Updated: Aug 5, 2020
That day in 2019, I sat in a room full of Christians. There is something comfortable about like-mindedness. It's like coming home after a long day at work. You don't have to worry as much about your opinion or lifestyle being scrutinized. Your feet are standing on the same ground as everyone else. You can relax and know the love in the room is from the same source.
But, there’s something about getting too comfortable, I often find. I don’t know why I never learn my lesson. Comfort never lasts very long for me. And it didn’t that particular day, either. Suddenly, the room was bubbling with laughter. Love crumbled beneath my feet, exposing a bed of weeds. We all have weeds---nobody is perfect---but in such a comfy group of like-minded people, I did not expect the new focus: Poking fun at non-believers. Perhaps, one would say, it was a counter-attack to all the cruelty thrown our way as citizens of Christendom. But still. It knocked me off kilter...because...
I was the woman in the audience madly in love with an atheist. The very arguments they made light of had nearly destroyed fourteen years of marriage. Many nights of anger and lashing out were fueled by those arguments. They had blinded me to the real hurt my husband was feeling. They had masked him as my enemy. And I am certain, only God's hand got us through it. My husband worked hard to meet me beyond his new stances, and somehow, he forgave me for the nights of my own mocking of his stances, my anger, my confusion.
Even though I had passed through the storm in my marriage with some kind of strength, I was not strong enough to be the offended one in the crowd. I left the room and sobbed my way to a quiet place.
Was I really surprised that my fellow believers found entertainment in poking fun at the vocal skeptics out there? Not really. I had experienced the opposite before—scrolling through my husband’s twitter feed those early days of his de-conversion. I saw the worst kind of cruelty and mocking of religion and the religious.
The crucifying of Jesus over and over with ugly memes and hateful words.
Perhaps, back then, I would have joined in the fun of that room. After all, my comfort at home had been MIA in that valley. This kind of mocking would have built up my validation in the fight with my man. It made his opinion little and mine superior. But I had some growing behind me, and on that day, I was not okay with the tables being turned. It seemed defensive, exclusive, unloving, unkind. Aren’t we Christians called to be different?
A fierce protection for the reputation of my husband flamed in my heart. I was desperate to share my story. Not because I was being sensitive, but because I had experienced the division stirred up by such poking. And that is no way to be toward someone we are called to love. It seemed a whole bunch of people didn't realize the harm of turning the tables.
After that day, I worked diligently and wrote a novel to show the journey of a woman in a similar marriage to mine. I learned a lot writing that story. In particular, the community of believers is a nice place to be, but the grit of Christianity is beyond that. It is the reckoning of ugly in my heart if I am to share the radical message of Christ. And it is radical. And it is for the atheist. But, I would be remiss to think that I don’t have anything to share with another believer, too. Especially one who has suffered the grief of a loved one turning away from faith. Those first years, I wrestled most. Not just because of my husband's de-conversion, but because God was doing a mighty work of radical acceptance in me. I learned that radical acceptance of our unbelieving spouses [ and friends, family] is possible--not in spite of faith but because of it. Faith gives us the opportunity to love even the least like-minded person. Love doesn't mock. It doesn't settle for comfy places. And love never turns the tables.
If any of this resonates with you, I’d like to invite you to continue to join me here at Love Unwavering. This is a place of heart work. It’s not a place of debate. It’s seeking the middle ground between a believer and their unbelieving loved one, where there is an exchange of love and acceptance. This is the fertile place. The place where hope grows. Where God might reveal Himself. I have seen this happen in the smallest ways and in the most astounding ways. The journey of unwavering love is difficult, self-examining, and hard work. But, it’s worth it. I am living it, and it’s true. Join me.