Responding to Religious Comments When You’re Not Religious
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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