Writing makes us vulnerable. When we write, we don't just flippantly put pencil to page and ramble off a litany of verbiage- we are sharing a part of ourselves. And if what we put down in writing offends, then we may lose people we care about.
I was raised in a household where every thought, every word, every deed, was a reflection on god. It's not that we were threatened with hell or god was going to strike us down but if we failed to show god's power in our lives then god had no power. We were to be "salt and light","beacons on a hill" "WITNESSES". No flaw was acceptable-- from flatulence to anger. But there was no threatening, no condemnation-- simply an acknowledgment that you weren't measuring up. You were forgiven but clearly, you needed to work on that flaw because we all had to give our "utmost for his highest." My childhood was not fun and play and dreaming-- it was Preparation for God's Work . Imagination was accepted because it kept children busy- out from under foot. I was instilled with a true passion for living life as the bible taught me to. I do not condemn my parents, nor am I bitter about my "different" childhood. I was raised the way a child should be raised if god is who believers think god is.
My faith was real. As I grew, I tested my faith and tested my beliefs. I never just passively sat and let others tell me about god. I was never a pew sitter or one who had doubts about god's work in my life... My faith was not a fraud which I cast aside one day at sunrise because I wanted to live a wanton lifestyle. The change occurred little by little- first centimeter by centimeter, then inch by inch, and gradually step by step (with no little help from my friends David and Jeanne) until my earnest childlike faith matured. I did understand and was willing to accept that god was not who I had been raised to believe god was. I allowed god to be who god was- quite separate from the bible and eventually in opposition to who the bible and the church said god was. Until one day it occurred to me that the whole idea that god cared whether I actually believed in god was silly, if god was who god is-. Belief, then, is meaningless. (and by the way, there is precedent from the bible for this as there are many texts that indicate the bible's authors were not terribly sure about who was in and who was out - that it seems to be more about behavior in the world rather than belief. Matt. 25:31-46)
And maybe, in light of how the people of faith behave, it is important to accept a new label, that of atheist. After all, if I say I believe in god, they assume they know what I mean, when they could not possibly. And atheism became a really appropriate label because, stripped from all the dogma and religion and the fraudulently conceived "experiences", there was no indication that there even is a god. It seemed better and even right to say to the world, "you don't know, I don't know, and we should not act as if we know. We are better off aligning ourselves with the "I Don't Know" or the "Don't believe" group so that we are not presuming we know things we don't. And behave rightly on this planet because all we truly have is each other."
If there were a god, I believe that is what god would want anyway.
Some might be able to move on in their life, and their family would not know or care what they believe. My family is not that way. They are always watching, measuring. They have been preoccupied with my "sinful life" but they know that that is a mere indicator of the change in my belief system. So one loss...
I expect more.
But it's just as well that they have let that be their evidence because if they were ever to read what I write- they would know then. That is, if I have the courage to write what I feel and think from my heart- and that is really the only way to write.
So, I write. I write my heart.