The Price of Getting Free
My Christianity was casual to non-existent till I was about 11 years old. We had moved to a new suburb and my mom hadn't found a new church for us to attend. That is, until I broke into a neighbour's house with an older next-door neighbour for fun. My parents were horrified that they were raising a criminal for a daughter and sent to a church just a block from our house. I had no choice. I carried an unhealthy guilt about that incident for years and spent my time at church and in prayer, principally to rid myself of the anxiety of guilt in the eyes of God, an altogether new concept.
My mother is highly religious. Sold out for Christ as it were. In her own way, her faith became a way of coping with a failing marriage. The worse things got, the more faithful and devoted she would become. The expectation was that would follow suit with equal fervour. This meant attending Sunday school and church, fasting, watching the Trinity Broadcasting Channel most hours of the day and having lengthy prayer and bible study almost every night before bed, at its peak in my final year of high school. By the time I left for University, I already knew that very little of the belief and rituals resonated with me except the very basic tenet of loving yourself and other people. But because my mother was the dominant parent and very beloved by me, and by the very nature of parenting relationships, withdrew her affections when I didn't behave according to expectation, I was afraid to tell her. This made holidays back home participating in these unwanted rituals agonising.
My mother had always noted my slackness but was now growing increasingly alarmed. It started with a misplaced word here and there betraying my true feelings more and more and culminated in me refusing to church one morning and refusing to participate in family prayer that evening. She was devastated. So was I. But it was the freeest I had felt in a long time. I felt it was time that she see and know me as I am. The discussions that followed were painful. I was accused. I was emotionally blackmailed. I was shunned. But I had to speak my heart clearly and honestly and ask to build a new relationship based on truth.