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Finding the Truth of "Me"

By Apostate Peg --

I have been lurking for some time now and I’d like to add my voice to the discussion so here’s my story:

Bugs BunnyImage via Wikipedia
I was raised in a Roman Catholic family. When I was very young the Mass was still said in Latin but the music was pretty and I loved to join in although I did learn that singing the theme song to The Bugs Bunny Show during the hymn would lead to the dreaded punishment of sitting on the kitchen chair for five minutes when we got home. There was also a rule that females must have their heads covered and I can remember being mortified when my mother bobby-pinned a tissue to my head when I forgot my hat at home. There were brief periods of kneeling and saying the rosary as a family; I didn’t mind because my brothers kept me entertained with their horsing around. There were always foster children in our family, lots of noise and always someone to play with, lots of fighting and arguing between siblings. We were trained to say our prayers at night, each week give a penny from our allowance “to the missions”, and be thankful for turnip because of all the starving people in Africa.

Even after all the changes in the Catholic Church in the 60’s, Sunday Mass was still just something boring that had to be endured each week. My best friend was a Baptist and my parents allowed me to go to church with her family on Sunday nights. We also had a Lutheran friend and we all tried out each other’s places of worship. Although we each kept a foot firmly planted in our root-church my Lutheran friend and I started to be drawn into the fundamentalist Baptist teachings, being attracted by the idea of a personal relationship with Jesus, and being comforted by learning that, by being saved, we could avoid the horror and terror of being left behind when "The Rapture" occurred.

So, I entered my twenties floating through life on a comfortable Christian cloud, taking what I wanted to believe from each type of church and discarding what I thought was stupid (prohibitions against birth control, all the anti-female, anti-gay propaganda) and completely believing that my whole life was in Jesus’ hands. Until one day when driving downtown and thanking Jesus beforehand for providing a parking space I had a thought: “What if Jesus isn’t in charge of parking spaces?” The only conclusion I could come to was that if Jesus wasn’t in charge of parking spots then maybe I was responsible for them and perhaps much, much more in my life. I didn’t have the maturity to deal with the implications of that idea so I tucked it away in my mind.

My health situation was not caused by sin and cannot be cured by prayers; it is simply one of the myriad awful things that can happen to a human being.It wasn’t until my 40’s that I brought that idea to the forefront. I developed some health problems (life-altering, not life–threatening) and learned to cope by using the “fake it till you make it” technique. Not only did it help me to manage the chronic pain, but it was a necessary technique to hide the extent of my health problems from my employer. My husband and my family and closest friends were wonderfully supportive but I felt I couldn’t let anyone else know the truth of who I actually was.

There really is a terrible loneliness in being unknowable. After a few years I felt that for the most part I was lying to everyone, and I was so tired of having to hide. And then I started to wonder what else I was lying about, and I decided once and for all to find out what I believed about god. So I read, and learned, and looked carefully at my core beliefs.

So here I am. I can say categorically that I am no longer a Christian. I don’t know if there is any kind of creator of the universe and frankly, I don’t care. My health situation was not caused by sin and cannot be cured by prayers; it is simply one of the myriad awful things that can happen to a human being. I believe in love and kindness and fairness, justice and concern for others and the earth. I’m as good and as bad as I ever was and discarding the god stuff hasn’t changed that. What has changed is the certainty that I have to be responsible for all of my actions since now is what matters.

Thanks for reading this. Thanks for letting me open this door and thanks for valuing all of us who want to be known a little bit better.