("Atheist" that is.)
Just a few months ago, I was still in the phase where my journal says things like:
All my questioning isn't to leave behind Christianity... that's not what I want to do. I want to go deeper, to ask every question, look under every rock.
The choice is clear: I accept the Bible as the basis for my spirituality and remain "in dialog" with and around it, remaining "a Christian." Or I reject the Bible's authority and sacred status, meaning I can't call myself a Christian. I definitely want the former. I hope I'm able to do it. I can't imagine leaving Christianity.
I'm starting to accept that there are many paths to God, not just the "Christian" path. I don't have to put down others' beliefs in order to fully embrace my own. I don't have to be judgmental. I can just celebrate life and God.
I know there is a powerful purpose in prayer.
Can you see how hard I was struggling to remain a Christian? I thought I'd just widen my beliefs. I thought I would become more "progressive" and refuse to be judgmental. I already had liberal beliefs about things like heaven, hell, the resurrection, gays, sex outside marriage, etc. But I was still determined to stay a Christian.
During that time, I tried to talk to three of my girlfriends about this spiritual revolution I was going through. I said over and over, "I'm still a Christian, don't worry!" But it was impossible to share my thoughts without them becoming sincerely worried about me.
Now that my journey has progressed to embracing the "A" word, I don't feel like I can talk to them about it at all. It feels lonely.
You're probably thinking, "You should just tell them. If they're your friends, they'll accept you. If they can't accept you, then you're better off without them - they're not true friends."
But life's more complicated than that, right? These are my BFFs. The ones I envision rocking on the front porch with, 40 years from now, when we break down and buy those Cracker Barrel rockers (and all our husbands are gone, of course). These are the friends I have margaritas with as often as possible. Or coffee when happy hour's not possible. I've worked years to cultivate and build these relationships, and they mean everything to me. I don't easily consider jeopardizing them.
Would they still accept me? Absolutely. But they'd be scared for me, and worried about me. They'd pray for me. They'd waste all kinds of time and emotional energy fretting about my soul. In all of this, they'd be sincere and full of loving concern.
Can you see how I wouldn't want to allow that?
They also might feel kind of unsafe around me. Maybe some of them would feel they couldn't be friends with me because they're afraid of my influence rubbing off on them. They'd be truly frightened. And sad. They'd be so sad!
I don't want to make my friends sad.
Since this is all so new to me, I'm fine remaining in the closet for now. Maybe I'll figure out how to do this. Or get some new friends or something. I just can't cause these friends this kind of pain right now. I'm overwhelmed dealing with my own stuff! Maybe in the future I can talk about it.
But not now.
How did you deal with your friends? Have you lost any over your atheism?