Sunday, March 23, 2008

My Christian Ex-Friend

A couple of years ago, a young girl moved in across the street. Her husband worked away from home for long periods of time and wasn't very attentive when he was at home. She had been disowned by her family and was always very sick and nervous. She started to rely on me for support. I tried to help her as much as I could even though she was very needy. I drove her places, I gave her things, and I even visited her in the hospital although I have a phobia of needles and such.

She knew I was an atheist. She told me it was no problem and she'd always respect that. I knew she was an apathetic believer at best and I respected her as well.

Then one day she went to church with some people. As time passed, she began to rely more on them and less on me. I didn't mind - she was seriously draining me physically and emotionally - so I welcomed the help from any source. On the last day I saw her, this church had given her furniture and helped her move across town. I figured I'd never see her again and I was almost right.

I haven't heard from the girl for 2 years. Once she had someone else to rely on, I guess she didn't need me anymore. Frankly, I enjoyed the peace and quiet. I will help anyone in need that I can but I really have a problem with clingy people. So I wished her well and just put her out of my mind.

Until yesterday, that is. My husband and I were doing some work outside when we were approached by an older lady and a young girl pushing a baby stroller. The older lady introduced them and, sure enough, the girl was my old friend. She didn't acknowledge me, didn't say a word as the older lady gave us a handout and invited us to Easter services. My husband and I were polite but I was seething inside. Here was a girl who took everything I had to give and then just dropped me when she found new, more able friends. Here was someone who told me she respected me and here she was inviting me to church while pretending she didn't even know me. I was livid.

I looked straight at her and said hello, calling her by her name. She looked like I had slapped her but said hello back and asked how we were. I responded politely but my eyes were shooting daggers. She got the message and couldn't get away quickly enough. She knew exactly what I was thinking and she seemed to be ashamed. She should be. Hypocrite!

But the truth is, I'm a hypocrite too. I write all the time advocating a high level of morality among atheists and a gentle approach to most Christians among us. But inside me lurks that same animal as all others have - that primitive creature who understands fear and hatred and responds with what it knows. I resented the intrusion on my time by these peddlers of superstitious garbage. I was angry that this girl had the audacity to come up to me and invite me to her church knowing full well I was an atheist. And I despised her for being the conniving little leech she was. I could have shaken her until her teeth fell out. I hate being used. I hate being disrespected. I hate liars and frauds.

But I was polite. Maybe this makes me the biggest fraud of all.

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vjack said...

Wow! That is a really sad situation. I don't think you are a fraud at all. Being polite in this case seems to fit with who you are and is probably something you did more for yourself than for her. The sort of influence church ends up having over some people is startling, and it generally seems worse when they are fragile sorts.

John said...
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John said...

very touching story. since you are atheist, how come you are hoping on miracle that one day she will come back and say all the thanx for all the things you have done. in my opinion you are a true humanist, who has helped somebody who was in utter need. dont expect anything in back, as you wont get it!

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