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Coming Out To A Missionary Friend


prplfox
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I have come out as an ex-christian to family and several of my friends. Sometimes it goes ok, and sometimes it really, really does not.

 

This is a recent one. Kim is a friend I was close with in college. We were in InterVarsity and Christian camp counselors together. She is now a staff-worker on a college campus for InterVarsity. I had asked her if I could tell her some things that might be distressing, she responded (below), and I wrote back with a letter (also below).

 

I've been trying to meet up with her since she got the letter. We live quite far apart. She hasn't said much other than she wants to talk. I will let you guys know how it goes from here.

 

 

 

 

Eli,

 

What kind of heavy and distressing things are we talking about . . . without going into detail in an email, if you don't want to? You could say I'm a little concerned now. You're right - I'm not directly in your life right now, so I appreciate you considering that. But, at the same time, no matter what we've been through in the past - for better or for worse (and there was certainly some serious "worse") - and hopefully no matter where our lives lead us in the future - I'll always have a concern for you. If you think that sharing some stuff with me will help you in some way, then I'm okay with that. I'd like to say I've grown a pretty thick skin over the past few years and can handle whatever you dish me, especially since my dad died, but I think it really has to do with Jesus. Deep down, I'm a mess, and He's the only one who can hold me together and keep me walking forward day in and day out. Without Him, I'd fall apart. I've only grown because of Him and His great love for me. So, sure, you can write if you want to. Christ alone will help me digest and understand it. I don't mean to sound "preachy," but it's true. So, please don't be offended. My life is nothing without Christ, and I couldn't endure anything without Him. I don't know what you have to share, but I do know that without Him I couldn't handle it. I just couldn't. But with Him, I can. It might be hard, but I'll manage. I managed back in college, and I'll manage now, especially since I've grown so much. I'm here, if you need me.

 

In Christ,

Kim

 

 

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If you haven't seen the video series it's here: prplfox I have a ways to go with it still.

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Hi Eli,

 

Thanks for sharing this. I'm always impressed by how powerful your way of expressing your personal experiences is, and that came across in the letter you sent your friend as it does in your videos.

 

I think you came across as very respectful, but also honest, which is also in its own way respectful. If I may ask, it sounds like you haven't talked to her for a while - what sparked you to write her this letter?

 

I've been considering contacting some people from my college Intervarsity group, but I'm hesitant to do so, for various personal reasons. However, I think it'd be good to get a conversation going. I haven't told any friends or family about my deconversion yet, and I feel the need to tell someone, at least one person.

 

I hope your conversation with your friend turns out for the best.

 

 

J.P

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Thanks for sharing this. I'm always impressed by how powerful your way of expressing your personal experiences is, and that came across in the letter you sent your friend as it does in your videos.

 

I think you came across as very respectful, but also honest, which is also in its own way respectful. If I may ask, it sounds like you haven't talked to her for a while - what sparked you to write her this letter?

 

I've been considering contacting some people from my college Intervarsity group, but I'm hesitant to do so, for various personal reasons. However, I think it'd be good to get a conversation going. I haven't told any friends or family about my deconversion yet, and I feel the need to tell someone, at least one person.

 

 

JP,

 

Thanks, I hope it goes ok. We are going to try to get together next week when I drive out there (she asked if we could). I've wanted to talk to her for a long time, part of that came from feeling like every day I didn't say anything I was being dishonest. She sends me her monthly InterVarsity newsletters and they are painful and upsetting to read, and I had to say something. We had been talking casually by email and that's how it started. It's like, how do you say to a friend "I think what you are doing with your life is based on misinformation and hurts young people." You can't. I can't. So this was the best I can do for now.

 

I think you should talk to old IV friends. It's a good place to start especially because they know the content of your character as a Christian, and it's less personal than family or a best friend. You might be surprised also that some of them are also no longer Christians. Let me know if you do it. I hope what I wrote can help you some in the process.

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"You might be surprised also that some of them are also no longer Christians."

 

Has that happened to you as well? Some of the people you talked to secretly no longer believe in it? Do they continue going?

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  • 9 months later...

I just read this again after following your link in the other thread. I love how genuine, honest and caring a friend you are. I was in IVCF as well and I had some pretty emotional experiences there. You are right -- I need to talk to those friends and tell them what has happened.

 

I'm looking forward to your final installment! Your videos were instrumental in helping me process me deconversion and for that I thank you.

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I missed this thread back when you started it, so thanks for linking to it in another thread.

 

That was a very warm letter, so thanks for sharing. Have you gotten together and talked about it? How have things gone since coming out to her?

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You highlighted a good part of my struggles with, "No one ever told me Its okay not to be a Christian." My mom would tell me she didn't care what religion I was as long as I was Christian... That's not a lot of leeway and I haven't told her I'm an atheist yet. You're right. Its okay not to be a Christian, but we never heard that from the most important people in our lives. I had to convince myself that it was okay.

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Are these videos still available? I'd love to see them!

 

 

The link is at the bottom of the first post:

 

If you haven't seen the video series it's here: prplfox I have a ways to go with it still.

 

I plan to check them out myself when I get a chance.

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My mom would tell me she didn't care what religion I was as long as I was Christian... That's not a lot of leeway

 

lol

 

hey prplfox, I also missed this thread. Interesting letter, thanks for posting.

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This letter is amazing. When I was first acknowledging my deconversion this past summer, I watched all of prplfox's videos. I'm glad this letter has come to the forefront again in the forums. It articulates so well what many have experienced and wished we could say.

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I also missed this the first time around but we are fb friends and I recall you saying on there that you had sent it and you were waiting to meet in person to discuss. What ever happened with it?

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  • 4 weeks later...

You are right -- I need to talk to those friends and tell them what has happened.

Marmot, did you attempt this yet? I have found by doing this you make yourself an outsider, an enemy, however subtle, to your friends. It's like the deepest memories of your friendship are scrapped by your friend in an effort to rewrite you into an outsider narrative. It makes me sad. But I won't give up. We are in this together wink.png

 

I also missed this the first time around but we are fb friends and I recall you saying on there that you had sent it and you were waiting to meet in person to discuss. What ever happened with it?

When I sent this letter almost a year ago, she asked if we could talk about it. We live in different states, but I go out that way at least every couple of months, and every time I've offered to meet her, and every time she has had a reason why she can't. Finally in December I emailed her, and one of the things I said might have gone too far:

 

"I worry that you don't have any identity left without Jesus, that maybe Jesus took that away from you, and I feel helpless in that."

 

That line set off a series of emails back and forth, and then I let it go. I've tried writing her a follow up letter, I spent hours on it but I don't have one I'm ready to send yet. I will let you know what happens.

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Hello prplfox, I appreciate the chance to hear this story and read the letters that both of you wrote. I was struck by Kim's saying that she is a mess deep down and that she's only gotten this far because of Jesus. It makes me think that she's not as much of a mess as she may think, that she has gotten far because the one doing the walking is her, and that without the false assumptions she'd get even farther - though she'd need a new job and would probably end up with different friends. One's twenties are a very tumultuous decade for lots of people.

 

I share your pain at the old friendships that now might stand on a different basis or fall through altogether. As a former IVCF person I second what everyone else says above. I remember that time as very intense and for me that's back in the first half of the 70s! College is such an intense time anyway, and IV provided a framework for what seemed at the time like instant intimacy and trust. At least one of my "on fire for the Lord" friends from back then now says that he doesn't know whether he believes in God.

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If you haven't seen the video series it's here:

prplfox I have a ways to go with it still.

 

 

While reading this, I was thinking I'd like to see this videos, thanks for the link. I'll get back to you when I have some time to watch them.

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Marmot, did you attempt this yet? I have found by doing this you make yourself an outsider, an enemy, however subtle, to your friends. It's like the deepest memories of your friendship are scrapped by your friend in an effort to rewrite you into an outsider narrative. It makes me sad. But I won't give up. We are in this together wink.png

 

Not yet. I live in a different state from them now and haven't seen them since my deconversion. I have been thinking about writing them an email and letting them know. I was always the skeptical one from the start (always questioning our IVCF staff member, doubting other IVCF leaders that say "God is leading them" to do such and such...). I think it wouldn't be all that hard for them to rewrite me into an outsider, like you say.

 

It will happen eventually. My best friend in IVCF all of this is actually potentially reachable, IMO. He is very real with his emotions and his thoughts. He went against the wishes and advice of his church and went to the Peace Corp and now he is dating a non-Christian. Perhaps it is time that I give him a nudge...

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