I'm not really sure how this post is going to turn out and I'm feeling rather passionate at the moment... so bear with me.
My best friend is a Christian. There, I said it - and I'm not ashamed of it. In the postmormon/atheist community a lot of people seem to have just as much problem with people accepting their atheism as they do accepting people's beliefs. To this point, I haven't had much of a problem with that. For my parents, for my Christian friend, for millions of people out there - a belief in God is what makes sense to them and until they learn differently nothing you and I say or do is going to change that for them as likewise, them ranting and raving about "just having faith" is going to do nothing for us... or specifically nothing for me.
So I accept it and for the most part try not to disturb it. This is my choice - this may not be yours.
Having said all of that, recently, I went to lunch with my friend and naturally the topic came around to God. In a lot of ways I've done a lot of changing since I last saw my friend - but most of those ways are external. It took me a long time to break down the walls of Mormondom without even believing that those walls actually existed... to break down the walls of believing in God has been much faster in some ways, but is still a process. (As a side note, I am not atheist, I am not theist, I am not deist, and I am not agnostic - I won't define myself to you because I don't have to, what matters is that I am me.) In the last 6 months, I stopped being afraid of the idea of not outwardly being Mormon, outwardly being Christian, or outwardly being religious period. She asked me what I was doing in regard to God. I explained that I was doing nothing and that I wasn't quite sure what I believed as far as God goes and like I did just barely, I explained to her that I couldn't and wouldn't try to define myself to her as far as that went. The subject got around to the new group of friends I've been hanging out with as well as talking about my boyfriend. She seemed to take everything very well.
Today, I got a very thoughtful email from her expressing her concerns for where I was going and what I was doing with my life. This wasn't a surprise and honestly, I love that she cares. I would expect her to care. The caring isn't the problem.
During my separation, I moved back in with my parents for 6 months. In the beginning I was an emotional wreckage - to be honest I don't remember a lot of what happened during this period of my life. I remember the first night sleeping in the spare bedroom on a blowup mattress and in the middle of the night the mattress deflated. My mom heard me struggling with in and came into the room and took over. From there on out, she babied me in a lot of ways, like I have been babied my whole life and in the beginning, I accepted it; however, I did not ask for it. About a month before moving out, my mom was particularly upset at me for something (probably my lack of wanting to clean my room, but that is a post for another day...) and she told me that I needed to stop depending on her and my dad and that I needed to stand on my own 2 feet.
I accepted this - and have since made effort in every aspect of my life to be independent and on a lot of accounts my friends and family try to thwart my efforts.
The best real life example I can come up with is as I was moving out of my parents house I was carrying a dresser out to the moving van with a friend and upon the slightest sign of a struggle, my mom rushed in and took over - didn't help out, took over. Story of my freakin life.
So in this email from my friend today what bothered me was that my friend made the assessment that my disbelief in God had everything to do with my new group of friends and while I love and respect her this fire in my chest just inflamed because she was doing to me EXACTLY what she was accusing of me doing to myself.
Trying to give away my power, my ability to choose.
... and I made an interesting assessment today.
Everybody wants me to be independent, stand on my own 2 feet, but nobody believes that I have the ability to make decisions for myself. I stopped believing in Mormonism because of my ex-husband. I struggle with my belief in God because of my atheist friends. I had sex with my boyfriend because of pressure from my atheist friends.
It's like I don't exist... but God certainly does.