To the readers: As I was finishing my response it was vaguely reminding me of something, and when I realized what it was I had to chuckle. I might sound a little like Polonius giving parting advice to his son Laertes in Hamlet. For some reason I’m a little embarrassed if I do. This very brief letter allows for only generic suggestions, and such things can sound like trite platitudes or wise proverbs. I suppose the difference between those is in the eye of the reader.
Note: Letter writers’ names are changed to protect their privacy.
i hate my life because my parenst are making me beleive that this jesus guy is god
Relax. Don’t worry, no one can “make” you believe anything. It’s too late for that. Your mind has already developed enough independence to think your own thoughts. Otherwise you wouldn’t have written your email. Your parents can make you do things that are about Jesus, such as attending church, going to Bible study, or saying prayers, but that’s all on the outside. That’s just stuff you have to do. Inside your mind, you’re free to think your own thoughts and believe what makes sense to you.
So don’t hate your life. It really is your life, and it’s something to love and cherish and to take good care of. Fill it with healthy food, healthy exercise, healthy relationships, and most of all, healthy thoughts. Fill it with all the knowledge that you can jam into your head. Knowledge is your key to life-long freedom.
I’m assuming that you’re quite young, and probably still dependent on your parents for your welfare, so you might just have to go along with the outward stuff they want you to do. I cannot tell from your letter if you feel free to frankly tell them your opinion. Sometimes parents handle such things well, and sometimes they don’t. Maybe you can negotiate something with them, maybe not.
Think carefully about your words before you let them out, whether talking about your disbelief in gods or your friend’s new hairstyle. Words are very powerful. Too often we throw them around recklessly. Consider what will be your words’ effect on others and what will be the consequences for you. Sometimes silence is the wisest thing to say.
But even the religious stuff you’re forced to do, you can turn to your advantage. Be a secret anthropologist, studying the beliefs and practices of the people who surround you. Knowing how they think and react will be a big advantage as you grow into adulthood.
Right now, the part of your life that you can control is inside your mind. Slowly, as you grow up you’ll gain more freedom over the outside parts of your life, like what you do, where you go, and who you are with. But for every one of those new freedoms will come a responsibility to handle that freedom wisely, being careful to not be thoughtless, reckless, or harmful to yourself or others. Like heads and tails, freedom and responsibility always go together.
I don’t think Jesus was a god either. If he existed at all, he was a man who tried to change things, and he was murdered for it. He had some good things to say about being kind and loving, helping others, and keeping hate out of your heart. That’s good advice for anybody, and you don’t need to believe in gods to put it into practice.
Taking that advice, don’t let your frustration grow into hate for your parents. They’re probably not trying to deliberately torment you; they’re probably just trying to do what they think will help you. It’s natural for young people to have some conflicts with their parents as they grow into independent adults, but it doesn’t always have to be hateful. Try to keep your love for them even when you’re mad at them. It might soothe your anger a little to consider that there are many, many young people who hate their lives because they don’t have parents who make them do stuff. They don’t have food, or beds, or clothes either. Sometimes looking at a broader picture can give you a little more patience with your situation.
It’s possible to disagree with them and not be constantly tense from annoyance and aggravation. Ask yourself, “Is this upset really bigger than me? Aren’t I actually bigger than it?” Some battles are worth fighting now, some are better if they’re postponed. The right time will be when you are in a position of strength and independence. And then sometimes when the time is finally right, it just isn’t that important any more.
Whenever your frustration or any other feeling is about to boil over, here’s a trick that will save you a great deal of regret and apologies: Quietly take three deep, slow breaths. Slowly inhale deeply, pause for just a second, and slowly exhale fully. Repeat three more as needed. There’s nothing like a powerful shot of oxygen to help you handle any situation, whether it’s painful boredom at a religious thing you have to do, or panic when you look at the first question on an important exam in school. Oxygen is your friend. It soothes the emotions and clears the mind.
Find other people close to your age who feel the same way. They’re out there. Just be discrete, and be sure they know how to keep your private information private. Stick around here and begin to comment on various posts, sharing a little of yourself at a time. You’ll find there are many people who definitely understand what you’re going through. You’re certainly not alone. Also, Google “teen atheist” and “young atheist,” and you’ll find a variety of resources for young people who are also your predicament.
Greg, I have only guesses about your circumstances, so my advice is very general. Take what applies and discard what doesn’t. Though you don’t believe that Jesus is God, you can believe in your own intrinsic worth, in your own basic goodness, and in your own ability to sort things out. Ask many other people, young and old, for advice on all sorts of things. You don’t ever have to accept all or any of what they suggest. You can pick and choose. As you reach one crossroad after another, making choice after choice, you will be the judge; the final decisions and the responsibility will always be yours.