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I have to admit that I struggled a little bit with what image to put with today's post. Because I am touching on a "touchy" subject that I usually do not write about or discuss, I wanted to make sure that I didn't put a picture to my words that did not express how I actually feel. This picture pretty much sums up what I believe.
I am having a problem right now. My problem is with someone whom I like very much and think is a very sweet person. The problem is that she has overstepped her boundaries and I do not exactly know how to make her stop. I have asked her politely in the past and she just isn't getting it. Now, her overreaching has extended to my youngest child, who has autism, and I am not happy. I do not want to upset this person or make her angry or argue with her about what is right and what is wrong, but I cannot allow her to force her beliefs on my children.
Okay, here's what I'm dancing around. Religion. It's one of two topics I swore I would never touch on in my writing (the other is politics) because I don't have the answers, I don't know enough about it, and I don't know what I believe. I have a pretty good idea of where I stand on both subjects, but not enough information to effectively argue my position on either, so mostly I just respect what other people believe, hear them out, and go on my way, making my own decisions based on what feels right to me. Unfortunately, not everyone is willing to allow me to do that in peace and, when someone will not stop trying to bring me around to their way of thinking or insisting that what they believe is right and I need to believe it also, it starts to get under my skin. When it touches my children, especially my youngest child, I start to get mad.
I firmly believe that every parent has the right to educate their child in the area of religion. The schools do a fairly decent job of educating my kids in the things they will need to know to be employable. I feel that the moral compass of my children is something that Justin and I reserve the exclusive rights to.
I was thinking of posting exactly how the conversation on the phone went yesterday, but I'm going to just sum it up for you. Because I still, despite the attempts at religious conversion this person is pushing on me and my child, consider her a good friend. I know she believes that she has the answer to peace and happiness. She is one of the most content people I know. But I also am tired of her trying to convert me to her beliefs. And yesterday she really stepped over her bounds and told me that my son had told her that he was afraid at night and was scared of ghosts. She said something to the effect of, "I just wish he knew about God, because if he could just pray, God would be there for him and give him peace."
Wait a damned minute.
When I later asked Joey if he was having trouble with being afraid at night, he looked at me, kind of puzzled, and said, "No." I said, "well, Miss T. told me that you told her that you are scared at night."
Joey: "I never said that."
My son is the most honest kid on earth, mostly because he's autistic. I know that kids lie, but this is not something he would have any reason to lie about and generally, I know when he isn't being honest with me, so I believed him.
We then had a discussion that went something like this:
Me: Well, Joey, if you are ever scared at night, you know where I am and you can come get me any time.
Joey: Well, the only thing I'm really scared of is that a baselisk might come out of my closet.
Me: Why do you think a baselisk would come out of your closet?
Joey: I think I've been reading The Chamber of Secrets too much!"
Me: A baselisk couldn't come out of your closet because you don't speak parseltongue. A baselisk only comes when it's called in parseltongue and none of us speaks parseltongue, so we couldn't call it. Also, it wouldn't fit inside your closet. In fact, it couldn't even fit inside of our house.
Joey: Mom. Baselisks aren't real.
I guess I can be grateful to this person for sparking this imaginative conversation, one of those that I have with Joey every so often that makes me think I should be writing a book about him. For awhile, I was writing these conversations down with the idea of a book and that still is something that might be a workable idea. These conversations are not only priceless to me. I believe they should be shared with the whole world because my son is so awesome. Who wouldn't want to hear that conversation?
But, back to my original point. First, I believe this woman fibbed (I won't say lied) to me because she was trying in a nice way to guilt me into teaching my son what she believes to be the truth about religion. To be honest, I was kind of horrified when I realized that she used my doubts about my parenting abilities as a way to try to convert me and my son to her brand of Christianity. Second, I worry about what exactly is going on over there when Joey goes over to play with her children.
In the past, she has asked if she can pray for me when I am going through a tough time or pray for members of my family and I have always graciously accepted the offer. I have even let her pray with me, even though it made me uncomfortable. But, where I get upset is when she starts to say things like "If you would only Seek and read the Word, God is there for you. God can lift you up and give you peace when these bad things happen." Or something along those lines, for, like, two hours on the phone. With me saying, "uh huh, uh huh" and mouthing to Justin to "Help me!"
She keeps professing sorrow that Justin and I do not have an organized religion, that we do not teach our children about God, that we are not true Christians, that we do not pray. Who says I don't pray and why am I not a true Christian? How does she know what goes on inside of my head or whether I am asking God for strength or thanking him for the things I have to be grateful for? And how does she know what I am teaching my children? I think it's a little presumptuous of anyone to butt into something so incredibly personal as what I teach my children about religion. And frankly, I am growing tired of the conversations where she tries to bring me around to her way of thinking.
I know that she honestly believes that she is trying to help. I know that she thinks it would help us if we would only believe what she believes, read the bible every day (or other religious books), pray daily with our children, go to Christian counseling about the bad things that are happening in our lives, and go to church every Sunday. The problem is that we don't believe that and we would like to raise our children to make their own choices when it comes to religion without outside intervention or "help."
As far as religion goes, I do not know what my beliefs are. Do I believe in the afterlife? I don't know, but I have been to Gettysburg and had some weird things happen, so I don't rule it out. I don't think life stops when we die, but I don't think we're going to all go sit on clouds with God and play harps. Frankly, I would find that boring. The "kingdom of heaven" doesn't sound like a whole lot of fun. After I die, heaven would be to find myself on a beautiful beach somewhere, pain free, seeing my loved ones and pets who have passed before me, being able to swing in a hammock, walk on the sand, wade in the ocean (no crabs of course), soft breezes blowing, napping whenever I pleased, and feeling pleasantly peaceful. And I like to believe that everyone gets the heaven of their choosing, where they are not old, sick, confused, in pain, disease riddled, and are happy. Does God figure into this? I have no idea. If God is the benevolent entity that he is supposed to be, won't he grant us our vision of heaven when we die? If there really is a God, which I am not sure that there is.
What it boils down to is this. I value this person's friendship a great deal. I appreciate the fact that her beliefs give her peace and contentment. But they are her beliefs. We have lived here six years and for six years, she has tried to convert me to what she believes. I have told her very nicely on several occasions that I simply do not believe what she believes and I would prefer not to discuss it. And she keeps bringing the conversation back to it. Frankly, she is getting to be insistent about it, as if my not believing is something she simply can't live with. While I understand that this is her life's purpose, I do not want to come along for the ride with her. And I certainly do not want her teaching my kids her view of what religion is because what my kids believe should be up to myself, my husband, and my kids. Justin and I will teach them what we believe they need to know and give them the option of choosing a religion that they are comfortable with and that makes them happy.
We are giving our children the ability to look at every religion and decide what appeals to them and what most fits with their personalities and beliefs. We are not pushing them to believe something simply because we believe it. And we appreciate it when others do the same.