Monday, October 19, 2009

It’s ok to disagree

My mother in law left today to go back home. I was very happy to see her of course, because of monetary considerations, and the cost of visiting my family all the way to East Canada, my husband tend to visit her without me and I tend to visit my family without him. My Mom visits us regularly but it was the first time my mother in law visited us.

I do care deeply for her, but I was also very nervous. You see, she is VERY Christian and I’m not. To her everything is about “the lord”, absolutely everything. For example if she is looking for her keys and finds them, the lord brought them to her. It is very important for her to follow the teaching of the bible, and she clearly expects her sons to share her faith.

During this trip she told me, several times, about one of her son’s ex (not my husband) who was a “Wicca” and about how she was so happy when the girl walked away to never come back. I had heard the story before, many times. At this point in my life I’m not really sure what I am. I lean strongly toward paganism. The philosophy suits me, the rituals not so much. I believe that all religions are different people’s representations of the same thing: The search of a connection to the driving force of life, of existence. I believe that all religions have the same value, that good is good, that bad is bad, and the difference shouldn’t be based on a book written hundreds of years ago.

So, religiously and politically I am miles away from her, so is my husband. He has never told her about his beliefs though (which are different than mine) and didn’t think it was worth telling her about mine. In his mind it would only hurt her and worry her, so it wasn’t worth it.

I agreed with him, but it did pose a problem: I am a horrible liar. Every time we visited with her I did my best not to get stuck alone with her. I knew that one day she would say something about “the lord” that would make me react before thinking. I did try to be discreet about it, but I have to admit I was avoiding her. Add to that the fact that I will not talk to her on the phone because I just can’t understand her and she can’t understand me…

When her husband passed away I realized that her faith was an anchor, a strength for her and for the first time I understood why sometimes it’s better to believe in something (no matter how wrong I think it is) than to stand alone. I got to know her a little more and to respect her a lot. She might seem frail, but she is stronger than she looks! We got closer every time we met.

So fast forward to this trip, she is coming here in our little apartment. There is nowhere for me to run to, nowhere to hide. I had made the decision before she got here that I would not hide. My “subversive books” about paganism, about, mythology and fairies and even a few erotic books are on the shelves for anybody to see. I didn’t go out of my way to point them out, but I refused to hide them. This is my place, my home, I will not hide here. If she saw them she never mentioned them, but I was very aware that most of them were right in the office where she kept her stuff.

The first part of the trip was very difficult for me. I had a job interview the day she came in and it didn’t go well, so I started stressed out right from the start. Everything we saw on TV seemed to put me on dangerous ground and I didn’t dare say anything about anything for fear of offending her. I took several deep breaths, and kept my mouth shut.

In the middle of her visit, my husband took her to visit a relative in Bakersfield leaving me at home. Finally alone, I slept in, did a few things, but mainly did a lot of thinking. I realized that I was the cause of my anxiety, not her. I was putting fences where there were none.

Earlier in the week we had seen something about homosexuals, I don’t remember what, but I remember her statement: “If one of my sons was gay, I would not stop loving him. I would be sad because the bible says it’s wrong, but I would not stop loving him.” At first that statement made me want to roll my eyes, but thinking about it, I realized that I had it all wrong. She wasn’t condemning homosexuals, on the contrary, she was saying that they were still worthy of love. I disagree with her religious beliefs, I disagree with the moral boundaries put forth by her religion, but I do love her, and I see that she is able to think beyond the book.

From then on, after they came back from Bakersfield, I dared give my opinion. The difference is that I worded it differently. On Dr Phil we saw a show about a woman who was trying to convert her Jewish husband to her Christian ways. Thinking it over, it wasn’t about the woman being a Christian; it was about her trying to force her husband to abandon his faith. That’s what I disagreed with, and that’s how I worded it. Wouldn’t you know it, she agreed!

We talked much more freely after that. The pressure was off, sometimes we agreed, sometimes we didn’t but I took the time to word my points carefully, and respected the fact that her beliefs were different than mine, and we had a great weekend together!

I still didn’t sit her down to tell her about my faith, but it’s no longer because I’m afraid of her reaction, but rather because it’s irrelevant. I love her for who she is, and I do think she loves me for who I am. She might find out one day, and when it happens we’ll deal with it, but until then, I’ll be happy to disagree peacefully! ;op

On her way home today her plane got delayed to the point where she got to Kansas City after the last shuttle for Columbia had left. Thankfully we learned about it early on and my husband spent hours on the phone trying to find a solution. Finally I found the phone number of one of her neighbor who offered to go get her all the way to Kansas City. When my husband told his mom about it she said: “I knew the lord would find a way”… my husband couldn’t keep from noting “Well, I did.”

Its ok baby, “I” know you did all the work, deep down so does she… :o)

Of course when she called just now to say she was home finally she had to add “I’m sure happy that the lord told you to call my friend”… We did laugh, but respectfully. *grin*

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