I wouldn’t call myself a risk-taker.
I tend to calculate decisions before I leap, especially in regards to interpersonal relationships. In some ways, this is a good thing. I tend to communicate with people effectively, and find ways to communicate information that may be sensitive in ways that people can accept. (This really helps when you work with other people’s children). I rarely have buyer’s remorse. I pay my bills on time. But in other ways, being overly cautious in some areas is not so great. I don’t speak up about controversial issues, especially in a group setting. I don’t want people to think negatively about me. I don’t like to be the cause of people being upset. I don’t want things that I say to be taken out of context or misused, so I over-explain myself.
And I especially have a hard time saying how I feel about things to my parents.
My parents are – and have been as long as I have known them – evangelical, creationist, fundamentalist Christians. We don’t see eye-to-eye on many issues, so my policy up to this point has been to not say anything.
I have started coming out as an atheist in safe spaces. My husband was the first person I told, being the one who was with me on a really important part of my journey away from Christianity. I have told close friends, especially friends who are atheists themselves. I am part of a humanist group so obviously I’m out to them. And I write this blog – anonymously, but it’s a small way to tell people, “I’m an atheist!” and be happy that they are not saying, “We hate you!” about it.
But in some ways it’s becoming harder not to speak up.
I think if it just affected me, then I might be able to stay quiet. I would be annoyed, but I think I’d have an easier time letting it go. But I’m realizing more and more that it doesn’t just affect me. For one, my older sister has taken the brunt of the negative backlash from my parents because she speaks up. For another, my cousin came out as gay last year and his parents (and my parents) are still making such a big deal about it. They seem to take every opportunity they can to talk about how God feels about his homosexuality. In my family, it seems as though conservative Christian is the norm, so me speaking up could let them know, “Not everyone in this family thinks like you,” and take some of the focus off of the other non-conformists.
For a long time, I’ve been afraid of the backlash. I’ve been worried about making my parents mad or upset. I hate the feeling that accompanies thinking that your parents are wrong… feeling arrogant and very young, but at the same time not being able to understand their point of view anymore. And I hate the feeling of knowing that, once I finally admit to them that I don’t believe in God, they will think I’m going to hell.
But, I’m getting to a point where I don’t think I can stay quiet forever. And I don’t think it’s a great thing to stay quiet anymore. It doesn’t help me, it doesn’t help those around me… and how will anything change if people who are different stay quiet?
I think it’s time to start speaking up.