I shared a story last week of a person currently working at a Christian university. He was religious when he was hired (and even signed a “faith statement”) but he has since realized he doesn’t believe in God.
He obviously can’t tell anyone at work about his atheism out of fear of losing his job.
He even worried about telling his wife (of twenty years) out of fear it could hurt/ruin/end their relationship.
She knows now, though.
Last night, he told her he was an atheist.
… I learned that she really has suspected that something like this was going on. She felt that I had been somehow “broken” a couple of years ago, but didn’t know what it was about or how to help. She admitted a degree of agnosticism herself, but that she fell on the side of belief in God, although she doesn’t believe in the exclusivity of the Christian faith. She admitted to having friends who professed no faith in god, but who were more “Christian” in their ethics and treatment of others than most Christians. This led to a discussion of atheism, religion, and morality.
In the end, there were no tears, and the whole conversation was encouraging for both of us. She accepts where I am in my life and agreed not to try and “save” me. I said I am happier than I have been in a long time.
So now I am thinking about all the anxiety I have been experiencing in being afraid to “come out” to her, and I regret I didn’t say something much earlier…
Thanks to everyone who encouraged me to make this big step. It was worth the risk, and I feel like a great weight has been lifted. Life is good.
Congratulations to our friend. He’s not going to tell everyone he’s an atheist — not yet. But this is a tremendous first step.
I think it also offers a lesson to anyone who is afraid of coming out to friends and family: Don’t keep it to yourself.
Tell a close friend — someone you trust — what you are thinking. Tell a friend you don’t believe your old religious dogma anymore. Tell a friend you’ve been questioning God. Tell a friend you don’t want to hide your atheism any longer.
A real friend will be there for you.