We hope this letter finds you well. Unfortunately, we need to discuss something that will likely not be pleasant for you. We are telling you this because we value our relationship with you and want that relationship to be built on authenticity and mutual understanding. With that, we need to tell you that we no longer believe in the church.
This is not a sudden or recent event; it is a process that we've been going through for over three years. It was painful at the beginning because our belief in the church was something we both held dear and took very seriously. We deeply appreciate our upbringing and the values we have been taught, as well as the opportunities for growth that you and the church have provided us. Our decision to leave was not made lightly. We simply can no longer proclaim faith in good conscience. We love each of you and enjoy hearing about all aspects of your lives, including spiritual and church-related experiences. Hopefully this news will not cause you to draw away from us and we will be able to love each other in spite of our differences.
This email does not include a laundry list of reasons why we no longer believe, but we assure you that we have not been offended by anyone nor have we left out of a desire to sin or slacken our commitment to what we hold to be true. Our lives will continue much as they did before. If, by chance, you have any desire to discuss the "why" we are happy to do so, but hope that this can be done after any initial shock has subsided to some degree.
We sent it off around noon and went to run some errands. At about the time we were finished with our errands I got a call from my sister. We had decided to not take calls from our family, but this was the sister that we figured was the most likely to not be judgmental, so I answered it. I was not disappointed.
She came out to me that she had gone through her own tribulation-filled journey of faith and had finally come to a testimony of her own. From this experience she learned that everyone has to make that decision for themselves, and she did not fault us for our decision. It was a good call, and I felt that we connected in a closer way than ever before.
Unfortunately she described to me that the scene she had just left at home where the rest of my family is was a depressing sight. My dad was speechless and everyone was in shock. Not good. I knew this wasn't going to go very well. At this point I'm just glad that I have one dear sister who I can count on to be understanding and non-judgmental. Bless her heart.
I didn't go too much into the reasons why we don't believe over the phone, but I did some. I constantly emphasized that I had no intention or desire to stomp on anyone's testimony or to offend or personally attack anyone. I think she understands. When the conversation was over she had just gotten back home, and who knows what conversations are happening there now. I don't know if I'd even want to know. Mark my words, my dad is going to be pretty defensive about this at the start. I do not think it is a good idea to talk to my parents on the phone for a while.
At this point I don't yet feel the exhilaration of being free and out yet. I still feel nervousness and anticipation about how my family is reacting and will react. It's going to get worse before it gets better. I don't know how much of an influence my sister can have on the rest of them, but at this point I think she's the only one I'm willing to talk to over the phone. I really don't think anyone else in my family has had their own journey yet as she has, and I don't think any of them besides her are going to be capable of showing much understanding at this point.
Wow! To have everybody be in shock like that! She said that my brothers were in tears! My brothers! In tears! It's just so wrong. Have we really turned their lives upside down today? They're going to have to re-position their entire view of us in their minds. We go from being on the good list to the bad list. Suddenly we can't be their example of a righteous family or whatever. It's as if we'd died in an accident. I guess we'll see what comes of this after the shock has worn off.