So, as soon as my dad got me in the van and got going 40 miles an hour, he brought up the Methodist Reporter piece. I was hugely nervous. I know it probably seems silly because I’m all the time fighting with my dad about this or that. But I don’t like to and never want to have a fight with him about religion because it is so fundamental to who he is as a person. I don’t want him to think that I think his life’s work is stupid or useless or to be mocked, especially because one of the things I most admire about him is his commitment and passion to ministry and his belief in a God so radically better than you’d think a guy like my dad would believe in.
But it turned out that he really liked the piece. He was just upset that I was upset at the ways he’d been treated as a minister. He quoted the Bible and tried to reassure me that, if, as a minister, you’re not pissing someone off, you’re not doing it right.
He said those things when I was young, too. But again, I think this is a place where we’re just going to differ. I think it’s fine for God to say to a grown person (or, hell–and maybe you’ll think this is weird, but I believe it–a child who He wants in the ministry eventually) that it’s going to be a rough go for him or her and sometimes the very people in his or her congregation are going to hate him or her. But God can’t expect me, as a child of a minister, to be okay with that. God can make that arrangement with my dad–This part is going to suck, but I need you to do it. God cannot demand that I watch the suffering of my father and pretend it’s cool. I can accept that my Dad has made an arrangement I would not and I can respect that and not try to talk him out of it or work to undermine him from doing it, but no, I cannot warp my heart so that it doesn’t pain me when the bad things he knew were going to happen happen.
It’s not fine and it never was. But I appreciate my dad trying to make me feel like it is and was.