I’m an atheist, as you’re all sometimes painfully aware, and lately, I’ve been struggling with something based on my lack of belief. Well, two things actually, but they tie together.
I haven’t told my father I’m an atheist. He knows I haven’t attended church in a long time (like 12 years, aside from the occasional wedding and funeral), but think he’s under the impression that I’m having a “crisis of faith,” one similar to what he went through when I was a kid.
I vaguely recall my dad telling me one day when I asked him why he didn’t go to church with the rest of the family that he was angry with God and he didn’t want to believe in someone who makes bad things happen. Being a child, I really didn’t understand him, so just went along with it. After all, my was the smartest man alive and if he had a reason not to believe in God, I’m sure it’s a good one.
He eventually returned to the fold and began attending with us again. We even started having family devotion time where we’d read from the bible and whatnot; you know, stereotypical Midwest Lutheran behavior. Very Normal Rockwell.
I’m scared to tell my father about my atheism. Knowing my dad, I have a sick feeling in my stomach that he would end up disowning me, since as of the past few years, he’s become extremely religious. He makes little jabs at me, asking me if I’ve found a church to go to, that he’s praying for me and hopes I return to the Lord soon. I awkwardly shift from foot to foot, averting my eyes from his and mumble some response.
I don’t like this feeling that my father would possibly cast me aside because my beliefs don’t match his own. I hate to equate being a gay/lesbian child coming out to their parents to being an atheist admitting to their family their lack of religious stance, but in a weird way, it is. You are either going to have understanding parents who will be fine with your decision, or those that blame themselves for this abomination.
I read something recently that struck a chord with me, and it’s something like this:
“I don’t understand why people think having a gay child means they failed as a parent. Disowning your child means you failed as a parent.”
I don’t want my father to fail me, but in his eyes, I’ve failed him, How can either of us live with this notion?
I choose to stay quiet and try to artfully dodge the topic when it comes up. So far, 12 years later, I’ve done a fairly decent job.
Now, on to the second topic that’s been bothering me.
I’ve been trying to date again. It’s a tedious thing to do and I’m finding myself to be to quirky for most men around these parts, which is fine. I’m not serious about yet, so it’s all just a matter of me branching out and socializing.
However…I do realize that hopefully, some day, I’ll meet someone, do the whole song and dance again, and with any luck, and believe you me, I need luck here, have a child.
(Recap: long story short: I have growths on my internal lady parts that may severely limit and/or prevent me from conceiving kids.)
This child is pretty much already doomed.
Dear Possible Future Baby, I’m terribly sorry to put you through this. You’re just a baby. The most important thing you should be worrying about is diaper rash and teething, not what I’m about to talk about…
I don’t want my children baptized.
I don’t want them subjected to what I view as a senseless ritual. I was taught that we are not children of God until we are blessed by the Sacrament of baptism. We are just rotten, horrible, filthy, adorable, tiny sinners in God’s eyes until some scary priest doused our heads with a cup of water.
Now hear me out; if, when these kids grow up and are able to form solid opinions of their own and they decide of their own volition that they want to be good Christian followers of Christ and be baptized, that’s great. Good for you, offspring. If that’s what you want for yourself, by all means, please do so.
I will not criticize my child for wanting to believe. I will not be like my father in that regard. I refuse. I will graciously and willingly accept whatever this kid wants to do in terms of his faith because it’s his right, his choice, and his life.
This is the point I want to make with my dad. He hasn’t failed as a parent because I’m no longer a Christian. The only thing he’s failing at right now is that he’s not seeing what a well-rounded, intelligent person he helped raise. My parents taught me to be my own person, do explore things that make me happy, but because atheism is so despised in our culture still, he think he let me down, or didn’t do something right, or didn’t try hard enough, when the exact opposite is true. He and my mom did everything right, they tried their best, and the only time I’ve been let down by them is I never had a tree house growing up, but that’s an entirely different blog post.
Don’t look at me as a failure or as a lost sheep.
Look at me as a woman who has found a way more suitable for myself.