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Losing What Was Lost

By Drew ~

Most people say that in times of greatest trial is when God strengthens faith the most. While that might be generally true, in my case it isn't.

I was raised Lutheran. I used to attend church regularly. I was fervent during our Confirmation classes. I studied my Bible, I took notes during the pastor's sermon, and I attended youth rallies and conventions with our youth group. I accepted all of the Bible's teachings without question. Moreover, I was encouraged to NOT question, because Jesus said that it is best to have a "child-like faith." And children don't question, they accept what the adults tell them.

Once I turned 18, I stopped going to church. There wasn't any real reason for it, other than I was going out every Saturday night and getting up at 7 to make it to church by 8 was a drag.

At about this time my parents were having problems. My father drank constantly. He wasn't a belligerent drunk, nor was he abusive. He was just negligent. To everything that mattered, to his family and business. My mother turned to her pastor. He, doing his job, told her that God didn't condone divorce, and that she should try and "work it out" with her husband. I told her that if she was unhappy being married to a man that loved the can/bottle more than her and her children(my brother and myself), then she needed to get out. I told her that I only cared about her happiness.

At age 19 she divorced my dad. He was a piteous thing. Crying and calling at all hours, begging for forgiveness while, at the same time, indulging in the thing that drove my mother from him. It was absurd and sad. He even became violent with me one night when I tried to escort him from her apartment. That didn't end well for him.

We fast forward about 7 years or so. At 25 I was living on my own for 7 years or so, living with some friends. I'd been through a lot of stuff, being cheated on, dumped, failed experiments in love. The usual for a mid-20's guy. My mother got remarried to a wonderful man that treats her well.

At nearly 27 I was diagnosed with kidney failure. The totality of that was catastrophic. I was admitted that evening with 5% kidney function. The doctors were amazed that I was still alive and functioning. I should have been dead. Six months after my diagnoses I had a transplant. My mother donated to me.

"If God is so powerful, then why did it take a PERSON to save my life?" When no answers came to me, that's when I officially lost my faith. I was an atheist. It was during this time that I officially lost my faith. I couldn't tell you what it was, exactly. Perhaps it was that everyone told me that "God still loves you, and he has a plan for you." That one idea, that despite almost being dead, coming hours(quite literally) away from being dead, he still loved me.

I started to think about what my mother did to save me and thought, "If God is so powerful, then why did it take a PERSON to save my life?" When no answers came to me, that's when I officially lost my faith. I was an atheist.

Looking back, my faith was failing long before. I'd been unhappy in my spiritual path, and had been unsure how to improve the spiritual scenery. I was already losing my grasp on why I believed. I began to question everything. No answers came, no matter who I asked or where I inquired.

I was terrified of telling my mother and step-father. They are both devout Christians, and tend to think in only those terms. They informed me that "people at our church are praying for you," when I was in the hospital. I kept thinking, "Wow. So they're taking a few moments to think nice thoughts about me? Big deal. That doesn't help ME at all."

About a year after the transplant, I'd begun looking into other spiritual paths. Paganism didn't appeal to me, as it centered on more deification of the natural world. Islam and Judaism were more of the Abrahamic tradition and wouldn't help me anymore than Christianity did. Then I was turned on to a book. "Siddhartha" by Herman Meyer(I think that's how his name is spelled). My mind devoured it. I bought books by the Dalai Lama and other Buddhist monks.

At this time my FaceBook page said I was "agnostic." I wasn't quite ready to face my mother's disbelief and guilt over her professed "failure" with me. But, just that one thing, the labeling of my doubt, was enough to engender a speech about her failings as a parent.

When I tried to explain my feelings, my doubts, my questions, I was dismissed as being argumentative. She held onto the idea that MY life was a result of hers. She took my being "agnostic" as a personal failure on her part. So, after a few months I had to change it again. Atheist/Buddhist.

Now, everything I post that even suggests I have a question and a lack of understanding about things in the Bible she labels as combative and defamatory. I love my mother. She gave me life. Twice. She's a strong example of what women should be, and I'd do well to find a woman similar to her to spend the rest of my life with.

Yet, I know I cannot date a Christian woman. Whenever it comes up, she looks like she's going to cry. My step-father and I have a more intellectual look at things. He's a great man, and I think understands my "crisis of faith," as they call it. I know it isn't a "crisis," but a "death" of faith. I do not believe, and I feel I haven't for almost ten years.

So, where most people's tragedy with organ failure, and a brush with death, might make them MORE apt to believe, in miracles, God, and fate, my experience proved to me the LACK of those things. The idea that "It rains on saints and sinners both" is only proof to me that there isn't any divine justice in this world. Instead, it proves to me what the Buddha said, "Life is suffering."

This is where my story ends. As of now I've been a "practicing Buddhist" for nearly a year now. I've been a "practicing Atheist" for almost four. I've come to accept that when people ask me "What do you believe in?" in wonder, all I can answer is, "I believe in myself."