no secret club or handshake.  All of atheism is summed up in one answer to only one question.

There are atheists who are socialists and some that are libertarian.

There are atheists who are gay and some that are straight.

Some serve in the military while others are pacifists.

Some used to be religious while others have never stepped foot in a church.

As atheists we come from all walks of life.  We are as different in our personalities and opinion as the rest of humanity, and I have nothing in common with like 99% of them.  But more importantly you should understand not just what I’m not, but also what I am.

I am a person.  I am a human being with love, hurts, dreams, fears, success, and failures.  I want to have friends, I like seeing movies, I love [local sports team], and I’m so glad we finally got a big enough TV to watch them on.  I love grilling, and beer, and philosophy, and skiing.  I love playing the music of my teen years way too loud in the car while singing along.  I love the fact that I’ve gotten old enough to not care if someone sees me.

And I love you.

I love how your hair smells.  I love your laugh. I love how you are terrible at trash talking when we go to games together. I love that you *think* you’re hilarious.  I love how you need to snuggle with me, and in my absence our children love filling in for me.  I love your ability to tolerate people you despise, while simultaneously having the worst poker face on the planet. I love that you love shoes.  I don’t love shoes, but you sure as heck do.  I love that you’ll watch shows with me that normally you would’t ever think you like, but you try it, and sometimes you’re pleasantly surprised. I love how crazy fast you are at math and puzzles.  I love that your big dog person.  I love that you love me.

Being an atheist simply defines what I am not, but it doesn’t begin to describe what I am. You already know who and what I am.  I am still the same person who I have grown with you to be.  I don’t want you to define me as the man who doesn’t believe in God.  Define as the person who believes in us…and in beer…and in the [local sports team] THAT FILLS US WITH HOPE EVERY FREAKING YEAR ONLY TO LET US DOWN IN THE PLAYOFFS.  Define me by the love for our children.  Define me by my work ethic.  Define me for my sense of humor, or taste in unusually food, or my penchant for snorting when I laugh to hard. Define me by the patience I have had as we worked out our problems.  Define me by my love.

I understand for you that God is the defining characteristic of your life.  But honestly, you know my father…yet we’ve never judged him for being an atheist.  You know how much our children love my brother, but we don’t let his differing religious views define him in our eyes.  You and I have always managed to love people for who they are and not what they believe.  I only ask that you do the same for me.

And I think you already do.

Just remember, don’t think of me as an atheist.  Because that word conjures up images of people that I am not.  Think of me as you have always thought of me.  A person who loves you.

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11 thoughts on “Dear Love: I’m Not What You Think I Am

    • Honestly, these past few days have been very love filled. Sometimes there’s tension, and sometimes tears. But tons of cuddles lately.

      Oh and she’s also a bit gehto, so maybe best she doesn’t find out who you are. Lol!

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Confession: I’ve been worried she’d see your blog too and the cuddles would hit the fan. I really like your comparison with the kind of Christian she is not. I don’t ever think that’s crossed my mind before but it is a good way to put it if need me. I can see that being helpful for me in the future and this post of yours being helpful to others in the same situation.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. John, I agree with Zoe, I can see this post being helpful to others in the same situation and beyond. Using the comparison from a Christian perspective is an effective way of presenting a bigger picture. I doubt many Christians look at it through that lens, or are aware that they have played a significant role in stereotyping atheists, whom many if not most have never met much less gotten to know.

    Beautiful post.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This. F*cking this. I cannot ‘this’ hard enough. This describes everyone out there. Not these exact qualities, of course, but the overall idea that every single person is a unique individual, and it is not any one single quality or affiliation that defines us. You are not your religion. No one is. Your belief is a part of you, and it’s up to you how big of a part that is, but it’s not the only thing that makes you who you are. It is very tiring to see people try to define, categorize, and judge others based solely on this one factor, when people are so much more than that. I think the ones who do that simply love the faith more than the person following it, and no one deserves that kind of treatment.

    For your specific situation, from what I’ve read I don’t think you have anything to worry about. You both already have people in your lives close to you that you don’t judge based on faith, and I see no reason why that wouldn’t carry over into the even closer and more intimate relationship of marriage. It will be an adjustment as both you and her get used to the change in how you define yourself, but I don’t think you’ve defined so much of who you are on religion – basing that on the number of qualities you’ve listed here – that it will fundamentally change you from the person she fell in love with.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Brad, if you think this would be helpful then please share it! There are so many pastors who need to read this & so many Christian significant others who love an atheist that need to read this.

      Like

  4. I can’t imagine what it must be like for you to live with and to love someone who could leave because of lack of belief in a speculative human concept, such as god. I admire your love and commitment to her, and your courage and commitment to yourself.

    Like

  5. I wish I read this back in May. I know you tired to explain it but hearing it hurt more then just reading it. This is beautiful and just continues to prove our love for each other will always be the greatest adventure of our lives! I love you Your Wife!

    Liked by 1 person

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