My conversation with Mark (the atheist ex-pastor friend) last week ended with him telling me to have my wife call his ex, Julie. The idea was that since Julie has had more time to process our situations, she might be of some counsel to my wife. Also there might be a possible side benefit to Mark by having Julie realize that Mark is not unique, pastors lose their faith and leave the ministry all the time.
Mark and I were talking over Facebook Messenger.
Mark: So apparently your wife talked to Julie.
Me: Oh yeah, how’d that go?
Mark: I’m talking to her now.
He was texting back and forth with her.
Mark: She’s mad at me. She thinks I had something to do with it.
Me: Fuck man, I knew this would happen. I’m so sorry.
Mark: Don’t even worry about it. I’ll handle it.
I had wondered what Julie would think of my deconversion, I suspected she’d blame Mark. I decided to give Mark a call.
Me: This is what I was worried about. I know you’re not together with her, but because of your kid you’re always going to have some kind of “relationship” with her. I don’t want to screw that up.
Mark: I wouldn’t worry about it.
Me: So how did the conversation go overall.
Mark: Well, she didn’t come right out an accuse me of being at fault, but you can tell there was that undercurrent.
I told her I was happy for you and that really pissed her off. I mean, yeah I feel bad for what you’re going through right now. I’ve been there and it sucks, but I told her I was happy you came to a… well you know.
He’s happy I’m not deluded with religion anymore.
Mark: But I think she talked to your wife about things she wished she would have done with me. And some mistakes that she wished she’d avoided.
But it’s like we talked about the other day. You aren’t me and your wife isn’t Julie. Shoot, I remember the first time I met your wife she dropped an “F” bomb. An F BOMB? What pastor’s wife would ever do that?! I knew then that there was something special about that girl.
You guys will be alright.
Later on I get home and I decide to ask my wife about Julie.
Me: So you talked to Julie today. How’d that go?
Wife: Pretty good. How did you know?
Wife: Yeah, she’s not happy with him.
Me: [chuckles] Yeah, that’s what he said.
Wife: She was “if he had anything to do with this…” like she was going to be pissed. He’s going to be in trouble.
Me: Well, there divorced so I don’t know how much trouble he can get in.
Wife: Right, but I told her that I didn’t think Mark had anything to do with it. You guys have very different reasons and experiences for why you…you know, umm…
She couldn’t bring herself to say the “A” word. Atheist. She couldn’t even say “don’t believe anymore”. So I didn’t leave her hanging.
Me: Right, you’re totally right. I mean we have some ideas in common but our process were totally different. The truth is, knowing Mark made it harder to admit where I’m at.
I’m also dodging the A word.
Me: I looked at him a Julie and I was scared to death. I didn’t want to end up like him.
Wife: Well so Julie tried to give me advice.
Me: What did she say?
Wife: She said she wished she would have told him that she loved him no matter what. She loved him, probably still does, but she wish she would have said “I love you” and left it at that. She told me not to try to argue with you or change your mind but just to be there for you.
Me: I think you have been.
Wife: Well are you going to get that BBQ started or are you just going to sit here and drink beer?