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Looking for Ways to Begin

By Grace ~

I don’t remember actually asking Jesus into my heart to be my personal savior when I was four years old after a missionary to Africa explained to our small-town vacation bible school that people who accept Jesus go to heaven and people who don’t go to hell. But my mom assures me that I did just that. The date is still etched in the front cover of her bible, as well as in her memory. I do, however, remember going forward to become baptized when I was nine. I remember attending all manner of services: Awanas, youth group, prayer meeting, Sunday school, Sunday morning, Sunday evening. I remember that if the doors of the church were open, our family was there: fourth row, organ side. I remember a kindergarten through twelfth grade education at a private christian school. I remember four years of christian university. I remember how proud my parents were of their christian daughter who loved the lord with all her heart, soul, mind, and strength.

Fast forward about ten years to last weekend. I am at home visiting my parents in order to care for my mother for a few days after a semi-serious surgery. From Tuesday through Friday all was as it has ever been. I relished--still at age 30--sleeping on the couch in front of the wood stove, picking what was left of the fall’s wildflowers and displaying them proudly in a vase for my mother, and even enduring my father’s nightly FOX news routine. My parents have known for years that I am far more leftist in my political ideology, theology, and understanding of history than they ever will be, but what they didn’t know is that I no longer self-identify as a Christian, or a believer.

For years I constructed an illusion about who I was and how I was living in order to provide my parents with the peace of mind that their only daughter was strongly rooted in the faith. I knew what they expected of me, and I was careful to give them exactly that. And the lies began to pile up, and pile up. Then, a little over a year ago, I met a wonderful man who shocked me with unapologetic honesty. On our first date he told me that he is a recovering alcoholic and drug addict, that he has several children from previous relationships, and that he is committed to living honestly, allowing people to accept him or reject him for who he truly is. We began dating, and in March moved in together. I, of course, kept the latter hidden from my parents.

As the summer months passed, I found myself telling lies explicitly rather than simply through omission to cover the fact that my boyfriend and I were happily living together. I began to feel that continuing to lie to my parents about who I am and the choices I am making was not only childish, but disrespectful to myself and the man I love. I determined to tell them the truth. But how? When? With what words? I knew as surely as so many before me the immense pain I would cause them and so was filled with doubt and anxiety, yet resolve. I prepared for the worst: no longer being welcome in their home, no longer considered part of the family. And as I slept on the couch last Friday night, I relished the warmth from the flames within the woodstove for what would possibly be the last time.

In the morning over a breakfast of ham and eggs with toast and grapefruit on the side, I confessed to living with Mario, for the past eight months. My mother’s exact words: “You know it really doesn’t matter what you tell us. What are you telling God?” And then I delivered the more painful news, “Nothing. I haven’t been able to pray for years. Long before Mario.” They didn’t yell or berate. They looked at me with shock on their faces. We said our tearful goodbyes, and I drove back to the Twin Cities.

Then today came the phone call I knew would come and have been dreading. It was my father. Asking if I had a while to talk. He talked mostly. I promised him that I would respond (through email probably, as I am still far too emotional to speak cogently about the situation), but I don’t really know where to begin.

And that’s how I found this site, looking for ways to begin.