A few months back I decided to come clean about my leave from Christianity. I pronounced myself an agnostic/sometimes atheist (although as I continue on this journey I am definitely leaning more toward an atheist viewpoint). I wrote my ‘Scarlet Letter’ and posted it for all friends and family. Many were already aware of the changes and through their harsh words had given me the gift of strength to be open about the hurt and need I was feeling at the time. I received some negative reaction to the post, some positive, and others just chose to ignore what was said.
Today, months later, I received unexpected letters from my G’pa and G’ma. My hands started to shake when I opened them to see the words agnostic/atheist in the middle of the page. Oh, here it comes, words from christians that I love and the disappointment I have caused them.
Much to my surprise their letters were full of love and support. Full of genuine interest in the process of leaving christianity and what parts of god/christianity I was unable to reconcile within myself.
They are letters that I will cherish and that brought me such an unexpected gift of peace and love.
Thank you G’pa and Jane.
*This post is not intended to be malicious or hurtful to those who love me. It’s intention is for me to be true to myself and my need to stop hiding. I truly am sorry that some of you will feel real pain because of my beliefs. I hope others will find great strength in these words.
These days I often feel as though I have been convicted and ordered to wear a giant scarlet ‘A’. Although my A does not stand for the obvious aldulteress it does stand for something that seems to be just as sinful and it brings on just as much social judgement. Oh how I wish I had just committed adultery. At least then I would have a chance at redemption and grace. No, instead I choose to wear the giant, scarlet A that labels me an agnostic/atheist. *Shudder*
It may as well stand for Antichrist!
It’s as though this letter has been branded on my forehead allowing for all others to stone me with words and with judgement.
Since I have chosen to be open about my beliefs I have felt very persecuted. Sometimes overtly and sometimes merely by the whispers. Some of the persecution arrives simply because the masses are unable to accept those that believe differently. This has at times caused me sadness and other times anger and still other times it has given me the fuel to fight for those that are still afraid of being branded.
Wearing the ‘A’ means to have prayer chains started for you. It means causing your christian family and friends (90% of my family/friends) deep and sorrowful pain. It means having people question your ability to parent. It means people will treat you as though your atheism can be spread through some type of contagious virus. I’m plagued. I’m bad for society. It means other friends will avoid you simply because they are uncomfortable. It means people will stop seeing you for who you truly are at the core. They only see the branded letter. A clear indicator of the type of lost person you obviously have become. It means your inbox will be full of good intentions to bring you back in to the fold. It gives others free reign to tell you that you and your children are damned to hell. It means that people will become more arrogant in their attempts to argue you to the TRUTH. It means subjecting your children to judgement and having to counter the hold that a monotheistic society has on their thoughts and beliefs. It means others will step up their righteousness just to prove you wrong. It means having to dig deep and be strong in your convictions even though it seems the majority is against you. It means others will tell you over and over again how you’ve been hurt. They will find a multitude of reasons to excuse away your irrationality. It means being peaceful even in the midst of the chaos and pain. It means losing all the social circles you once relied on for weekly feedings of your soul. It means that you must take responsibility to teach those around you what it means to respect those who don’t believe in prayer, heaven, and an all-loving being. It means that people will laugh at your expense and will belittle you publicly. It means that stating your opinion will cause others to accuse you of persecution. It means that you will often be afraid of saying what you really believe. It means you will have to learn how to stay true to your own convictions even at the cost of losing the respect and love of those around you. Choosing the scarlet letter often times means choosing a path of loneliness.
In this journey of owning the scarlet letter and truly believing it’s validity in my life I have met many people who are still hiding. They fear the cost of proclaiming their agnostic beliefs. They play christian to their families and friends (as I did) for fear of paying the price of being branded. It’s a very hard road. I know that as a christian for 30 years I really believed that society was persecuting us but I can tell you firsthand that there is far more persecution on this side of the religious coin. I am learning to embrace my scarlet letter. I will no longer be shamed back in to my hole. Instead I am choosing to wear it proudly. I am choosing to be a voice to those many friends who are still suffering alone and in silence. To those who are afraid to even express their doubts. I am choosing to strengthen my backbone so that my boys will be confident in their decisions and not fear being criticized by those that believe differently than them.
I am here to say that I am an agnostic (often times atheist) and I’m strong enough to handle the persecution that family, friends and strangers will justify throwing at me. Because I am Amy. Amy is more than a blazing, fire red letter. I am loving, peaceful, honest, engaging, committed, and I am free. Free to be me.
As one of my favorite songs goes, “If you strip me, Strip it all away. I’m still the same. Take what you want. Steal my pride. Build me up or cut me down to size. Shut me out, but I’ll just scream. I’m only one voice in a million but you ain’t taking that from me”