I think what concerns me most about you girls learning I no longer believe in God is that I don’t want you to feel uncomfortable around me in any way. I love the closeness of our relationship and I would be heartbroken if anything took that away from us. I am convinced this issue does not have to do that because, while this discovery may be new for you, it is not new for me at all. I haven’t been a “believer” for four years now, and yet it has never gotten in the way before now. Why must it from this point forward?
Church is a very big part of your lives. You’ve made so many friends and had so many good times through your involvement in the church that I would never want to see you without those things. You will get nothing but support from me in your involvement in the church and in the Christian faith because I remember the many good times and experiences and relationships I had through the same things myself. I grew up in the same church in which you girls are growing up. I went to the same camps and even enjoyed some of the same speakers you girls are enjoying now. Many of the people I was closest to as a teen now have children who are your friends through the church. It warms my heart to see you kids playing together and to see the care that other adults give you there. You will find nothing but positive support from me in your involvement there.
I want you to be yourselves around me and hold nothing back for fear of saying something “wrong.” I want you to feel free to ask me any questions you like, and I will do my best to answer them as well as I can. I also want you to always feel comfortable sharing your lives with me, and telling me about the things you do without worrying that I won’t approve of something just because I’m not a Christian anymore myself. I was very passionate about my faith for many years, and I have only respect for those like your mother and the rest of our family who worship alongside you at First Baptist. So you won’t have to edit yourselves or avoid any stories or conversations around me. I’m perfectly comfortable talking about these things, and I want you to be as well.
You may be wondering if my non-belief means that I want you to think the same way I do. Do I want you to grow up to be atheists like me? The honest answer is that it doesn’t matter to me in the end which way you believe, what matters to me is the kind of women you become. What I want most for you is for you to grow up to be loving, kind, intelligent, and compassionate women. I want you to continue learning to show care and love towards each other, and to respect both your mother and me as you already clearly do. I am quite proud of the young women that all of you are already becoming, and it thrills me to no end to watch you grow up together. Each of you girls is smart as a whip, and talented in different ways. I love the diversity of your personalities, and I want to see each of you use your various strengths to find your way in the world, developing useful careers and loving families for yourselves as you grow into adults. Those are the things that matter most to me.
So when you feel yourself pausing to edit what you want to say to me: Please don’t. Just be yourself and say whatever you want to say. Nothing should stand in the way of our being comfortable together, and even if it takes a little work to “get over it” after you’ve made this discovery about me, please make the effort. Our relationship is far too valuable to let a difference of belief get in the way of sharing our lives together. I’ve been doing this quite easily myself for years. I hope that you girls can do the same for me. I promise it’s worth the effort.