I could really use some insight, advice and personal experience today. I hope I get responses from people that have been in similar situations from either side, as well as from those who haven't directly experienced this type of relationship but can speak in hypotheticals from their pov. Please excuse me if this is long and/or rambly. :)
MIL is very dear to me and I value the relationship we have. MIL is Christian, she calls herself nondenominational and her beliefs are in a literal, historical, perfect bible; evolution is wrong; pretribulation rapture is very real to her; she believes we are in or are very close to the "end times," she feels she has a daily direct relationship with Christ, she believes Satan actively works in our world, speaking in tongues is very real, everything that occurs is due to God's intervention, all who do not accept Jesus is doomed for eternal torment in hell, and if you do not believe the way she does you are wrong (even if you are a Christian) - BUT if it is evident to her that you "know the Lord" then it is ok (even if you are a different denomination of Christian, a Mormon or Jewish).
DH and I are not Christians. I would describe DH as possibly agnostic. I guess I waiver, I like to think there is a God, the Divine, Creator and that we go back to where we came from but honestly I can say idk right now. I definitely do not believe you have to be of a certain religion, hold certain beliefs or participate in certain practices to avoid eternal torment. I do not believe in hell. It does not scare/worry me if there is not an afterlife. A few years ago I was scared to even say that despite what I thought. I even contemplated finding a church after we had ds1 because that is "what you do when you have kids." DH is the one who empowered me in feeling it is OK to not declare yourself a Christian. We have decided not to raise our children in a religion but to ensure they are knowledgeable about the worlds religious beliefs/myths and to be tolerant of others' beliefs. To be freethinkers.
We do not broadcast this to the ILs. We know this would hurt her. DH's older brother is an atheist and I have seen how much this hurts her.
Last night was crazy. We were at the ILs and MIL asked me to come upstairs with her. While upstairs she began to get upset explaining that she feels her life has no meaning, her boys do not respect her (never did), that she failed her boys as a mother. I try to be reassuring and am feeling very sad for her realizing these emotions are very real to her. Ultimately she began to talk about religion mentioning that she wants her legacy to her family to be that she has ensured everyone knows and accepts "the Lord." Without that her life has no meaning. She doesn't want to be in heaven without her family and she doesn't know if DH and his younger brother will be there with her.
She talked a lot about her personal relationship with the Lord, how often she prays and how it makes her feel. She mentioned how she tried her best to raise her boys knowing the Lord, feels she went a little overboard and that is why none of her boys are active in a church or open with spirituality. She feels that her husband did not support her in matters of religion when her boys were children and feels like they all thought she was some crazy religious lady.
She mentioned she is upset her grandsons (my boys) do not know how to pray (I am assuming because they do not fold their hand and bow their heads when she prays during holidays before dinner, but they do sit quietly). She thinks they need to go to Sunday School and have a personal relationship with the Lord. She asked if they even know who Jesus is and I replied that they have heard of Jesus and knew the Christmas story. At one time she agreed with me that the death/resurrection story was not appropriate for their age then a few moments later she brought it up again and vehemently disagreed and felt they should know.
She also talked a lot about the rapture. At one point she was standing in front of me, her voice was raised and she was telling me that DH and his younger brother needs to have a backbone and be the heads of their families. Mimicking what she felt they should do she was pointing her finger in my face talking about how they need to tell their families that they need to choose Christ - that it is heaven (pointing to the left) or hell (pointing to the right), heaven or hell, heaven or hell. At one point she said that my influence on DH has led him away from Christ. ?
This all lasted almost 2 hours. During this time she was crying, she became very animated with large gestures, she raised her voice. She continuously repeated herself. She also was drinking before and during, as she normally isn't that extreme I do think without the alcohol she wouldn't have been that way. I was very uncomfortable. I do not like conflict. I still have issues from the way I was raised that I have a hard time standing up for myself with people I perceive to be in authority. I care about my mil and understand how she feels about the topic of religion. I don't want to hurt her so I always just avoid the issue when these things come up. My stomach was upset, my legs were trembling (gosh it almost seems silly to me, I am a grown woman!).
Finally she asked me - If the rapture were tomorrow, would you be raptured?
I gave the only answer I felt I could give - I don't believe in the rapture.
That infuriated her. I mentioned not all Christians believe in the rapture as she does, not all Christians believe Revelations is literal and that believing in the rapture is not an essential point of Christianity. At that point her husband came upstairs and asked us to come down so I could eat my dinner and we could leave. This was not because he had any idea of what we were doing, it was because it was 9pm and we had a 90 minute drive home.
This is so long. I truly appreciate anyone reading this in its entirety and taking the time to respond. I worry that MIL is going to take it upon herself to teach the boys about Jesus. In the past this has not worried me because I feel we don't have to shelter the boys from religion, I recognize it is important to MIL, that it brings her joy and that we would be teaching the boys what we believe and why as they grow up. Now I am worried that they will tell MIL that "not everyone believes that" or that MIL will start talking heaven/hell to them.
I just don't really know how to handle this anymore. Like I said I care so much about MIL I don't want to hurt her and it would destroy her if she found out that two of her sons were definitely not Christians and her grandsons weren't going to be raised that way. For those of you in similar situations how do you handle these situations. Any Christians in a similar situation, I would love to hear your viewpoint. I would also love to hear viewpoints of Christians of the different traditions as well as those who practice other religions - how would a similar situation impact you, how would you handle it?
Thanks again for all who listened, this is really bothering me today.