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“Team Jesus Forever, Right?”

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The Out Campaign

When I began blogging last summer, one of my first posts was about Coming out as an Atheist. I mentioned there were extended family members, co-workers, and some friends who after 2 years still didn’t know about this huge change in my life. I had a lofty goal of taking opportunities to come out every chance I got. Well, after 7 months, I can’t say that I’m as far along as I want to be in this regard, but I have certainly made some progress. I wanted to take an opportunity to share with you one instance of coming out to a colleague.

Enter Shannon. I first met her when I was involved in a Christian ministry in college. She is an extremely bubbly, nice, goofy, beautiful, and yes, very devout, woman. Post college, we both remained in the same town and would catch up with each other occasionally. Many years later, prior to quitting my job last summer, we became colleagues for a few months. During those months, even though I was an atheist the entire time, she still knew me as “sold out for Jesus”. Even though she talked about god often, I just didn’t feel comfortable mentioning my lack of belief in a work setting.

file0001113911603When it was my last day at work, she gave me a big hug, passionately exclaimed how much she would miss me, and said, “It’s OK, team Jesus forever, right?” This statement took me SO off guard. I was absolutely not prepared for her to say that to me (in front of other people, mind you) so I had no response at all. I just sort of felt sick to my stomach, said goodbye, and turned around to leave. My issue is that so many people know me as a person that loves god and spends a lot of my time and energy pursuing god and his interests. Well, now that I’m an atheist, that obviously isn’t the least bit true anymore.  I want people to know that I no longer believe the things I use to believe, but how are they going to know if I don’t tell them? I can’t expect them to read my mind, that’s for sure. But the reality is, this can be an entirely awkward topic to bring up depending on how well I know a person and the context in which I encounter them.

So, after having this weird encounter with Shannon, I went home and felt sick about my inability to say something in the moment. I absolutely HAD to respond to “team Jesus forever, right?” Because, um… no, NOT team Jesus… not even if I was a Christian would I feel comfortable with that statement!

_DSC0835Below is the email I sent her that same night. To some, this may seem too soft and lovey dovey. But, this is me. I am often very sensitive to the feelings of others, it’s a part of who I am.

So, this email emerged:

Dearest Shannon –

I just love you and our budding friendship. I have felt the need to be honest with you in regards to my faith or lack there-of, although it is challenging for me to share because of reactions I have had from some family and friends.

In the past couple of years I have realized that I don’t believe in any gods. I look back fondly on all my Navigator (college ministry) memories, friendships, etc. but I have went on a journey of doubt, questioning, then realization that I don’t have enough evidence to believe there is a God. I value my relationships, family and morals immensely and I feel that I am in a good place and a good person without any faith in the supernatural.

I appreciate your spirit, compassion, and emanating love. I hope that we can continue forward in fondness for each other. Take care and seeya soon,

Vanessa

I am not sure how many times I will need to have this conversation with people, probably for the rest of my life to some degree. I do know that I will choose to be honest with people when it becomes necessary, just like it became necessary with Shannon.

Your Turn

Share an awkward moment when someone thought something about you that wasn’t true.

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Who am I? Why am I here?

Night RunGreetings, my name is Vanessa. I am a Colorado native with a love for yoga, running, Ultimate Frisbee and the outdoors. I am a wife and mother of two small boys (ages 2 and 4). At the end of the Summer in 2013 I quit my very stressful full-time job at a non-profit human services organization to stay at home with my boys. For the record, I prefer Domestic Goddess to “Stay at Home Mom”, it’s much more palatable.

A brief religious history

Religion, Christianity in particular, has almost always been a very important part of my life. I was involved in Christian groups through church and school since I was in middle school. When I went to college I got very involved in an interdenominational Christian ministry through my university. Completely separate from my church involvement, I attended weekly worship nights, regular prayer meetings and if I wasn’t leading a weekly bible study, I was certainly attending one. I discipled multiple young women, studied and memorized scripture, and met with accountability partners to attempt to remain pure and “on the right path”. I could continue to share about the different aspects of my religious background but to sum it up a bit more quickly, God and Jesus were the center of my activities, my thoughts, my conversations, my life. If I wasn’t a true and devoted believer, nobody is.

A loss of faith

Well, you probably noticed that I speak of my religious devotion in the past tense. More than two years ago I began questioning my faith in a more serious way than I ever had before. I asked questions about God’s existence, the bible, the prevalence of many religions, the problem of evil and more. For the first time in my life I began to let go of my fears and my reasons for believing. I asked questions and didn’t claim to have the right answer anymore. Read more on my loss of faith.

Purpose of this blog

Now, here I am, a formerly VERY religious person, daughter, sister, wife and mom. I find myself without religion, God, church, fellowship, worship, prayer, biblical guidance, etc. I often find myself with a sort of identity crisis, feeling isolated, confused, and in need of an outlet. Hence, the purpose of my blog: to have a place to share about my life and discover my identity now that I find myself without god. 

Blog topics

Considering that I spent the better part of my 30 years as a devout Christian, I think a lot about my former religion (and all that it entails) as well as my current lack of belief. So, while I certainly plan to blog about my former beliefs and my life after faith, I will also blog about my other interests such as: my kids and family, fitness and nutrition, natural skin and hair care, books, home organization and more!

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Thanks for stopping by and I hope you come back to visit again! ~Vanessa

This was Day 1 of the Zero to Hero Challenge. Learn more here. I realize I joined this challenge late…but better late than never 🙂