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08/27/2012 06:10 PM
It’s fall again, which means the grass is drinking up some much needed rain, and the “back to school” feel is in the air with new school year schedules in full swing again. For those who don’t know, we are a pretty big family with kids ranging in age from diapers to full time college students, and early learners to kids with disabilities. In an effort to keep the logistics of managing it all, I usually spend a decent amount of time searching for the perfect large family schedule this time of year. This, of course, is only found on Quiverful-style Christian blogs, which I try to get through without too many flashbacks…some years more successfully than others. Inevitably, whatever we decide on works well for several weeks, sometimes a few months, and it slowly peters out as we happily discover our own rhythm for each new school season, without the rigors of that pesky schedule chart bossing us around all of the time. But what does that have to do with RR? Stay tuned...
Occasionally (ok more like regularly) we encounter other families who seem to have it all figured out way before we do. It's so easy to feel like the grass is greener elsewhere when ours is looking shabby, isn't it? Inevitably this pesky thought leads me down the slippery slope of thinking that after doing this for so long I’d have it figured out by now too. I mean, they clearly have it all together, so what is my excuse for feeling the strain of managing it all, year after year? I soon find myself wondering if I should try their style on for size, and sometimes we do…for just a short time. Without question, we revert back to the method that works for us soon enough and without any real encouragement on anyone’s part. Sure, we learn from others and incorporate their neat tips and tricks into our routine when we’ve found we enjoy them, but there’s no question that the end result looks nothing like anything anyone else has done. When I’m juggling everything from roller derby to rugby and gymnastics to Lego robotics, plus homeschooling and RR, it is unavoidable that things get a little chaotic before we figure it all out. By the middle of the year however, we are settled in to a comfortable routine that seems natural. The thing is, regardless of how well it works (or doesn’t) for everyone else, what we end up with fits the personality of our family perfectly and that is all that matters.
How we come about settling into our new school year reminds me of the the process we see people go through in Recovering From Religion. With the recent wonderful attention from both the American Atheists and The New York Times articles, we’ve gotten more emails than usual of people telling us their story, which is always a combination of deeply encouraging and tremendously heartbreaking. By the way, if you’ve emailed us, bear with us this week and we’ll get back to each of you as soon as we can, if we haven’t already.
Each and every person emailing us is at their own place on their own journey in recovery, and many of you are asking us what to do and where to go from here. We are always happy to provide the ideas and suggestions, and our first recommendation is getting input from the rest of the “RR Family” by connecting you to a local RR group, interacting with us on Facebook and Twitter, and encouraging you to contribute on our sub-Reddit and the RR Forums. This is because the best way we have found to help you find where you’re going is to encourage you to connect, however possible, with people who remember being where you’ve been. We’ve all been there in one way or another, and most of us have experienced this transition in unique but still very similar ways. Still though, the details of day to day existing and finding your way outside of religious influences? That’s up to each of you to determine, and you have to find out what works for your individual circumstances; there’s no right or wrong schedule to follow or download.
The crucial part of the concept, however, is that as long as it DOES work for you, then there’s no problem. Presuming your safety and sanity are intact, you are in charge, and you get to proceed through this journey at your own pace and on your own terms…not ours at RR, or anyone else’s. Some people get through the “hard parts” in a matter of days or weeks, and others may take years and even return back to the pseudo-comfort of faith to assuage guilt and grief of considering leaving it behind before they take the plunge and embrace their true selves once and for all. Of course we want to encourage everyone to feel comfortable being who they really are with family and friends, but we all know that while it’s ALWAYS that simple, it’s NEVER that easy. There’s a saying that goes: “Those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.” While this is certainly sage advice, we have to build up our own confidence in ourselves to withstand those who DO mind as we decide who really does matter. There’s no question the entire process can be slow and excruciating, especially if what works for you is striving to maintain those lifelong relationships at the potential risk of prolonging your own discomfort.
Is it easier, for now, to have your head bowed at family prayer than to keep your head up and make that official statement? Go for it. Is declining weekly bible study or evening prayer a statement that will improve your confidence? We support you! Would it create more friction than you can emotionally handle you’re your current support system? Then it’s ok to assert yourself in a way that better suits you. What about going to church? Are you at a point yet that you can distance yourself from the codependency of religion? Are you able to remind your family they have just as much right to attend as you do to politely decline? Or are you better off, for now, making a more gradual stand by quietly letting go of volunteer opportunities during services, or no longer teaching Sunday classes? There are many degrees of separation from religion; what works for some will not work for others, and all of that is expected and accepted in the RR community.
No one, even those of us at RR, can predict or dictate how this process will look for you as an individual. What we can do is empower you to continue your journey and help remind you that you now have an entire world of caring and secular people encouraging you every step of the way. You know your situation best, and whether you’re just ripping off the Band-Aid and announcing yourself loudly, or quietly beginning to assert your independence through thoughtful, persistent, yet gentle comments and questions, YOU are the best judge of where to go from here, and we (the RR family) are simply your cheerleaders. The grass is NOT greener elsewhere, provided you take the time to water and care for yours. Every step towards reclaiming your own identity is a step in your recovery journey, and that is what we are here to encourage you to do. As Jerry says…”Be Brave, and Be Strong”!