I’m Uncomfortable When You Ask Me to Pray

Your religion is your business, not mines. The people at the table grab hands. Someone at the table, a Christian (because thus far, they are the only ones that do this to me), anoints themselves as the leader of the table. They announce we…

I’m Uncomfortable When You Ask Me to Pray
Photo by Dan Gold on Unsplash

The people at the table grab hands. Someone at the table, a Christian (because thus far, they are the only ones that do this to me), anoints themselves as the leader of the table. They announce we are going to pray before we eat our meal. Everyone else at the table smiles.

Me:

I give “anointed one” the side-eye, put my hands into a palm of the persons on the left and right of me, tighten my jaws, and bow my head annoyed with eyes opened at the forced prayer. I went along for the sake of getting along, but I sure wasn’t comfortable while doing it. It being praying without my permission.

No is not an option with these people. Choosing to do not participate is asking to be ostracized for the rest of the meal, and sometimes for the rest of your life. I just can’t say no, which is such a shame. I shouldn’t be forced into such a situation in the first place.

I hate it so much. It’s simply indescribable. It’s not fair to me. Enforcing meal time rituals and rules disrespects my personal views, my ideologies, or my wishes. Friends and family can be so obnoxiously intrusive. Even when I tell people openly I don’t celebrate holidays anymore, I don’t worship anything anymore, or I don’t attend church (nor do I wish to anymore), my words simply fall on deaf ears.

Will the overreaching colonial-era die already?

I respect anyone’s right, desire, and/or preference to pray any time they want to or do anything else they want to for that matter.

Wanna cheat? Go right ahead, it’s none of my business. You like to smoke? Live your best life buddy. Do you like orgies, random sex, porn? Do you, I don’t need to know, and I don’t care. You’re conservative? Great. You’re liberal or independent? Fantastic? Vote your household and personal values. Don’t like to fly? You don’t know what you’re missing (and maybe you do), but it doesn’t impact me at all. Hate pasta, beer, meat, vegetables, Black people, White people, Chinese people, Dominicans, Colombians? Hope all that works out for ya, I’m not letting any food or any opportunities to meet new people pass me by.

But I get it. Do you. But why must people impose their religious beliefs and preferences upon others? Whatever the reason is, remember the only life you can live is your own; you cannot control anyone else’s destiny or path. Praying before I eat every three or four months is not going to get me into heaven. I’m focused on being a non-intrusive human here on earth today seeking to connect with other like-minded individuals.

It’s good to fellowship with people who have common goals and interests, but we must know while we may have many things in common, we may also have lots of differences. We need to politely be aware of those and respect them.

Sometimes no one cares about your beliefs, and no one wants to listen to them.

I don’t try to invite people I know to jazz concerts when I know they like hip-hop. I’m sure they wouldn’t enjoy that. I don’t try to convince anyone to eat the way I eat or use the same toothpaste I use. I don’t ask people to try a same-sex partner if they aren’t knocking it out of the park in their heterosexual relationship. I don’t try to convince someone to have kids if they tell me they don’t want any, nor do I try to convince someone they should get into a monogamous married when clearly, they are promiscuous as hell.

I listen to people. I respect their preferences. I enjoy mutual respect. I celebrate our differences. It’s too bad my friends and loved ones can’t do the same. Sometimes I just wish when I’m forced to pray at a meal, God could help me help them. Just miraculously impart something …

Choosing a religion is as personal as the type of underwear you wear (if you wear them) or is as important as the decision to use (or not to use) contraceptives.

I’m good on religion, especially Western religion. I took a sabbatical from religion in 2008 for a variety of reasons. It was the most freeing thing I had done in my life. I shed all the rituals, all the condemnation, all the hypocritical do-gooding, and stopped living for others. I didn’t stop doing good in the world, I just stopped doing it for approval. Seeking approval is a natural, human thing.

I didn’t need that Christian social circle in my life anymore, nor did I need the problems that derived from trying to please those people. Seeking approval is enslavement, and I’m so over it.

I have been polite. I have been respectful. I surely have been patient. I have even limited my interactions with certain people to ensure I’m not hemmed up in some awkward position forced to explain (yet again) my religious views. And still, I find myself being caught off guard with prayer petitions.

My friends and family stopping me from eating because they want to pray is unfortunate. I’m going to begin to be more assertive. I am for the most part, but I have always given religious folks a get out of jail free card. I’m not caving into their expectations anymore. I also need to stand firm in my own beliefs. I am tired of feeling bad because I don’t want to believe in a God or participate in organized religion.

We all have far more things in common than our religion. Pushing your religious practices, principles, traditions, and individual rituals onto others makes folks like me feel uncomfortable. It’s not only uncomfortable, but it’s wrong. My spiritual enlightenment and awakening is personal.

I don’t crave acceptance. I don’t need any validation. I’m on my own journey, and I simply see life differently.

If you ever had a spirituality conversation with a friend of family member you respect, and they tell you they don’t believe in a God or they are not practicing religion now, but you decide to override their personal preferences to invoke yours, you are that person. The person who causes discomfort.

You’re the person who makes me and people like me uncomfortable when you ask us to pray.

Marley K., 2018