My Mother’s Revival During My Exit From Faith


The roller coaster of emotions regarding my faith has been an adventure, to say the least. My mother and I have had a few conversations, and have maintained a quiet peace over the past few weeks. I head back to Mississippi on August 1st, and I’ll be going to Jackson to see my parents a few days later.

Honestly, I’m anxious. If my mother and I sit down with a couple beers and talk, I don’t know how that will go. We joke that she’s a drunk preacher, her faith comes out in droves with a few beers in her. I grew used to having my faith interrogated around her. Now that she knows I don’t believe, I’m not sure how those conversations will go.

I know the Bible better than she does. I’ve read the Bible in its entirety probably a dozen times. I remember the little stories and the moral teachings of scripture. She knows this, but she may bring the Bible up anyway. She’s asked me to go to church with her when I come home—to which I have agreed—despite the fact that I always went to church more than her. Until I left the faith, I was a weekly attender while she went a few times a year.

My exit from the faith has become her little revival. She’s listening to more Christian music (which I sometimes get links to), she’s likely praying more. She seems to have a strong desire to get back into church. I’m happy for her, if not a little amused.

My mother was never a spiritual icon for me. She has great faith, but faith never truly impressed me. I preferred listening to those who studied scripture, pastors with degrees or amateurs who spent a significant time examining the Bible. As I got older and delved more into my former faith, I didn’t ask her questions because she didn’t have answers for me. Her go-to: “It’s just faith, Holly.”

To be frank, I know more about Christianity than my mother does. She’s gone to church most of her life (though in the last decade she hasn’t been too often), but she hasn’t delved into scripture, she hasn’t pursued big theological questions.

The closer I got to leaving Christianity, the more faith felt like a cop-out to me. There are many things I couldn’t understand about scripture, and I was often told to not over-analyze it, to trust that god was true and good. It’s hard to trust that when I could find so many examples where he didn’t appear good.

If we talk about faith and religion, I don’t know how open she’ll be to my perspective. I can hope that she’ll be kind and friendly about our differences, but that seems naïve.  With her revival, she’s taken a more hardline stance: “Christianity is the true. Period. End of sentence.” She’d be pleased to know that I’m looking into religion, but upset if she learned they’re primarily non-Christian.

As my internship with Patheos winds down, my mother has asked if Patheos will ever let me write. I have been on the site 4 times at this point, but she doesn’t know. I jokingly said, “If they picked me up as blogger, you wouldn’t like what I write.”

She sighed, “I guess that’s true.”

I guess it is, too, Mom. I guess it is.

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