Yesterday I told you I was an atheist and a secular humanist.
For Part Two of the atheist series, I want to dive in and explore the journey that brought me to the point I am now.
In an eensy-weensy nutshell:
33 years I was a committed follower of Christ. Born and raised in a christian home. My parents were leaders in our small church. My dad teaching our Awana club and my mom the church piano player. I attended a teeny tiny christian school on the same campus as my church for the entirety of my education years (with a quick and limited transfer to public for 5th grade where I heard about the Big Bang Theory *gasp*).
Not that one:
I was baptized by choice and said the salvation prayer more times than I can count. I followed the rules and rarely questioned. I never drank, never smoked, never had premarital sex (clarify: premarital intercourse). My summers consisted of church and church camps. We were consistent sunday morning, sunday evening, and wednesday night attendees. My circle of friends never (or rarely) consisted of any one outside the faith. We all believed the same things and walked the same straight line. Mostly. The most rebellious thing for me…I kissed a lot of boys and found myself attracted to boys I wasn’t supposed to like, those who were a little rebellious or outside my faith. There was the mormon, the camp leader, the jailed wiccan, the cute waiter, the arrogant twin, the heavy weed smoker, the boys I met at golf n stuff and hopped in their car to wherever, the foreigners I met on the beach, all the ones I don’t remember, and then the one I was supposed to love, the school chaplain. The golden boy that all mothers wish their daughter would date. He was my first love. My first real heartbreak. And, finally, at the ripe old age of 15 I started dating my husband! These years were filled with natural desires conflicted with shame. And that shame still surfaces today.
I married Adam when I was 20 and he was 19. We were still both walking that straight and narrow purity line of christianity so in order for us to remain faithful to our beliefs we needed to get married so we could have sex. Seriously. This is a key component to why we married! It’s almost laughable now. Okay, it’s downright funny (and stupid)! I wouldn’t recommend getting married at 20, waiting to have sex, or letting religion teach you about your sexuality but that’s a post I’ve already written.
During the first 13 years of our marriage we carried on what we were taught. We attended church each Sunday. We went to weekly Bible studies. We prayed and did devotions, taught marriage classes in our church, voted republican, shunned science (and I have a science degree…again, crazy laughable), tithed our 10%, spanked our child, taught christian based parenting classes, feared what we didn’t know (homosexuals, democrats, feminists, eastern medicine, meditation and yoga, yada yada). We were the model christian couple and, yet, we were both suffering with shame and small doubts. Silently and alone.
For us doubt began to trump faith. Long story short, Adam started questioning and through education, experience, and reason he came to a place where he could no longer put his faith in god, his time and money in church, or remain in the beliefs he had held without question for so much of his life. Adam’s leap to find answers and make room for questioning eventually encouraged me to allow myself to seek answers to the questions I had buried or excused away. I devoured every morsel of fact and reason I could find only to become an atheist faster than Adam, surprising both of us.
Finding our truth did not mean the road was easy. All you have to do is look back at my earlier posts and see what leaving religion was like. It rocked our world, our marriage, our lifestyle, our friendships, our family, our sense of self. It rocked our entire beings until we were so completely broken and angry. Angry at ourselves for never questioning. Angry for the way we had parented our oldest. Angry at others for selling us lies. Angry at religion for it’s use of shame and manipulation. Angry at others for defending a belief that they blindly follow. So much anger. Anger is an important fuel to bring people to new levels of awareness but it is exhausting.
It’s only been recent that anger has subsided. It still surfaces when I focus on atrocities and nonsense that can come from the religious. It still surfaces when people question my morality, pray for my soul, or tell me that my children will never know peace. And it still has a rightful place in this continued journey. Anger is just no longer necessary for me to survive. It was then but it’s not now.
That brings us to today. Today our families (most of the members) are still highly religious. My dad and stepmom are missionaries. My mom is a pastor’s assistant. Adam’s mom remains committed to her beliefs in god and a bigoted prophet. But we are different and we are confident about where this journey has brought us. Honestly, life has never felt more genuine. More peaceful. More accepting. Even with the amount of judgement and rejection we have and continue to experience.
Today we are,without a doubt, atheists. Full fledged non-believing atheists. We value the amount of studying and vulnerability we
experienced to reach this point. And today we are better human beings raising more aware and socially conscious children. We give ourselves more grace and the shame that religion so strongly forced upon us is slowly dissipating. We take pride in our atheism and our non-belief. We take pride in our secular values and the life that we are living. And, honestly, after being on both sides of the fence I wish that every person could experience a life that is good without god (secular humanism). I, personally, think that the world would be a better place without the fantasy of the supernatural and the fantasy of an afterlife. I wish every person would find answers to their doubts, ask the important questions, give their religion a hefty once-over, and find the strength to walk away from something that feels really comfortable if and when reason trumps faith.
Tomorrow (or the day after…I’m non-commital these days with four kids on summer break to chase around) part 3 in the series.
- When a Christian asks me “How Did You BECOME an Atheist?” (gammaatheist.com)
- Religious Abuse Towards Atheists (The Triumphs Of Science Over Indoctrination) (voiceinthecrowd.org)
- 10 Surefire Ways to Annoy An Atheist (drivingmisty.wordpress.com)
- Atheists to start 1-800 hotline (religion.blogs.cnn.com)