Shedding Beliefs (and People)

Here’s a thing I wrote but never sent to a friend several months ago.

It’s possible we’re not really friends anymore, but I’m honestly moving past posting definitive labels on what we are. It’s complicated—very, very complicated. I think it was always going to be that way. Just look at who we are. I know you’ve reflected on it, the nature of who we are individually and together. I’ve wondered since I stopped believing in God why it really is that we can’t talk to each other anymore. I know it’s not because you don’t care about me. It’s a matter of self-preservation, I suspect. Do you know that what I’m thinking is threatening? Are you concerned about what that could mean for you? It is possible to leave the embrace of God. I promise you it is. I know you don’t want that. To tell you the truth, I didn’t want it either. Sometimes I still want it all back. I think of how much more symbiotic our relationship could have been if I could have just been awed instead of confused by God. What would my awe have looked like? Would it have made us closer friends?

I wonder if you suspect how conflicted faith looks on someone like you from my eyes now. I think you want to believe that I’m okay without God, and, even scarier for you, I think you do believe this. You know I don’t need God. You must know. You saw the turmoil, only you saw that. It was such a terrible, vulnerable time that only you can fully understand. I feel as though I threw you away with it, as we are no longer in contact. The more I shed my faith, the more I seem to be shedding you. I hate how the two got so twisted together. If I’d known that was what was happening all along, I’d have thrown my faith away long ago to hold onto you. You were always so much better to me than the invisible God. I remember the night you told me to stop emulating your faith so much and learn how to emulate God. You said it like it was so easy. Why couldn’t I just get it? Why couldn’t I get beyond the comforting tangibility of your body?

Scarier still is that living by faith, exemplifying Christ–it was all a failure for you in our friendship. Seeing you try to live like Christ only made me feel conflicted in myself. I felt distanced from you as you had your increasingly intimate times with God. I felt distanced from God, watching you with him. I just wanted to feel as though God loved me as much as he seemed to love you.

I know that’s hard for you to swallow. Everything you ever believed about being a witness for Christ, showcasing Christ’s love, has been brought into question by the person you ended up becoming closest to. In an odd, indirect way, I completely betrayed everything important to you. I ripped this sense of purpose away. I destroyed everything you could have ever hoped our friendship would be. I don’t know how you cope with it now. I imagine you pray a lot, write a lot. You probably seek redemption a lot. I wish you’d see how strong you really are. I wish you understood that you’re doing all of this by yourself. You’re picking yourself up by your bootstraps, which no one else can do for you. I just wish you didn’t call that beautiful part of your willpower “God”. It’s so much more than “God”.