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Goodbye Jesus

Spending Time With My Aging Mother


TrueFreedom

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I'm getting ready to spend some time with my mother. My parents are getting up there in years, and they are pretty set in their ways. It must now have been three years since my family stopped attending church. I think my parents have known for two. The closest that I've come to stating my epistemological position to my mother is when she asked me about two years ago whether or not I believed that Jesus ever lived. All that I could think to say at the time was that Y'shua of Galilee probably lived and that it probably wasn't a productive topic of discussion.

 

So, I'm getting ready to spend a few days with my mother and her sister, with not much to do aside from sharing a few meals and reminiscing. I've been involved in ministries in the past, and my mother probably expected me to do it full-time. One or both of them are likely to ask direct questions about my passions, plans and beliefs. I'm not sure what to tell them.

 

I feel that I might be able to deconvert my mother if I wanted to, but that would likely damage her relationship with my dad. Of course, if I failed to pursuade her, she would just be that much more worried about me and her grandkids. My aunt is older and starting to slip mentally--always bringing up ministries that I was involved with in the past, some faithful representations, some delusional. I'm hoping to dodge those subjects and focus attention on their own memories and interests.

 

I'm interested to hear how others here have navigated similar situations.

 

I'm not one to put on a facade, but I haven't been very open about my loss of faith. I don't think that sharing that would be constructive at this time.

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Goodbye Jesus

My grandpa is 91, so I say nothing to him or anyone who might inform him of my deconversion. While I'm into being open about my atheism, I draw the line at causing someone distress. My grandfather won't be around much longer; why cause him the pain of living out his last days thinking I'm going to hell? Especially when he looks forward to seeing grandma again- he misses her every day. If he deconverted at this stage in his life, he would only be in anguish. And it would cause him anguish if he thought he would never see me again after death. So I remain quiet.

 

Also, if someone is terminally ill, and their beliefs brought them comfort, then I say let them be. Telling some people of deconversion is not a cut-and-dried issue, and if they find out by accident, then so be it, but why go out of our way to intentionally cause distress when all the indictors point to it doing the person no good? We might not be christians anymore, but there is no need to cause upset unnecessarily.

 

Ultimately, this is something that only you can work out. There may come a point where you just need to be yourself, come what may. But in the case of your aunt, I wouldn't bother telling her. She doesn't sound well enough to be able to properly process it.

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Saying you're just a thinking agnostic trying to put the pieces together can't hurt anything, can it?

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I don't plan to bring it up. I just don't want to lie to her if she asks. She's been pretty concerned these past few years and wanting answers, as have many others.

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If she's asking, it's for a reason. Sometimes people ask questions about stuff that's none of their business out of morbid curiosity--in other words, to shore up their low opinion of you or to weaponize your response at a later date. But when a parent asks things like that, it may indicate deep concern for you. Maybe she's worried you'll go to hell or that you'll murder your children or something. Before I answered questions like that from parents/family, I'd validate their feelings first and make sure you know where they're coming from, why they're asking, what different answers would mean to them. Like if a doctor is asked if she believes that God will heal her patient; it's probably best to take the question not as an opening salvo but instead as an expression of fear and concern, and allay that fear and concern. Once the fears are allayed, the question may well become irrelevant. Find a way to get to that deeper reason behind the question, if it gets asked.

 

I hope you have a great time with your folks. It sounds like they're getting older and I know they appreciate seeing you.

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If you don't want to lie, maybe you could just lovingly tell her that its a private and personal thing for you, and you would rather not talk about it.

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I'll try to keep it light--probably take them to church. Maybe we can talk a little church history if they really want to discuss beliefs. If pressed I can say that my beliefs change based on what I learn and that I don't expect to believe the same things in five years that I do now.

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  • 3 weeks later...
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I thought I would update this thread, just in case anybody is interested in how it went. Beliefs came up a few times. I was asked where I went to church, whether or not my kids went to church, what I thought about Billy Graham, and whether or not I believed the bible. My aunt expressed disappointment that I didn't become a preacher or evangelist. I tried to give brief responses and cut those conversations off quickly. Those moments were pretty awkward, but we had a good time overall.

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You mean you denied your aunt her bragging rights about having a preacher for a nephew? Shame on you :P

 

I'm glad to hear it went relatively well, though :)

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I'm really glad that overall things went so smoothly! :)

 

Wow, if your aunt is that miffed about not having a preacher nephew, what would she be like if you'd never had kids?

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I'm really glad that overall things went so smoothly! smile.png

 

Wow, if your aunt is that miffed about not having a preacher nephew, what would she be like if you'd never had kids?

 

Thanks, Akheia. She wasn't miffed, just disappointed. They seem so crazy now, always bringing up what Jesus would do, how God did this or that for them, mentioning stories like Noah's ark as if it were an actual event... <sigh> There but by the grace of His Noodly Appendage go I, eh?

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