My God has been dyingSubmitted by BStep on Mon, 03/31/2014 - 23:47
For some reason I felt a need to write this here. I suppose I feel pretty alone these days. It seems that no matter what friends I'm around, the complexity of relationships and the difference between myself and others prevents me from feeling close or intimate. I graze the news and comments here every day. Sometimes I find no people I agree with on a comment thread, but I can usually identify with where they're coming from even in those cases. I hope to at least find others that feel this way toward me as they read this.
I'm not really sure where to start with my story, either. I suppose it doesn't matter, though.
I was raised Christian. I was very involved in the youth group at church in high school. I interned at my high school youth group when I was in college. I was very judgmental toward people with certain habits, but I had my own habit I was ashamed of. This habit and difficulty in my marriage found me participating in 12-step programs and rehab. At a marriage seminar a few years ago (actually a year before rehab), I experienced the closest feelings to God I'd ever had in my life. I felt like I had a completely new understanding of God. I did have a completely new understanding. Shame was gone and I could breathe for the first time. It was honestly the first time I felt joy in my life. Laughter and fun I had experienced, but never joy. After several months, I went back to my habit. Went to rehab. Several months later, went back to my habit again. A few months later, I wound up divorced.
I've been divorced for about a year and a half. I suppose I mark my separation as when my God started to die. Sounds like an emotional reaction to a devastating event, I know. Truth is, I wasn't that devastated by my divorce. I've wondered if somewhere deep under the surface, I really am devastated by it, and that's why I have these feelings today, but I don't think that's it. The further I get from my divorce, the more I realize how broken the marriage was and how I wasn't the only one with a problem in the relationship. I was treated poorly, in ways no one deserves. I barely cried about the divorce. I've cried much harder about two other girls I've seen since the divorce. I feel bad about that in a way considering my ex wife invested herself in the marriage, but that is the truth.
As soon as my ex wife and I separated, I stopped going to 12-step meetings. I stopped going to religious-based meetings as well. I stopped going to church. I felt like there's no reason to bother fighting this habit all the time. It takes too much energy and there's no lasting result. I continued with my habit and tried to control it to where it wasn't problematic. I'm having reasonable success with that today, and less shame than I've had about it in the past, aside from during/after the marriage seminar I mentioned earlier. Not being involved in all the meetings has releived a good deal of anxiety.
On the other hand, losing my faith has been increasing my anxiety. By losing my faith, I don't mean not going to church. I mean I no longer have an affirmative belief that God is God, that Jesus is God and died for my sins and brings me alive, etc. I do still have a real fondness for Jesus. My belief in him brought me joy. Who he was to me at one time in my life is moving. I feel the belief system I had was beautiful. But it was flawed. It was contradictory. I had to gloss over parts of the Bible while enhancing others. Looking back on my life, I feel I've always had to do that. I've always had to look the other way when it came to certain things in the Bible. And if I cut out portions of it, how can I believe others? Perhaps there is a way, but I haven't found it.
Moreover, throughout my life when I would hear or read debates between atheists and Christians, I always felt like the atheists really had good arguments, and the Christians often looked foolish. Sometimes I could come up with arguments to improve the Christian side, but I always felt I identified with the atheist's arguments just as much, if not more, than the Christian's. When I was a Christian, I would tell myself that if I were an atheist, I would have to be a nihilist, because there would be no point in anything.
I'm getting to that point today. When I stop and think about things, I can't find a purpose. It happens occasionally. It seems to depend on how distracted I am by whatever activity I'm involved in. But sometimes I'll be working, or playing a game, or talking to someone, and all of a sudden my mind hops out of the moment and wonders whether this means anything at all. The origin of the universe might come to mind--where did we come from, and what could we possibly mean among the vastness of the universe and the expanse of time? In a billion years, none of what occurs today will matter or be remembered, and a billion years is nothing against infinite time.
And then I hop back into the moment and resume what I'm doing. Like I always thought I'd believe as an atheist when I was a Christian, it seems whatever I do is just something to do to distract me from depression and hopelessness. And I can't understand how atheists are okay with it. How they can get on in life and find it worthwhile to do anything.
I'm not atheist, I don't think. I suppose I'm agnostic today. But I still haven't found purpose, and don't know how to. Everything I hear that others find meaning in, I find to be unsubstantiated if it's spiritual, and only temporary and ultimately meaningless if it's something like finding meaning in relationships. I am truly happy for people who can find meaning and purpose in those things or in any faith, whether just something made up on their own or based in some scripture. It seems like a much more fulfilling way to look at things. I would not take that away from anyone, and I find beauty in it.
I do not have suicidal thoughts. I feel I should mention that. I don't see how that would ever help anything, and I don't consider it at all. I hope to find meaning somehow, someday. I hope that if I never find it in my lifetime on Earth, I find it after death. Death will come soon enough--no need to hasten the day.
I would like to hear from others if you have thoughts of your own, especially if you are agnostic or atheist and somehow have managed to find meaning and purpose in life in spite of the things I've said here. Thanks for reading.