Sunday, June 22, 2008

A Slow Decline of Faith

So I left off my story telling about how I couldn't stand being told what to think. But that didn't end my faith or belief in God. I may have bought into the evangelical movement like it was an impulse purchase at the supermarket but I still believed in God. I just didn't want to have anything to do with organized religion.

The years following were busy with college so I didn't have much time to think deeply about God. It wasn't until I was out of college and working for a living that God came back into my life. I've spent many hours thinking that perhaps I was abandoned by God because I had abandoned him. But anyone with a child will understand that to abandon your child is not something that you can do easily. I'm not sure what my son would have to do for me to turn my back on him. So if God, the Father, really did abandon me because I turned away from him because I had so much going on my life then he must be easily offended.

God did come up a bit during college. I was living with my fiance who would describe herself as spiritual but not religious. I remember being uncomfortable with Taoist usage of the term God (I understand now that Taoism seems to be pantheistic) , it made me feel like I was worshiping some other God. I don't remember praying but I imagine I did. I was never one to pray for good grades or a better job but later on I did pray for a healthy child.

The first big hit my faith took was when my now ex-wife miscarried. I didn't understand at the time that many pregnancies end in miscarriage. I guess I had a very ignorant view of pregnancy even though I had taken multiple biology classes. This event had a huge impact on my psyche. For two months I had fantasized about what it would be like to have a child. I had already gone out and bought a cute outfit that could be worn by either a boy or a girl. My wife had even nicknamed her/him. But then she started bleeding. After calling her ob/gyn we went to the hospital. I remember when they admitted us they asked what our religion was. I'm not sure if this is normal for all hospitals but considering this hospital was named after a saint I figured it was normal for them. We had a hard time answering the question. It seems they didn't like "just Christian." I honestly can't remember if I prayed during all of this. Praying for me was never a public event. It was always something I did internally. But the end result was there was no baby.

But I prayed more during the second pregnancy so I thought that I was on the right track. It didn't occur to me to look at how many atheists had miscarriages. I was raised to have faith and that is what I did. The end result this time was a very healthy boy!

The next chink in my faith armor was when my wife told me she wanted a divorce. For me at the time this came from out of nowhere. I had lived with this woman since I was 19. Now I was 30 and I was on my own. Fortunately, it turned out to be an "amicable" divorce. I got equal custody of my son and that's all I needed.

For the first time in my life I was living on my own. And for the first time in my life I realized that when I prayed there was nobody listening. I looked for wisdom but not in Christianity. I don't recall actively rejecting God, there was no moment where I looked in the mirror and said "I don't believe in God." like Ayaan Hirsi Ali had. I remember browsing Borders for books and coming across a books of quotes by the Dalai Lama. I picked it up and liked what I read. I bought another book. I found logic in some of the Buddhist philosophy. But I didn't read past explanations of reincarnation. Something inside me had clicked. Something inside me rejected anything supernatural.

Being on my own and having only a 3-year old to talk to was cathartic. It also gave me a lot of time to think about life and what it was all about. When you become a parent something inside you changes. I don't know if there is evidence of some parent gene activating but you become focused on making sure your child survives. I thought hard about how I was raised and what I thought was done right and what was done wrong and tried to make sure I raised him accordingly.

But at no time during all of this did I look up to God and ask for help. I realized that I must be in control of my life where I was able to control it and to live with the fact that sometime things happen and there is always an explanation for them.

It wasn't until last Christmas that I decided to take another look at my faith and come to the final conclusion that no, there is no God. But that I will save for later...

1 comment:

pursuitofmeaning said...

"Cathartic"? - cool word dude!!!

So how many times do you ignore your child when he talks to you? Does that mean you stop existing?

Just having some fun - I will wait for the continuance before I comment.