Jump to content

Letter To My Mother


Recommended Posts

My mother sent me a birthday card, with her usual tract "God's Simple Plan of Salvation" enclosed which she has been handing out since I was about 5 years old. She also wrote a letter to me - half typed and half hand written - of her testimony.  She won't stop - she will do this again at Christmas too.  It upsets me every time, because religion is such a block we can't have any sort of adult relationship of any kind.

 

So I wrote this letter  to come clean - she doesn't know anything about me, we live a thousand miles away. She probably suspects some of this already because of what my sister-in-law and nephews might have told her from being on my Facebook. Anyway, she doesn't think I am a Christian, and I am going to give her the entire truth. She is 78 and I guess I feel I don't have that much time.  I don't know if I am actually going to send it, but here it is:

 

Dear Mom and Dad:

 

(omit section  about thanks for card, etc..

 

I have decided to write you, Mom, concerning the letter and tract you enclosed in my birthday card.  This is a tough decision for me, since what I am writing to you is not going to make you happy.  I really have thought carefully about it. I believe I told you years ago that I did not want to discuss religion with you.  I still feel the same way; I would rather not, since I believe a person’s spiritual path is personal. However, obviously, you want to discuss it with me. It is a huge block to any real relationship between us, and so I need to come clean and be honest with you.

 

I have left Christianity permanently.  I have no intention of ever trying to believe Christian doctrine or of attending church again.  This is a long process that started around 1998.  I have always had trouble with some Christian ideas, and as an adult I have concluded that Christianity is untrue.  I extensively studied Christianity and attended church for years before I made my decision.  I still have many books in my house that relate to the subject – books by C.S. Lewis, R.C. Sproul, Calvin, and many others which are evidence of the effort and thought I put into it. I have also felt inspired many times in church and so it was not easy to make the decision to leave. 

 

My last efforts were in the Episcopal Church. I admit part of the reason I continued to try was in order to please you, yet I could sense that nothing short of a Baptist church would make you happy and I could never do that after 1992.  It isn’t possible, probably, to convey to you how divorced women are looked down on (especially if they don’t have children) in the Baptist Church. I have made mistakes, and getting married was a whopper, but I don’t intend to wallow in misery for my past errors in a place that doesn’t accept me for who I am.  But that is all secondary, and not the main reason I left all churches.

 

I read your testimony and of course it is familiar to me. Our lives have been very different, Mom. While you say your parents were not church-goers, you gave your children a Christian upbringing -and so Christianity is always a part of me, whether I like it or not. Please recall that we were never given a choice.  While it has been a benefit and a help to you, it has had a different effect on my mind, although you know I tried.  What is in that tract you sent me is what I have heard countless times since I was at least 8 years old.     No one persuades me in these matters anymore.  I am well into middle age now, and make my own decisions now, for better or worse. 

 

Of my own accord, I made a study of other religions.  I am sure you are aware that I have had an interest in India for many years, but I was not ready to share it with you because I did not think you would understand.  I decided that Buddhism best describes reality and truth as far as I experience it.  I also like other eastern religions, but I settled on Buddhism. To that end I joined Padmasambhava Buddhist Center in 2007.  Perhaps I need to be part of something larger than myself and be around like minded people.  I officially became a Buddhist there in 2008 in a ceremony, by taking refuge vows.  My dharma name is Pema Nyingje. That is Tibetan, and it means “Lotus of Compassion.” I personally asked the lama, Khenpo Tsewang Dongyal, to be my teacher and he said he would be happy to.   I have found a lot of inspiration in this place that has helped me over the last four years--which have been very rough.  You can easily find out more about this organization on the internet if you are interested.

 

I realize this is very difficult for you and Dad to understand or accept.   I love you both, and this is only sent in an attempt to clear the air and try to have some kind of relationship that is based on where I am at as an adult, since religion has separated us for many years.

 

 

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • Replies 53
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

Top Posters In This Topic

Popular Posts

Your mom is not going to see only the "not Christian" part, but she may also see the Buddhist part as pure evil. As a Christian I was taught two different things about Buddhism:   1) You are going i

Deva my friend.... wonderful letter. Sensitive, caring, compassionate and well thought out. But they won't get that. All they are going to see is their daughter is going to hell and that will break th

well Deva obviously this is a personal decision that will impact your life. I hope that everything will work out the best and as I can imagine cause some pain however temporal that might be. I am not

  • Moderator

Thanks for sharing that, Deva.  I am interested in hearing how things go if and when you send it.

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for reading it, TrueFreedom. I have started other letters in the past that I have not sent.  Whether I do it or not, it always makes me feel better just writing it out.

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • Super Moderator

Your letter is honest, but just as important, it is also kind and loving.  If you send the letter, I hope she accepts it in that same spirit.  But I feel for you, Deva.  My mother recently turned 80 and it seems like she's making an extra-special effort now to REALLY convince me that my apostasy is "just a phase" that I'll be coming out of tomorrow or the next day.   

 

No mom, it's been 35+ years -- it's not going to happen.  Wendybanghead.gif

I hope your mother cuts you some slack!

Link to post
Share on other sites

Its hard to handle when it goes on year after year, isn't it, Buffet?

 

Not sure yet, but I may well decide to send this one. She will not understand, but maybe being confronted with the facts will shock her into stopping for awhile- but maybe not, too.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Believe me, BO, I have thought about the points you mention.  Certainly they will not change and this cannot do anything but be hurtful to them.  That is one reason I have not put this in the envelope yet.  They have supported me financially over the last three years when I was unable to find a job for awhile. That was difficult --

 

I don't like this whole thing and really wish it didn't bother me so much, but it does.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I think your letter is beautifully written and very sensitive. While you are dealing with the older generation I am dealing with the younger. Out of the  blue, my 18 year old granddaughter wrote me a letter about her experience with Xtianity. It is a very kind letter and I'm positive it comes from the heart. Her parents, my son and daughter- in- law, are both Christians and I have tried to have discussions with my son about his commitment to his faith. He doesn't want to discuss it, which I should be happy about. But for some reason its disturbs me. I'm convinced that he is insecure in his faith and afraid that if he talks with me about it, it will upset him and maybe cause doubts, which he doesn't want. I decided some time ago not to bring the subject up with him anymore.  Naturally, he and his family talk about my agnosticism and hope I will see the light.

 

I am preparing a letter to my granddaughter which, like yours to your mother, is a touchy thing. My hope is to both support her and discourage any further attempts to convert me. 

 

So I wish you the best of luck with your parents. Wish me the same.  bill

Link to post
Share on other sites

well Deva obviously this is a personal decision that will impact your life. I hope that everything will work out the best and as I can imagine cause some pain however temporal that might be. I am not really in a place to convince you one way or another but I will be rooting for you which ever decision you make :D

  • Like 2
Link to post
Share on other sites

Wow--so well written, so courageous yet respectful and kind. Thank you for sharing this with us. You have set a fine example of how to be assertive while being kind about something as sensitive as religion.

 

I hope your mother respects your boundary...smile.png 

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
  • Moderator

Deva my friend.... wonderful letter. Sensitive, caring, compassionate and well thought out. But they won't get that. All they are going to see is their daughter is going to hell and that will break their hearts.

 

I am going to state my silly little opinion for you today because you, yourself said you may not send it - that it feels good to just write it out. 

I, sensitively, caringly, compassionately and completely thought out a beautiful plan to confront my mom on some certain issues a few years before she died. I'm not going to talk about it - I just wanted you to know that I lived to regret that decision big time. It totally broke my mother's heart and I have to live with it everyday of my life. Even though we talked it all out before she died, I can still remember the terrible hurt and tears that I caused her by telling her some 'truths'.

 

Sometimes, I just think these things are better left alone. Sometimes it's just easier not to tell the full truth because it can cut so deeply. You have to make this decision, but I wanted to tell you a little of my story. One of the things I have learned on EX-c is that is that this telling our family, friends and close ones that we are not Christian can cause some big 'riffs' and separations. I would rather smile pretty, stay calm and let them have their god and beliefs. It's just more peaceful for me.

 

I never want  you to feel the guilt that I have carried for many years over confronting my mom.

 

Best wishes and a huge hug for whatever you decide to do. I will still respect and love you either way. you are my good friend.

 

Margee

  • Like 3
Link to post
Share on other sites

Writing it out in such clear terms does help the feelings of being repeatedly targeted.

As honest and clearing as your letter is, it may only serve to bring on more of what you're trying to avoid.

You're in the best position to determine what reaction you're going to get.

I think you're wise to wait a few days and see how you feel about.

Given the age factor, silence on this issue may speak louder than words.

It's a difficult situation to be sure and I wish you well with it whatever you decide.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Great letter, Deva... I'm working on the courage to do the same thing.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I like your letter Deva.  I can't tell you if you should send it or not.  Only you know your mother and it's your relationship so that falls to you.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I have not sent it, and am leaning against doing so. What I am afraid of is that one day it will come out in a fashion that isn't as thoughtful and well phrased.   

Link to post
Share on other sites

There's been a couple emails I typed up and sent right away without a thought! Hasn't happened often, but boy did I ever regret the couple times I've done that!  It's good and wise of you to wait several days before sending it (I wish I'd had that wisdom and restraint in the past!).  And, as pointed out, it's not likely your mother is going to change her mind on this subject unfortunately. I understand your frustration, though, as I'm starting to find myself in a somewhat similar situation. My mother lives 3,000 miles away from me.  We only recently started talking again after almost a year of no talk but now she keeps bringing up prayer and she's even taken to snapping pictures of her Bible with a verse that made her think of me and texting it to me. 

 

Almost tempted to write a letter myself.  I think your letter is very patient and kind. And honest. I enjoyed reading about your achievements in Buddhism and am sad your mom probably won't recognize it as a good thing. It is sad how religion just makes people so--- I don't know the word I'm looking for, but it's sad.  

 

Let us know either way if you send it or not. I'm curious as to what happens next. 

Link to post
Share on other sites

I appreciate all this feedback and I am carefully considering every angle on this.  From my mother's viewpoint, none of this is going to be good. She wouldn't understand any of it, and she probably doesn't even know what to say to me now, since I haven't had any phone call from her this weekend. She typically calls and we discuss mundane things like cooking and my job.

 

Thanks to you Margee, for your perspective in a similar situation.I certainly don't want to break my mother's heart. 

Link to post
Share on other sites

I understand. I suddenly had a strong feeling that you shouldn't send it. It's because of her age. The chances of her changing her mind are small, as others have said.  You said it upsets you so much because religion is such a block to the relationship with your mom. But what are the chances that your letter (although very well written) will improve the relationship? If she were to stop these unsettling pleas to you, would that mean she would be more likely to have a normal relationship with you? Or would it terminate the relationship? I imagine you would not want her to terminate it, but I don't know. These are questions you can judge better than anyone.

 

If on the other hand she refused to stop her pleas, the relationship certainly would not get better.

 

This may be totally wrong because I am sure I don't know enough to make any reliable judgment on this, but what if you simply took it with a grain of salt, so to speak? I'm sure in her mind she is doing the right thing, though we know it's the wrong thing. I'm suggesting your not taking it heart. Just let her do it. This entirely depends on you. If you can't emotionally manage that, (which is certainly understandable) it won't work. But if you can, your mother will probably continue to do it indefinitely believing she is doing her Xtian duty. I imagine that would be better for her than knowing your conversion is never going to happen.

 

I am real hesitant about suggesting anything to you on this problem because I may inadvertently step on your toes without meaning to. If I do, please forgive me. 

 

One other thought. If you send the letter, would it be helpful to say in the beginning that you truly appreciate her love and concern for you, that you know it is important to her. But that you must make your own decision about your religion. If you were say you have converted back to Xtianity, you would be only pretending and you know she wouldn't want that.

 

These are just one old man's thoughts. If they are helpful, wonderful. If they are not, pitch them and accept my sincere good wishes.    bill

Link to post
Share on other sites

There's been a couple emails I typed up and sent right away without a thought! Hasn't happened often, but boy did I ever regret the couple times I've done that!  It's good and wise of you to wait several days before sending it (I wish I'd had that wisdom and restraint in the past!).  And, as pointed out, it's not likely your mother is going to change her mind on this subject unfortunately. I understand your frustration, though, as I'm starting to find myself in a somewhat similar situation. My mother lives 3,000 miles away from me.  We only recently started talking again after almost a year of no talk but now she keeps bringing up prayer and she's even taken to snapping pictures of her Bible with a verse that made her think of me and texting it to me. 

 

Almost tempted to write a letter myself.  I think your letter is very patient and kind. And honest. I enjoyed reading about your achievements in Buddhism and am sad your mom probably won't recognize it as a good thing. It is sad how religion just makes people so--- I don't know the word I'm looking for, but it's sad.  

 

Let us know either way if you send it or not. I'm curious as to what happens next. 

 

 

Thank you for that message Kolaida. I guess what I want is understanding, and not to get anyone to change their minds. I don't think I am ever going to get understanding from my parents.  I truly don't believe either of them ever understood me at any time, so at this late date I am most likely never going to get it.

 

As stated in my letter, I think religion and these kind of spiritual things are really personal matters. They are important, but they are personal. I don't discuss religion with anyone in "real life" outside of this site.

 

I have to say that I really don't consider that I have any "achievements" in Buddhism.  I hope it doesn't sound like I am citing credentials. My only purpose was to relate how far I have gotten away from Christianity. I am a rock bottom beginner and the only thing I can say for myself is that this lama agreed to be my teacher.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I understand. I suddenly had a strong feeling that you shouldn't send it. It's because of her age. The chances of her changing her mind are small, as others have said.  You said it upsets you so much because religion is such a block to the relationship with your mom. But what are the chances that your letter (although very well written) will improve the relationship? If she were to stop these unsettling pleas to you, would that mean she would be more likely to have a normal relationship with you? Or would it terminate the relationship? I imagine you would not want her to terminate it, but I don't know. These are questions you can judge better than anyone.

 

If on the other hand she refused to stop her pleas, the relationship certainly would not get better.

 

This may be totally wrong because I am sure I don't know enough to make any reliable judgment on this, but what if you simply took it with a grain of salt, so to speak? I'm sure in her mind she is doing the right thing, though we know it's the wrong thing. I'm suggesting your not taking it heart. Just let her do it. This entirely depends on you. If you can't emotionally manage that, (which is certainly understandable) it won't work. But if you can, your mother will probably continue to do it indefinitely believing she is doing her Xtian duty. I imagine that would be better for her than knowing your conversion is never going to happen.

 

I am real hesitant about suggesting anything to you on this problem because I may inadvertently step on your toes without meaning to. If I do, please forgive me. 

 

One other thought. If you send the letter, would it be helpful to say in the beginning that you truly appreciate her love and concern for you, that you know it is important to her. But that you must make your own decision about your religion. If you were say you have converted back to Xtianity, you would be only pretending and you know she wouldn't want that.

 

These are just one old man's thoughts. If they are helpful, wonderful. If they are not, pitch them and accept my sincere good wishes.    bill

Thank you Bill. Yes, I know I am not going to change her mind. I am not really trying to persuade her of anything except to not send me any more salvation tracts.

 

I really wish I could take it with a grain of salt. It has just gone on so long...and I feel it is so disrespectful. However, do I want to completely sever contact with her? No.

 

Yes, I think you have analyzed the situation quite well.  I did have hopes that by being honest and just letting her know these things, that we might have a better relationship.  However, now as I think about it, I really doubt that.  What am I going to do, talk to her about my spiritual life and think she would get it at all or relate to me on some closer level?  That seems to be sheer fantasy.

Link to post
Share on other sites

 

There's been a couple emails I typed up and sent right away without a thought! Hasn't happened often, but boy did I ever regret the couple times I've done that!  It's good and wise of you to wait several days before sending it (I wish I'd had that wisdom and restraint in the past!).  And, as pointed out, it's not likely your mother is going to change her mind on this subject unfortunately. I understand your frustration, though, as I'm starting to find myself in a somewhat similar situation. My mother lives 3,000 miles away from me.  We only recently started talking again after almost a year of no talk but now she keeps bringing up prayer and she's even taken to snapping pictures of her Bible with a verse that made her think of me and texting it to me. 

 

Almost tempted to write a letter myself.  I think your letter is very patient and kind. And honest. I enjoyed reading about your achievements in Buddhism and am sad your mom probably won't recognize it as a good thing. It is sad how religion just makes people so--- I don't know the word I'm looking for, but it's sad.  

 

Let us know either way if you send it or not. I'm curious as to what happens next. 

 

 

Thank you for that message Kolaida. I guess what I want is understanding, and not to get anyone to change their minds. I don't think I am ever going to get understanding from my parents.  I truly don't believe either of them ever understood me at any time, so at this late date I am most likely never going to get it.

 

As stated in my letter, I think religion and these kind of spiritual things are really personal matters. They are important, but they are personal. I don't discuss religion with anyone in "real life" outside of this site.

 

I have to say that I really don't consider that I have any "achievements" in Buddhism.  I hope it doesn't sound like I am citing credentials. My only purpose was to relate how far I have gotten away from Christianity. I am a rock bottom beginner and the only thing I can say for myself is that this lama agreed to be my teacher.

 

 

Well, that's more than I've done! It didn't sound like bragging or anything!  I play the Xbox too much sometimes and we constantly get "Achievement Unlocked"  when something is done correctly messages so I tend to think of any major life even as an achievement (I'm sure some could argue that's a bad thing, but that is one form of positive thinking I have). 

 

I always thought religion was supposed to be personal so I never really understood in Christianity why we had to spread it so much, but I still wanted to be a missionary to people in other countries who might not have heard the good news, lol. 

Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi Deva,

 

I used an in-between approach with my mother, who was fond of fwd-ing me Christian stuff and mailing me Christian books and stuff. It went something like this: 

 

"Thank you for the card. I appreciate that I'm in your thoughts in prayers.

 

I have been getting the feeling that you're feeling concern about my spirituality. Just so you don't worry about me, I want to let you know I'm in a very good and happy place with my spirituality, but it's a bit different than yours now. I feel that this is a concern to you, but I really hope you can trust me, that I'm finding love, peace, joy and fulfillment where I am. I don't want to convert you to mine, of course, since I know how meaningful you already find your own faith. But I don't want to change mine back to yours either--I didn't find the same acceptance, peace and joy in being a Baptist. I'm hoping we can both respect each other's different path, and so I've found it easier if we don't discuss it, because I don't want to argue, and I know we aren't going to change each other's minds, but we both love each other very much and want nothing but good and happy things for each other. But I also wanted to be honest with you that yes, I do believe differently than you do now, but I'm great where I am now too. Of course it's completely fine with me if you'd like to keep me in your thoughts and prayers. I'd rather not receive Christian books and literature though--I'm sure you have other friends or family members who'd love to have them and will appreciate them far more."

 

I wanted to address my mother's concern for me, while still acknowledging her love. I also wanted to set up a boundary of respect and trust for each other's choices. She did stop sending me the email forwards. Sometimes I still get a Christianity inspired card for birthdays and of course for Christmas, but this is okay with me. I realize part of having a respectful relationship means that I also have to respect her choice of faith for herself.   

 

Good luck, no matter whether you send it or not!

Link to post
Share on other sites

  Be careful with how you deal with them, especially if there is any inheritance in it for you at their passing.  

 

smileydies.gif  

Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for reading it, TrueFreedom. I have started other letters in the past that I have not sent.  Whether I do it or not, it always makes me feel better just writing it out.

 

Its a great letter, I hope you send it.

Link to post
Share on other sites
I guess what I want is understanding, and not to get anyone to change their minds. I don't think I am ever going to get understanding from my parents.  I truly don't believe either of them ever understood me at any time, so at this late date I am most likely never going to get it.

 

 

 

No, Deva, you're not. Your parents are elderly, and for a myriad of biological, social and psychological reasons, they are not likely to develop sudden critical thinking capacity at this point. No matter how carefully-worded the letter, or how much of yourself you put in there, all your mom is going to read is "not a Christian!" She's either going to get angry or scared: you're rejecting her, her values, everything she raised you with. You're going to burn in everlasting hell. At her age, that will knock her for a huge loop. She is too old to change her fundamental beliefs, and needs them to cushion herself from her approaching death. Bottom line. 

 

Keep writing your responses, they're obviously good for you. But don't send them. Thank them for the card, dispose of the tracts and the Testimony letters, and just be happy being alive. Even the most articulate letter in the world can't fix or change who they are. 

  • Like 2
Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest
This topic is now closed to further replies.



×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Guidelines.