Aunt Lilian said it was time, because she was eight now, and she would understand. Aunty brought her to the white chapel and she was taken away by the high ceiling and stained glass and resounding song. They taught her that she had another father called God in the sky, and those who believed in Him would see Him when they died. It was a place called Heaven, more beautiful than anything she could ever imagine, and she would never feel lonely or sad. It was full of lovely people who would love her and never make her cry. It was always happy.
Those who did not go to church did not go to this pretty place after they died. They would go to a land of fire and torment. It was called hell, and it was red and black and full of the screams of pain. There, everyone was sad and angry, and there was no way of getting out, forever. Hell made her cry.
She liked the idea of this other Father who loved her, and went home to tell her parents so. They dismissed her, the young girl who didn't know better; they told her she only had one father, and he was here right in front of her. Don't waste your time going to church to play with the kids there, they said. Stay home and do your work.
No, daddy, she said, starting to get fearful. If you don't love God you will go to a bad fiery place called Hell. Hell was not for good people, but in order to get to Heaven you had to believe in God. Daddy, I won't like Heaven without you. The little girl wasn't happy anymore. She was pleading now, pleading, terrified, desperate to know that her parents would follow her to the happy place.
They laughed it off, stroking her hair, holding her close, telling her not to worry about such things; she was only eight and death was far away.
She was scared now. Mummy and daddy weren't listening to her, but she didn't want her parents to go to Hell, because they were nice people and they didn't belong there.
She went back the next week in tears, clinging to Aunt Lilian, pleading for her to make her parents come to church and know her Father, too, but they never came.
She grew in her knowledge and love of the Lord, and every week she tried, she tried with all her might to get her parents to see what she had seen: the simple, pure love of a Father who loved. But they never came. One day they got tired of her persuading and snapped: look, we don't care what you do on Sundays, but if you try and make us go with you one more time, we're throwing you out of the house.
Liddy was ten.
She shut herself away. In school, she sat in class and tearfully looked at the people she counted as her friends one by one: 'she's Christian; she's going to heaven.' 'he's not.' 'she's not.' 'she's really snotty sometimes, but she knows God, too.' 'she doesn't.' 'she doesn't.' 'my best friend doesn't know God.'
She shut herself away. She couldn't deal with the pain of loving people who were going to Hell in the end. Secondary school came and she put herself in a Methodist school; there she made the most beautiful friends, and she knew they would truly last forever. But at home she was a stone. She had to shut herself away. Be a cold as ice and as hard as rock, do not love them, because they won't be with you after they die and they'll break your heart.
She closed herself off from the rest of the world. What else could she do? She was young and full of affection for everyone; she couldn't bear to know that these beautiful people who didn't know God were going to a place of fire and death.
One day, she snapped. God, look at these beautiful people, she said. Look at these lovely people with hearts of gold. They are good, and they have pure hearts, you can't blame them for having hearts that didn't understand You. Only You bring people to You, so why don't you open their hearts? Why is it their fault that they're going to Hell? My parents, Daddy God, I want my parents to be with me forever. You say you created all of us. You love us. If you love my parents why are you sending them to Hell just because You didn't open their hearts to Yourself? I don't understand. I don't understand why you say you love us.
Then try again, a stirring voice in her heart said. Try again; you know My burden now, so go out there and bring My people back to Me.