The despair has become a stubborn resolve. An acceptance of who I am, and the evidence as I see it. One can only spend so much time chasing fantasies.
When one spends a lot of time hoping to be influenced, one is exposed to a wide variety of life experiences and language. One of the great benefits of an Evangelical upbringing is that disagreement is generally approached without internalization. The "other" is certainly wrong, and any disagreement is not a sincere insult to me. This defense mechanism is no longer there for me. The attempts at empathy that once seemed harmless now feel condescending and cruel.
"Sometimes atheism is a person's best path to God."
"I don't think God is offended by disbelief, arrived at with honest searching."
"God believes in you, even if you don't believe in Him."
"You're following the Light, even if you don't call it that."
The lesson, it seems, is that I am wrong. Will always be wrong. Until I change my mind. I can't put myself in situations to hear these things anymore.
Thank you to those who have interacted with me on this issue. I've both made and lost friends and family over it, but the net result has been a positive. I leave you with this video, which summarizes where I am and how I view the world (fear not, it's gentle). Take care.