"Whenever I disagree with you, I just pray that God changes your heart."
I originally started writing a post based on the above words spoken by my mother. At first I was offended because it suggested that there was something wrong with my thoughts and opinions. But then I realized that I kind of felt the same way about my mother, so it was hypocritical of me to be upset about it. I DO wish my mother would change. I love the fact that there are several areas where she has already changed. The fact that my mother doesn't anoint her house with oil anymore, talk about demons incessantly, or complain about how everything is evil is huge.
I also have a hard time imagining her without religion. It is so wrapped up in her core identity that I don't know who she would be without it. Her entire social life is centered around shared religion. Her backstory/testimony is about God's redemption in her life. As much as I would like her to change, I am at peace with the idea that she never will. That's probably one of the bigger differences I have with a lot of religious folks.
I don't actually think people are capable of change. Now hear me out. This may be a matter of semantics, but I believe that people have intrinsic personalities, things that make them who they are. There is a good deal of science to back this up (this, this, and this). We are, after all, animals. Certain things we do are simply biological. All children lie, even if never shown how. Any parent will tell you that there are certain personality traits that show up in babies, some more worrying than others. As a young child I liked to perform, putting on little shows and plays for my parents. It isn't surprising that I tried my hand at theater, play violin, and love to show off my singing. What IS surprising is that although I love all of those things, I decided not to pursue them for a living because I learned that what I really needed was praise and I could get that through anything as long as I worked hard enough. Did I change? No. But I learned through experience that my needs could be fulfilled in other ways that also had the added bonus of not being as challenging. Being an actress is hard ya'll.
"But you changed your mind about religion..." I can hear you thinking. Yes. I changed an opinion and belief that was taught to me from a young age. But my belief that Adam and Eve were once real people was not directly connected to my personality. Believing in ancient people doesn't make me any more or less talkative. Any more or less of a show off. However, there are some people whose religion intertwines with their personalities because they are the type of person to be susceptible to certain things. My brother-in-law *Heath is the perfect example of this. The man is intrinsically a suspicious and untrusting person. Because of this he is highly susceptible to conspiracy theories. He's also not very analytical by nature, so that also makes him more prone to believe certain things without evidence. Even if his opinions about religion were to change, I doubt he would be any less of a conspiracy theorist, the theories would just change to fit his new beliefs.
So at the end of the day, I suspect that even if my mother wasn't a hardcore Evangelical Christian....she would be a hardcore Evangelical something else. Because that is who she is. I don't expect her heart to change because I don't think that is possible. And when she says she prays for me to change, I absolutely choose to believe that what she wants me to change is my opinions, not who I am. It makes it a little more bearable to deal with I think.
This is a personal, but secret, blog archiving my deconversion from a Christian to a non-believer.