THE MOST UNCOMFORTABLE DISCUSSION I'VE EVER HAD WITH MY DAD ABOUT RELIGION

This list was requested by @PeteOnEarth, and it will probably be a lot different than the title would lead one to expect
  1. I need to start by explaining that my dad is a pastor, but I always forget that. Everyone I'm friends with also forgets it. Because he was the most relaxed of all my friend's parents growing up, and genuinely the coolest, funniest person I know.
  2. I went to college with just one other person from my high school, and he once described him as such:
  3. "Kayla's dad is like the Music Man, but if he never turned out to be bad and just knew everyone and helped everyone all the time."
  4. By high school I knew that I didn't really consider myself a Christian, but my dad wasn't too put off by that.
  5. One thing he always says is "If you never have doubts, you don't really have faith."
  6. But our most uncomfortable conversation about religion started out as a convo about life choices and following your dreams.
  7. In high school, I, for stupid reasons, convinced myself that I could be happy doing a non-artistic job for the rest of my life.
  8. Though even the thought of this ramped up my depression at a slow incline until I was in full blown identity crisis. The whole thing involved a guy, your first love is supposed to last forever, and it makes you stupid.
  9. So eventually dad sat me down to talk. He happens to be SUCH a good musician, with binders full of old folky songs that make me groove and cry. He basically explained that because he never pursued his artistic dreams, he never stopped wondering "what if?" He decided to have a family and settle down.
  10. He knew that path wouldn't make me happy, so he encouraged me to follow my dreams. And I am.
  11. Eventually I lost the guy. Got back on the college bandwagon, which I'd rebelled about at some point (for me being a teenager was like ODing on stupid pills on a semi-regular basis), and worked towards making it all happen.
  12. But the whole time I felt guilty and frustrated and just bad inside about my dad not doing what I was. I took our conversation as an admission of longing.
  13. It wasn't.
  14. Eventually my weird vibes got the whole idea to mom, who wasn't thrilled that I was walking around thinking that we were some backup plan that snipped my dad's potential. Or whatever. I know I didn't use words that dramatic. I also considered myself heavily agnostic at this point, so the idea he'd given it up for the church was shudder-worthy.
  15. So dad and I had our most uncomfortable conversation about religion. It was brief, and I was frustrated at the time, but it's something I always remember.
  16. He said, "Kayla, I don't think I've wasted my life. I'm happy. Sure, I say what-if, but I love my family and my job—
  17. "But what if you're wrong? What if there's no one or nothing up there and what you've spent your whole life doing this for nothing?"
  18. He got very calm, looked me in the eye, and said, "Then that will be ok. Even if there is no God, though I truly believe there is, then I still will have spent my entire life helping people. Because of my job I can be there for them in their time of need, I can go anywhere in any hospital wearing my collar,
  19. I get to provide counseling, my puppeteering makes dozens of kids laugh every Sunday, and the contemporary music I write has brought together this incredible community. No matter what, I'm glad this is what I've done."
  20. Some paraphrasing in their obviously, this was a long time ago, but the beginning is hard fact. I've played it over so many times in my head and it always makes me emotional.
  21. That's why now I'm more willing to sing up front with the band on Sundays, to take part in VBS and Christmas Eve. Because it really is a community helping each other.
  22. Unfortunately "The Church" in the US has a pretty bad rap. And I wish Trinity was the rule, not the exception. Dad preached on how we need to protect and love gay people back when the teen gay suicides were reaching height publicity. That sermon was somewhat of a taboo, but he did it because he says what he believes.
    (And anyone who left because of it is clearly toxic anyway)
  23. And he NEVER says "love the sinner, hate the sin," because he truly believes being gay is not a sin. And he gave me the bible verses to back that up when I went to a conservative middle and high school and would come home raging at the backwards mindsets.
  24. I wish he was the rule for pastors, but then half the religious books he reads are Buddhist. He's got a different mindset than the mass, or at least the negative mass that make the news.
  25. This was a lot of words, but he's my favorite person. Every time I write a play with loud sexual tones, he and mom are there basically tearing up from pride.
  26. And if I need help with a sound system for a short film with karaoke, he will take down his after church (aka up since 4ish AM), drive it the 4 hours to my set, set it up, let us use it, pack it up, and drive it the 4 hours home.
  27. He makes me see the brighter possibilities for organized religion. Maybe he did that for you too, if you made it through all the words :)