This post from my Questioning Faith journal on Week 1, Day 2 contains some foul language. Early in my journey, there was a lot of freedom in writing these kinds of words on the screen. It felt like a release to use words that were right for what I was trying to communicate.
Please also remember that I was writing under the notion that there is no alternative for “Bible-Believing Christian” other than “Atheist.” The messages, emails, texts, comments and phone calls I’m getting as a result of posting all this on a blog are opening doors to new words and definitions for my faith journey. THANK YOU. I’m exploring those.
Week 1, Day 2
Wow, being an atheist is a free feeling. I don’t mean free of the responsibility to do right instead of wrong, or free of adulting. I mean…free to explore and wonder and question and consider and exist. As I share these thoughts with Charlie (who keeps remarking how much he loves the free-spirited and fun me that’s emerging), he tells me he thinks I had a warped view of Christianity.
He means well.
I think I’ll likely hear this a lot if/when I “come out” to my Christian friends and colleagues because 89% of them haven’t read the Bible through, either, and so have crafted their version of Christianity from a conglomeration of sermons, bible studies, songs, intuition and life experience.
Charlie is confused when I reveal my relief at no longer being slavishly dedicated to figuring out a silent, contradictory, unseen being’s purpose for my life and direction in my day-to-day activity. I lived in that constant state of, “Do You want me to do this? Say this? Be this? Or not? Which direction? Am I pleasing you? Am I displeasing you?”
I was taught (and taught others) that God created me for a purpose and my job is to discover it and live it.
Hell, Rick Warren made millions of dollars off this very idea with The Purpose-Driven Life and so did his Christian publishing house, Zondervan (now a division of HarperCollins). The sheer number of products coming out of the Christian marketplace that exhort, encourage, plead, beg, instruct the faithful to FIND YOUR PURPOSE is overwhelming. And I was totally in it.
This idea of being created by God for a purpose combined with my reading of the bible and I realized that if I didn’t do what He said to do, in the way He said to do it, He’d be ready with the punishment and that could very well include death for me or those I love.
That left me in a continual state of checking with him to see if I was on the right path, which is about like walking down a sidewalk staring at a cell phone. I missed the wonder swirling around me.
I often quoted the passage from Isaiah wherein God promises that, “Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you saying, ‘This is the way, walk in it.’”
You know, I did feel a direction something like that. It was mine, I think. My intuition or wisdom or common sense, all of which are capable of steering me well whether I’m conscious of it or not. I feed into myself information. Self then processes that and spits back out thought and inclinations. The brain and mind are incredible entities.
For my entire adult life, I have tried to be a person who builds bridges instead of walls. I never unfriended someone on Facebook for offending or annoying me, I didn’t leave the room or a friendship in real life if someone said they were a democrat/liberal/lover of anything other than the norm/etc. It honestly confused me when people did these things.
Why surround yourself with a bunch of yes people?
Where’s the intellectual curiosity, the drive for diversity in your experience, the desire to be friends with someone other than a replica of yourself? From a Christian perspective, how are you going to “lead people to Jesus” if you never talk to anyone who doesn’t already profess to know him?
Today, though, I started unfriending folks on Facebook.
Two of them, to be exact. These are people who aren’t my real friends anyway (I know this) and who hold no patience or care for anyone who believes other than they do. They are vehement Christians. They pretend to be nice and gracious, but an honest read of their words or experience with them in real life shows a person who believes (a) she is right, (b) you are wrong, (c) until you come into a place of “right understanding” you aren’t worth a kind interaction or their presence.
Before, I felt a need to be nice anyway, to keep the peace and give a public testimony to the church getting along, even when individuals disagree. The bible says, “Inasmuch as it rests with you, live at peace with each other.” (Hebrews 12:14 and Romans 12:18) That’s a directive given to the believers, a/k/a the church.
So, I did. I bit my tongue often. I softened my words. I let people accuse me of things and I gave that “soft answer that turneth away wrath” instead of the “grievous word that stirs up anger.” (from the Book of Proverbs, most of which was written by King Solomon, who had a thousand wives and over a thousand concubines and lived in royal splendor and godly favor despite that blatant disobedience – It occurs to me now that it’s probably much easier to ignore someone who’s being rude or mean to you if you can just move along to the next bedchamber/willing female.)
But not today. Today, I decided I don’t have to put up with that for the sake of the church’s testimony. Today, I unfriended those catty bitches.
Writing that is exhilarating. I love journaling. I have missed journaling! I figure out so much by journaling. Why did I ever stop?
Oh, that would be because someone warned me that – while satan and his demons can’t read my thoughts (the Holy Spirit was in me, so they couldn’t get in) – they would know those thoughts if I said them aloud or wrote them down (because they’re all around, just waiting to get a foothold somewhere). This, too, is scriptural. The devil was roaming the earth, looking for somebody to attack, and came across Job. Read it. Or flip to the New Testament and read Peter’s warning (I Peter 5:8) to “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” I decided there was no way those sneaky things would get in on my thoughts, so I began holding a ton inside my mind.
I’m a writer.
I stopped writing my thoughts.
I stopped exploring my thoughts, my worlds, my characters, my stories.
I stopped letting it outside my mind.
I stopped writing.
I cannot believe I did that. I cannot BELIEVE I let myself be robbed of who and what I am. No wonder I haven’t written more than a couple of novellas in 7 years and struggled to finish those. How can I make up entire worlds when I’m holding so many feelings and wonderings and thoughts inside my mind, safe from evil eyes? It’s a good brain, but there are limits to how many threads it can hold onto before it lets some go out of self-preservation.
No more of that.
My thoughts have freedom. And I’m going to write them and say them and live them without fear that I’m displeasing the contradictory entity or giving weapons to the evil one.
I run across catty bitches, I’m going to write down that they are catty bitches and that I’m not friends with them anymore. And I’m not going to worry that somehow I’m ruining the church’s witness to being a peaceable, loving people by writing all that and responding to that truth. I’m not going to worry that god sees it and is displeased and planning punishment/chastening accordingly. I’m not going to worry that satan sees it and gleefully rejoices at the breaking of a relationship between two believers.
I’m just going to say out loud, “Y’all are mean, not nice, ugly folks and I don’t want to be around you.”
Ah, writing in freedom. How I have missed you.