my de-conversion and marriage

That title is not nearly as catchy as the famous ‘Love and marriage” but I couldn’t think of a better one. I have been binge listening to The Thinking Atheist podcast again. You can find them here or on itunes, http://www.thethinkingatheist.com/podcast/index. 

I am listening to one now that is hitting me hard and I am going to seek out more blogs and podcasts on this topic soon. I have mentioned my family situation rather non-specifically before I think, but just to be clear: I have had a hard time believing all my life. I have believed out of fear, I have barely believed in anything at all, and I have brushed this aside thinking it was my fault for questioning something that other people found so easy and obvious. Finally, a few months ago I had some realizations that are causing me to question the faith I held, but more importantly to research the things I had based my faith on. I have started to form some conclusions about what I not believe to be true. In a few days my beloved husband of almost 11 years will be home from a year long deployment in Afghanistan. And he will be coming home to a wife who no longer believes in God. To put the icing on the uh-oh cake, he is working towards becoming a pastor/chaplain. Yeah.

I have not told anyone besides one family member about this blog. I have only discussed my changing views in vague ways with a couple of people (one of whom tried to save my soul, awkward, short story in a previous post). Due to our family situation I have not shared these questions and this process I am going through with my husband. But when he comes home, there will need to be a conversation. I am not worried that it will cause an irreparable riff… not usually anyway. But I am worried about how it will affect him and us and our family and how we raise our children. 

I hear atheists talking about “coming out” to their families and spouses a lot. At first, I was bothered by the language since I was accustomed to it being used by the LGBTQ community. But facing the moment where I have to lay my ideas bare and be vulnerable… I think this is a pretty accurate description. Will he read this blog? Will he be bothered by the Dawkins and Hitchens and Harris books I have laying around the house? How long should I put off the conversation? Should I blame it on grad school texts and clients I have worked with? Should I just lay it out as soon as he notices? I don’t know.

Two complicated individuals who are constantly changing will have to flex some more in order to keep our relationship together. Issues about careers, parenting, and ALL of the views and ideas that have changed will have to be addressed carefully and thoughtfully and… oh boy. Luckily, I believe that there is hope even without a deity. 

semantics

Faith vs. Trust

Loss of faith vs. De-conversion

What you say matters every bit as much as how you say it. I have noticed subtle (and not-so-subtle) shifts in the way I speak since I have begun to question my previous beliefs. Even that sentence holding the words “previous beliefs” indicates that I no longer hold them… which is true… but still a little awkward to admit. Although it feels more honest (which is a good thing), it also feels too honest (self-disclosure = eeeeep!).

These two examples are specifically interesting to me. The first one came up in a “The Thinking Atheist” podcast that I was listening to yesterday. Faith and trust are not the same thing, though we seem to use them interchangeably with startling frequency. “I have faith that my relationship will last.” Well… probably not. If your relationship has given you any proof that it will not collapse at the first sign of trouble, if you have overcome any (even small) hardship in your relationship, then you have something tangible to trust in. Those occurrences have given you a past history or a reasonable expectation that gives you an assurance to trust in. The concept, or the meaning, or the implied intent of the word faith, is that it is based on something totally unknown or magical or unproveable (unproveable is not a word). If there is something concrete to back up your “faith”, then it seems to me the word you are looking for is trust. Very different.

The second one- Loss of faith vs. De-conversion. This is a big one for me, the reason I wanted to write this. I think it is important to remember the impact that our words have. To remember the emotional response that people have to our words that we may or may not intend. Why do you think the the anti-abortion movement started calling themselves pro-life? Because it sounds more positive to say you are “pro” something as opposed to being “anti” something. People like that better. I feel the same emotional reaction to the words “loss of faith.” That just sounds negative to me. It sounds as though I am somehow deprived. That I have misplaced something precious, or that it has been stolen from me. This is just NOT SO. 

You cannot be angry at something that does not exist. You cannot lose something that is not real. Perhaps “loss of faith” might be an acceptable way to describe part of the journey that I have gone through. But it is not an all encompassing descriptor for the change in my views. I have gone thru this process of questioning and searching and ultimately I think the best way to describe it is de-converting. 

Think before you speak. Words are so powerful.