Christian by default?

We have a new temp secretary where I work.  I’ve only known her for a few weeks now… and worked with her as her supervisor.  She’s nice enough… and trying to do a good job.  Like so many others where I work, she made it obvious she was a deeply religious Christian.  Which is fine with me… Whatever floats your boat… as long as you don’t try sinking mine if it is different than yours, I don’t care.

When we went to lunch, she made a big point of bowing her head and saying a prayer before eating.  I patiently waited with my eyes open… but, did not participate.  A few times, she started talking about spirits and demons… and faith and God.  I politely listened, and then politely kept changing the subject.  I saw no reason to delve into my complicated background and (probably offensive to her) beliefs. 

She was a little over the top for me…  talking about angels and spirits and demons… and visits from past relatives.. and no coincidences.  I listened… but, told her I was a rather skeptical on such things but that I was glad she found peace in this.  Then, I tried to not go there again… and stick to work with her.  Still, I liked her well enough, and we could joke around a bit and work well together for the most part.

Then, one afternoon she flat out asked me out of the blue , “do you go to church on Sundays?”… I truthfully and without any excuses or guilt said, “nope”.  Silence on her end and a questioning look seemed to beckon a further explanation from me.  I sort of thought I shouldn’t have to explain… but, found myself saying nonchalantly anyway, “I use to go. I grew up going 3-5 times a week.  But, I had enough and some bad experiences with it.  So, I no longer go”.  And, I left it at that.  I went back to work on my PC… and ignored her disapproving, questioning look.  She muttered something like, “seems like that happens.  I never went to church until I was went on my own when I was in my 20’s and was saved”.  I just said, “mmHmmm”, and didn’t really respond.  I really was busy anyway…

She’s been there for about 4 weeks now…  and, we seem to be getting along just fine.  This past week I helped her make the transition into a different temp postion down the hall while her permanent replacement moved in with me.  I liked her… but, I like my friend that is taking the job perm with me better.

Anyway, today, she was telling me some of the struggles of her new position… and she was very nice saying that she would rather be working with me… and that she really enjoyed working with me… and that I am a “good spirit”.  OOooooo Kay.  I’ll take that.  So, I said, Thanks.  She went on to say that she likes most everyone in our program/area…  and that she’s happy to be working around so many Christians like me.

HUH?

Wait.  Now…  in my head… the brakes were going on…  I thought back… now, WHEN did I ever give her the impression that i am a Christian?  Because I was polite?  Because I was nice?  Because I listened to her?  I debated on if I should correct her, or let her believe that I was a Christian.  But, before I could say anything duty called and we were back to work.

So, now I wonder…  do I let her believe what she wants to believe?? Or, do I politely somehow correct her and let her know I’m not really a “believer”?

My gut tells me I should fess up… but, my brain wonders why I should have to fess up to not being something that I NEVER said I WAS????
And why the hell is this even all coming up where I work?  I mean really?  WTF?

I guess, I’ll have to politely tell her the next time she implies I am “with her”… that I am not really “with her”.  It’s sad really, because I bet her whole opinion of me, and maybe even where we work will change if I do.  Sort of ridiculous.  Plus, I hate to get my “good spirit” comment revoked and get myself on yet another prayer list….  😉

*sigh*
~smj

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13 Responses to “Christian by default?”

  1. paisley Says:

    you are a more patient soul than i… i would have had to let her know that discussing religion with me was a sure fire way to create animosity,, and if we were to get off on the right foot she would have to respect my boundries and discuss her religious beliefs outside of my earshot…

    i know,, it sounds harsh,, but you would never have been in this predicament had you built that wall early on…

    christians honestly believe it is their purpose on this earth to bring you to the lord,, and if you do not make it clear in no uncertain terms that you are not interested,, they will continue to try to do what they feel they were put here to do…

  2. samanthamj Says:

    Hey Paisley…

    Well – I didn’t want to start any hard feelings right off the bat – and really don’t feel I should have to get into it at all at work, ya know? I also understant that sometimes you do – and when I am ready I have no problem setting up those boundaries.

    What I am really just astonished by is how so many Christians automatically assume that if you are a “good person”, you must share their belief in God.

    The funny part is that once I tell her I’m “agnostic”, and don’t really believe… she will either completely change her opinion of me, or she will chose to believe that I really DO believe in God but am just “confused”. Or both. And then, that’s when the real hard talks start coming into play and feelings escalate.

    Not that I really care what she thinks. And, actually, now that she has moved down the hall, I do not expect to have too many more interactions with her.

    However, she’s not alone and this is a reoccurring issue. I am the minority. Most of my family, friends, AND co-workers are Christians… I get emails with religious messages at work and home frequently. Usually, well-meaning ones where they don’t mean any harm – and actually think they are being really nice. I just hit delete. It’s usually not worth it to me to make a fuss over things unless they are trying to be nasty or I really feel as if I’m being judged or preached at. But, it does bother me how one-sided that is. I’m sure if *I* sent an email around talking about how great evolution is – it wouldn’t be accepted with the same consideration.

    Eventually, anyone who even somewhat really knows me will learn I am not religious… or a Christian… and, that my own father, whom I loved dearly was an atheist. For many people, this comes to them as a shock. I think they’d like me to be able to tell them that my father, an atheist, was a terrible man… but, when they learn how close we were and how much I admired and loved him – they are surprised. It’s like they are torn, because here they thought I was a “good person”, but now – they question that. Maybe they even question a few of their own beliefs. Which, I think is a good thing, but usually is a bad feeling for them. So, of course, I know they will feel they need to try to “save” me, and I’ll wind up on their prayer list… *sigh*

    In the end, it winds up being an awkward situation… with general misunderstandings… and, while we can remain friends – it’s often not the same. Still, I hope it at least makes them think… that not everyone has to share their beliefs to be a “good” person.

    ~smj

  3. arlywn Says:

    SMJ, you are a good person. And you’re right- being a good person doesnt automatically make you christian and vice versa. Congratulations on how oyu handled your coworker. Personally I dont see the harm in letting her believe that you are christian as long as she doesnt continue to pester you about church. Both of you win that way, and I dont see it as being dishonest, unless it makes you feel bad.

  4. mary a. kaufman Says:

    SMJ: Right now I feel like a fool. I have, for no credible reason, always thought your blog was another Paisley blog. Will you forgive an old woman who, at this moment, doesn’t feel as “hep” as she thought she was. You have an absolutly great blog. Mary from Meander With Me

  5. tobeme Says:

    Interesting, people tend to hear and see what they want to see as in this persons case. If she says it again, you could say something, however I wouldn’t go out of my way to correct her. She has made some type of assumption, most likely based on the fact that you grew up going to church. I don’t care for labels of any kind and I do understand how this could bug you, however consider the source and next time it comes up you can politely set her straight.

  6. OneSmallStep Says:

    What gets me about this entire post is
    the huge contrast between the two of you. You
    didn’t push your views on her, or discuss
    something that might be uncomfortable for her
    although, granted, I would have done the same thi
    thing in the latter situation, just due to
    self-preservation. 🙂

    Yet you also saw her as a whole person. You
    didn’t define her as a Christian, but you
    examined her qualities. She doesn’t sound like
    she’ll do the same — you’re judged based on
    a belief system.

    That’s what confuses me the most: she follows
    a belief that claims access to the Truth, and
    the 100% accurate view of how reality functions.
    And yet, she doesn’t really see you, but
    rather who she thinks is you.

  7. samanthamj Says:

    arlywn –
    Thanks for kind words on this. Yes – I don’t think I was dishonset at all – as it was her “assumption”, and not any proclamation on my part…

    Mary-
    I wondered why you called my Pasiley once – but just thought it was a typo. Blogging can be confusing… especially when SOME people (*cough cough*) have more than on blog… but, I do, at least go by Samantha or SMJ on all my blogs here. Also, I like Paisley – so, I am not offended at all. Nothing to forgive. =)

    tobeme-
    Thanks… yes, I mentioned I grew up going to church when she asked me… but, I also told her I stopped going some time ago. But you are right… people hear what they want to hear… and I don’t think there was any real harm done.

    onesmallstep-
    Exactly! Once again, you have hit the nail on the head. That is how I feel. It’s not right.

    ==

    For an update on this situation – I didn’t have much interaction with this co-worker after she moved down the hall – until we all had lunch one day. Somehow, I wound up in a conversation with just her – after everyone else left.

    She wound up POORing her heart out to me about some really serious shit. Her daughter, married with 3 kids, is in very abusive (physically and emotionally) relationship. She (my co-worker) keeps trying to help, but hasn’t been successful. I listened in horror to things that have been happening – including physical violence where her daughter was hospitalized… I get the impression, she herself has gone thru similiar relationships…

    All I could think of was that if it was my daughter – her husband would be dead by now – or at least beat to a pulp by the rest of my family. (Big brohters come in handy sometimes). But, it’s probably easy for me to think that since I’ve never been in a situation first hand like that… and I’m not naive enough to claim I have all the answers.. or any good answers…

    All I could do was listen… and ask questions.. “did you call the police?”, “what did they say?”, etc… Eventually, I told her that I knew through work a person, A licensed therapist/Dr., who specialized in domestic violence/family therapy – and she should talk to her… get info for her daughter… try to get her daughter to talk to her, but if not that she (my co-worker) should at least contact her for some professional advice – it was worth a shot. I didn’t know what else to tell her…

    But, it certainly didn’t seem like a good time to get into any religious debates… If anything, to me, it was another example of someone who becomes very religious in order to deal with extreme hardships, etc… and, explains WHY someone would be so religious…

    ~smj

  8. Rebecca Says:

    You know I was just speaking to my best friend today about an uncomfortable situation I was placed in on Friday afternoon where a male colleague of mine completely randomly asked me how the hell I couldn’t believe in God. I don’t remember ever raising the topic of religion around him let alone at uni, and out of curiousity I asked if his family was religious. He was highly defensive on this mark and I realised that I too was and still am defensive about this point.

    Because if I actually open up to someone about my past experiences and they ask if I grew up in a religious family all of my religious choices are suddenly not my own, I was pushed into etc. Which the religious types eat up and use against me to suggest that I never had a ‘real relationship with God’ because I was forced into it. I wonder what age you have to be at to actually be a full believer, because a ten year old in church with his family is praised for his faith, but if he leaves it was all false… Yeah. Right. How convenient.

    And spirits and demons? Jesus helping them in their lives? Making them better people? Showing their non-christian ‘friends’ into the light? GAH! Makes me want to scream!! My mother is always trying to convince me God has changed her life. And she freaks out about demons and evil spirits if I bring something home that could invite them into the house. Like a horror movie. Or a creepy looking doll. Or a unicorn.

    It’d be a bit hard to tell this chika that you’re not a Christian now that the moment has passed… but in order to avoid the chummyness of the brother/sisterhood I’d tell her. Then again I’d hold out as long as I could to avoid bible bashing.

  9. A Christian Says:

    I am a Christian. And I want to offer you an apology on behalf of myself and others who have demonstrated some rather … well … bizarre behavior.

    There are many self-labeled “Christians” out there, who’s behavior is not only offensive, but downright embarrassing.

    I do believe there are some good hearted people who genuinely care about you and feel they are doing “the right thing” by sharing their beliefs .. maybe they just don’t always know how best to show it. Just like you teach your children not to touch a hot stove, a Christian will not want you to choose a path that they believe in their hearts will eventually harm you. Their words and actions can be motivated by love, but sometimes they are motivated by other things.

    We are after all, just ordinary people. Some of us just have “issues”. Others however, simply are puffed up by their own pride and self-importance, and can’t wait to tell you just how much more they know than you do. Not to mention the bizarre behavior I mentioned before. And “Religion” is the perfect forum in which to do that.

    “Religion” has done more to damage the cause of Christ than I would care to admit – and again, I consider myself a Christian.

    I admire you for being able to state your feelings so honestly. It makes me take a good look at myself and how I represent God and His Son to the world. And, if I admit, I think I’ve been one of those obnoxious people a time or two in my life. Again, I am just an ordinary human being prone to messing things up once in a while. I think we all are.

    It makes me sad that all these people and experiences have created such a misrepresentation of who God is for you. It is completely understandable, but forgive me if it tugs on my heart a little bit.

    Thank you for taking the time to read my reply.

  10. samanthamj Says:

    A Christian,

    Thanks for the nice comments and kind words and the thoughtful way you put them. Much appreciated.

    First of all, I no longer hold any hostility towards my mother or “the church”. I think I am FINALLY over that. I know they always meant well and thought they were doing the right thing – and as you pointed out – we are all only human. I can accept that and understand that – just as I know I certainly made/make my own mistakes. Lastly, I know that my Christian friends are good people – and that they care about me – just as I do them.

    Now, I hope this doesn’t come out the wrong way – but, let me just try to explain something…

    You said,

    “It makes me sad that all these people and experiences have created such a misrepresentation of who God is for you. It is completely understandable, but forgive me if it tugs on my heart a little bit.”

    You also said in your other post,

    “My wish for you is to someday know, really know, how much God loves you. You are very special to him, questions, doubts and all.”

    Now, I know you meant well, and were trying to be kind with these comments… and I can take them as such. However, I have to tell you, there’s always a tinge of annoyance and sadness when I hear things like that too – especially when it comes from a friend or someone I know.

    It’s like you feel sorry for me… and like, you think that you know something I don’t know. Like you “get it” and I just (sadly) don’t. And that, ultimatetly, (if I don’t “get it”) that you are afraid for me.. which implies I’ve done, or am doing something so wrong, and will be punished for it.

    Bottom line, that is how you feel, right? Since you truly believe what you believe – of course this is how you will feel.

    You see, I’m sorry – but, I think, I DO get it. I don’t think I have a lot of misconceptions, anymore than you think you do. You used the analagy of a child touching a stove and trying to stop them. The problem is, I am not a child. That is a bit condescending, don’t you think?

    I mean, you see how that would be a bit annoying, right? It would be like me saying to you,

    “I’m sorry that you believe that you need to be a Christian in order to feel good about yourself or to have a good life. My wish for you is that someday you know the truth and that you will find the peace of knowing that you have the freedom to live this life without fear of hell or sadness over so many things that don’t really matter.”

    I would never and have never actually said that to anyone, by the way. I’m just making my point.
    …..Although, MANY people have made the comments that you made to me… and, I am suppose to say, “thank you” and walk away feeling good because I know they had good intentions, right?

    See, I can believe that you are “okay” as is…. But, you, can not give me the same benefit of the doubt.

    I have a post I made about this from a while back: https://savemenot.wordpress.com/2007/04/14/whos-to-say/ ,
    and this one sort of touches on the same issue at: https://savemenot.wordpress.com/2007/09/30/greatest-love-story-of-all-time/

    I hope this didn’t offend… as that was not my intention. And, I do appreciate your intentions and wish you and yours well.

    ~smj

  11. Anonymous Says:

    SMJ,

    No offense taken. And, please forgive me, I truly am sorry for adding in my 2 cents at the end there. Honestly my original intention was only to offer an apology on behalf of Christians who exhibit poor attitudes and behavior, not only to you, but to others who feel the same way you do. It really does make me feel bad. I guess I got carried away in my post and took it a little too far. Your point is well taken, thank you for sharing your thoughts. You write very well, by the way.

    I did read the two links, and while I could put my 2 cents in again and “answer” your questions, I will not out of respect for your position. I hear and understand that you are not looking for more “advice”, but are simply (and couragously) stating your feelings and beliefs. I understand this is very hard to do, especially when faced with opposing views. I also go through similar struggles, only from the other side of the camp. I guess we aren’t so different after all.

    I thank you again for your honesty. You truly did help me see that maybe sometimes “good intentions” on the part of one person can be quite hurtful to the one on the receiving end. You certainly don’t deserve that.

    Best wishes to you as you continue your blog. Isn’t technology wonderful? Enjoy and happy posting.

  12. samanthamj Says:

    A Christian – Thanks for taking that with a grian of salt and trying to see my side. I know we will probably never really understand where the other ones is coming from – but, I seriously do appreciate your response, as well as your good intentions. It does mean something to me.

    As you said – “I guess we aren’t so different after all.”

    Exactly.

    Hope you had a great Christmas and that 2009 is good to you.

    ~smj

  13. but, mostly “there”… « Mom’s a religious nut & Dad was an atheist Says:

    […] I mentioned in one of my last comments: ” I no longer hold any hostility towards my mother or “the church”. I think I am FINALLY […]


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