11/05/2014 | Share this article: View CommentsBy undercover agnostic ~
I've been inspired to share some snippets of my own personal memoir, as I've benefited so much from reading XPDAN's unfolding saga.This is the introduction which sets the stage for the theme of my book, called Joy Unspeakable. I would love to get your feedback and response.
I was born with rose-colored glasses. Not literally of course. My real vision enhancements had clear lenses that were attached to my infant face with rubber bands. With my baldhead and wire rims, I was affectionately nicknamed, Tweety Bird. But more distinct than being a hairless, crossed-eyed wonder, with spectacles, was my uncanny ability, as I grew older, to see what others often missed--the cup half full, triumph in tragedy, humor in hardship, and empathy for the underdog- essentially, viewing the cosmos through a customized eyepiece designed specifically to distort reality. Some may regard this trait as altruistic—always looking for the good, even if it’s the proverbial needle in the haystack. But for me, it was about finding meaning and making sense of the world. If something was unfair, I had to find a way to make it “seem” fair. If things happened randomly, I looked for patterns to create order out of chaos. Sometimes seeing life as it truly is, is too painful for the human mind to process and it seeks to soften the edges and blur the lines as a way of making circumstances more psychologically palatable. This ability, whether innate or contrived, to look beyond the drama of the stage and imagine what was happening behind the curtain, enabled me to interpret, redefine, justify, and explain away every obstacle in my path.
It’s from this mindset, that Christianity became attractive from a very young age. My brain had a special way of sugar coating the negative aspects of faith in Jesus, so that the overarching theme was joy. The Bible proclaimed the joy of salvation, the joy of sins forgiven, the joy of eternal life, and the joy of being known and loved by the creator of the universe. In church I sang about the “joy, joy, joy, joy, down in my heart” and how “The joy of the Lord is my strength.” This unspeakable joy was the driving force behind my virtuous ambitions- missionary, Sunday school teacher, church musician, songwriter, home school mom, home group leader’s wife, women’s ministry speaker and above all, godly wife.
I was convinced that, as a believer in Jesus, I had the corner on joy. Not only was it my name, it was my identity as well. I knew that without Christ, my life would be hollow and void of meaning and purpose, like the poor unfortunate disillusioned atheists, gays, backsliders sluts, gamblers, and other sinners I heard about in church, who would seek to fill that god shaped vacuum in all the wrong places. “Joy,” in this context, isn’t solely about always being happy and bubbly; I think of it more as a by-product of believing that everything has a purpose, and nothing happens by chance. It’s being able to confidently navigate through life, with a contented smile, even when circumstances look bleak because I know there is an invisible force righting all wrongs and turning trials into triumphs.
“Joy" [...] isn’t solely about always being happy and bubbly. [...] It’s being able to confidently navigate through life, with a contented smile, even when circumstances look bleak because I know there is an invisible force righting all wrongs and turning trials into triumphs. This is my story of Christianity as viewed through my rose colored glasses. Some affectionately refer to them as god-goggles, because when wearing them, invisible Jesus magically appears like a holograph, morphing each storyline into a Pollyanna object lesson. I hope to paint a vivid picture of what my world looked like through the unique lens of faith. Every obstruction was an opportunity. Every disappointment was a refining tool. Unanswered prayers were examples of misguided desires. Virtually every circumstance, when viewed through my magic lenses, would draw me closer to my savior and bring meaning to life. When looking at others’ misfortune, I could glibly respond, “But for the grace of God go I” and would proceed to thank God for sparing me the calamity that others couldn’t escape. Yet upon closer examination, I’m now convinced, the unspeakable joy that I claimed to possess was, in actuality, a smoke screen to mask the unspeakable fear and dread, my religion produced when the god-goggles were removed. Without my rainbow and unicorn enhancing filters, how could I even begin to fathom the indescribable horrors of hell, realizing that friends, loved ones and even myself could be consciously tortured for all eternity without even a halfway point in “time served”? Or how about the unrelenting evil power of the devil, who is constantly sneaking up on us, reading our minds and trying to kill, harm and deceive us? Or how can we sanely go about our business with the terrifying trauma of one day, being snatched up into heaven in the rapture without even a second’s warning, like a thief in the night, or worse, to be left behind to be brutally harmed and even beheaded by the antichrist? Without my rose colored glasses how could I endorse and propagate a religion founded on human sacrifice and whose symbolic rituals include cannibalism-eating the flesh and drinking the blood of the slain victim? If Christianity was true, as I believed with all my heart, it was, I needed my bright, color-enhanced overlay in order to claim and proclaim the unspeakable joy of knowing Jesus.
My goal in writing this book is to revisit, with fresh eyes, the places and events where my faith sprouted, bloomed and matured throughout my childhood and decades into adulthood. What motivated me to latch on to supernatural ideology and defend it so fiercely? What was the context in which my core beliefs were sculpted and cemented into my thinking? And then, how and why did these, seemingly impenetrable beliefs become ultimately dismantled by the wrecking ball of reason? The short answer is, I took off my rose colored glasses and saw reality, for the first time, without filters.