Atheist blog… or not?

When I began my blog last summer I felt I needed an outlet for all my emotions regarding coming out of religion and losing faith. When I confided to my therapist that I was struggling with losing my faith, she questioned me about this, then eventually said,

“It seems you are completely comfortable with your loss of faith, what you seem to be struggling with is how others are responding to this change”.

I think that hits the nail on the head. For the most part, I am comfortable with who I am. What I hate dealing with is all the peripheral nonsense, mostly my close loved ones who are religious and don’t know how to deal with me now. And also, I have a hard time dealing with the loss of church community.

So, here I am 6 months after starting my godless blog, and I’m not sure all that godless stuff is as big of a deal anymore. It seems that each day that goes by I feel more and more comfortable in regards to my atheism and communicating with others about it. I am also building a great network of secular buddies which helps with the lost church community. While it’s not quite the same as church, that’s a good thing!

zero-to-hero-badgeThen, at the end of January, I started the Zero to Hero blog challenge that forced me to publish content and move my blog forward. Through this whole process I find myself less interested in communicating about my atheism and more interested in communicating about my life in general. So, I guess I need to ask myself, is it even necessary that I continue to have a blog geared toward my lack of belief? Someone even pointed out the other day that when reading my about page, if you cover up my title, you might think my blog is about fitness. I feel that there are other things that really make up who I am. If I were to describe myself to someone, I don’t think my description would start with atheist. I would use words like: mom, wife, athletic, compassionate, nice, runner, aspiring yogi, friend, fun, excitable, passionate, etc. I am not sure I care enough about atheism as a large movement to try and work it into my conversations on a regular basis. I did enough evangelizing as a Christian, I really don’t want to proselytize for non-theism. That said, I REALLY want to stick around and blog more! I thoroughly enjoy being in the blogging community in order to maintain my sanity as a stay at home mom.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASo, what should I do? Should I continue blogging but change directions and focus on fitness and motherhood? Or should I keep a secular slant as a part of my blog since it will likely come up from time to time? I welcome your input. And if you made it this far, thanks for listening to me think out loud!

The Sound of Silence

Earlier this week I wrote a short blip about the Excruciating Silence that happens when a loved one fails to communicate. As I mentioned in that post, I am a communicator, sometimes an over-communicator. It drives me insane to feel like I have discord with a loved one. I have always been in favor of mediation, conflict resolution, and the pursuit of harmony. When silence lingers for too long (especially when personal and relational challenges are being faced) it’s easy to make assumptions or perhaps let resentments linger. One such instance of an uncomfortable and ongoing silence in my life happened when I started sharing with loved ones about my new-found atheism.

“Coming Out” Atheist: Eventual Silence

About two years ago, my husband and I shared some important information with our close family (specifically, our parents and siblings). We “came out” of our atheist closets and said:

  • We are not Christians anymore
  • We don’t have sufficient evidence for any gods and therefore don’t believe
  • We are at peace with our realization
  • We are still the same caring, fun-loving, and happy people that we were before 

Every single family member was surprised at this change of heart… I don’t blame them since we were seriously devoted to our faith for so long. Some family members had pretty mild reactions. Oh, but some of our family members…their response was not so tame. Raised voices. Heated arguments. Hurt feelings. Unusual behavior. Aggression. Blaming. All of these things erupted in the first few months after sharing our news.

Soon, the raging fire sizzled out and the rumblings ceased…

Silence.

Share faith? Feel free. Lack belief? Mums the word.

Share faith? Feel free. Lack belief? Mums the word.

Awkward, uncomfortable silence.

Excruciatingly painful yucky silence.

When it came to our lack of belief, our families cries went from passionate and vocal… to silent. In desperation I felt like shouting, “But, we used to talk so openly about so many things! Can’t we be real with each other without taking things so personally? Or at the very least, can we agree to disagree, choose to love each other, and THEN not talk about it?” I used to share my deepest emotions and thoughts with my family. Now that we disagree about our core beliefs, sharing in this way has become incredibly difficult, and for now, impossible.

I can hear some of you saying, “Why do you even need to talk about god?” Truly, I would be happy to avoid the god topic under the following conditions: religion isn’t being pushed on my family and we’re not looked down upon for our disbelief. For now, that is not the case.

Unfortunately, because some family members are so devoted to their god, I fear there will be strife, passive aggression, and awkward, painful silence indefinitely. I have rejected their core beliefs, somehow that hurts them. I have to remember, I am the one who changed gradually over time, and then suddenly, I dumped this shocking information on my family.

Perhaps, gradually over time, my family will embrace me with open arms once again, with a willingness to share and be real about who we are. 

But I’m not getting my hopes up.

In the mean time, I will attempt to be inspired by the words of actor and playwright, Harvey Fierstein:

Never be bullied into silence. Never allow yourself to be made a victim. Accept no one’s definition of your life; define yourself.

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 🙂