"Either God does not exist or he's unimaginably cruel." Dr. Gregory House, House M.D., Season Three
This is what I believe. It took me 34 years to get here, but for the first time last month I acknowledged that my faith is gone for good. It's been gone for a long time, but as long as I didn't say it out loud, I could pretend God and I were just on a break and the reunion episode was coming up shortly. But it's real. We're over.
I don't want to tell my parents. Do I have to?
I could pretend indefinitely. I know all the right words to avoid seeing the hurt, frightened look in my father's eyes after I tell him he's failed at the only thing he really cared about. Despite doing his best as a Christian father, his daughter has turned away from God. She's condemned for eternity, his desperate efforts to save her futile.
When I got 98% on a test, my mother asked, "What happened to the other 2%?" My father quietly said, "Good job" and "You don't have to be perfect." When I sprained my thumb trying to block a spike in a volleyball tournament, my mother said, "Did you manage to stop the other team?" My father said, "Are you OK?"
At my wedding reception, my father got up in front of all those people, hands trembling as he pushed back his fear, so he could tell me how precious I was to him and how happy he was that I'd found such a wonderful man to share my life with.
In the hospital after my daughter was born, my father pulled me into an awkward hug, gently jiggling my shoulder as he whispered, "Congratulations," before posing for pictures with his first grandchild, his arms careful around the fragile bundle.
When my perfect marriage threatened to shatter around me, my father listened quietly through my anguished torrent of words before putting a warm, comforting hand on my shoulder and saying, "You'll get through this. Jay loves you." Then he reached for his steadfast source of strength, the one he wanted me to have after he's no longer here to hold me. "Let's pray."
I don't want to break my father's heart.
Do I have to?