A Guest Post by Matilda
Nancy was widowed recently. She was 92 years old and her husband, Eddie was 96. In 2022, they’d celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary and, like all Brits on that occasion, had received a congratulatory Platinum Wedding Anniversary card from Queen Elizabeth, just a week before she herself died. Eddie’s mental and physical health was deteriorating, he’d had several minor accidents on the large grounds of the lovely English country mansion that had been their home for decades. He’d narrowly escaped death when he’d decided to dredge the lake he’d dug many years previously and whilst driving the digger, it had slid into the water, toppled over and he’d had to cling onto it till help came. He was snappy and irritable with Nancy in ways that were new to her.
The couple had a large extended family whom they loved to entertain — the east wing alone had 6 guest bedrooms. So this family was worried because just two weeks after Eddie’s death, Nancy packed her bags, dragged them downstairs, and told them she was taking a taxi to a nearby Care Home, one she’d had her eye on for a while, and it had a vacancy. The family thought she’d made a very wrong and hasty decision, one she’d later regret as she also said she planned to sell her beloved mansion home.
I saw it differently. I’d just learned the word ‘situationship’ and felt that was Nancy’s position. She’d loved Eddie, but watching him deteriorate, she dreaded every time he went into the gardens or his workshop, fearing yet another accident or that he’d collapse out there and not be found for several hours. I think her relationship had become a situationship, one that would never improve, it was all downhill for the foreseeable future.
She grieved for Eddie, but I think she had a sense of release, of relief that he’d died peacefully in his sleep and not after some collapse or accident, some long and painful stay in hospital leaving him even more incapacitated. She knew he’d be angry and frustrated if that happened, he’d take it out on her as she tried to care for him, and any caregivers they employed, would soon leave because of his bad behaviour with them.
I relate this to my deconversion, and learning this word ‘situationship’ made me realise that I’d believed I was in a wonderful and loving relationship with Jesus and my Father God who had his loving arms around me every moment. But gradually I became uneasy. I was Jesus-ing my socks off 24/7 and there was not even a glimpse of the great harvest of souls I thought my God promised his faithful ones. Our relationship was going downhill, however much I prayed for him to show me where I and my church were going wrong as we tried to ‘seek and save the lost.’ I could no longer put any trust in a belief that was often expressed by my fellow X-tians: that this reward for our efforts was just around the corner, we just had to perform one more evangelistic activity and the miracle would happen. I wasn’t in an awesome, loving relationship, I was stuck in a situationship, beginning to dread the future which was going to be one of sliding further and further downhill with more and more failed attempts at evangelism and at keeping our church active and relevant in our village.
I’m different from Nancy in that she was in a real relationship with her husband for over five decades until his health problems changed everything. I was in a fantasy one for the same length of time with a fictional God and Jesus. But I suggest that both of us celebrate our freedom now from many worries and inconsistencies. Our sense of relief is palpable. She’s happy in her one room in her Care Home — though her family is still sure she’s faking it, she must hate its small size after her mansion — and I’m happy and free too, differently of course, to do whatever I want with my life just as she’s done. I think both of us feel a sense of peace we wouldn’t have thought possible had we not been able to give it a try.
Bruce Gerencser, 66, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 45 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.
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