"The only way you will get through this is through prayer."
Yes, my friends. Apparently, you can only parent a child from hard places if you pray to a particular god, otherwise it's doomed to fail. This is not what my mother said, but it was most certainly implied. Of course, I've read that other places too. There are entire Bible studies devoted to prayer and adoption. But let's say for the sake of argument that prayer really did work. What would you pray for? And does prayer absolve you from doing the hard work?
My mom would say that you should seek guidance from The LORD. That he will give me the wisdom to know what to do in any given situation and that if I pray hard enough, God himself will reach down and "heal" my son. The truth is though, that my son already came from a believing family in which prayer was utilized. It didn't fix him or make his bio mom any better of a mom. My mother and her prayer warrior friends prayed for months for our adoption process to speed up and it didn't. In fact, it got slower. And the only reason things moved was because physical human beings stepped in and made a fuss. Not a single person had it "impressed on their hearts" to suddenly pass his paperwork along. More importantly, we have been connecting with and parenting this young man for several months now and I have not prayed once. And we are doing just fine. Perhaps it is the magical prayers of other people? Seems silly that a god who would condemn me to hell would be willing to step in and give me parenting wisdom just because my mom asked for it.
In fact, I have been a non-believer for two and a half years now and my life has gotten better and better. I haven't actually prayed for longer than that and yet things seem to be improving. My husband has gotten promotion after promotion, to the point where we have crossed into a new tax bracket that makes my lower middle class self rather uncomfortable. We are going to buy a house next year and saving up for the down payment barely changes our spending habits. My marriage isn't just good, it is thriving, despite the setback of my deconversion. Although we argue occasionally, I can honestly say that I am in a happy and healthy marriage. Our kid, despite his many issues, has not been awful. I know he will struggle for the rest of his life and we will certainly be there to guide him, but in the end his issues are his. We can only guide and love, not change, fix, or heal. I have several amazing good friends, most of whom know about my deconversion and have been super supportive of it. I find myself fairly relaxed, well as relaxed as a perfectionist can get. I discovered a love of gardening, have a fantastic job that I love, and am healthier than I have been in years. I'm getting older so I am beginning to have health issues that come with age, but nothing that worries me too greatly.
I know this comes off as bragging, but what I am really trying to convey here is how great my life has become over the past several years. I am so happy that I could reach this point and a lot of hard work went into getting this far. I know there will be rough days ahead. If you read some of my previous posts you would know that I am no stranger to sudden tragedies either. But I have done much of that without prayer and if we were following the correlation=causation fallacy it could be extrapolated that not praying actually makes ones life better. But we shall not fall into that trap. No, the real answer is that your life will have ups and downs and whether you pray or not has no bearing on your life whatsoever.
Last Friday I took our young man to a church sponsored shindig with hot dogs, hamburgers, and ice cream sundaes. This event was hosted by my old church, but my kid has a crush on one of the teenagers and I thought it would be a nice outing. Besides, I know a lot of these people and hadn't seen them in a while. Now, for most of the people that I did know, they were all very respectful and kind. Most are my friends on Facebook and they know what we have been doing for the past year and a half. None told me that I should come back to church, none invited my son to church, and all were respectful of the fact that he is of a different religion.
The same cannot be said for the strangers at the party who began to attend that church after I left. Although they were quick to grant me saint status for being an adoptive/foster mom. They were also quick to let me know how important it was that I indoctrinate this kid as quickly as possible. The most perplexing example of this was an old man and his wife. (although they were by no means the only ones) I don't remember their names, but they were in their eighties. Now, I give some leniency to old people and some of their archaic views on things, but these people were really just your typical clueless Christians. The old man told me that he had met several Jews in his life and that none of them knew anything about their religion. And they always asked him about his. The man was invited to a Passover meal with a Jewish family and had the audacity to tell me that they really didn't know what Passover was because they asked him to explain his beliefs concerning that holiday. He took their curiosity about his religion as not knowing about their own. And then formed a biased opinion about all Jews based on this information. So the fact that our son says he is Jewish is obviously deeply concerning because he doesn't know about his religion. True, our kid doesn't, but it isn't because he is Jewish. It's because he isn't curious about things and has been mentally stunted by neglect and trauma.
I did try to explain that Messianic Jews are Christians, but he and several others were having none of it. It's not the right flavor of Christianity for them. Then at the end of the night, as we are leaving, several people (again not my friends) wanted to invite him to church. He politely declined telling them he was of a different religion, but they persisted. "You never know what you will learn" and "I think you will really find Jesus at our church" being the two I overheard. I left him on the porch to fend them off, but mostly because I had been trying to give him as much space as possible all night.
Now, the kid wasn't offended. He thought they were just being kind. And maybe in a way they were. But what I saw was a flagrant disregard for another person's beliefs and an insistence that they had the right version of Christianity. Those who knew us well were gracious and accepting. Never once did they feel the need to invite me back to church. Strangers were not so kind. But here's my thing. You should be respectful to everyone you meet, friend or stranger. If someone looks at you and tells them they are of a different religion, you don't immediately try to convince them that they are idiots who know nothing about their religion and therefore need to join yours. The whole time I kept wondering what these people would do if they knew I didn't believe anymore?
This is a personal, but secret, blog archiving my deconversion from a Christian to a non-believer.