Friday, December 8, 2017

The Leap of Atheism to Faith Who Am I?

Much of my life until early adulthood I was lost and had no real purpose. I was always in some sort of trouble making poor decisions.  Many of these decisions were reckless, however I blamed my childhood for these terrible decisions.  So much of my life was wasted being a victim.  In fact, at that time in my life I really could not see any good in the world.  I was very bitter and angry at the world. I was an atheist and never believed in God.   I believed in science and there was not enough evidence for me to support the bible, the crucifixion, Jesus nor God.  I believed in evolution as that was the only acceptable explanation as how we evolved as humans.

I was happy with my beliefs and went about my life even though my fathers side of the family was Roman Catholic.  I had zero interest in God and thought that he was superficial. I had so many questions.  Like why do small children get cancer, or why are small children sexually abused and so much more.  If we are God’s children, then how could he leave his small children vulnerable?  It didn’t make sense to me, so I abolished him from my life.  I won’t lie there were moments that I reached out to him, but every prayer it seemed had gone unanswered.

My parents never really pushed religion on us and I did not see them practicing religion, so it was normal for me not to believe.  I thought the people who believed in Jesus were freaks and delusional.  It really bothered me and if any one spoke of religion and I would shut it down.  I mean come on if Jesus can heal the sick then why is there so much illness?  This was just preposterous.  I now know my non-belief was fear and ignorance as I did not want to face my own demons. I believed if I did not believe in Christianity I was safe from persecution and judgement.  I could not have been more wrong!

I continued my path of self destruction feeling a sense of entitlement treating people like garbage.  I was extremely judgemental of others giving zero concern of their circumstances. I made fun of the homeless and the poor. I was an evil person and the funny thing about it all is people liked me and thought I was cool.  That really does not say to much about the people I kept in my company. In fact, one of my college professors said that I was a free spirit.  What does that even mean?  Was this supposed to be the path in my life?  Was I supposed to be riddled with bitterness?  It seemed normal for to me to behave this way and quite honestly, I did not know any other way.  I was not mature enough to understand that these behaviours stemmed from a dysfunctional childhood.  We are prodigies of our childhood and the environment we are exposed to.  Regrettably this destruction lasted for many years.

When I became a young mother, I was still wallowing in my self pity.  I would continually position myself to terrible situations believing that this was my life and I really did not deserve any better.  I was impatient and bitter and unfortunately my daughter was amidst it all.  So, the cycle perpetuates and now she plays a victim and blames me for all her inadequacies and poor decisions.  She claims she is over it, but in a heartbeat, she will quickly remind me and others how horrible I was or am. I suppose that is to be expected at that age because I did not have the level of maturity to identify were my anger and bitter stemmed from so it was easy to blame others for the bad decisions I was making.  That is one of my biggest disappointments is perpetuating a cycle I never wanted to repeat.  

Sometimes I think we don’t even do it consciously as it ingrained in is so deeply it becomes habit. Thankfully I have realized this. The journey that took me there though was not what you may think, and it took considerable strength and self discovery and most of all faith.  Yes faith!  I think these trials and tribulations in life was a journey a journey I had to live to value the true meaning of life and sometimes loosing life makes you realize how sacred our life truly is. 

At twenty-nine the word “Cancer” hit home.  I had heard it before, but it did not even mean anything it was a disease that had devastating outcomes, but it surely would not affect me nor my family. The diagnosis was not just cancer, but terminal cancer.  What did that even mean? I had no idea I was na├»ve, so I instantly went on a quest to educate myself on the diagnosis of my father.  The outcome was grim and then it hit me.

At first, I became numb and was in total disbelief. In a heartbeat in my life forever changed.  I was consumed with the cancer diagnosis and spent every moment researching the disease, the prognosis and the outcome.  I refused to accept the prognosis I believe this is what we call denial. It just didn’t seem fair. So, the bitterness within me escalated to new heights. I kept it at bay, but there was a poison there.  I was a volcano spilling out lava ready to erupt. I could not fix this, and it tore me up inside.
Words can not even express the helplessness I felt.  As I saw the disease progress the helplessness grew I became desperate. I was so confused and displaced and that is when I turned a corner in my life.  I went to church to pray.

For twenty-nine years I ostracized religion, but this was my final plea for healing.  I went to a church at lunch time and there was no one there.  I walked up to the prayer rail and wept for healing.  I felt a warmth in there like I never felt before and then father Mark came up to me and asked if I was okay. I was still weeping, and he was so kind and spoke to me with such passion. It was then that I discovered I was facing my own mortality and it scared me.  It was that faithful day my life changed for ever.

I wanted to learn about religion to see if I could extinguish my doubts. Immediately, unexplainable events were happening in my life. I kept seeing Father Mark every where I went.  As these events were occurring I was like wow there is no scientific explanation for this. I turned a corner in my life and leapt over to faith in Christianity.  I was now doubting the theory of evolution and there was more solitude in believing in eternal life.  Knowing that I would be reuniting with my loved ones was much more fulfilling then the other.

 Now I am on the other side of the fence and face the same persecution I once gave others.  It saddens me that others think that the church is just a cash grab. It those very people that have no clue what churches do for our local communities.  Food banks, foot-care for diabetics, winter jacket programs, refuge relief and so much more.  How could they possibly know?  Is helping people less fortunate a cash grab? I don’t think so.  Another thing is everyone is welcome without judgement nor your wallet.

Does the church want more people? absolutely they do.  Why? Because  more fortunate people can absolutely make a difference. Not only that, it can bring hope to people that have no longer have hope, or a facing some other challenge in your life without judgement.  I remember a time at church when there as a gentleman sitting in the back.  I never saw him before, but it was clear he was there to seek solitude. Although there is no stereotype at church he was different not someone you would see there.   My son could not help but notice his presence.  There was something evidently wrong with him.  I think he felt awkward, but the community welcomed him as all others. Later when I looked over at him at the last hymn he was sobbing, and my belief is they were tears of hope. This resonated with me for awhile and it left such a good feeling in my heart. I never saw him again, but it demonstrated that the church is always there to embrace whom who need to be embraced.

This by no means is me advocating for the church its me advocating for hope when the world can be a cruel and unkind place at times. When your circumstances seem bleak then the warmth of a church may give you the solitude you need at that time. Guaranteed you will feel a sense of belonging and what seemed to be a bleak situation now becomes a distant memory.