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The Price of Getting Free

My Christianity was casual to non-existent till I was about 11 years old. We had moved to a new suburb and my mom hadn't found a new church for us to attend. That is, until I broke into a neighbour's house with an older next-door neighbour for fun. My parents were horrified that they were raising a criminal for a daughter and sent to a church just a block from our house. I had no choice. I carried an unhealthy guilt about that incident for years and spent my time at church and in prayer, principally to rid myself of the anxiety of guilt in the eyes of God, an altogether new concept.

My mother is highly religious. Sold out for Christ as it were. In her own way, her faith became a way of coping with a failing marriage. The worse things got, the more faithful and devoted she would become. The expectation was that would follow suit with equal fervour. This meant attending Sunday school and church, fasting, watching the Trinity Broadcasting Channel most hours of the day and having lengthy prayer and bible study almost every night before bed, at its peak in my final year of high school. By the time I left for University, I already knew that very little of the belief and rituals resonated with me except the very basic tenet of loving yourself and other people. But because my mother was the dominant parent and very beloved by me, and by the very nature of parenting relationships, withdrew her affections when I didn't behave according to expectation, I was afraid to tell her. This made holidays back home participating in these unwanted rituals agonising.

My mother had always noted my slackness but was now growing increasingly alarmed. It started with a misplaced word here and there betraying my true feelings more and more and culminated in me refusing to church one morning and refusing to participate in family prayer that evening. She was devastated. So was I. But it was the freeest I had felt in a long time. I felt it was time that she see and know me as I am. The discussions that followed were painful. I was accused. I was emotionally blackmailed. I was shunned. But I had to speak my heart clearly and honestly and ask to build a new relationship based on truth.

Comments

sibusisiweyona's picture

freedom

I think freedom is relative, for your mama is through praying and having an intimate relationship with God and for you its not so much of that. I really understand where you are coming from and the pressure that you are feeling. Sometimes it makes you feel like you are going to just experience combustion. i also think that understanding your mama and trying to map a way out of your situation is to talk to each other and find a solution. you clearly love your mother and she clearly wants the best for you so talk to her.

when you are free you should be free indeed and you did the right thing to talk but it should be a process where you talk little by little till you have an understanding. this is clearly a generational conflict but if you do not talk to your mama more this can become protracted. Continue to respect her even though you might not agree in some instances

you are blessed to have a mama who care for you Mbali make her understand you

stay blessed

Mbali's picture

the above :)

Hi Sibusisiwe

My mother loves me that's true and I love her the same. Problem is that there is no good way of doing this except to feel things out based on the relationship you have. We have an open relationship but this was a taboo topic that I found stifling. Being normally a vocal person it was only a matter of time. She has come to accept things for the most part and we have just agreed to disagree. It was important for me as a young adult to make my own way and define freedom in a way that resonated with who I am. I have always respected her position, I just needed her to respect mine.

Its difficult as you know in a black household. But these are the generational and cultural snares we must get past in our time in order to have a new thing to say to the world.

Thanks for your response and kind advice. Appreciate it.

Fatima Waziri's picture

What a beautiful story Mbail,

What a beautiful story Mbail, thank you for sharing. I believe some people see their faith as the only way out of coping with difficult times as is your mother and most people. I was raised a catholic most of my life but swopped to a protestant church which infuriated my father. My motto, you can only teach a child but you cannot live the child's life. In as much as your mother wants you to be brought up in the way of the Lord which is fantastic by the way I do not believe in imposing my beliefs on others. Like I always say, one can believe in stones for all I care, as long as they did not throw their stones at me.

Your mother obviously loves you and her only way of showing that love is through her frustration at your spiritually.

Peace!
Fatima

Mbali's picture

yes!

This is true.

We cannot choose our parents. They're not divine beings. Just human beings. Moreover, much of this is spiritual which is so personal. Our parents want us to travel paths they've taken for safety's sake. It's all love. I love her very much. Just need a space of my own to work it all out.

Thank you so much for the feedback, its an area I'm still working out compassionately and I hope I get it right.

LauraB's picture

Speaking Truth

Religion is a force that grips. I have many friends who came from devoutly religious families and I've watched them stay centered, forthright, and themselves in the face of dogma- with much effort that is! A fundamental belief system leaves little to no space for questions and grey zones. Take your space, claim your center, and your voice- just as you are. You deserve all that space that is your birthright to make sense of this world in your own way.

Thanks for sharing your story; one I think that many others can relate to.
Laura

Mbali's picture

Laura

Thanks so much! I was suddenly struck with the thought that I'm actually quite lucky I can make this choice and break away without any terrible, long-term consequences like death or being disowned etc. I know that's a reality for so many. I'm grateful that I have a voice and the space to use it even if its not favourably received. And I know it won't be easy going forward. But I hope we'll all be better for it in the long-run.

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