God Killed My Mother-in-Law (Figuratively, but Still...)

My mother-in-law has, once again, hopped on the religious roller coaster and has been re-rebaptised. When my husband was very small, she and his father answered god's calling and flew to Haiti to serve as missionaries for several months. My husband can recall forgetting what his parents looked like. Fast forward a couple of years: he can then recall their drunken, happy faces, white lines on dinner plates, and home-made honey bear bongs. Fast forward a few years after THAT: she's armed with her bible and some of her pecking hen church ladies.. encouraging him to gather all his he-man and star wars figurines to help fuel a big ass church fire planned for the following week. Fast forward yet a few MORE years: she's crashing his big, beer fueled field party.. wearing leather chaps (and little else), dismounting a 57 panhead to fraternize (like a glorious slut) with all of his teenage friends.. and so on and so forth; you get the picture.

Eventually, symmetry was attained; whereupon joints were smoked over 'agree to disagree' debate on the existence of god vs. evidence of evolution. Church became optional most Sundays, but very much a mandate on others. In fact, the first Easter I shared as 'girlfriend", she approached me with a severe face and cooed, "Melissa, its the day Christ rose from the dead and you're GOING to fucking church with me or it's your ass". Aaaand, so it continued.. for the better of 15 years. Through her nasty divorce, her authentic affliction with a mental disorder, a largely ignored alcohol problem.. she remained in balance with her love of Jesus and her predilection towards living life as if her "I'm a christian" card could be tendered, without limitation, at the end of the day; ergo all would be forgiven.

I very much loved her this way, truth be told. She never crossed the line into hypocrisy. She knew she was a sinner so she cast no stones. She knew I didn't believe and that I never had; and she even accepted the real possibility that, in fact, I never WOULD believe. Still, debates were never heated beyond their natural ability to cool off with a razzing 'oh, Melissa, go to hell!' or some such light hearted (yet not entirely empty) finale.

She was, no doubt, deeply religious and loved her Jesus vehemently. But still, until recently, she respected my lack of faith with as much poise as she could muster. Suddenly, however, she's not as lackadaisical as she once was. I was accustomed to the occasional  "preachin'-to", but it was never malicious.. and (to be fair) she's been forced, for 4 years now, to walk a very treacherous and exhausting line between morose fear for her granddaughter's mortal soul and her determination to accept her daughter in law (and friend) as is, "flaws" included. As a mother, I cannot imagine how excruciatingly painful that must be for her. Long ago, before Veda was even a thought, she earned my respect; through her resolve to afford me the same.

But that respect is jeopardized now, despite my empathy and compassion. Even though I KNOW her love and concern for my daughter was a reckoning force in her re-gifting of her life to the lord, there remains a veritable miscellany of other factors, including a genuinely sycophantic preacher and his absurd "compound-like" church organization that sully my view of the whole racket. I find myself positively furious with her. Disappointed with her. Disgusted with her. Feeling betrayed by her.

I suppose I am in mourning. Having suffered such a profound loss; one that I share with my husband as well as two sisters-in-law (one of whom has always been a religious zealot and still rues her mom's proselytization). The beautiful, finely-tuned, wine-supping, pot smoking, easily approachable, nurturing, non-judgmental matriarch of our family is just.... gone. Quite literally, God killed her. 

I'm rambling.. so I'll attempt to reign the loose ends of my digression with  this dichotomy:: She once romanced us all with ideation that nothing short of a devine creator could be responsible for David Gilmour's glorious face (circa 1971). He certainly was delicious back then.. ;-)

In contrast, tonight, we suffered through an awkward meal together while our ears were savagely assaulted by her contemporary christian station on Pandora Radio.

She was the epitome of the good christian. (Yes, they exist.) The kind I could easily stomach. The kind I could effortlessly accept into my inner circle. The kind I could trust not to stimey my daughter's inquisitive mind. The kind I NEED to know exist in the world.. so that my own capacity for  "god-drivel" tolerance is possible. I live in the bible belt.. deeeeeep.. in the bible belt.. being able to stomach the holy rolling majority is necessary to the quality of my life here. But far more important, is my determintation to  raise my daughter with a sense of tolerance and understanding.

At present, no matter how diligent I am in keeping Veda on middle ground until she's old enough to question and find her way.. she will be affected by the way this has affected me and her father and her Gram. 

I sound melodramatic, I know.. I'm just sulking.. I suppose it was less daunting, if I'm  to be truly honest with myself, when I could rely on her to support my daughter's freedom to find her own faith.. or lack thereof. I took comfort in knowing that Veda would grow up SEEING that her Gram was among the religious folk who ARE kind and loving and accepting DESPITE their faith; even though (as she would come to understand on her own) they DO tend to believe that said kindness and love and acceptance is implicitly and exclusively BECAUSE of their faith. Now I fear she'll, instead, be subject to the same guilt-laden bullshit from her gram that I endured with my own grandmother.. and, whereas confident that Veda will choose rational thought over blind faith, I'm suddenly painfully aware that the arduous "meanwhile" will now prove FAR more treacherous (for all of us) than I had feared it would be.

Thanks, god, you're a fucking asshole. That is all.

-mel

 

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