This is a post that I don’t know how to write, because I am afraid.
I see them in my mind’s eye, wary, expectant, probably judging already. They’ve noticed that I’m not the Dani they used to know and like. I’ve changed, and they are not okay with the change. I share things and say things and write things that they think are seriously wrong. Maybe they hold onto hope that one day I’ll “come to myself” again, like the prodigal son did. The ones who try to talk to me appeal to God, to the Bible, to the tradition of the Plymouth Brethren in which I grew up, to the memory of the Old Dani who was so devout and sincere and earnest in trying to live a life pleasing to God, the Dani that they looked up to or at least respected in some way.
This is a conversation I don’t know how to have.
How do I write about no longer identifying as a Christian in a way that won’t turn my entire world upside down?
I guess I’m doing it something like this. But I’m not holding onto hope for keeping my world aright.
The language of Christianity is still my mother tongue. The culture of Christianity is still my hometown. I don’t know anything else.
This is a strange place for me to be.
I plan to explore my deconversion further in future posts as I continue to work out how to interact with my world in a meaningful, constructive, honest way. In fact, that’s a large part of why I’m writing this. I need a space to document my thoughts and experiences honestly. A large part of what has been holding me back from writing on this blog is the fear of what will happen when people I love find out that I do not share their faith. And I can’t keep living with that fear. I can’t keep hiding.
While I’m not going to talk about the whys now (in part because I’m still working through things and in part because it’s just not the time for it), I am going to set some boundaries.
Many of the people who have reached out to me to express concern (or even just counter my points of view) are people with whom I have not shared a close relationship for years. Some of them are people I haven’t shared a close relationship with ever. It’s not appropriate to assume a level of closeness we don’t share in order to convince me of your rightness and my wrongness. Any messages I receive of that nature will be ignored, and any comments of that nature will be deleted.
Please respect my decision by not trying to convert me. I will afford you the same courtesy by not trying to deconvert you. Depending on our level of relationship, religious topics are not off limits by any means. I don’t expect you to refrain from mentioning going to church or camp, or referencing how you feel God is working in your life (so long as that doesn’t turn into a sneaky sermon). I understand that God is the central focus of your life, and I have no interest in changing that or forcing you to pretend that He’s not. If something is inappropriate or making me uncomfortable in our conversation, I’ll let you know. And I expect you to respect that.
If you feel the need to grieve, I understand completely. I’ve been there. Your feelings are your feelings, they are valid, and it is healthy to grieve something you feel is lost or damaged. But I am not responsible for making you feel better about my personal choices. You can grieve, but please don’t grieve at me. It may not seem like it to you, but this is at least as difficult for me as it is for you. This is not something that has happened quickly, or without great thought, many tears, lots of heartbreak, confusion, and fear — and I don’t owe it to anyone to help them deal with their feelings about my life.
And just like this is a post that I don’t know how to write, I don’t know how to end it, either.
Be gentle with me.