/*amazon_ad_exclude = "christian"*/ The Skin I Am In: Forgive Me, Father, For I Have Grown

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Forgive Me, Father, For I Have Grown

Being a bit overwhelmed right now with the deck life is dealing me, my blogging life has temporarily taken a back seat to the issues which are presently front and center; hence, the infrequency of my recent posts. However, following suit to my last few writings, my focus today will instead be an entirely different personal struggle than the more pressing situations currently plaguing me.

As I have mentioned, there are very few in my life to whom I have expressed what I feel to be the truth about religion and Christianity. One of the people I envision being the most difficult to talk to about this is my father. My dad is quite conservative in nearly every aspect, religion and guns being no exception (which, by the way, I have always found to be an interesting combination of causes).

My father was very strict, to say the least. I don't believe it was by design, rather out of intolerance and a lack of patience. I spent much of my childhood hating him. Since then, his temper has retreated and he regularly expresses an appreciation for family. A few years ago he conveyed a heartfelt apology for the kind of father he had been. We now have a relationship
based on respect and we both enjoy sharing and discussing our common interests. However, knowing the Christian mentality all too well, I have to wonder if he would accept and respect my personal ideals.

My sentiment is that any parent should be proud of a child who has developed a healthy and productive philosophy on life and who simply wishes for a better world, regardless of whether or not they hold “traditional” values. However, as we often hear, parents don't always show their children unconditional love when the child proves to take a different path than the parent would have chosen for them.
Interestingly, I received an email from my dad this weekend regarding the death of Charlton Heston. In the email, among conveying his love for my brother and I, he included the famous man's most important life lessons.

“-Stay active and true to your beliefs.
-Guard your freedoms.
-Don't be afraid to take a stand.

-Family and friends are important.

-Don't forget your mentors.

-Your values WILL change as you get older, that's a part of life.
-Strive for self-improvement... ALWAYS.
-Above all... KEEP YOUR SENSE OF HUMOR...especially when faced with extreme
difficulty or when times are darkest.”

I must wonder if, by this message, my dad is encouraging us to stay active and true to our beliefs, or to his beliefs—as, at least for me, there is a huge distinction between the former and the latter. Now that he has opened the door, metaphorically speaking, I do not foresee a better opportunity to “take a stand” and share my beliefs with him.


doug said...

I say tell him, why not? You're grown and should be able to believe what you want and your father should respect that. Now if you were going to tell him you were now part of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, then maybe he'd get upset.

Tamera Daun said...

Oh, so true. So difficult for parents to watch as their children head down their unique paths. Well meant, I'm sure, but it can be difficult to open up to them. Something that they would like, and often do not understand why it does not happen.

FerdC ~ Crazy Medical Cases said...

BE, I think it's time somebody let you know: your father already knows; he reads your blog regularly. His avatar is "Angela Williams Duea." ; )

The Blogger Exposed said...

Holy Jebus, Ferd! It's suddenly all beginning to make sense now!

Nonna said...

I can totally empathize with you on this one. My dad's dad was a Methodist minister, and my dad is a "regular" at the church where I grew up. As I discarded religion and developed my spirituality, there was a part of me that felt sad that I didn't think I could share it with either of my parents.

Eventually, as I've said here before, I found a "church" home - a community that supports my spiritual quest. As I got more and more involved in the church I knew the side-stepping and avoiding the subject was drawing to an end. I knew they would "find out" where I was going to church and come to the realization that I don't share their christian beliefs.

However, this is Minnesota - land of passivity. In true MN fashion, I mentioned my church in passing and decided to see where the bomb dropped. And, I guess in true MN form, they politely said little to nothing.

I've had a few questions here and there, but have found that they really don't seem too concerned with it. They will even attend church with me sometimes when they come to visit.

I thought it would blow up a couple years ago when I had asked my dad, who has a beautiful voice, to sing at my grandson's dedication ceremony (a ceremony where we as a congregation dedicate ourselves to supporting this child in his spiritual journey). Dad sent the music he wanted to sing, truly traditional hymns. My minister wanted to change some of the words. Dad didn't understand and I don't think was all too happy about changing references of "our Glorious King" to "our glorious world" and so on. But, he came. He sang. We moved on. Since that time, however, he's never attended my church with me, although my mom has. They only visit about 3-4 times a year and he doesn't attend regularly at home anymore either. It’s completely plausible that due to his aging and not so great physical form that he’s just too tired to go. I try not to read too much into it, but it's hard not to.

The reason I'm going into this detail is to deliver this heartfelt message and piece of advice. If you're going to tell your father, do it better than I. Explain it all. Leave nothing up to his imagination, because in the absence of truthful information he will fill in the blanks to your detriment. And finally, assess what you think is "worst case" and be prepared to accept that if it comes to that.

In many ways, I see this struggle of ours in a very similar way as my best friend's struggle with coming out of the closet and telling his family that he is gay. There are some that will be accepting, some who are simply tolerant, and others who will totally shun.

My dad still loves me, we still have a good relationship, but it will never be the truthful, honest, and deeply loving relationship that I would like. There's too much baggage in this realm; he's too set in his ways to accept part of the reality I present him, and I'm too comfortable with the relationship I have with him to risk making it worse on the off-chance that I could have that deeply honest love with him. Approaching him on this would just make him incredibly uncomfortable, it's just not him! I have to accept him the way he is - a product of his upbringing and experiences, just as I am.

Good Luck!

P.S. - Ferd - you crack me up! What a riot.