My parents are wonderful and very conservative, orthodox members of the church. They feel a need to bear their testimonies to me and let me know they believe. I understand totally that this comes from what they hear at church. They feel responsible for and so sad about my change in belief. It’s hard: they will send me little emails about stuff, but if I reply back and express things I never get a response.
I get that. They probably don’t know what to say but it means the exchanges are never really a discussion. They express stuff to me and then if I try to engage…silence. It’s odd. I wish we could actually TALK. I wish we could actually share what we are thinking, listen, ask questions and then express love and respect for each other’s choices. I wish this didn’t have to be the big huge fat elephant in the room that we dance around but can’t actually look at and talk about.
This was the email I received yesterday which included the link to the church video Because of Him
I realize that at this point in your life you have many doubts, but I just hope you will watch this very brief video on your computer and consider it as my Easter greeting just for you. And please know that your old dad still believes it with all his heart and one day in the not-too-distant future will find out if it is in fact true.
Love you! Dad & Mom
I didn’t want to remain silent. They want to express themselves; I’d like to do the same. If they bring it up and share something I feel like that opens the door. I don’t want to pretend. I want to be me and authentic. I want to engage and not have this weird superficial relationship where all we talk about is the weather, gardening and what’s happening with the kids.Â So I sent this in response:
Dad & Mom,
I love you back. Thanks for sending me a little love note today on Easter. I watched the video and it was beautifully done and I can see how it would touch you. The message of believing that there is something after death is comforting and gives people hope that there is something after this life. I can totally appreciate that.
The messages about the atonement and repentance can also be comforting for people who believe they need to repent from sin. That’s an interesting concept to me now. The idea that God would have his son suffer and die so that everybody else could be forgiven for their sins is not so comforting to me anymore. It makes me sad to think he would set things up this way and would require that. It’s not a beautiful story to me. It seems cruel and is hard for me to understand as a parent. It’s also confusing that because his son died this would impact everybody else’s choices/sins and allow them to repent. To believe that without his suffering/dying our Heavenly parents wouldn’t forgive the rest of their children for mistakes just doesn’t fit with anything my experience has taught me about loving parents. You guys have always loved me no matter what and I do the same for my children. To set up a system where there are such strict rules and specific things you have to do in order to be together again just doesn’t make sense to me. Especially when some of those rules are unhealthy and detrimental to some people. When people are just trying to do their best and when his instructions/information is so confusing that you have people all over the place trying to figure it out…coming up with different answers and interpretations. Not only that but the information he’s given is filled with mistakes, contradictory stuff and misinformation. To set up a plan like this, and then have punishments for not figuring it out correctly, just makes no sense to me.
I believe if there is a God he will be more loving and more like the type of parent I am trying to be. Someone who understands and wants me to succeed. Someone who knows my heart and that I’m trying to figure it out. Someone that will embrace me and empathize with me when I have hard times. Someone who lets me learn and grow but doesn’t tell me exactly what that has to look like and exactly what I have to do in order to be “rewarded”. Because we are all different and have different needs and experiences. I believe he knows the person I am and the effort I’ve put into trying to understand it all. If I die and find there is something more after this life I hope and believe he will take all of that into consideration. I don’t want to believe in the God of the scriptures (especially not the Old Testament), the God of the rules and strict black/white definitions of what your life has to look like and what’s OK to do and not OK. I don’t want to believe in a God that would set up a plan like I was taught in the church.
I’m choosing to live my life without being driven by guilt/shame/fear about what if. I’m choosing to love, accept, support myself and let go of the worry/fear/guilt about rules/mistakes/perfection. I’m choosing to not live with the fear of what if I’m wrong? I’m going to go forward and try my best to be a good person, live life honestly, treat people with respect/acceptance/love, support others in their choices and attempts to live their life and I choose to believe that’s good enough. I choose to believe if God exists he will know and understand that. Whatever happens after I die is what happens and I’m OK with that. There’s really no way to know and like you said one day we will find out. I know you have lived your life doing all of these things too – trying to figure it out and live with what you’ve felt is true. I respect that and I love you tons.
I think you are pretty wonderful.
I’m not going to hold my breath for a response but it sure would be wonderful. I know I’m probably expecting too much, but hey, I like holding onto hope.(It’s one of the things I retain from Mormonism.) A girl’s gotta dream, right? After all, it could happen. I was open and honest with them. That’s all I can do right now.