3/22/2014 | Share this article: View CommentsBy undercover agnostic ~
This morning, I was thinking of my third child, Sterling, and the scare I had with her in utero. When my pregnancy test confirmed her existence, I was absolutely elated. And even though I couldn’t see her, I knew she was growing inside of me because the pink strip magically appeared and it was deemed reliable to 99.9%. From that moment on, I loved her, talked to her, and bonded with her. It may seem silly to think that I could love so deeply and completely, a mere embryo who wasn’t developed enough to love me back. But I only needed proof that she was indeed real to completely fall head over heels in love with her (or at least the idea of her) and believe that she would emerge from my womb one day as my beautiful offspring.
This analogy helps explain my relationship with God. In a similar way, I truly believed that Jesus was real and that he lived in my heart, forgiving my sins, comforting me, and directing my path. The evidence for this belief was the Bible, the Holy inspired Word of God. Because the Bible said it, and I trusted it as a reliable source- accuracy rate 100% (so I was told), I had no reason to believe otherwise. The Bible told me how amazing Jesus was and that he loved me. So I loved him in return with everything in me, in much the same way I loved Sterling even though I couldn’t see her.
Several months into my pregnancy, I started spotting. Immediately I was gripped with dread and terror. What if I was miscarrying? What if she doesn’t survive? I desperately tried to detect signs of life—kicking, hiccups, elbow jabs, but couldn’t be sure if any movement was real or merely the product of my wishful imagination.
The positive pregnancy test, confirming her conception, no longer offered any hope or consolation. That information had become obsolete when the bleeding started. Now, I was unsure of whether to stay hopeful in the event that it was just a false alarm, or to start emotionally detaching in order to be able to cope with the loss, should I discover my pregnancy had been prematurely terminated. I needed more evidence--New evidence.
Likewise, when I learned that the Bible was full of errors, contradictions, superstitions, forgeries, and later interpolations, my faith started to hemorrhage. This evidence I relied so heavily upon to validate my relationship with my unseen deity, was no longer valid. For the first time, I couldn’t say for certain that Jesus lived inside of me or that the conviction I felt when I sinned was the Holy Spirit.
I needed more evidence-- proof that what I had believed for so long was in fact real and true. Suddenly, like a breaking dam, the doubts began flooding in. What if there really was no Jesus? What if everything I’ve believed for 40 years has all been a big lie? This person whom I loved and talked to daily, the center of my universe, might not even exist, but I have no way of knowing. Do I try and hang on, or do I simply let go and let the spiritual miscarriage run its course?
Suddenly, like a breaking dam, the doubts began flooding in. What if there really was no Jesus? What if everything I’ve believed for 40 years has all been a big lie? When I scheduled an emergency visit to my OBGYN, I was overwhelmed with joy to see on the ultrasound, Sterling’s little heart still beating. She was alive and all was well. Those precious pulsating thumps contracting and expanding, infused hope and assurance to keep on loving and nurturing the relationship until the day my faith would become reality and I would be able physically see her beyond the grainy black and white screen of the imaging device. Throughout the rest of the pregnancy, my baby sensor was on high alert as I celebrated every bump and jostle that assured me she was still thriving.
The ultrasound was the verifiable proof I needed to joyfully carry on with my pregnancy. So too, I needed something substantial to reassure me that Jesus was real and Christianity was true. I sought out new evidence-something--anything to let me know that there was still a reason to hope. I listened to hours and hours of debates, read book after book, watched dozens of YouTube videos, and listened to multiple podcasts, all in an attempt to gather enough evidence to resurrect my extremely fragile and dying belief in God/Jesus. But, the evidence seemed to only add more nails to my spiritual coffin. When methodically weighing the truth claims, scientifically, philosophically, rationally and historically, atheism seemed to win every time and my spiritual pulse was becoming undetectable. It was as if the doctors had slathered my belly with the lubricating jelly, hooked me up to the ultrasound and looked inside to find no signs of life. No baby. No Jesus. No Holy Spirit—just an empty cavity where the God of the universe had once presumably resided. In that moment, my emotions went crazy. I felt giddy, joy, freedom, relief, embarrassment, fear, grief, denial, sadness, anger, all mixed together and displayed in varying combinations like the apples, lemons and oranges lining up on a Lucky Strike slot machine.
I wrote this last year at the beginning of my de-conversion as a way of processing my thoughts and emotions. To this day many of my closest friends have no idea that I’m no longer a believer. The few who do know are convinced that “life” is still there, but I just don’t recognize it. Others say, I must have never been “pregnant” to begin with, because it’s impossible to lose faith once it has taken root. But I know the truth and I’m okay with it. I’ve never felt more at peace with myself and others. I’m no longer terrified of death. The idea of eternity, even in Heaven is mind numbing and stressful. I’m incredibly grateful for the exchristian.net community who validates my journey and acknowledges with me that there is life, love, joy, happiness, and meaning outside of Christianity. So to faith, I humbly say, “Rest in Peace.”