Leaving the Faith (Part I)
It has not been easy. You’ve been a believer ever since you can remember.
At the age of eight you realized that if you thought about a thing hard enough, it happened. Not always in the way you originally envisioned it or even within the time frame - but it happened.
At ten you invented that special way of crossing your fingers; it brought good luck and kept the bad things from happening. If you crossed your fingers on one hand it was moderately powerful, but if you crossed your fingers on both hands you were invincible, although this gesture could only be used for emergencies. No one must ever know. Your powers were secret. They were the gifts you were given for being one of the faithful, provided you never talked about it. Provided you did what you needed to do.
As you grew older you read The Diary of Anne Frank, you watched television specials on the Dangers of Strangers, you heard the grown-ups talking about AIDS. You learned that there was no guarantee. God may or may not choose to keep you and your loved ones safe. You would have to do more. Suffer more. Worry more. Prove your faith.
When you were sixteen, you set yourself the task of checking that each door in your house was locked at least three times before you allowed yourself to go to bed. Three is a very powerful number. You couldn’t do it all at the same time. That would have been cheating. That wouldn’t have counted. You had to go around the house three times. It was a big house. There were many doors. It was South Africa, in the post-apartheid years. You would whisper the same word under your breath three times.
“Locked. Locked. Locked.”
Then you would turn on the alarm and go upstairs and lock the gate that closed the upstairs from the downstairs.
“Locked, locked, locked.”
You don’t think your parents ever knew about how many times you checked the doors, but they knew about you counting the stairs.
“Don’t do that,” your mother had snapped when she overheard you muttering numbers.
“Why?” you had asked. Alarmed by her alarm. “What does it mean?”
“Nothing good,” she answered. She didn’t say more. She didn’t have to. Her silence said the rest and you knew you could never tell her about all the things you had to do.
Still, for all those years you lived in that house, no one ever broke in. And your faith was rewarded.
I look forward to hearing your thoughts-please leave them in the Comments.