Responding to Religious Comments When You’re Not Religious

Responding to Religious Comments When You’re Not Religious
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If you want me to roll my eyes up in my head, tell me that faith will heal me. In your presence, I try to keep that visceral feeling to myself. But I have learned that my face often displays what I’m thinking against my will, so I tend to respond, “Your god and I aren’t friends.”

I often wonder: Did the person who is going to do all this healing not know who I was when I got sick? If he did, why am I sick in the first place? Some would have me believe that I’m being tested like Job, or that I am not meant to be sick and will be healed. Others theorize I sinned my way into sickness through pride. Based on what others have shared with me in four years of having lupus, I could write an entirely new Bible of all the ways I either will be healed or shunned from heaven.

After years of hearing these things, I would really like a gracious way to say thanks, but no thanks. Even when I politely tell people that I don’t believe in their religion, some insist on sending me verses and try to convince me that my beliefs are wrong without coming right out and saying that.

I have no problem with anyone praying for me. I do believe in a higher power. Looking at the complexity of our bodies and the beauty found in nature, I would be arrogant to think there isn’t something out there, per se. But I don’t give it a name and I surely don’t condemn others for their beliefs.

I didn’t come to this conclusion lightly. I researched (like I do with everything important in my life) and came to my own conclusion that no religion is my way, my truth, or my light. I do not need permission to speak to the highest power, so I do understand prayer. It’s not unlike my affirmations or the visualizations I focus on during my meditations. I disagree with other parts of belief systems.

I have done my best over the years to be polite, but I also need to be honest with most people. When I get religious messages in my inbox, I tend to ignore them. I don’t want to send any response for fear it will encourage more messages or make people think I believe as they do.

In person, I don’t want a theological discussion. One woman invited me out to coffee, and I thought I was making a new friend. She brought another woman with her, and their mission was to find out why Jesus and I aren’t friends and to try to “bring me back.” I gave her a lesson and questioned her on the origins of her beliefs based on my research.

My beliefs serve me well. But when your body is insane and you rotate in and out of the hospital as much as an intern, how do you deal with people heaping their beliefs on you? Do I continue to smile and say thank you, or do I tell them I don’t believe in that? If I do the latter, how do I stop the conversation that inevitably follows without being rude?

Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

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Note: Lupus News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Lupus News Today, or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to lupus.

 

Kellie “Hurricane” McRae has been dubbed a force of nature. She’s the mother of 2 adults who know she is a force to be reckoned with. Diagnosed with Lupus in February 2016 after multiple hospital stays that had her saying her goodbyes to her family & writing her will she became a very vocal advocate. She has openly shared via Periscope what she calls coping while scoping and has helped many who got a fresh diagnosis as well as those who have been battling for a while. Kellie has taken on the idea that food is medicine and shares frequently the chemical ingredients found in some foods and she also shares recipe’s for great food. Food is medicine is part of her philosophy. After Lupus forced her to walk away from a 17 year career in Real Estate, she began an online business helping others go from “Coping to Cash flow” because not everyone gets approved for disability and still need to pay bills despite the unpredicatable issues that Lupus causes.
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Kellie “Hurricane” McRae has been dubbed a force of nature. She’s the mother of 2 adults who know she is a force to be reckoned with. Diagnosed with Lupus in February 2016 after multiple hospital stays that had her saying her goodbyes to her family & writing her will she became a very vocal advocate. She has openly shared via Periscope what she calls coping while scoping and has helped many who got a fresh diagnosis as well as those who have been battling for a while. Kellie has taken on the idea that food is medicine and shares frequently the chemical ingredients found in some foods and she also shares recipe’s for great food. Food is medicine is part of her philosophy. After Lupus forced her to walk away from a 17 year career in Real Estate, she began an online business helping others go from “Coping to Cash flow” because not everyone gets approved for disability and still need to pay bills despite the unpredicatable issues that Lupus causes.

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18 comments

  1. Kisha Martin says:

    Hello Kellie,
    Hope all is well with you and your family. My name is Kisha. I’ve been diagnosed with Lupus SLE for 13 years. As you know lupus literally has many face so I won’t go into details about my experiences…LOL but I have to comment on your article:
    1. Thank you for your honesty and transparency. I’ve been a Baptist since I was a little girl. As an adult my relationship with God has grown stronger and closer. However, my experience has shown me that Christians can sometimes be a little too pushy.
    2. I will only speak for myself regarding my faith and lupus. Simply put…It maintains my sanity. That’s it! It’s a comfort and the scriptures are my mantras. I couldn’t have survived without my faith.
    3. I respect how you feel and want you to understand the those “pushy” Christians are only (and are compelled) trying to share their God’s peace with you. They just want you to know that God got you in every situation. As far as them saying that your sins gave you lupus…THAT’S OUT OF ORDER…and I’m sending you hugs because no one should hear that.
    4. Anyway I love your courage and strength to be who you want to be. I love you (and since you’re accepting prayers lol) and pray that you prosper and be in good health even as your soul prospers.
    5. On the how do you shut them down lol? Maybe just inform that you respect their beliefs and ask that they respect that you don’t believe in their faith and would not like to hear about…idk. Prayerfully they will respect your wishes.

    • Kellie McRae says:

      Hi Kisha, thank you for sharing your perspective with me. You are exactly right when you speak about the mantras. For many, the scriptures provide that hope, that’s not the case for me but what I am doing is working for me and helping me keep hope alive (no matter what we believe in, sometimes this is a challenge no matter what). I try to keep in mind that folks mean well and I am good with this in most situations. I promise, I never have an issue until the words “you need to….” are directed towards me and they don’t resonate with me. I accept all the good stuff that is sent up on my behalf, prayers, vibes, mojo, etc. I would never disrespect someone by telling them what to do spiritually even if that means praying for me (thank you for those prayers by the way) but when they start telling me who to pray to and how to pray…yeah, that’s when things get a little wonky lol I am hopeful that the more people learn that I don’t have a traditional belief system that they will just wish me well and let me be. Thanks for sharing what it means to you and how it provides you with hope. I’m sending good vibes your way as well.

  2. Pamela Beck says:

    Hi Kellie,
    Not sure how much space I have for a reply. I have never
    Replied to anything before. But
    Your essay seems to be wanting answers to how to free
    Yourself from responding to
    “Religious” people. I don’t think
    It’s as hard as you think, even if you do not believe in God. You said in your essay that you believe in prayer. Prayer is a powerful
    Act of mercy, grace, love and
    Kindness. I would simply respond, “ Thank you for your
    Prayers.” That’s it. Discussion
    Over before it begins. And you
    Can be sincere and authentically grateful because you believe in prayer. No matter what direction the conversation
    Goes, you can end it gracefully and swiftly with that one sentence. I didn’t become a Christian until I was 30 years old. Now in my 60s. I’ve met all the characters that you mention.
    It is discouraging. Lupus; chronic illness, is not understood by most people. It
    Is awkward for people to acknowledge the truth of of it;
    They are then inviting the thought of their own death. So
    They bring out the religious card
    In many ways and it can be
    Disheartening. And it is not
    Authentic Christianity. Thank you for your essays. I look forward to them. I was diagnosed in 2016.

    • Kellie McRae says:

      Hi Pamela, I appreciate your response. I always thank people when they offer prayer, where things go off the rails is when they want to tell me who I need to pray to. For some, they can just say ok and end the conversation but I have a hard time allowing you to think I believe as you do when that time comes. Not because I want to debate my beliefs but I feel its almost like just accepting every spiritual being that is tossed on me. I am solid in what I believe and I don’t want to be the dumpster for other things just to end things easily. I am sure with more time, I will figure it out without it becoming a big deal for me and the other person. I am usually ready to end it but as soon as I utter the words “I don’t believe as you do” it is like I tossed a gauntlet and the battle must begin. I am learning to just walk away or exit the phone conversation. Unfortunately, this has left some people very upset but I must do what is best for me. Thank you for taking the time to reply, I’m always excited to hear from the readers.

  3. Carol W Waldenburg says:

    I am sorry that you have been actually “bullied” by some religious people overly zealous to perhaps convert you to their way of Doing religion. I am a person of faith living with debilitating Lupus and without my faith I would have given up to the feelings of hopelessness at times so I have an appreciation of spirituality and belief that most people who live in “sane” bodies cannot understand.
    I encourage you to let people who are pushing their religion on you know that they are indeed doing this and it is not of God – that God’s witness in action is far more powerful than being put in a position where you feel cornered, coerced, or bullied. (I know that tactic whereby someone invites you to coffee or something and shows up with another person so there is a forceful front and it’s BS.) People who have faith not “religion” do not try to force themselves and their ideas onto other people, we leave that up to God or a higher power. I like that you said you don’t mind if people say they will pray for you – and I agree that you don’t need permission to talk to a higher power. I encourage you to look at these types of people as flawed and ignorant and not to be too sensitive to them – sometimes they’re maddening in their self-rightousness. What is between you and any higher power is deeply intimate and you owe no explanation to anyone.

    • Kellie McRae says:

      Carol, what you said honestly hit me in such a way that tears actually started flowing. I don’t know why that was my reaction but it started at “people who have faith, not religion” I think that is probably so profound because when I tell people I don’t believe as they do, I think they assume I am worshipping some kind of devil lol and that I have no faith. I have an insane amount of faith but just not in the names they give homage to and I think seeing you acknowledge that faith and religion are different just touched me. Thank you for your words, they have encouraged me today for sure.

  4. E.C. Calhoun says:

    Make no mistake about it, I truly believe in God and not an unknown higher power. I’m commenting because you ask. I was diagnosed with discoid and systematic lupus after being crushed between two five tones trucks during my military career.

    God didn’t pin me between those trucks as a way of testing my faith, no, a fellow soldier. Neither was God testing my faith when I was diagnosed with both discoid and systematic lupus at the age of twenty-two.

    I’ have sever scaring all over my face, no hair, nail are split, scleritis, both knees replaced because of steroids, chronic pain, neuropathy, fibromyalgia and several other illnesses but who’s counting.

    I want insult your intelligence by identifying all the people whom are suffering from various illness, diseases, and etc.

    God provides every person with the right to choose his or her belief system however I would consider switching to another higher power if it’s not providing you with the strength, comfort, hope and resources to endure your challenge with lupus.

    Finally, my coping mechanism is as following, every day I thank God that I’m alive, 2. I realize it could be worse, 3. some children have no access to doctors or medication but I do, and I pray for fellow sisters and brother suffering from lupus.

    My friend you’re not alone!!!!!

    • Kellie McRae says:

      Hi E.C. Sounds like you have endured a lot! We all have our way of coping and of dealing with the things that happen to us, the traumatic stuff is obviously where our highest challenges lie. It’s such a personal thing on how we really dig deep to manage to muddle through. Even if you felt the need to identify people who are suffering, I would respect your right to do so but I have also learned to accept that their fight is not mine. If what they are enduring appears to be much worse, that does not diminish what I am dealing with so there is never any comparison. I am filled with strength and the endurance for this battle, what I believe has never been in question except by those who want to force what they believe on me as if what I believe is not sufficient. Some days, holding out hope and keeping a good outlook is more difficult than others but I have yet to meet anyone regardless of their belief system that hasn’t experienced this. I am glad that your beliefs work well for you, mine also suits my needs and as long as we all remember that we each get to choose for ourselves and respect that boundary, I think the world would be a better place in spite of the pain we endure.

  5. Janice Padgett says:

    I am sorry so many people can be so out to lunch with their so called “help” saying faith can heal. Maybe it is sin. I was diagnosed with Lupus a few years ago at the ripe old age of 66. Not heard of often at my age. However I am a born again Christian and do believe God can heal if He chooses to do so. Will He? It is not up to me to decided. He has not choose to heal me, and I have one major problem after another. Have I done some sort of terrible sin to bring this on? NO, This is false teaching and believe. Why does bad things happen to good people? We live in a fallen world where there is lots of sickness And evil. My illness has strengthened my faith in my Lord. He has helped me through a lot of pain and dark nights. I am so thankful for my faith and family who love me and help me in so many ways. Hang in there. JP

    • Kellie McRae says:

      Hi Janice, I’m always happy to know that faith helps keep hope alive. I have heard the question asked that you posed but I also try to keep in mind that bad things often happen to bad people too. It’s the human condition that nobody gets out untouched, I often tell people, even babies cry. I’m also thankful that you have the support of your family, that helps so much!

  6. Darlene McIntosh says:

    Dear Kellie. I am a firm believer that you do not force your religious beliefs on others. We all worship in different ways. People do not understand what people with chronic disease go thru and sometimes we question our higher power. No one should try to force their beliefs on anyone. I also believe you do not need a church to pray. Prayer can be done at any time in any place. You seem like a very caring, compassionate person. Lets hope they find a cure for us soon.

    • Kellie McRae says:

      Hi Darlene, I agree that we definitely all worship in different ways and its so wonderful when we can each respect that very private boundary. A cure would be AH-MAZING lol thank you for adding your perspective.

  7. Annie J. says:

    I am a religious person and also have lupus. I would be annoyed, too, even if my God is their God. There is nothing anywhere that says if you have enough faith, or if you are good enough, you will be healed. There are many examples in church history of sickly saints. I find that my faith helps me keep perspective on my illness; but I do not expect or even hope for God to heal me. The way I see it is that He has put very competent medical personnel into my life and they will do their best to keep me as healthy as possible. That’s as good as it’s gonna get, and I’m OK with that.

    • Kellie McRae says:

      Hi Annie, thank you for your perspective. I will be honest, this article has been brewing inside of me for quite some time and I was very concerned with how it was going to be received. Thank you for offering a compassionate point of view on this.

  8. Subrata Halder says:

    My wife, being a lupus, APS, Sjurgen patient since 2006, as being finally diagnosed, faced same problem either. We both are nonbeliever of God anything like that. This post has touched me and our bitter remembrances from the so called religious community. Thank you for the post.

    • Kellie McRae says:

      Hi Subrata, I hope you didn’t allow those folks to taint your feelings. It is hard having others think they know best and try to impose on you. I try my best to remember that while I may not feel as they do, THEY think they are offering help and hope so I try to keep compassion at the forefront of what I feel towards them even if they don’t always offer it to me.

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