“I’m praying for you…” A terrific Atheist response!2
May 31, 2015 by kittynh
A short but educational blog guest blog post by an Atheist I admire. Her response to “I’m praying…” is respectful and also can open a dialogue. I admired how she handled this so much, I asked her permission to the story here. Thank you so much for allowing me to share this Stephanie.
Conversation with employee of partner company, ( Pam).
Her : How’s your husband?
Me: He’s doing well, be starting chemo soon.
Her: Tell him I’ll pray for him.
Me: It’s ok,..we are atheists, and don’t do the prayer/god thing.
Her: Wow,…to be honest, I just said that because that’s what people always do, and expect.
Me: I know.
Her: It is so refreshing to hear someone say that these days. Thanks for your honesty.
Me: No,…thank you for your honesty.
She laughs in awe, as I pointed to my shirt that read,..”Because Science Doesn’t Care What You Believe”. I have a whole new respect for her,…but, it does show how people just want to fit in.#keepitreal
Stephanie Magee is a 46 yr old truck driver , mother of 2, and grandmother of 2, from Jackson, MS.
You know I understand this. I’m more of an agnostic these days (read cowardly atheist) and I never know what to say to comfort people anymore. I used to say, “I’ll pray for you”. But now I say something like “we will be thinking of you”. But that statement is inherently an “actionless” statement. One could say the same of prayer, but to a believer that IS an action which yields a benefit.
I also struggle with the addition, “If there is anything I can do.” Honestly, I don’t always want or can do anything. I just want to let a person know that I care and that I will be there to listen when I can.
Ugh. I guess that’s the human condition.
I had a friend that is an Atheist write this, as I’m not an Atheist myself. I know I can’t write for that very important viewpoint. It’s so difficult. I have a dear friend, who just lost her husband, also a dear friend. There is nothing I can do, or at least I can not do as much as I want to do, because they live overseas. I was very upset when my husband pointed out, before the husband relapsed, but when he knew a relapse was very possible, we had him and his wife come visit. We gave them a place for their friends to gather (those that live in the US) and to just laugh and be together. Other US friends also opened their homes for this couple. Sometimes, the time to do something is before… that was a comfort. But still, what does one SAY? Perhaps just to the neighbor who lost her husband, or the person that does your hair. All lives have tragedy. It’s because humans die, and everyone has lost someone they love. Also bad news is the downside of modern medicine. Many of us know we have a serious illness, and treatment isn’t always a cure. I hope one day everyone can come up with something meaning “I hear you. I am sorry you are in pain. There is nothing I can DO, but know I care.”