Previously published on my Tumblr page, http://a-woman-apart.tumblr.com/
I was just lying my on my couch a little while ago trying to recover from a week of finals, running around, and work. Even though I’ve been on the fence about faith I decided to toss up a prayer to God for my brother and his family, for the rest of my immediate family, and for a ton of other things in general.
Somewhere in the middle of my praying- and this was pretty much out loud talking to the ceiling- I had an epiphany. I don’t choose to worship Yahweh/Jehovah/Allah/JudeoChristian deity but that doesn’t mean that I don’t believe in God.
I know, I’ve mentioned before that “recovering from religion” didn’t have to mean a total loss of faith but I think I was just trying to say it just to make myself believe it. Now, it’s real to me. I’m not a Christian anymore. I don’t believe in a seven day creation, partings of the Red Sea, an Israeli Exodus from Egypt, the virgin birth, the deity of Christ, the Resurrection, the Final Judgment or the Second Coming but I sure as heck do believe in a god. I believe that some Benevolent Force has intervened in my life for the better. I believe that Something gave me strength when I had totally given up. I also believe that this “something” isn’t going to let me down.
So, I repeat- I’m not a Christian anymore. And it’s okay.
I kind of thought that my deconversion would be some kind of huge deal. I would need to shout it from the mountaintops, tell the whole world that I was now a “proud unbeliever”. In the end, though it was a lot more like my “conversion” than I would’ve expected. There was no bright light, no audible voice, no burning bush; it just sort of “happened”. My faith in Christianity just became more and more eroded until there was pretty much none left.
That being said, I still consider myself a part of Christian culture. I still like Christian music, tend to dress with a certain bit of modesty, try to live by the golden rule, and am a little bit prudish about sex. Of course, none of those things makes me a Christian, and all of those things are subject to changing.
All of this time, I have been so terrified of how I would answer if someone asked, “Do you believe that Jesus is the Son of God?” like saying “no” would somehow bring the wrath of God down directly on my head. Like I’ve said before, I believe that we are all as much children of God as Jesus was/is. I don’t, however, believe that he’s up there looking down at us, watching what we do, defending us, etc. I don’t believe that literal physical resurrection is really possible in the kind of circumstances that Jesus died under.
Sure, I’ve also said that if God is God he/she/it can do anything- supposedly. Due to the problems that the idea of an omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent God makes, I choose not to believe that my God is all of these things. I believe he/she/it has influence over creation, was ultimately responsible for bringing life into the universe, but isn’t the overreaching ruler of it.
I also choose not to invalidate anyone’s personal spiritual experiences. Iyanla saw the spirit of her dead mother in the mirror once, encouraging her and telling her she was beautiful. She also heard an audible voice telling her to leave her husband before her husband could kill her. She also had a dream about her son- at the same time that her daughter had a similar dream- and they went looking for him and it saved him from death. She is a yoruba priestess. I believe that God can speak to anyone, regardless of culture or beliefs, and that there are fragments of him/her/it in every religion. (Of course I’m not sure I’m too cool with the Aztecs and their human sacrifice, but I guess if you’re going to be sacrificing animals to the gods why not people, too?)
I know that I felt God- my god– in my house today when I prayed, for the first time in a long time. I believe he/she/it has always been with me, watching over me, guiding my actions and influencing people in my favor.
Of course, I acknowledge that maybe God isn’t the reason behind people’s intuition or their clairvoyant and spiritual experiences, that maybe there is something weird or metaphysical going on that science hasn’t really gotten a hold of yet. Maybe we are all causing these in ourselves somehow, but I’m really not confident enough in that hypothesis to turn it into a theory yet. UK performer Derren Brown was able to convincingly imitate a seance, interpreting people’s dreams, reading minds, and causing people to “be slain in the spirit” all through “mind tricks”. He was an atheist at the time and remains one to this day. His documentary “Messiah” that showed him doing these things gave me a lot to think about, but it didn’t convince me totally that all supernatural phenomenon are just man-made.
One of the things that I prayed for was the strength to just be able to stand in my own truth, to be totally honest with myself first before I worry about being honest with other people. I don’t want to ever forget who I am again, to go back to being the confused and divided person that I was before. I don’t want to ever embrace hyperreligiosity again as a defense when things happen that I don’t understand- like when we received news of my brother’s death.
I remember having doubts about Christianity for years and years now, but I could never form those doubts into a cohesive statement of- ironically- belief. Now I never want to ever look back again. I don’t see how I could.