What are your reactions to this dialogue between a young girl and her father?
Girl: Daddy, can I talk to you?
Father: Sure sweetie… what is it?
Girl: I just heard some really disturbing information, and I don’t know what to do about it.
Father: Oh yeah…like what?
Girl: I just heard one of my friends talking about some stuff that was against what we believe in…and it is really bothering me.
Father: Like what?
Girl: I heard that ____________________, and ____________________, and it seems like she is making a good point, but I don’t know what to tell her.
Father: Are you sure she is the kind of friend you want to be hanging around?
Girl: She is the best friend I’ve ever had.
Father: There are powerful forces in the world that are blinding some of the very best and most elect people and causing them to disbelieve what they have always believed and know to be true. It is so sad to me to watch this happening. It does nothing but strengthen my resolve and deepens my testimony.
Girl: Daddy, do you know what the answer is, and do you know for sure that what we believe is for sure for sure true?
Father: I sure do. I know it with every fiber of my being.
Girl: But, how do you ‘know’? Isn’t that just another way of saying you really really believe it?
Father: Well… I guess I can see how you can see it like that, but I want you to know that I know more certainly than anything else in this entire world that what we believe is the most correct.
Girl: Daddy, have you ever wondered if you might be wrong?
Father: I most certainly did when I was younger, but now I have had experiences that have confirmed to me the truthfulness of what we believe beyond a shadow of any doubt whatsoever.
Girl: Would you give your life for it?
Father: I most certainly would. It has moved from belief to an absolute knowledge that is too precious to let go of for anyone or anything. I would give my life for it in a heartbeat.
Girl: My other friend who thinks we are completely wrong, has told me that she would die for her belief as well…and that she studied all kinds of beliefs and said that God finally spoke to her in an undeniable way that she is right and we are wrong. She also brought up some good questions that I didn’t have the answers to.
Father: Like what?
Girl: She said that these two beliefs of ours both can’t be true because they contradict each other. _______________________ and ________________________________.
Father: She doesn’t know what she is talking about.
Girl: I can kinda see what she means. Do you think those things contradict each other?
Father: It’s getting late and I think you need to get some rest… why don’t we talk about this some other time.
Girl: Daddy, I won’t be able to sleep…this is bothering me so much. I feel like I need some answers.
Father: There is a good answer for all of it, and we can talk about it later.
Girl: If there is a good answer, how come you can’t just tell me right now… I don’t know if you understand how bad this is bothering me.
Father: Look, I have had a witness so clear that what we believe is the truth that I would never be able to deny it.
Girl: That is exactly what my friend said.
Father: I don’t like your tone. Are you back talking to me?
Girl: No…not at all. I am just wondering if you have an answer, why you can’t just tell me?
Father: God works in mysterious ways. You really do need to go to bed now. Don’t forget to say your prayers.
Girl: That’s the main reason I came to talk to you. I was praying about it earlier and was confused because I felt like my friend has a really good point.
Father: Well she doesn’t, and I can promise you that.
Girl: Daddy, this is really affecting my ability to believe what I’ve always been taught by you guys… please help me. It feels like I am on a boat that has holes all over it, and I can see that it is sinking, and I am trying to patch up the holes as fast as I can, but it isn’t working…and now I am coming to you to help me patch up some of the holes, and you are just telling me the same thing my friend told me about how she ‘knows’ she is right, because of these powerful feelings she has had, and not actually helping me patch up the holes.
Father: What are you trying to say?
Girl: I am saying that this information seems legitimate and it completely makes it hard for me to say I still believe.
Father: Are you trying to tell me you don’t believe anymore… I can assure you that very, very bad things start to happen in your life when you start to doubt.
Girl: What kind of bad things do you think will start to happen to me, if I don’t get answers to help me believe?
Father: I don’t know exactly, but we’ll see. What you need to do is doubt your doubts so that won’t be your fate.
Girl: I’ve heard you say that before, so that is what I was trying to do. I was trying to doubt my doubts, then I realized it didn’t take too long to keep going on that path. Then I was doubting the doubting of my doubts, then right after that, I was doubting the doubting of the doubting of my doubts…and it is really troubling and confusing to me where that cycle stops.
Father: What are you trying to say?
Girl: I guess I am saying that, in all honesty, I can’t say that I believe right now, and I don’t know why God is not helping me.
Father: You are confused. The adversary is the author of confusion. You already know that. You need to stop talking and go to bed right now. You are clearly under the influence of the adversary and does not belong in our home.
Girl: Would you still love me if I didn’t believe anymore?
Father: Go to bed now.
Girl: I really need to know if you would still love me, if I told you I didn’t believe it anymore.
Father: (sternly) I have had a witness so powerful and undeniable that it is true, I know you are completely wrong…and you will too soon… give it time. Now go to bed.
Girl: (starting to cry) My boat is sinking. I’m feeling depressed.
Father: See what I mean, when you doubt, that is what starts to happen.
Girl: That is not what is making me feel depressed, it is that fact that you are supposed to be my safest place to get help and find refuge, and I am in need more than I ever have been, and you just keep telling me to go to bed, and you can’ t give me any answers. I’m beginning to think that there aren’t any answers, and that is why you can’t help me patch these holes in my boat.
Father: You need to stop talking this instance. I will not have this kind of contention brought into our home. The adversary is the author of contention, and you are falling right into his trap. This conversation is over.
Girl: (sobbing and starting to retreat to her room) Is your witness more important than your relationship with me?
Girl: (still sobbing) Are you going to forsake me, and get a greater reward when you die, like it talks about in the scriptures?
Girl: (sobbing uncontrollably) I think you really do think your beliefs are more important than your relationship with me.
Father: (Shouting) I’VE HAD MY WITNESS!
Girl: I can’t believe what I am witnessing right now. I feel like I want to die.
Father: See… more evidence that THAT is the adversary.
Girl: Without helping me patch up the holes in my sinking boat, can’t you see that you have taken it upon yourself to be my adversary.
Father: Stop talking now.
Girl: Are you afraid? Where is your courage? It doesn’t feel like you love me.
Father: (Resolute) Maybe I am. I do love you, but this conversation is over. You are never allowed to talk about these things again in this home.
Girl: If you love me, don’t you think I should be able to feel it. I guess you and I have different interpretations of what it means to love someone. I guess I have my answer as to whether or not you would forsake me. Another friend says what we believe in is a cult, because I wouldn’t be able to leave the group with my human dignity in tact. (Retreats)
Written with a very heavy heart tonight,
(Story is approximation of primary pieces of the ongoing dialogue between this girl and her father)
To every Mother and every Father of every single person in similar shoes to this girl: (a real girl who I know and love deeply, and her real father) Wouldn’t it be worth it to take a much longer series of moments to contemplate the impact of forsaking, at any level whatsoever, loved ones who honestly no longer believe what you may consider to be the ‘most complete’, or ‘most correct’ belief…that you were most likely born into? If you are wrong, wouldn’t you want to really ‘know’, before treating familial relationship so flippantly? Whether you are religious or not, I hope you could answer definitively in the affirmative on the humane, decent, and more loving side of that question.
Feel free to send a friend request on Facebook, if we seem like the kind of people you’d like to connect with. https://www.facebook.com/kenn.sullivan We have made some of the most amazing and authentic friends. They have been very instrumental in our much needed therapy, and we are very grateful to have connected with them, since ALMOST ALL of our believing friends and family have, in their minds somehow ‘righteously’, at some level, ‘forsaken’ us. We look forward to adding many more amazing and authentic friends to our lives. You can also email at: email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org