My Needs, Then and Now

The holiday season is coming up and, with it, so will be encounters with some of my older, more conservative friends. I love them, but no longer want to be like them.

I am in a place of re-evaluating the place of everything in my life. What worked in my twenties does not necessarily fit where I am now or want to be in the future.

If I just never learned or grew after I became a Christian, I would have had no issue. My problems always begin when I start to outgrow my friends, congregations, pastors, etc. As long as I accept their assumptions (such as, “Fox News has actual journalism”), we get along fine. When I no longer accept their assumptions as true (such as, “Why would Fox News consistently predict a Romney victory? Weird.”), the very foundation of our relationships crumbles. As long as I never question their version of reality, we are best buds.

It was 1992. I was attending a Wednesday night Bible study. An older gentleman stood up and declared, “If we conservative Christians would just vote together, we could rule this country! We are the silent majority.” I almost started to laugh, until I realized that he was dead serious. I was also attending a local community college. I knew that nobody I knew from school (students, teachers, or faculty) felt the way he felt. Fast forward 23 years. I am watching some news program and see a conservative political rally. Behind the speaker, a guy holds a card saying, “We are the silent majority.” Is this what an LSD flashback is like? If it wasn’t true almost a quarter century ago, I know it is not true in 2015.

The problem is that I have consistently sought out these super-conservative groups to join. I grew up in a conservative, but secular and slightly chaotic home. I watched my brothers do drugs and alcohol and get their girlfriends pregnant. There weren’t a lot of boundaries. Being a little bit Asperger-y, I desperately need structure. I need predictability. I want sanity. I almost became a Mormon because of their clean lifestyle. Seriously. I ended up becoming evangelical Protestant. When I saw that they had Veggie Tale answers to soul-shattering questions, I sought the “original” church and became Greek Orthodox, partly to learn the New Testament in the original language. Learning actual Greek only showed me how terribly subjective and artful (not scientific) translation really is.

Meanwhile, I continued going to school. Got my MBA. I met wonderful people of every and no religion. I started losing arguments with atheists and agnostics. I realized that I wasn’t questioning the foundations of my faith. I felt set up, duped, and misled by my religious leaders. The only way these churches function is for their members to never encounter outsiders in any context. If social isolation is the hallmark of domestic abusers and cults, then most of the churches I have encountered are abusive cults.

Now it is 2015 and the social isolation I saw 23 years ago in the Christian world has become the norm in the conservative universe. As a Christian, I found TBN, Family Life Radio, Focus on the Family, Chuck Colson, and that group of people. Before I was a Christian, I did not know of the world of Christian media. I was shocked and thrilled to find an entire realm of publishers and networks that I had never heard of. Today, that would send up red flags; back then, I was jubilant. Now there is Faux News. No conservative today need ever to listen to liberals or scientific facts.

I feel like I have barely escaped that world. But I have left friends and loved ones behind. I feel like I escaped from Jonestown. I never drank the Kool Aid because I had always had one foot in academia. I knew from day one how non-Christians thought and felt because I felt the culture shock upon joining the uber-conservative world and had been raised by non-religious folks. I have always known that conservative Christians are neither silent nor a majority.

But I still have to see some of these people during the holidays and, oh yeah, I love them.

And I am now in a situation where I am accepting help from anyone and everyone: my conservative parents, my New Age-y friends, and even a witch (not a derogatory term, a true earth-based Wiccan).

I just don’t know what I want to retain in the long haul anymore. What fit me in my twenties is worse than awkward now. Integrity is tough to maintain. To me, integrity is saying and living the same thing. The problem is maintaining relationships with people I no longer have anything in common with and that I no longer admire. If they truly understood what I currently think and feel, they would rightfully reject me. I am no longer one of them. Do I pretend I am just because the holidays are upon us?

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About cdhoagpurple

I live in Michigan. I was Greek Orthodox (and previously Protestant), but now am more Buddhist than anything. I am single now (through the till-death-do-you-part clause of the marriage contract). My husband Barry was a good man and celebrated 30 years in AA. I am overly educated, with an MBA. My life felt terminally in-limbo while caring for a sick husband, but I am free now. I see all things as being in transition. Impermanence is the ultimate fact of life. Nothing remains the same, good or bad.

2 responses to “My Needs, Then and Now”

  1. Ninasusan says :

    Good question! Do u feel more emotional healthy with them or without them?

  2. cdhoagpurple says :

    I am more comfortable with them, but healthier without them. There’s my answer.

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