7/29/2014 | Share this article: View CommentsBy Almost There ~
I have been through the most terrible, dreadful time of my life, emotionally, in the last few years so its kind of hard knowing where to start, there is so much to say I just want to scream everything out all at once but I will try to tell my story as best as I can.
My story first began not with doubt as such, but from the feeling of being hurt and confused. There were numerous times I felt a deep cut within myself wondering why would an all powerful, all present and all knowing God allow suffering in the world. Sounds like a simple enough question, but for a faithful Christian to have it is emotionally excruciatingly painful because there is no answer that will soothe the pain as they all fall short. Some Christians are afraid to ask it out of fear of being punished, so for a time I never verbalised the question, even to myself, even in my own head, I thought it but never really asked the question. I never had a fantastic life growing up, sure it was a decent life and I am grateful for many things, but having complications and challenges with one of my parents (an abusive childhood) caused me to always be on the edge. I became obsessed with being a perfectly good son and I didn’t even know it, I just wanted my parents to be proud of me and to think I was valuable, but that created a guilt complex in me, like everything I did could be done better, even when I achieved great things, the happy feeling lasted a moment and I was back to being obsessed. I also developed depression and OCD which was further prompted by my devout faith, always trying to do things right, never stepping out of line, and even when I did anything that every normal youngster does that is experimental or normal development, but that is wrong in the eyes of the church, I would beg for forgiveness and feel like the scum of the earth.
As you can imagine, having no constant person to turn to for help, I turned to God who was both my Creator and Friend, so I was taught. I became a devout Christian being baptized at 13. My mum taught me how to be faithful, good and moral, by taking me to church every Sunday, Tuesday and Wednesday , and that remaining faithful will have its rewards one day even if not in this life; she still believes this. My dad also went but hardly followed what we learnt there. Well, this went on for years, even until I finished high school all the while I still had these questions that I was too afraid to ask, when I saw babies being raped and killed, children dying of starvation, people of all races and religions going through good patches in their lives and then calamity befalling them, good or bad, Christian or unbeliever.
After Matric I felt a calling on my life to do more for God so I applied to join our church’s seminary. While there my questions became deeper, not at first about whether God exists but how unfair it was that one denomination believed that they were the only ones going to heaven and all other denominations of Christianity, as well as all other religions were going to hell. It just didn’t make any sense at all; I sometimes felt like we humans are more compassionate and loving than God who claimed to be LOVE Himself. I remember debating and arguing with lecturers and students on many occasions but I tried not to go too far out of fear of being expelled for being a liberal. I guess I comforted myself by telling myself that God takes care of the faithful, and punishes the wicked so as long as I stayed extremely faithful the bad would not befall me or my family. You know, the whole “ten thousand may fall, but it will not touch me” shit.
I must mention that before and during this time, my little niece and cousin lived with us and I grew very close to them as I love children; but having a guilt complex for everything good including feeling extreme love for family, I felt guilty for loving and was afraid that God would take away members of my family if he knew (or I verbalised) that I loved them so much or if I made it seem as if I put them before God. I’ve heard many sermons that clearly stated God will remove things which keep you away from Him or take His place in your life, and the wrathful actions of God documented in the Bible only proved this. I prayed that God would protect my family and I from harm especially the 2 children whom I loved so much.
The worst has already happened to us, twice; to put it bluntly – two dead children with no aid from the Creator, so why not go ahead and question.After 2 years, I returned home for the holidays and one of the major tragic events of my life occurred, my little niece was run over by a SUV and passed away. I was devastated, my family was devastated, our faith was severely shaken. My doubts and questions materialized in my very own life, right before my very eyes. Why didn’t God save her, she was only seven years old, what did she ever do wrong to deserve that; I couldn’t bear to imagine the fear she felt seeing that 4x4 SUV come toward her, the pain she felt being dragged and finally killed because her body was too damaged. I deluded myself for about 5 years after that thinking that an all loving God would probably take her soul out of her body right before the car hit so she wouldn’t feel the pain (how dumb), I recently started thinking but what about those children who are raped and survive but have to undergo surgery and have to live the rest of their lives scarred etc.; what is God’s problem, does he enjoy watching the suffering!? Is he entertained by it!?
That brings me to the year 2013, still struggling but attempting to remain a faithful servant and making up all kinds of excuses for God; my wife and I were expecting our second child and I was still suffering from a guilt complex, that I don’t really deserve good things and worried that anything good in my life can and will probably be taken away from me, so I prayed earnestly for the protection of my unborn child. Each visit to the Dr is a relief, watching her grow, hearing the Dr say she’s growing perfectly normal and healthy... and then the unthinkable happens, my wife doesn’t feel proper movements for almost 2 weeks, in which time she went into the maternity ward twice with the nurses confirming everything is fine; the third time that she goes in and our perfectly healthy baby who had less than a month to be born was confirmed to have passed away at 8 months in utero. They called it a “cord accident,” my child who was fully developed and healthy, was strangled to death by the umbilical cord. The hardest thing was to go through the whole delivery with my wife, only to hold a dead baby in our arms, her body so fragile, so injured from being deceased in the womb for about 4 days; just the thought of her being strangled to death is enough to make me go mad as I can’t imagine anyone at all, let alone anyone I love suffering or in pain. I keep thinking if she had been born a week earlier, everything would be okay, she would be here, my second child, my daughter.
This is where I started seriously questioning God. At first I was afraid that something further would happen, but my wife said something important, that yes “worse” can happen, but it would actually just be “more” that could happen because the worst has already happened to us, twice; to put it bluntly – two dead children with no aid from the Creator, so why not go ahead and question. My starting point was the bible itself, I sat down and finally read the whole book of Job to see if I could find some answers from God. All that it gave me was a confirmation of what I was afraid of, the God I served my whole life was an unjust psycho-maniac, power hungry blood thirsty monster. I started researching on Google, to see other people’s views on my concerns and that’s how I came across Ex-Christian, and started reading the many stories of hope after Christianity.
It is a saddening truth that in my case, it took tragedy to bring me to the light. As a Christian, one just remains blinded despite the suffering of humanity around the world. Christians hold on, as I did, to the selfish idea that I am more special and more important than the other people suffering in this world. And rightfully so, according to the bible, since it is logical that a Father takes care of and protects his family, so are Christians supposed to be protected by theirs.
Recently I have had such an array of feelings toward God and about God. These range from moments of madness where I feel absolute rage and anger, that if I could get my hands on God, I would kill him if I could for lying to me and humanity; to moments of absolute devastation at the loss of something so dear, so important to me. A God whom I have loved and cherished ever since I could remember, someone who promised to love me and protect me and my family. Someone who was there for me and helped me get through the most difficult times in my life but someone who has let me down, who has betrayed me in the worst possible ways. I realise that losing God and my religion and walking away from it is like losing a loved one, like walking away from a spouse who I found out has been unfaithful, but not only that, a spouse who also had a secret life of murdering innocent children and mass murdering entire civilizations, just because he can. Then I realise that I am angry at someone who doesn’t exist, I am angry at a deity created by human minds who were trying to explain the unexplainable but who’ve made a huge mess of it, maybe they even did it on purpose in order to trick people and control them. But that leaves me at a very difficult place, I have nowhere or no-one to direct my anger and emotions at. When I took my doubt and almost tangibly looked at it in my hands and started researching the actual truth and evidence, my faith became more and more shaky but now it has completely dissolved, I feel like its a paper burning in my hands and the wind is just blowing away all the ashes into the sky and its no longer there, there’s nothing to hold anymore. I guess I am just going through the grieving process, but it has been the first step in my healing, not only from the tragic losses in my life, but healing from everything that has kept me captive. I realise my life was devoted to this, and the road to healing is going to be a long one as I have many issues to resolve but I am happy to know that I am no longer serving and believing a lie and with this truth I can now deal with the various affairs of my life without the chains of religion. I am even exploring my traditional heritage, being an Indian South African, which as a Christian I could not do. I still do not believe in God, but the symbolism behind the mythology of Hinduism fascinates me, just as Greek and Egyptian mythology fascinated me in school. I can now explore these things, among others, just because I can, and that is refreshing.
I am not evil, I am not selfish, I am not guilty, I am not a worthless sinner, I have not fallen short of someone else’s glory, no god is going to give value to my existence because I am a beautiful creation on the evolutionary chain, I am a human being and I will not be made to feel guilty for being just that. I don’t know what exactly is out there, maybe angels, maybe spiritual beings, maybe forces of energy; if evolution could create such beautiful things, is it not possible for it to create beings with spirits/souls!? But I know one thing for sure, God is not out there, my ex-god YHWH has faded into mythology; and I am proud to be an atheist.
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