Phone Conversations

My mom loves to call me and read to me over the phone.

When I was little, she read poems, adventure stories, and series like Little House.

Now, she reads me bible  passages and plays podcasts from Focus on the Family, Ravi Zacharias, and Mark Gungor.  She believes that nothing she says really matters, but if I hear words written by Paul, Mark, Ezekiel or sermons by Gungor then there is a chance the Holy Spirit will change me.

She tries to be sneaky sometimes and reads verses from various translations and then demands, “how did you like that quote, do you want to know who wrote it?”.

Sometimes it is condescending.  “Have you ever read Romans 14?  Did you get it?”

I remember since the age of 8 I read my bible faithfully.  I practiced giving sermons in the bathroom mirror.  And now, I’m being treated like an ignorant child incapable of understanding. 

I admit, it is frustrating and pricks my ego 🙂

While I don’t mind arguing, it does get tiring.  I’ve realized that I don’t know how to talk to the entire maternal side of my family without arguing. 

I wouldn’t mind if it were actual debate, but it feels more like hammering.  To win an argument, one doesn’t have to explain ideas, one only has to be the loudest, most repetitive, and closed-minded.  Listening beyond finding something to attack is rare.  Conversations feel more like boxing sessions.

Again, this wouldn’t be an issue if there weren’t emotional fallout for not cooperating.  When someone only feels close when arguing, they will find a point of contention in any conversation.  And I fall for it nearly every time.

This last conversation, I listened and only replied saying “I hear you.  I understand what you are trying to say.  I’ve read that.  I’ve heard that before.”

This caused some anxiety on the other side; we weren’t connecting as intensely.

The worst part is that my mother blames herself for everything.  Because she was apathetic and not praying hard enough, I have fallen away.  Because she was not a perfect parent, her kids are not perfect either.  Because she cannot understand the oxymoronic god of the Bible, she is evil and stupid.

I am her wake-up call to find new ways to berate herself and declare it “just being honest”.  That bothers me the most.

Of course, I am not the cause of that detrimental thinking, just another opportunity for it.

10 thoughts on “Phone Conversations

  1. St.ain't says:

    I’m sorry for the painful phone calls. Next life, I’d say we deserve a mom full of unconditional love. In the mean time, mine sends me photos of me in high school blown up so she has the maximum amount of space on the back to write horrible Vogon poetry; eg “Here was once a lovely girl..” and then goes on (in rhyme without reason) to say how icky my soul is now that I’m an apostate sinner. She’ll fill up a whole page with how worthless I am now, and finishes with either a threat of eternal consequences or frabjous day! how things will be alright if I just come back to the church. (and apologize for telling about the abuse and recant) sigh.

  2. Astasia says:

    I’m surprised how much that sounds like my fiancee’s mother.

    Not having had too much exposure to evangelical Christians, I didn’t realize that they were all carbon copies of one another.

  3. I wish my mom had more love for herself. I don’t doubt her love for me, but her self-loathing and fear of authorities hinder her. Part of me is really protective of my mom since she was so sick when I was little. I still feel like I am supposed to take care of her so to criticize her parenting feels like a huge betrayal.

    Yuck. I’m so mad that your mom would pressure you to apologize for telling about the abuse! It is too bad that moms sacrifice their daughters for the approval of some church leader.

    I delete most of the emails I get without reading them, but I’ve never gotten personal attacks. I mostly get links to conservative Christian podcasts talking about the evils of liberalism, intellectualism and the like.

  4. “To win an argument, one doesn’t have to explain ideas, one only has to be the loudest, most repetitive, and closed-minded”. – If you repeat a big enough lie, often enough…you are a Republican.

    I too wish your mom felt better about herself. She has so many good qualities.

  5. Quester says:

    My mother told me that she believed because of her parents’ example, then apologized that her example was not enough to make me believe. I had no idea how to respond. Any time I talk about improving myself or enjoying my life, she apologizes that her parenting skills weren’t enough to make me perfect or make everything afterward seem sorrowful in comparison. She doesn’t use those words, of course, but that’s what she communicates. It’s all a personal attack on her. We did not have a perfect relationship growing up, but everything she apologizes for are imaginary crimes she decides I must be accusing her of through anything I try to share. I wish I could help her.

  6. Religion is such a mind-f***. That’s the hardest thing — the way religion causes our mothers etc. to beat themselves up with self-blame because of our personal choices and lack of belief. It doesn’t simply drive a wedge between our relationships with each other, which is horrible and evil enough. It weighs down people like your mother and my mother with false yet debilitating guilt.

    I wish there was a way to expose this reality so it would become obvious to all. I can’t help but believe this world would be a much better place without religion.

  7. Lorena says:

    OMG! I can see from miles away (literally) how much you love your mom. And how hard it would be for you to stop her rudely from reading to you. Obviously, I have no wisdom to offer, because when people piss me off, I tell them. But that’s my way, and I respect that you’re not like me.

    I will, however, share what works for me: dead silence. I just let people go on talking away. I stare at them and say nothing. When they hear no echo, they realize that I’m not into it and finally shut up.

  8. prairienymph says:

    Quester and CD, how did we get the same mother? Oh yeah, they’ve had the same religious de-education.

    Mine is struggling to find out why she believes and I do not, and has concluded that either I have fallen into the trap of intellectual arrogance or that her parents were better examples than she.
    Her parents found out that several of their daughters had been sexually molested and pressured them to stay quiet about it even though it put more of the daughters into the perpetrator’s path. Great example. I’m glad she wasn’t like them.

    I wish too that my mom could see what an amazing person she is. I really hate that everything good about her is attributed to 1) god 2) my father or 3) luck. She gets to accept blame for everything bad, not only for her choices and circumstances but those of her children and our friends.

    Thanks for respecting “my way” Lorena. I am rude to people in my head, though. Which causes me to snicker and inopportune moments 🙂

    I’ve tried the silence tactic. It scares my mom, while the rest of her family doesn’t notice or interprets it as assent. My mom assumes silence is an indication of depression and a cause for worry.

    My husband does it better – he is loudly silent. I think it has to do with how you exit.

  9. grasshopper says:

    I still haven’t figured out how to navigate these conversations with my mom, and they generally end up devolving into arguments. I keep trying to tell her it’s not her fault I’m gay, but she won’t hear it. I’ve decided to give up on trying to convince her that her belief in Jesus doesn’t require her to think less of me, and stop engaging her on the topic.

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