Telling people I believe in God. - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 16 Old 05-05-2010, 06:12 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I'm a 'new' believer in God, it's been an ongoing realization/transition for about 2 years. I have a really hard time telling people this.

I was a pagan for many years, and all our friends and family knew that. We had a traditional Wiccan wedding. Many of the people in my life met me because we were not Christians (pagans, or unitarians etc).

Now that my beliefs have changed (and are changing still) I want to share this with people (when appropriate) but I have a very hard time doing so. It's not that I am ashamed, I just don't know how to bring it up and explain, and sometimes I am afraid that they will think I am judging them for their beliefs, or will not want to be my friend anymore.

Anyone else been in my shoes? Anyone there now? How did you deal with it? Did it take a long time?

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#2 of 16 Old 05-05-2010, 06:30 PM
 
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Putting myself in the shoes of one of your friends who knows you as a pagan, I'm not sure that this is something I would really think was a big deal. You believe in God now, ok. But has anything else about you changed? If it did come up, I can't see how I would feel judged because you believe in God. It's a personal matter.

Unless you are saying that the God you now believe in is associated with a particular religious tradition which disapproves of people like your friends and family? That I could see being tricky to navigate. But a simple belief in one deity - that doesn't seem problematic.
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#3 of 16 Old 05-05-2010, 06:46 PM
 
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Originally Posted by zinemama View Post
Putting myself in the shoes of one of your friends who knows you as a pagan, I'm not sure that this is something I would really think was a big deal. You believe in God now, ok. But has anything else about you changed? If it did come up, I can't see how I would feel judged because you believe in God. It's a personal matter.

Unless you are saying that the God you now believe in is associated with a particular religious tradition which disapproves of people like your friends and family? That I could see being tricky to navigate. But a simple belief in one deity - that doesn't seem problematic.
This.

Are your new beliefs going to affect your friendships? I mean, it's entirely possible..but that depends on what kind of activities you engaged in previously. If you can still be friends with them and will be basically the same person then I don't know that things will change in a bad way.

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#4 of 16 Old 05-05-2010, 09:37 PM
 
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As someone who is Pagan, I am polytheistic. That means that I think that various religions are right for various people; various spiritual expressions are valid for different times. I don't think any religion is THE one and authentic way to God.

I have changed my path a couple of times in my life (although I've had the same one for the last six or seven years now and I think I will be sticking with it). But I don't think that the religious "stuff" I was interested in before this one were wrong. I think it's how I approached the Deity at that point in my life.

If you are changing the way you see/conceptualize/relate to Deity right now - that doesn't erase, or negate, your previous spiritual expression. You have always been turning towards God because it sounds like you have been spiritual for a long time. But now your beliefs have matured, or changed, or whatever - and that's fine. That's where you are now, and maybe will be for the rest of your life. Maybe your beliefs will change. To me, that's fine - if you're sincere about where you stand right now, that's all that matters.

At least... that's my view.

So to sum up, I would be matter of fact with whom I shared the beliefs with. I probably wouldn't go around announcing it but if the matter came up I would be clear about it and explain that in this time of my life this expression better suits my relationship with the Divine. If they're Pagan they will (hopefully) understand that there are many paths to choose from and your new one isn't "less right" than your last one.

Also... NO ONE, has a right to dictate your relationship with the Deity. (Or lack of a relationship, if that's your choice.) That is not something for ANYONE to judge.

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#5 of 16 Old 05-05-2010, 09:40 PM
 
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Totally incidentally, I am Pagan but still believe in God. The way I talk about God is somewhat fluid depending on who I am talking to even though I think the Source is the All is the God is the Mother etc.

You don't necessarily have to stop being Pagan to believe in God. If you want to, that's different. But the two aren't mutually exclusive.

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#6 of 16 Old 05-05-2010, 10:53 PM
 
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I agree with the previous posters. If you believe in God, but it isn't going to change how you live, what you do, places you go then it really shouldn't bother anyone.

I have been in your shoes and I'm wearing them now. I think I will always be in this predicament. I am Christian. I was Buddhist and then I got saved one Saturday night, quite dynamically. I went to work on Monday beaming and so excited to tell everyone what had happened to me. I honestly had no idea that some people would be bothered by this. I mean, to me, I was telling them in a way that you would tell someone about this great restaurant you found. Also, I was asking people if it had ever happened to them. I was really sincere, and I didn't know that people would feel uncomfortable. Anyway, I learned that lesson the hard way.

But still...when God is a major part of your life and He governs your living, your going to lose friends because they don't understand it. It may seem really weird to them. I see this as a little test from God. He has asked me more than once, 'Do you love them more than me'? I never wanted to lose those friends, but it was my friends who left me because they didn't want to be part of my life and the way it had changed.

Regarding your concern about them feeling judged, all you can do is take care of your own motive. You know that your heart is not judging them. If they feel judged then it's up to them to deal with it. You just can't control that. God is very good at being God. Trust that He will take care of your friends. It could be that your believing in God first will be attractive to them, and open up a dialogue.

You could start it out by saying, you'll never believe what happened to me... Or you could say something like, I am the last person that I ever thought would come to believe in God.... can I tell you what happened to me?

Or you could just let it come up naturally in the conversation.

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#7 of 16 Old 05-06-2010, 03:27 AM
 
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Pardon my presumption, and forgive if I'm wrong, but I think the OP's issue might be something a little different.

My DH is a scientist, and was an atheist for most of his life, and close to 20 years ago, when he was about 40, he became religious. He was still working in the lab at the time, and his concern (and maybe the OP's?) wasn't so much about himself or his life or how he lives it, as much as it was what other people, the people in his life and the people around him at work, etc., would think of him. They'd think he'd (a) gone off the deep end, or (b) that he'd suddenly taken a "get stupid" pill, or (c) he'd been brainwashed, or (d) all of the above.

It took a while for him to get used to the idea that it really didn't matter what they thought of his beliefs, as long as *he* was comfortable with his beliefs.

In the end, everyone who really mattered to him got used to the idea, and everybody else, well, who cares.

You know?
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#8 of 16 Old 05-06-2010, 11:26 AM
 
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I still don't see how the OP's private conviction that there is a God is going to come to the attention of anyone, friends or co-workers. Unless she's joined a religion with particular outward expressions (dress, etc.) that would make it an issue? But that's not how she presented it.
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#9 of 16 Old 05-06-2010, 01:33 PM
 
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zine-mama- I don't know if this is the situation for the OP, but often a lot depends on the social setting. If you are a member of a minority group (even if that group may be the majority somewhere else), sometimes membership in that minority becomes the "foundation" of relationships and social interactions. If you then change that membership, especially if you are changing membership to belong to the majority group in that area... it adds an extra layer of stress. You might change nothing else in your life, but it's still a "big deal".

Did you see the movie Chasing Amy (many years ago now)? The scene I'm thinking of is when Amy reveals that she is bi-sexual and in a relationship with a man after many years of identifying as a lesbian. Nothing else about her changed, but her friends reacted strongly, and not in a really wonderful way. And this sort of reaction may be what the OP is nervous about. While it may be "just this one thing" changing, religion is a big "thing"... especially if (as the OP suggests) some of these friendships began as a result of sharing a minority position in regards to spirituality/belief.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

That said... OP, you have to follow your heart and soul. You know your friends, and unless this journey has been very quiet, they probably know you've been searching/transforming over the past few years. Would you feel comfortable attending a UU church where there is a variety of beliefs? You mentioned UU in your post, so I'm guessing maybe you've found comfort/belief in a more "specific" faith, but if it's more a matter of moving from athiest to agnostic (or agnostic to a single specific god) then maybe that would provide a more gradual framework for "telling"?

And like pp have said... you are the important person here. Your friends don't have to live with your heart, soul, and sense of self. If this is the path that brings you happiness and peace, then you need to honor that and let your friends do what they will... obviously no fun, but like they say, your true friends wont leave you and the ones who leave aren't true friends. You'll make new friends as you travel this spiritual path. Not that that makes this any easier, I know! I was VERY catholic while growing up (a minority in that community) and when I began questioning it was very hard... I was a nervous wreck for a good year as I told or people learned I was no longer christian (let alone catholic!). But it got easier with time, and while I did lose friends I gained many more. And knowing that I had found the spiritual practice that was right for me was a huge help.

So, from my experience... I'd suggest telling people as one-on-one as possible, in neutral space (over coffee at a book store. Start with people who are closer to your current practices/beliefs and stress the common ground, and if possible, also tell the people who are more important to you first. Sort of a "I really respect your opinion, here's the deal, wanted you to know first, how would you suggest I tell people, etc"... this way they hear it from you, you can both ask/answer questions, hopefully they'll help you then spread the news in a positive manner.

HTH... good luck!

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#10 of 16 Old 05-06-2010, 01:46 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by merpk View Post
My DH is a scientist, and was an atheist for most of his life, and close to 20 years ago, when he was about 40, he became religious. He was still working in the lab at the time, and his concern (and maybe the OP's?) wasn't so much about himself or his life or how he lives it, as much as it was what other people, the people in his life and the people around him at work, etc., would think of him. They'd think he'd (a) gone off the deep end, or (b) that he'd suddenly taken a "get stupid" pill, or (c) he'd been brainwashed, or (d) all of the above.
yeah, that's pretty close to how I am feeling!

I probably should have been clearer in my original post. I am in an awkward place where I don't know how to describe myself, but I should have just said I am now a Christian.

It is a big lifestyle change, since I have gone from being openly Wiccan, celebrating the wheel of the year (equinoxes etc) and doing witchcraft, to believing the Bible and changing how I live my life. Most of the changes are on the inside, but to me they are a big deal and it is hard when people assume things about me based on my past.
I do dress very modestly but I started doing that before I changed my path, so it's not noticeable to anyone.

thanks for your posts everyone, I am going to be working through this for a while so if anyone wants to keep the conversation going I will be here

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#11 of 16 Old 05-06-2010, 01:51 PM - Thread Starter
 
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thanks for your post Wombatclay, we cross-posted. It has been a quiet transition so only people I see regularly are really aware of it.

I know it will be okay in the long run, but it is good to hear about the experiences of others and be reassured.

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#12 of 16 Old 05-06-2010, 02:02 PM
 
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I'm in much the same shoes as you right now....pagan for 17 years and now Christian. I don't really have any advice but wanted to say that I understand what you're going through. The hardest person for me to tell was my dh, and I haven't mentioned it to my mother (an outspoken atheist) yet.
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#13 of 16 Old 05-06-2010, 02:07 PM - Thread Starter
 
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It's been hard with my dh too. He's known all along, but since he doesn't believe the same things as I do it's been a challenge.

I have some atheists in my life too, and they are harder to tell than people who have a different religion.

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#14 of 16 Old 05-06-2010, 02:19 PM
 
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I went thru the same thing when I was saved. But I did have a similar experience as Shami. I was naive as to how people would react to me and I didnt think it was a big deal but it was to others! I was shocked. My parents were terrified that I had joined a cult and was fearful for years. Ill be honest with you and say it did kind of effect my relationship with her. Not so much that I was a christian now, but the way my faith directed my life. I made decisions she would have liked me to have done differently, I stuck out some difficult situations which she wanted to help me with and walk away from. Also, I had some shaky moments with a friend or two concerning my faith, but that was my own stupidity (sending unnecessary emails, you know those ). We didnt talk for a while, some of that had to do with distance, but some of it was to do with faith differences. We are still friends ironically, via facebook, but still, even tho she's a staunch athiest.

I wanted to say that you dont have to declare it or talk about it with them unless it comes up naturally. I can see how some things might be difficult bc having participated in pagan things previously, you may feel the need to take a step back and reevaluate you participation in such things. Im not trying to debate that issue here, Im just mentioning it bc it might come up. They may wonder why and it may come as a surprise as to your answer.

Just take it slow. You dont have to talk about it unless you feel led to. I know some people go about talking about it and feel comfortable, but if you dont, thats ok. I think anyway. I felt the need to make sure I knew what I believed before I talked about it, ykwim? Im more established and my faith has a more firm foundation bc of it.
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#15 of 16 Old 05-06-2010, 02:30 PM
 
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weliveintheforest, my family is in a similar situation right now. We tried UU for a bit, and have recently become christians. Our families and friends are quite surprised/shocked, although I'm not sure why it's such a big deal to them, perhaps bc dh has never been religious. I told my mother we were attending a new church and when she was visiting the girls sang their choir song for her, "Sing to the Lord". I could just read her mind as they were singing and the shock registered on her face. And I just let the information sink in for her while I went about my business. Dh's parents have no religion, so this has been more challenging for them. They came across my husband reading the bible recently and could not believe it. They had all kinds of questions for him, and later for me, and I do think that they think we went off the deep end. Dh's mother was quick to say all that she does not believe in and I know she will offer the children her version/beliefs as well. Here's another example of family learning about our change: I wrote out a psalm that we like and taped it in a prominent place in the kitchen so we all could be reminded of it. A family member came over yesterday and said, "Now your putting bible sayings on the wall?" My response, "Yes. We're teaching the kids the message." And that was it. I figure it will sink in slowly, or hit them like a ton of bricks. Either way, how they chose to deal with it is on them.

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#16 of 16 Old 05-06-2010, 02:42 PM
 
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What kind of Christian, theologically? "Progressive" Christians can still be UU, if it's a question of community. That's one reason I decided to be UU, so I can change my beliefs at any time without having to drop any friends.
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