Hello. I find myself in a number of a tough spots concerning my spirituality.
I am a male eclectic who tends to consult the female divine before the male, with an emphasis on the Norse gods of my ancestors, though I also worship Lilith.
But this has created a number of problems for me, as I live in a strongly christian family and community.
My worship of Lilith has led to me being likened to a virtual satanist by members of my parent’s church, and I am often ignored completely by those people, even when I volunteer my time and effort to help them set up sound or computer equipment as an act of good will. Nobody speaks to me unless they have no other choice, yet when I was a christian, they were the nicest possible people to me.
My parents are a little better, but they still repeatedly try to convert me to Christianity by trying to guilt me, or worse yet by calling the stories of my Norse ancestors, which I cherish as much as any christian cherishes the word of Christ, “fictional tales”, which I find deeply insulting on a number of levels. I love the gods and stories of my ancestors, and I wish that my parents could respect that, if only when I was around, at the very least.
It’s sad, because I feel I should be able to speak to my own parents about spiritual matters without facing constant ridicule.
Despite my friends who are all supportive of my path, I feel very alone, and I would like to know how I might approach these situations in a manner that is kinder and more respectful than how I have been treated so far.
Not sure how old you are, and if you are still living at home then I’ll speak to that as well a bit later on, however if you’ve tried being nice and/or the “smile and nod” approach whenever they start denigrating your beliefs, then it’s probably time to be more forceful about it all. Make it very clear that if they can’t respect you and your beliefs, that they need to either keep it to themselves, or if they can’t manage that, then (if you feel strongly enough about it) you need to tell them that you want nothing to do with them – at least until they can stop being rude and disrespectful to you. It may seem harsh, but if you don’t – they will likely keep harping at you over it. It’s understandable, as in their minds they are attempting to save you from “Hell”, so on the one hand, we should (in some small way) appreciate their concern. Of course on the other, we aren’t in need of that “saving”, so it’s annoying at the very least, and at worst abusive and hurtful.
The flip side, would be to continue trying to educate them, so that they can understand that you aren’t a Satanist (or that even if you were – that’s not a bad thing). I would also maybe make it clear as well, that there is very little difference between the Bible, and something like the Eddas and other Sagas – in terms of provable facts (certain things may have basis in history, but on the whole, not so much). So if they feel that your sacred texts, are just a bunch of stories, turn the tables on them, and see how they like it. If they complain that you are being disrespectful to them, or about their beliefs – mention that they’ve been doing the same to you, and if they don’t like how it feels, then at least now they know how you’ve been feeling. Hopefully they will get the point and stop.
Of course in the end they still may not stop, and unfortunately there’s just not much that can be done about it, other than to (as I mentioned previously) limit contact. Personally if I was helping out at a church, and they were being rude or disrespectful to me, I’d stop volunteering my time there. There’s no need to put up with that sort of thing. It’s probably worth mentioning as well though, that this is one of the unfortunate pitfalls of being open about our beliefs. So once we’ve made that choice to tell others, then we have to accept that it’s probably going to be a bumpy ride – at least for a while.
If you are still living at home, or are underage, things are a bit more tricky. The key is to be really calm and respectful about it – since it’s their house… their rules, however I would explain to them how the way they’ve been treating you makes you feel, and that you would appreciate it if they would please stop. If they are not open at all to being understanding of your situation, you may seriously need to consider going back into the “broom closet”. There is a point where it’s not worth it to be open, and if it’s negatively impacting your life, then that may be the best option. It’s definitely not fair to us (I’ve had to do it before), but if it makes things a bit more manageable, then it’s something to think about. This doesn’t mean you have to turn around and pretend to embrace their beliefs either – we definitely do not advocate lying to one’s parents, but if you remove any outward signs of your beliefs/practices, then whatever assumptions they want to make are up to them.