Happy New Year! I have been quiet for some time now, thanks to a busy travel schedule and, honestly, not a lot of thought put toward my faith crisis.
But I’m back, with a few musings and questions. Would love others’ input (assuming anyone still comes around to check things out here). :)
First, I think I have really underestimated my Christian friends. My recent entries dealt with my fear of "coming out" to various people who have previously known me as a dedicated Christian. So far they have all responded much better than I expected. The most recent conversation occurred just after Christmas, with one of my oldest high school friends. She is still a very fervent, conservative Christian and last year at Christmas we had a really rough conversation in which we argued about politics and homosexuality. This time around, I dreaded filling her in on my lack-of-faith and my atheist boyfriend who I’m crazy about.
But we got to talking, and she is one of my oldest friends so I wound up not really being able to hold it all in. I was pretty gut-level honest with where I’m at, and to my surprise she took it really well. No judgment, no criticism, some bewilderment and questions, but overall she took it in stride. My guess is that her current theology helped with that – she’s a “once-saved-always-saved” adherent so she doesn’t fear me going to hell. She just fears me missing out on a life of fellowship with Christ.
So maybe I am learning to stop fearing the reactions of these folks. Our friendships seem to be stronger than the faith ties that bind (or once bound) us. Maybe it’s my mom’s disappointment and judgment I most fear, and am projecting that onto all the other Christians in my life. So there's that.
Second, I have been reflecting a lot on the kind of person I have become since throwing off most of the shackles of my faith. There have been some really good things – like no longer feeling the pressure, guilt, and obligation of putting on the good Christian “show” when it no longer resonates. I am a much more relaxed person today with much less of a need to judge others for their own belief systems or world views.
But there is also a weird darker side: the fervent idealism that drove much of my personal and professional life as a Christian has also subsided. And with it, some of my sense of obligation to serve and sacrifice for others has gone away. I am a more selfish person today: I am not guilt-ridden when I buy an iPod or new clothes. I don’t tithe 10% of my income. I live a fairly comfortable life. True, I try to do some volunteer work and I do contribute to a few causes I believe in. But that gut-level desire to really sacrifice for my fellow man has dissipated. Maybe I’ve become cynical: I no longer believe God is going to swoop down and save Darfur. It is up to us, but beyond signing a petition here and there I am powerless to stop shit like that. So I have lost the thirst, the fire, to make major sacrifices when I know that those sacrifices aren’t going to turn the tide.
That shift in perspective feels like a real loss. I’d like to recapture the fire somehow… but how?