Update: AcceptanceJuly 20, 2010
As I mentioned last week, an old friend from my church-days found himself in my neck of the woods. We got together last night.
It did feel awkward during many moments – he didn’t seem to have much to say. When he moved away, his older daughter was 6 months old, and I was in college. But I had no problem blathering on and on about my job, or my husband, or my kids. And he … didn’t.
I also got the distinct impression that he had no clue that Jesus & I aren’t buddies any more. Early in the conversation he dropped a couple of “well, of course, God had a hand in all of this,” sorts of comments, which I just ignored. But at dinner, we had a small little smack-down moment.
We were talking about our teenage daughters, and how they’re really not as unpleasant as people would expect. He said, “well, I am always irritated when people say ‘oh, just wait for the teenage years, they’re going to be horrible!’ because I think, you know, well, maybe I have something you don’t have? Like God!” To which I promptly responded, “oh come on. We both know plenty of people who “had god” and still had a lot of issues when their kids were teenagers.”
Because, uh, yeah! Like (a) me (the whole church knew when my mother found my birth control pills when I was a Junior in high school. I mean, she had to “make a prayer request” that Jesus would show me the error of my ways); (b) the girl who got pregnant when she was 16 and ran away to give birth and give the baby up for adoption, just to turn back around and stop the adoption and then to get addicted to drugs while her mother raised the baby; (c) the boy who ran away and never spoke to his parents again because he got sick of the way that they used “God” as a reason to abuse him horrendously in the name of “discipline”; (d) The other girl who ran away at 17 to Florida and hooked up with a 45 year old man with whom she had a baby and who has since left her …
Clearly, me and my birth control pills were not the end of the world.
He seemed a little wounded by my response – or at least taken aback. And that was the closest we came to any conversation about differences in our belief systems. Perhaps his quietness was because he saw that difference, and didn’t know how to respond. And he was sad, because I am “lost.”
The last thing I could ever do is pretend that I still identify as a “Christian.” I suppose I could have just ignored his comment, or made some non-committal comment, but I didn’t. [Actually, my response was very genuine, and scaled back as it was.] Yet I didn’t offer up any additional information about my beliefs. If he had asked, I would have answered him honestly. But he didn’t. I suspect he was contemplating it, in all those moments of silence.
I may have had some avoidance, but I did manage to spend the evening without a moment of defensiveness. Which for me is a triumph.