Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Uh oh, they found me

This post will probably depress a few people - more than usual. I got a birthday card in the mail today from a church I haven't attended since college. A Mickey Mouse birthday card (what am I, 10?) tactfully addressed to "Ms (my name here)" and sent without a return address so it couldn't be returned to the sender. Those bitches.

I've been keeping a low profile since college but I'm still contacted now and then by the zealots. The first time was six years ago when my parents called church headquarters to have my records transferred. My boss's husband was in charge of fellowshipping and he immediately confronted me about why I wasn't coming to church. The next two months were really awkward. They kept inviting me home for dinner with their family. They stopped after I refused to say a prayer over the food. A few weeks later I was fired.

I found another job and moved to a secure apartment building. Soon after I got a phone call from a pair of missionaries who wanted me to buzz them into the building. I declined and called my parents. They had transferred my records again. I told them if it ever happened again I would have my records removed. They got the message.

The next 3-4 years were quiet. Then I replied to an email from the alumni association at (religious affiliate university). I gave them my current address. I have former roommates and acquaintances that I wouldn't mind getting back in touch with. That was a mistake. Since October I've been visited three times by missionaries. The first time I answered the door and politely told them not to bother me and repeated my threat to remove my church records if they kept it up. The 2nd and 3rd time I turned on the porch light, saw who they were, and turned it off again without answering.

Now I get a birthday card. It's an irritating reminder that they're still out there. Lurking. Waiting for me to return to their righteous fold - where I will be ignored and judged and made to feel inferior because I am different. So I'm wondering if it's time to follow through on my threat. Do I feel strongly enough about this to leave the church completely?

My biggest fear is that I'll lose my family. I think they're all holding out hope that I'll come back to church. Something this drastic might make them worry about my bad influence rubbing off on them. They'll see me differently even though nothing about me will have changed. I have cousins that I barely know and I want to know better. That can never happen if I leave the church. Of course, it's not likely to happen anyway while they're in (religion central) and I'm in Kansas, but there's still a chance.

I have to think about this a lot more.