An Atheist and a Born Again Christian share a cuppa
One of my closest friends is an atheist, and if you know much about me you will know that I am not. It might seem strange to some that an atheist and a ‘born-again’ Christian can be close friends but we have many common interests and she is the friend I’ve had the longest since arriving in Ireland.
We met at toddler group 14 years ago when our oldest kids were two years old, and we hit it off, mainly because we were both from out of town (and out of country even), share a similar sense of humour and both have a love for the creative arts and bearded husbands in the public health sector.
We’ve covered a lot of ground together in that time. We became breastfeeding counsellors and travelled to conferences around Ireland for many years, and we brought her and her family on their first trip to South Africa.
Anyway we met up one of the past mornings on my sofa, me with my coffee, her with her tea, and spent an hour chatting about the things closest to our hearts, as you do with your close friends. At the time those topics included the HPV vaccine, sex, suicide, bullying in school and as adults, our children and friendship. Quite a lot for one hour – we speak fast.
We have plenty in common to talk about but we’ve had many chats about the differences between us too. I have laid out the basics of the Gospel to her and tried to explain why I believe the way I do. I have asked her in the past whether she thinks I am deluded for basing my whole life on something that, according to her, doesn’t even exist! She may think I’m a bit crazy but she’s never says so. She just nods, smiles and calls me a ‘religious’ person.
Of course, I’d absolutely LOVE it if she saw past the ‘religious’ side and recognised the spiritual relationship that is real.
BUT, as she left that morning just passed, she asked me an odd question – for an atheist! She wanted to know why my recent blog posts didn’t mention my faith anymore. I was stumped a little, into temporary silence. She told me she knows it’s a central part of who I am and therefore it made sense that I wrote about it. I would have expected my fellow believing friends to have challenged me on this point before an atheist friend would!
For me it was a bit mindblowing, actually.
The thing is I have been wrestling with this myself for some time.
(and I was a little bit thrilled that she reads my blog).
No matter how much I tell myself it doesn’t matter what other people think, I do naturally always hope that people like me. As we all do!
Blogging can be a very public way to live a personal life – some blogs much more so than others. There’s always a piece of ourselves we are happy to show the world and many pieces we are not. As for things to hide, I have plenty, but then, once again, we all do.
There is always a balance between being honest and authentic vs putting it all out there and being indiscrete. I certainly don’t want to ruin any relationships with those I love by laying out their private lives for all to see.
However, I was reminded by our conversation not to be ashamed of my faith. It is not a part I wish to hide deliberately. I am not ashamed, ideed, it is not a shameful thing! Quite the opposite, it is a hopeful, hope-filled thing.
When I started my blog, it was filled with posts that centred mostly around that topic. This past year has seen it take on a new direction as I went self hosted. In this time I have been finding my feet and my voice as a blogger – It’s always a process that takes time and is filled with questioning, doubt and self criticism. I’ve come to realise that as we all change, so our blogs would naturally evolve to reflect that. I have been trying to figure out how commercialism blends with faith – they appear to be polar opposites!
I am still processing that and probably always will but my faith is not a separate boxable part of me but rather it is central to my whole life and is the framwork within which I place everything. I am inside the box, the box isn’t inside me!
Ultimately it doesn’t matter if you read my blog or if you don’t though. If you like it you will, if you don’t then I won’t take it personally – much.
It’s funny how God used an atheist to tell me that.
But then I believe God has a sense of humour, and not only that but that He is not limited to what I understand or know of Him, that he works all things according to His good purposes, that He calls us to love one another and that He is patient with me – oh ye of little faith.
And that He even uses seemingly insignificant little cups of tea and coffee to remind me of what the important things in life are.
For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile. Romans 1:16
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