A (new to me--now my friend but formerly just Megs' friend) friend came over recently and spent the day--she's from out of state. In the course of our conversation, the subject of prayer came up, and I matter of factly told her I don't pray any more (all hail, by the way, Lucius Shepard's brilliant Handbook of American Prayer, which I massively recommend). She responded to this initially with gentle disbelief--the assumption that I must be joking. However I gently persisted, and when she realized I was serious she seemed a bit shocked, and said she wanted to hear more. So I shared with her a bit about my deconversion experience. She was genuinely and warmly listening, which is a really lovely experience, but then in the middle of my story she suddenly had tears streaming down her cheeks. I found this really surprising and interesting, and suddenly wanted to hear some of her story rather than telling her any more of mine. Alas, she was somewhat reticent to answer my questions, and despite gentle persistence I ended up getting only the very vaguest (I love that--"vaguest") of answers from her about why she was weeping. Maybe next time she visits I'll learn more. I hope so! =).
It felt astonishingly strange to me to have someone weep over my experience when my own feelings about that experience of are ones of delight, gratitude, and wonder. This strangeness feels very delicious--I want more of it. This is also a bit fascinating as my previous feelings about that same experience were also ones of pain and sorrow--ah the delight of switching over to happy-making make believes!
I see from the experience that I've changed a lot over the past couple of years--because it reminded me of a similar experience I had a little over 2 years ago. My mother had recently died, and my story about it at that time was one that had me feeling a lot of painful emotions--I suppose you might describe my experience at the time as being a bit raw. During that time, another friend/acquaintance (someone I used to know but hand't been in touch with for years--really more a friend of my parents) had a vaguely similar reaction. My amazing sister had expressed (on facebook) that she was no longer a Christian. This former friend responded by saying that my mother must be weeping in heaven (shitty version of heaven, right?) to know that both of her children were no longer Christians. At that time, my response was one of almost overwhelming anger. In fact, my written response to her on facebook was pretty much the unkindest thing I've ever said to anyone, from my point of view. I say from my point of view because of course unkindness is a totally different experience for the giver and the receiver of said unkindess, based on their own make believes. But from my point of view, what I said to this friend was me bringing my perhaps not-inconsiderable mental and emotional resources to bear, along with my knowledge of this person's make believe, to say the very meanest most unkind and outrageous thing I could possibly think of to say--I wanted to hurt her, because I was blaming her for the way in which I had hurt myself in response to her words. I'm pretty sure it worked really well too, as I heard reports that she spent the entire day weeping.
Under my previous make-believe, I would end this story by judging what I did as "bad" and saying I was sorry to have done it. But now it's simply really fascinating to me.
Have you ever been surprised by someone weeping over you? Tell me a story!