Have you been in an uncomfortable situation because of your religion or someone else’s religion? Since many people are passionate about their religion (or lack thereof), it can be hard to connect with someone who doesn’t hold the same beliefs.
While it may be difficult at times, listening to, talking with, and dare I say being friends with people who have different opinions is essential to living a full life. I could elaborate, but that’s another post entirely.
Bottom line is, I appreciate being stretched by differing opinions and enjoy rational discussions with people who believe different things than me.
But apparently I didn’t always feel this way.
I moved to a new school in 8th grade and was feeling extra self-conscious about towering head and shoulders above most of my classmates (even the boys), my budding acne, and just my general social awkwardness.
Luckily, I found a glowing beacon of hope through the haze of my low self-esteem. A lighthouse on a hill calling the wayward ships (me) home.
Her name was Hannah.
She was also new to the school so we were both 100% comfortable with the stage-five clinginess that laid the foundation of our friendship. One of us would always wait for the other in the lobby before school, we’d walk to classes together, each lunch together, and always reply to the notes we wrote back and forth.
For most of the year, we were inseparable. But for some reason, Hannah and I started to drift apart. So much so that by the time we started high school, it was like we were strangers.
I ended up moving schools again and haven’t seen her since. Even so, I still wondered why she stopped hanging out with me all of a sudden. It wasn’t until half a decade later I realized what actually happened.
I was cleaning out my old room and found the old notes Hannah and I passed back and forth during class. I opened them up thinking it would be a fun opportunity to giggle at my 8th grade girl immaturity.
I was absolutely ashamed of what I read.
In a half page note, I basically told her in no uncertain terms that I couldn’t be her friend anymore unless she was willing to a) come to church with me and b) eventually convert to Christianity.
As you might expect, she was confused and hurt. But even amidst the confusion, Hannah’s responses were incredibly cordial given the circumstances.
I wish I could say the same about my responses.
They were cold and uncaring. I think I may have even hinted I couldn’t be friends with someone who is going to hell. I mean, that’s like some Westboro Baptist type shit.
My memory of the details surrounding this note are fuzzy at best. I don’t even recall being very religious at that time in my life.
While I’m sure Hannah was hurt at the time, most of the memories I have of her thereafter are of her smiling and laughing with her new friends. She sure looked a lot happier than I turned out to be.
But hey, at least I was going to heaven, right?
I was a total weirdo to Hannah. And not in a good way.
Even though it probably didn’t affect her much after we went our separate ways, it is a moment I never want to repeat. As such, I’ll keep note of the two lessons I’ve learned from re-reading that note:
1) Don’t do that.
Religious ultimatums rarely ever go well. I didn’t successfully “convert” someone or help anyone get to heaven if that’s what I was going for. Whatever my goal was, I definitely didn’t fulfill it.
Unless my goal was to be an asshole and lose out on a good friendship. Because then I totally nailed it.
2) Weirdos be weirdos.
I shouldn’t take it personally when other weirdos do that to me. Like all of us, they know not what they do.
Even though I’ve learned these lessons, I’m still a weirdo in other ways. If I get offended by someone weirder than me in one area of life, I can just chalk it up to them being weird in that area of life and move on.
Do you have any stories when either you were a religious weirdo, or other people were religious weirdos to you?
Post in the comments below!