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 xsentricity
Joined: 6/18/2008
Msg: 1
They Think Im "in a phase"Page 1 of 3    (1, 2, 3)
About 4 months ago, my family suffered its first death known to my generation. It was beyond anything I ever expected.. I am usually a very strong person, not showing to much emotion, but I completely broke down when I say that tiny white coffin, something that will live with me forever. When my family saw how I reacted, they didn't offer support or advice, they criticized me for my "Atheist phase". They told me that I was going against my true religion (whatever that may be) and basically told me that I would never heal because I do not believe in god. They went so far as to seating me alone at the bench beside the coffin, it was like I had an incurable disease and no one could come near me!! After the funeral (I'd say 4-5 days) I called my Aunt a "Convenient Catholic". She never talks about god, and when she does it is to say something bad about the church. She has never renounced her faith however, and uses it at convenient times. I tried to convince her that this is not a phase as she calls it (well, as everyone in my family calls it). She will simply not accept this from me... I know that this is it for me, I do not believe in god. Period. Karma, yes... energy, yes. These things are unavoidable, inescapable for myself. But my belief is standing between myself and my family. They are already talking about not giving me part of the ashes (everyone in the immediate family got some ashes in a locket). This pains me alot (the deceased is my nephew) and they are telling me I either go to church, get re-baptized (I did the whole Roman Catholic thing for 12 years of my life) or ties will be severed. How can I explain to them I loath their religion and everything it has ever stood for? How do I tell them that I can live through this without religion, I've made it this far (with some tattoo therapy ).
*Please, I'm not here to hear about how I am going to go to hell, I don't care to be honest. I'm here for honest opinions, not to hear that I'm the anti-christ.*
 Vancer
Joined: 10/29/2006
Msg: 2
They Think Im in a phase
Posted: 7/17/2008 1:24:04 AM
Sometimes the best thing is hard to do.
I haven't talked to my father's side of the family in almost a decade for many of the same reasons you are going through.
 dunrich
Joined: 5/13/2006
Msg: 3
They Think Im in a phase
Posted: 7/17/2008 5:01:47 AM
I have been in similar circumstances , only in my case it was something as simple as marrying a Catholic. On her side, there is still some mention at times that my kids are doomed , as they were never Baptized as Catholics.

My one daughter is a devout atheist, at times she can be quite antagonistic towards the rest of the family, who all have different beliefs to one degree or another. What I tell her is this, in the end, it is only up to you the individual on what you believe. You have to be true to what you believe in / or do not, it is not your family who is responsible , it is a personal choice.

Hard at times I know, but just try to be tolerant of others and their beliefs , no matter how wrong you think they are. Let the chips fall where they lay . If your being an atheist is a " stumbling block " , to them, then that is their problem . Just ensure you take the "higher "road, accept their right to their beliefs as they should accept your right to yours.

They are wrong to have this attitude I think and say as a professing believer. While I disagree with the conclusion my daughter has made, I am also proud in a way of her. After all, while raising her, I taught her to use her own mind, not be accepting of every thing she was told.

They should be showing you respect for your beliefs even if they disagree. How ever , sadly, that does not always occur. For your sake though, show them respect they may not show you, take the high road and one day you will be glad you did.

Very sorry you have to go through this, it is traumatic enough with out having these divisions in the family. Just tell them that you have your beliefs and they have theirs, and they should accept that and leave it at that.

Agree to disagree, the ball is in their court then, it is up to them whether they want to emulate Christ and respect you, or follow their zealotry.
 NERO1
Joined: 3/8/2008
Msg: 4
They Think Im in a phase
Posted: 7/17/2008 7:54:31 AM
OP, either way you've got to stick to your own heart, because you cannot profess true belief in something that you're just not feeling. I believe any Catholic priest worth his collar would tell you that. Nobody wants an insincere conversion or belief just for family or friends' sake or what have you.

I was raised Catholic as a kid as well, but today find myself an agnostic basically, after seriously exploring various religions. I'm not completely unspiritual, so to speak, but Catholic dogma .... I just can't buy 95% of it. Personally I don't even believe in the divinity of whoever Jesus really was. Which of course renders me a non-Christian, basically. I think he was an interesting spiritual teacher, apparently, probably like the Buddha in a sense, but the literal son of god and a virgin and all that who literally rose from the dead?? I'm sorry but I can't believe in all that, not on any serious level at least. Not sure if that's how you feel or not, but perhaps it is.

Many people go through what you're going through. Nowadays there are very many in fact, especially in the younger generations. Depending on how devout their family is in whatever faith they're in it could become a real problem, which reminds me of the subtitle of Christopher Hitchen's book "God is Not Great; How Religion Poisons Everything". It can even poison family relations, for sure. And that's a real shame, to me, because (again, to me) it's not even real -- or certainly no one can prove it's real -- when your family and your family relations most definitely ARE real. A crying shame that they'd let phantoms get in the way of all that.
 rockondon
Joined: 2/21/2007
Msg: 5
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History
They Think Im in a phase
Posted: 7/17/2008 8:35:32 AM

Personally I don't even believe in the divinity of whoever Jesus really was. Which of course renders me a non-Christian, basically.
Have you ever heard of Christian Atheists? They reject the idea of God, but accept Christian teachings and moral beliefs.

If it were me, I would tell them they're right - I am in a phase. I'm in a phase where I accept people for who they are, I'm in a phase where I am profoundly hurt when someone I care for passes away, I'm in a phase where when I see someone in pain I don't use it as an opportunity to try to convert them to be more like me, I'm in a phase where if someone I care about needs help I will support them instead of condemning them for believing differently. Jesus was loving and accepting, I was hoping you would be too, so hate me if you feel that's what you have to do, but accept me if you can.
 dimeadozen
Joined: 1/26/2008
Msg: 6
They Think Im in a phase
Posted: 7/17/2008 8:36:19 AM
I'm so sorry for the loss of your nephew. I dont know much about roman catholicism so I cant comment on your family's beliefs.

You might find that you are inadvertently giving a focus for the grief and anger that members of the family are feeling over the devastating death of your nephew. Your individuality and eccentricity might be charming to them on a good day but an unbearable snag in the veil at a time when some members of the family are focussed on issues of faith.

Sometimes people only dust off their faith when they're in trouble or faced with death and the hereafter. If you can keep out of their way for a bit it might all die down as they move though the stages of grief.
 romanticoptimist
Joined: 10/1/2007
Msg: 7
They Think Im in a phase
Posted: 7/17/2008 8:46:16 AM

If it were me, I would tell them they're right - I am in a phase. I'm in a phase where I accept people for who they are, I'm in a phase where I am profoundly hurt when someone I care for passes away, I'm in a phase where when I see someone in pain I don't use it as an opportunity to try to convert them to be more like me, I'm in a phase where if someone I care about needs help I will support them instead of condemning them for believing differently. Jesus was loving and accepting, I was hoping you would be too, so hate me if you feel that's what you have to do, but accept me if you can.

I agree with rockondon's words. Either they love you and accept you for who you are. Or they don't. It's really simple. Either they respect your beliefs. Or they don't. I wouldn't' even bother arguing with them over it. Me, I'd leave it with , "Well, that's nice."
 kaagwaantaan
Joined: 6/19/2007
Msg: 8
They Think Im in a phase
Posted: 7/17/2008 10:38:39 AM

How do I tell them that I can live through this without religion, I've made it this far (with some tattoo therapy


I went to a baptist church in Anchorage that turned me off church so bad that I didn't set foot inside church again for 14 years.

I think the catholic church has done that to MANY people.

Organized religion as far as I"m concerned has done much harm for the Kingdom.

True Children of God walk in humility and Love. They don't preach death and Hell and you aren't condemed, you are forgiven.

Each person must walk their own path. If you are happy on your current course then I say "Bless you". In the end. It's your walk !!!

I am sorry about the locket and the ashes. I am also sorry about your nephew. It hurts when a life is cut down before it's destiny can be properly fulfilled.

Personally, I think forcing you to go to church or face excommunication from your family is counter productive. It sounds more like manipulation than Love, but you have to make that decision yourself about what you are willing to stand for and what you are willing to give up for the sake of the family.
 NERO1
Joined: 3/8/2008
Msg: 9
They Think Im in a phase
Posted: 7/17/2008 10:55:49 AM
Personally I think, from all I've heard and read about the real Jesus, he'd dislike most aspects of organized religion...anything resembling a religion with a strict hierarchy or power structure, and so on. After all isn't that what he clashed with his fellow "Orthodox" Jews over? I just think the hierarchies and dogmas and rules and all that would have been something that would have rubbed this man the wrong way. Certain Churches are more guilty of that than others of course and would probably be obvious candidates for scorn for various reasons (IMO at least) by the actual historical man , if he could see what they'd become over the centuries .... although I'm not naming any by name of course.
 sassyaquarius
Joined: 4/10/2006
Msg: 10
They Think Im in a phase
Posted: 7/17/2008 12:26:50 PM

Personally I think, from all I've heard and read about the real Jesus, he'd dislike most aspects of organized religion...
I totally agree!!

I think the way your family has acted during this time of grieving is utterly deplorable! Love and acceptance are imo the hallmarks of true spirituality.. you have been offered none due to your rejection of a hollow label...

It takes an enormous strength to not cave in to the pressures and expectations placed on you by your family, especially during a time when you need their support.. you should be very, very proud of yourself...

Just remember, sometimes it is a compliment to not fit in.. it took me a while to learn that, but it definately sets you free

Many christians think that I am "searching".. implying that one day I will arrive at the conclusion that I am a christian... I let them have their arrogant belief because it doesn't seem to matter what I say.. they can only hear what they want to hear...

My older daughters are atheist/agnostic by choice.. whether that is a phase on their part will be determined by THEM, not me.. and I completely respect their choice... just as they respect mine...

I hope you are able to find support throughout this very trying time.. I have a feeling though that either way you will triumph and find an even greater strength in you :)

 CountIbli
Joined: 6/1/2005
Msg: 11
They Think Im in a phase
Posted: 7/17/2008 12:49:18 PM
A wonderful example of Christian love. I was brought up in the RCC and before I became an Atheist I had considered becoming a Protestant. My mother threatened to kick me out of the house if I did. I eventually moved out on my own and now I see my family maybe twice per year. If you're still living with them then do your best to move out as soon as possible and cut off all ties with them. By the sounds of it they're only going to cause you stress, drama, and heartache. If they're going to shower you with hate then they are dead to you.
 Diva_31
Joined: 6/24/2008
Msg: 12
They Think Im in a phase
Posted: 7/17/2008 5:08:54 PM
My mother was and still is a devout Catholic. My father is Lutheran. My mother and I have had several debates about what I do or do not believe in. I've told her many times I believe in higher powers, just not necessarily one true religion or one true God. We've managed to discuss this calmly and reasonably. I even managed to get her into a discussion about Witchcraft going back to the burnings back in the 1600s.

My family knows not to push the subject. I don't force my beliefs on anyone. I refuse to deal with people who push their beliefs on me. If it means cutting ties with that person(s), then so be it. They are not respecting you as a person. It might be time to move on. Over time, if you take space from them, you may find your family changing their way of thinking and they may become more accepting of your beliefs. And then again, they may not be able to get over it. If that's the case, it is THEIR loss, not yours.

Find people in your local area who have the same beliefs as you, create a family of your own.
 Danny Sherwood
Joined: 10/4/2007
Msg: 13
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History
They Think Im in a phase
Posted: 7/17/2008 5:26:02 PM
I'm very sorry for your loss. The most important thing to know at this time in your life is to hold on to what you know to be true. Stay strong.
 califboomergirl
Joined: 11/22/2006
Msg: 14
They Think Im in a phase
Posted: 7/17/2008 5:56:57 PM
Belief in God is a choice, a matter of your free will, pure and simple. It cannot be mandated, manipulated, coerced or legislated. God created man this way and any attempt to usurp YOUR free choice is usurping power from God. You are free to believe or not and no one can take that right away from you. The only thing that guilt and blackmail accomplish is to make a person rebel from the attempt to control them. It is inherent in our nature.

I am so sorry for your families' stance. They have zeal, true, but zeal without knowledge and without love. All of the religion and belief in the world is meaningless without love. I wish you all the best in your journey.
 average_anomaly
Joined: 11/16/2007
Msg: 15
They Think Im in a phase
Posted: 7/17/2008 6:01:34 PM
xs - don't tell them, show them as only you can. Peace, love and healing
 scorpiomover
Joined: 4/19/2007
Msg: 16
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History
They Think Im in a phase
Posted: 7/17/2008 7:25:19 PM
I feel sorry for your loss. It must be very difficult to lose a nephew.

As to your family, you cannot expect them to understand your views on G-d and religion. It is just one of those things. All I can say is that I have had to accept that barbed civility is as much as I can hope for with most of my family. I went the other way. I became far more religious for a long while, and then a lot less religious. When I was more religious, my family kept asking me why I couldn't just be like them. One day my older brother spent 2 hours trying to convince me that my way was wrong.

I don't think they will give up. They think you are harming yourself, and they are trying to help you. Misguided, I know. That sort of treatment pushes you more away. But that is what a lot of people do, and it seems that families do it much more than most.

What I can say is: Don't start an argument.

You'll probably be dragged into them anyway, but keep pulling out of them, because you'll never win. If you lose, they will expect you to become religious and they'll chastise you for not doing it. If you win, they'll be upset and angry, will become sullen, and will look for even more opportunities to start arguments with you, so they can win.

Just play nice, don't start an argument, try to keep out of them, and develop plenty of patience.
 rune3
Joined: 7/13/2006
Msg: 17
They Think Im in a phase
Posted: 7/18/2008 10:37:57 AM

my belief is standing between myself and my family

It's not your belief that is standing between you and your family -- it is their belief that your belief is a problem that is the barrier.


They are already talking about not giving me part of the ashes (everyone in the immediate family got some ashes in a locket).
Don't you think it is a wee bit grim for the deceased body of your nephew to be divided up and worn as jewellery? A body is just a body, it's not the essence of him -- if your nephew had lost a leg in an accident, he would still be himself; when he died, his body stopped being him just as much as a limb would if it were lost. The only way he lives on (I believe) is in the hearts of the people who loved him and your love for him ensures that he will inhabit your heart and most likely that you will still see him in your dreams. This *love* is the essence to hold onto -- not some bit of ash.


How can I explain to them I loath their religion and everything it has ever stood for?
This serves no purpose. If they understood this all it would achieve is their feeling hurt because they genuinely do believe that their path is the true one and that they are wrong; just as you believe that their path is a false one. You don't want to be told that you are "going to hell" -- you don't believe in that at all; they don't want to be told that they are not "going to heaven" -- they don't believe in any other way of being.


How do I tell them that I can live through this without religion,
You don't tell them: you show them, by doing exactly that. Avoid the topic as far as possible, respect their right to believe what they want and respect your own right too, without feeling the need to defend yourself. Talking with other non-religious folk may help you to feel less need to defend your choices.
 Danny Sherwood
Joined: 10/4/2007
Msg: 18
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History
They Think Im in a phase
Posted: 7/18/2008 5:12:31 PM
califboomergirl, You are right. Love should be the cornerstone of any religion. Those who do not show it, Are defacing the religion they follow.
 statueman
Joined: 2/11/2006
Msg: 19
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History
They Think Im in a phase
Posted: 7/18/2008 7:14:21 PM
xsentricity,
My catholic family was shocked when at 16 I started going to a pentacostal church. I loved it there and would invite them to come. "I'm catholic" was all they would say... never mind that the last time they went to church was for Aunt Susies funeral.

Anywho... I'm sorry for your loss and thankyou for sharing this. My opinion would be that if you believe in energy and karma then you do believe in something that would hold you to a higher purpose in life. I believe in the teaching of Jesus Christ and for the most part I read him to say that we as christians should not judge those who do not believe in him. I was hurt by some in my family who called me a "religious fanatic" who actually sits and reads the bible. I became anti-catholic for a time until the day I woke up in a catholic hospital emergency room and heard some of the employee's talking about scripture and I gave the address to where it was in the bible. The next day the nurse who I had spoken to brought me a bible with my name in gold lettering.

I think that if your family had been pentacostal they might have treated you the same way. Self righteousnes is self righteousness no matter what sign is above the door of your chosen fellowship. Christian don't corner the market on self righteousness as these forums clearly show. When I'm truly humble I'm at my best... my energy and my karma at that point seem to work hand in hand to witness the validity of my faith in Christ. My hope is that you will give the words of Jesus Christ a second look and not connect them to any of your present experiences. Again thankyou for sharing and welcome to POF forums.
 CharlesEdm
Joined: 9/16/2006
Msg: 20
They Think Im in a phase
Posted: 7/18/2008 10:47:53 PM
All I can say is congratulations for not needing the psychological crutch of the afterlife to deal with a death.

I would stand my ground on this issue, it may be painful, but these people are attempting to literally destroy your individuality for their own comfort. It's symptomatic of some of the fascistic elements that are running through the church, and you'll only be putting yourself in a position of vulnerability to further threats of emotional withdrawal if you give in.

As for the ashes, as much as it sucks that she won't give you some, the reality is the body is meaningless a this point. The relationship is what was important, they're simply using its denial as a form of emotional terrorism.

Frankly the more I read about it the more I get angry.
 qldblue
Joined: 5/7/2008
Msg: 21
They Think Im in a phase
Posted: 7/19/2008 3:04:39 AM
I got some good news for you Xsentricity, despite what your family say, you do not need to go through the whole rigmarole that your family are demanding as you have already done that bit.

I hope that you can use this information to your benefit.

As to your family's description of you going through a phase, I find this to be very unchristian like let alone placing it at any religeous teaching.

Regarding the death of your nephew and how it affects you, well how anyone deals with a death is entirely up to them, this I know from personal experience as I lost my wife just over a year ago and I was brought up that a man didn't show emotion, this I learnt the hard way.

With you being seated as close to the coffin as you have said, I would not feel like being banished but rejoice in the fact that you were probably one of the few to be so close to your nephew, a place of honour. Think how many of your relatives that were not that close to the coffin had their seats further away, you were lucky despite the circumstances.
What your beliefs are is not the issue, what you felt for your nephew that is the point.
I once told a good friend about my belief in god and my belief suits me very well and I am not going to convince you to change as it is not you who should be the focal point in all this but your nephew, my condolances to you but your family really need to catch up on the new teachings as fire and brimstone sermons have been out of the system for near on thirty years, now it is the loving and forgiveness side.
 *champrins*
Joined: 7/12/2008
Msg: 22
They Think Im in a phase
Posted: 7/20/2008 7:08:12 AM
Oh Honey, you're caught between loving your family and loving yourself.

And being loved by your family, and being loved by yourself.

How many ways can I say "Been there, done that" and for me it took 10 years for them to calm down.

People tend to gravitate to religions because they see the RIGHTNESS in it. And so (loving you) they want RIGHTNESS for you too.

Try to see it this way. If they didnt sincerely believe its a good thing, they wouldnt be doing it eh!

Now, how do you tell your family that YOU DONT NEED THIS GOOD THING OF THEIRS in your life?

a) Hey Mom. I know you love your god and the church and all that, and hey that is so fine for you! Really is! And I'm glad for you! But you know, I'm not you, and what works for you, just doesnt work for me.

That acknowledges the validity of their own beliefs....for them
And its an important step in it all

They might actually be feeling very insecure that you are challenging or attacking their OWN beliefs by stepping outside of it all.

Now step 2
b) Next time they want to pray over you, or haul you back in, simply say "Please dont. Your gods dont like me very much. And I dont try to make you like MY OWN way of thinking, so please dont do it to me? I'm quite sure that if I tried to force you to be an atheist (if thats what you are OP) that you would be really upset. I dont do that to you. So please dont do this to me.


Just stick with it. Over time, there will be a mutual respect develop out of it.

But both sides merely stating THEIR OWN stand point....will get you nowhere (except into an argument)

Be careful not to get into rebellion, which can often happen when stepping outside of a mainstream religion.

Its easy to just say I DONT WANT something. But at some point you will need to sit down with yourself and ask, what is it I DO want? What is it that I want to embrace in life? What am *I* all about?

And when you come to that point, you'll be able to very peacefully discuss with your family *who you are* and what you DO believe in, as opposed to what religion you belong to, and what you DONT want.

And if they can see the inner peace in you (not a rebellious child) they will know this is an adult speaking and they will respect you for it.



Good Luck
 rockondon
Joined: 2/21/2007
Msg: 23
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History
They Think Im in a phase
Posted: 7/20/2008 10:59:14 AM
wow, what a great post.
*Tips hat to champrins*
 Danny Sherwood
Joined: 10/4/2007
Msg: 24
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History
They Think Im in a phase
Posted: 7/20/2008 2:43:09 PM
Average_Anamoly, You're absolutely correct when you say that you can only show, Not tell.
 pnayplayr
Joined: 12/17/2005
Msg: 25
They Think Im in a phase
Posted: 7/22/2008 2:23:38 PM
i'm a christian and i dont' think it's right that they segregate you like that because of you don't believe in God. i can see it that they feel a bit disrespected, because they believe in a King, and to you, this Almighty God is nothing...as an atheist. i mean, i'm a protestant and my bf is a catholic. he told me he'll never convert from Catholicism because it would truly upset his dad, and in his dad's point of view, to turn away from the religion, is to turn away from the family...atleast that's how he perceives his dad's point. that could be how they feel in your situation.

anywho...may you have faith in God, or in humanity, or just in nothing at all, for whatever it is you stand for, there will always be something/someone in your way to block you. it's only a matter of how strongly to do you stand for your believe...and to what cost?

even as a christian, i would admire you more for staying an atheist and know what you do/don't believe in, than be a fake catholic, for the sake of pleasing people. just kinna ask yourself, are you that positive that God doesn't exist, to a point that you are willing to exclude yourself from your family?
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