This is a three part blog series that explains my current state when it comes to matters of faith and spirituality. This is one of the hardest things I’ve written, but hopefully it will be instructive to those who might have a similar background and journey as myself.
When a Christian hears of someone “losing their faith,” the instinctual desire is to do whatever you can to bring them back. When other friends of mine have made the transition to un-belief I’ve reacted in a very similar manner. I’ve pulled out all the arguments I can muster to try and convince them otherwise. I would even feel a sense of sadness that these people were no longer going to be a part of the same faith community that I was in. I’m sure from the outside my actions often seemed arrogant, like I was trying to correct a wayward child. I actually regret some of the ways I’ve behaved around these people, but I know that they forgave me and they realized that I was just trying to help.
Now that I have made the conscious decision to step away from the Christian faith, I know that there will be others who will have a lot to say to me about this, and I’ll listen with respect, and treat them as others have treated me. However, after years of contemplation on this, I know that I’m comfortable with my decision. I no longer count myself among those who consider themselves Christian.
So what does that mean? Does it mean that I could never again accept the notion of a divine being in the universe? Quite the opposite really. I feel that my mind is now much more open to accepting that there are things in the universe that I can’t understand. Some of those things might be some form of intelligence or divinity, but I’m no longer concerned with trying to make their possible existence a cornerstone of my life. Is there something “out there” in the universe? Maybe. However, I’m not going to hinge my life on one interpretation of how that divinity may or may not exist.
The term atheism is a loaded term for many people, and was very much so for myself. In my mind atheists were “anti” Christianity, and wanted nothing more than to see it destroyed. Although that’s true for some people, for many others atheism is simply the absence of belief in something divine. Although I haven’t given up hope that there might be something out there, I feel like I fall into this category of atheist. I’m less concerned with what may or may not be out there in the universe, and more concerned with how we treat each other here on earth now, in this life.
I also don’t want to see the church destroyed, or any religion for that matter. A person’s belief in a higher power can be a powerful thing, and I have no right to try and take that from someone. As long as their faith doesn’t cause harm to others, and in fact raises others up, I have no issue with it at all. I still respect much of what the Church teaches, and what the Bible has to say about how we act towards others. There is still much good and right in many different religions and faiths.
For me, I’ve simply chosen to accept that I’m on a different path. I cannot say with 100% certainty what this means for my life going forward, but I know that my spirituality has changed. I’m no longer that 13 year old boy who wants nothing more than to stand up in front of a church and preach sermons. I’ve grown into someone who sees his life, and the world, as something more than what can be contained in a single expression of religion. I’m done with trying to rectify the illogic of matters of faith, and move on towards making this life the best it can be for those I love, and those I don’t even know, for as many years as I have to spend doing so.
From a practical standpoint this doesn’t mean much, as I haven’t been going to church for a couple years anyway. My hope is that it doesn’t mean much for those that know me either. Just because I consider myself among the “nones” now, should in no way affect how I treat people, or how they should be expected to be treated by me. To some extent my choice to reject the Christian story of the divine is a personal one. My actions, with or without faith, should always reflect my desire to want the best for people, to protect those in need, and to treat all people with respect and kindness.
I feel like I’m starting a new journey in my life, and I’m not sure where it will take me in the coming years. I do know that I have wonderful friends and family that support me, no matter my choice of faith. I’m excited to see where all of this brings me in the future, and I’m happy to finally have made a conscious decision to put pen to paper and share where I’m at with those around me.
I chose the story of A Christmas Carol for this blog series for a reason. In that story Scrooge transitions through a journey of reflection of the past, present, and future, and comes out the other side as a better and happier person. I’m hopeful that sharing this with everyone will do the same for me, and perhaps give some help to those who might also be struggling with matters of faith.
Merry Christmas to all!