2015 has been the year of many deaths. These deaths have hit home close. First it was Frank, in the beginning of February, my Aunt Marjorie in April, and then a close friend Mark in the beginning of May.
Unlike my experience with grandmother (that being the very first taste of death I have ever experienced) when people came to me with religious words, I did not grow angry. I know the difference between potential indoctrination and someone just trying to comfort me.
Like I said in my last posts: you can be a good person with or without religion.
That being said, I wanted to share with you an experience I had just earlier this week.
For a background on where this story is going: Mark’s family is more on the conservative side and attend church every Sunday. When we had dinner with them, they prayed before their meal. They’re lovely people.
Mark’s younger sister has since then been in contact with me. We’ve gotten pretty close, not like best friends but she will share her feelings and vent with me. I think she probably feels closer to her brother by doing so and if that makes her feel better then I’m glad to help.
Recently she sent me a text saying she was having issues being closer to Jesus.
She doesn’t know I’m an atheist and to be completely honest, when she first started confiding in me about dealing with Mark’s death, I didn’t think it was necessary to just throw it out there. I was speechless, I had no idea what to say about it. If I were to say something religious, I’d be a hypocrite and if I were to tell her of my lack of belief, I’d be watering a seed. I just wanted to do the right thing.
I asked two close friends about the situation. One an atheist and one a Christian.
My fellow atheist friend advised me to just be there for her and to ask her what she truly wants for herself and not her family. If she wants to accept christ then help her as much as I’m willing to. If not, then tell her that it’s ok to think for herself otherwise she risks being fake to herself and others.
I understand pre teens often prefer the influence of friends over their families, especially in such a strict environment. But seriously, who am I to take away that last inkling of hope that her brother is okay? Families rarely like the influence of friends, especially incredibly religious families. Say she tells her family, they start investigating and find out that I’m an atheist? If I were to say something and encourage her, I felt as if I’d be betraying not only Mark’s family but Mark himself. Maybe if she was older, in college and had more of a mind of her own, I would be happy to help.
Like I said before, some people NEED religion. In order to help with addiction, to help them make it through the day without killing themselves, and to help cope with a loss. And especially right now, she’s one of those people.
I spoke with my Christian friend as well. By the time our conversation ended, I couldn’t help but feel as if he were upset with me. As if I was a bad person for even letting her vent to me. I love my friend as a brother. We’ve had a discussion before when he first found out that I was an Atheist, but never again until this past week. He confirmed my theory that it would be hypocritical of me to not let her stray away but I also understood when he was sneaking in the passive aggressive jabs.
I ended up telling his sister to speak with my friends because they knew so much more about Jesus than myself . I feel as if I did the right thing, but didn’t at the same time (if that makes any sense).
Maybe one day I’ll forgive myself for feeling this way. Maybe one day I won’t feel bad for trying to help someone and having to question myself and beliefs (or lack thereof) before I say anything. And maybe one day, people of all religions will give us the time of day and actually listen to our questions instead of judging us solely on our philosophies. Because that’s what they ask for as well.