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Dear Christians...

By Tania ~

Dear Christians in my life,

For the first couple decades of my life, it was a given that if someone was, like you, a Christian, it meant that that person was somehow “nicer,” more generous, more thoughtful, more merciful – in other words, a closer resemblance to the Jesus he or she believed in – than anyone without that label. I've learned, especially in the last two or three years, that this is simply not the case. I've learned that it is a label for a person who has a few – or many – beliefs that no longer make sense to me; it is a label for a person who lives according to certain rules and regulations that may or may not make that person a more ethical, well-rounded, compassionate person.

A part of me wishes that I could still be naive enough to think that someone who is a Christian is somehow going to treat me and others better than someone who does not identify himself or herself as a Christian; however, another part of me is grateful to be free from paying attention to those labels.

Dear Christian,

When I worked with you for a year and a half, you made it seem like I was incompetent, always “the new girl.” When I dropped by on my day off to say goodbye to everyone before moving out of town, you did not even say a nice goodbye – you just complained that my timing was inconvenient.

Dear Christian,

When I was going through a difficult time in my life, you told me I was “miserable and ridiculous” and downplayed my situation, focusing only on how I was less than a perfect friend to you. You told me that you'd pray for me and that you gave me up to God; you were never the first to call, email, or text me...but I guess you think God can do that now. You claim to be pretty good friends with Jesus; I guess it's easier to be friends with someone who died 2000 years ago, rather than a real flesh-and-blood friend who is alive right now.

Dear Christian man,

You were going through a rocky part in your marriage, and you were ready to give that up without much of a fight. You told me that God “led” you to me, that you prayed for the relationship between you and me. When I told you over and over to leave me alone, you ignored those words. When I told you that your wife and your children were your priority, you brushed that off. Wouldn't Jesus tell you to stick with your family? Wouldn't Jesus tell you to ignore your “need” to explore other relationship options? Wouldn't Jesus make you distinguish between lust and true love?

Dear Christian whom I got to know over the last 18 years,

I read your blog – that one you keep under an anonymous name. You ridicule people who are overweight, who dress less than totally “cool,” who give your kid birthday gifts that aren't exactly the price you think should be spent on your kid's gift. As I read each line, each paragraph, I shake my head in disbelief that a “woman of God” hasn't quietly confessed her less-than-holy thoughts to God and done everything in her power to get rid of them, but rather posted them on the Internet.

Dear Christian employers,

in one breath, you reminded your staff that our workplace was where we were to carry out the tasks that God had called us to do; in the next breath, you lied to your customers, made it clear that you placed emphasis on profits above people, and repeatedly gossiped about your staff.

Dear Christians,

I suggest that every once in a while, you look to an atheist. That other co-worker, the one who is agnostic/leaning-on-atheist? She invited me over for dinner – not once, not twice, but maybe seven times by now. That friend, who deconverted from her Christian upbringing decades ago? She said, “It sounds like you've had a rough year,” and in the days and weeks and months following that, we did what friends do, even when both of them are less-than-perfect humans - we talked, drank coffee (and wine), ate, laughed, sat in silence when there were no answers to life's hard questions. That acquaintance who calls herself a “spiritualist,” who spends hours and hours sitting with the dying? I bet you she knows more about how to live and die well than many Christians, even though it's been years since she entered a church.

I admit, I miss the comforts of being part of what I felt was a community “set apart by God.” I miss feeling like we had something special, something that kept us safe from the evils of the world. I miss gathering with other Christians and sensing that praying prayers and singing hymns drew us closer not only to each other but also to God.

I've found you Christians to be just like the people of the world who check the “other” box rather than the “Christian” box. Not better, not worse. Maybe the payoff is realizing that all people, Christian or not, have the same potential to be great human beings.