This past weekend, I finally "came out" and told my parents I was no longer a Christian. Things unfolded like I thought they would: my parents acted as if they saw it coming (I don't think they did), they then tried to dissuade me by using apologetic tactics (none of which I hadn't heard, if not believed, before), then they gave up, said they loved me no matter what, and promised to keep praying for me. It wasn't easy, but at the same time it wasn't nearly as hard as I imagined. While my parents were visibly emotional, I had a zen-like calm (something I didn't expect), which I thought actually undermined one of their arguments that I didn't have "hope". Truth is, I have a lot more hope now than I used to!
Overall, it was a good experience, though I don't want to repeat it.
Luckily, I was able to tell them in person. Though they live over 2000 miles away, they had made plans to visit long before I had awakened to my new worldview, and the timing of it meant I didn't have to tell them over the phone or just keep quiet until around Christmas. Several months ago, I would have called this "providence"—but given the circumstances, let's just call it serendipity.
So the grand total of people whom I've personally told is ten: my wife, my parents, my sister, and our six closest friends. The best part has been how many people have been supportive, even if my rejection of Christianity runs against their own beliefs. It's times like these that tell you who truly cares about you, not just about whether you fit their definition of "acceptable." It also makes me glad for the friends we have, even if they're scattered around the country.
In some ways, the hard work is over. I've still got some mountains to climb, not the least of which is talking to four of my close "spiritual" guides. Each of them has in some way helped train me for Christian ministry, and I respect each of these four men greatly. So telling them that I don't believe much of what they taught me, and most of what they've dedicated their own lives to won't be an easy conversation. One of them, too, will probably respond like my parents and try to dissuade me. That means I'll have to be able to articulate clearly what I think, and that's not always easy for me.
Plus, I've decided to write a letter to tell my not-so-close friends and colleagues, as well as my extended family. That may yield a number of positive conversations; most likely, though, it will yield a number of well-meaning emails that ignore my objections to Christianity and try to convince me that it's really true. At the end of it all, though, I think I'll feel even more of what I felt after telling my parents and my sister: relief and freedom. Finally being honest with myself and those I love for the first time has brought the deepest sense of peace I've yet known.