Struggling with the collision of faith and family

This past Saturday, I took my parents out to dinner at TGIFriday’s. While there, our waitress asked me about my pendants. I normally wear two pendants:

  1. A silver pentagram which is a little bigger than a dime. It has a bear at the top point, walking on all fours.
  2. A brass spherical cage, which contains a piece of amber resin.

Both pendants are religious in nature and are deeply personal to me. I’ve had a handful of people ask about them, and I’m usually quite happy to answer their questions. In fact, the only two times I’m hesitant to say anything are as follows:

  1. When I’m at work (or a work-related function) and there are customers around
  2. When I’m with my parents, especially my mother

Sadly, this situation falls into that second category. And I could already see my mother’s expression when the waitress asked about it. The problem with being the sole witch in a family that consists mostly of evangelical (and even fundamentalist) Christians is that it can certainly strain family relationships a bit.

After a brief hesitation, I simply told the waitress that they are religious symbols of significance to me. I think she realized I was being somewhat avoidant (and I hated that I was being avoidant) and let the matter drop. Fortunately, the subject quickly changed.

Then again, maybe that’s not so fortunate. One of the messages that I keep getting over and over is that I need to be more open with my family. I need to let them into all aspects of my life. The problem is, that’s difficult when there are certain aspects of it that they don’t really care for. Certain subjects cause hackles to raise.

In fairness to my parents, it’s not just them, either. Any time the subject of my faith comes up around family, I get defensive. I automatically expect a problem. And that’s not fair. Not only that, I’m beginning to wonder if on some levels, my own family is unconscioually reacting to my own defensiveness. It wouldn’t surprise me.

But at the same time, I still haven’t found a good way to overcome my first reaction in such situations.

3 thoughts on “Struggling with the collision of faith and family”

  1. How much do they know, anyhow? Do they have any idea about your beliefs, or do they just think you’re “not a Christian”? Do they know and just not like to talk about it?

    I think it’s normal for you to feel defensive, because, unfortunately, the path you have chosen (or that has chosen you) is probably one of the most difficult to accept for Christians, due mainly to myth and misunderstanding. I would hope that one day you could be a tool by with those myths could be shattered and your family could be willing to accept the reality of your beliefs rather than the misconceptions they might have about them. It’s possible they think you are ashamed of your beliefs (or defensive or something), and therefore unwilling to talk about it…but I would venture a guess it’s more likely that they just don’t want to hear about it.

    I would say, bottom line, you have to go with your gut instinct in any given situation. It’s really all about timing. You don’t want to alienate your parents from your life, but I’m sure sometimes it has to be hard to not want to just be outspoken about it. That said, I know your Goddess is prodding you to be more open, and this is a good thing overall, because it’s a very important part of you that is valuable and deserving of respect, even if your family disagrees with it.

  2. When I went to tell my mother that I was leaving the Catholic Church, at age 17, I was very nervous. There were non-Catholics in the family, and people had stopped going, but no one ever SAID they were quitting.

    She took it better than I did. I was very fortunate in that she was supportive of my decision and knew I didn’t take it lightly. Also, I was staying within Christianity.

    I wish I knew what to tell you. You have to be honest with yourself and others, but of course you are also sensitive to the feelings of those you love.

  3. Erin:

    It’s hard to gauge what the know and what they don’t. It’s a topic we don’t generally talk about. However, the do know that several of my friends are Pagan. They also know that I hang out at a store that caters to the Pagan community, and even work there on occasion. So since my parents are rather bright, I wouldn’t be surprised if they’ve pieced a few things together here and there.

    Thanks for the words of encouragement.

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