Echoes of My Odyssey
If you followed my journey for some time, you know that Jesus was the essence of my entire life, and the purpose of my existence was made up of Him. Literally. I was obsessed with the Bible, with every single word written in it. I didn’t go anywhere without my “collection of letters from God,” as I referred to the Bible then. It was on my desk during my office work hours, in my purse while I was shopping, and even when just making a run to the grocery store. Today, my Bible looks like it is over 100 years old because of how many days and nights I poured over it, trying to make sense of it. The pages of the ancient book are stained in many tears, and every stain tells a different story. Some, testify of the painful heartbreaks and hardships I endured, others are marked with tears of unspeakable joy, of an unearthly bliss that would often surge through me as I would ponder on the written words, as I would grow one with the gratitude I experienced. Some pages are stained in coffee, reminding me of the times I would sit countless hours in local coffee shops, sipping on my favorite cup of aromatic poison, studying, reading, and falling more and more in love with the God whom I believed was my creator, whom I knew as my refuge. Most pages are colorful, a majority of the passages highlighted, and every color signifies its own meaning.
Throughout my journey as a Christian, I went from one denomination to the next. I wasn’t unstable in my faith, nor was I chasing the next trend of Christianity like some prefer to assume. I understand why they prefer to assume though, it makes explaining my deconversion much easier that way. It allows them to avoid the hard questions, and the lie gives them shelter. It provides an illusion. That illusion justifies their slander and fuels their gossip.
The truth is, I went from one denomination to the next because I read the Bible, because I loved the Bible, and because I sought to know it. I’ve read it from cover to cover numerous times, and when I would come across passages that clearly went against the teachings of the denomination I was a part of, I had to choose between what was written in the Bible, and the denomination I was a part of. I was raised in a Semi-Pelagian Pentecostal church, I learned to read at the age of five because I was determined to read the book of Revelation. My dad forbade others to read it to me, because he thought I was much too young to understand it, and he didn’t want me having nightmares, nor did he want my imagination to run wild, I assume. So I learned to read, and read it myself. I also read it to my little sisters, who were even younger than me. But that’s another story.
I am in the process of writing my deconversion story, which is much more detailed, and answers many of the questions I received from many of you, regarding what changed my heart, what caused me to doubt, and what made me lose my faith. So I won’t go into much detail here. The point is, that as I read the Bible, as I continued studying it, I was forced to go from one denomination to the next, in order to keep my faith and make sense of the contradictions and inconsistencies I would come across. My Christian journey ended at the hill of Calvinism. My questions paved a pathway to the Reformers, and my answers led me to cessationism and Calvinism. I thought I finally had the answers I was searching for, because Calvinism gave me answers no other branch of Christianity could, Calvinism was able to bridge the Old and the New Testament, smooth out many inconsistencies, clarify many contradictions, and give all glory to Jesus in the end. I was in “theology heaven” and I was drowning in the beautiful ocean of grace. Until I had more questions, until I started to see other inconsistencies, and run into other contradictions. Until I found the shore once again. But that again, is a story for another day.
In this particular blog, I want to address a handful of the most common questions I receive almost on a daily basis. I know my deconversion came as a shock to many, but believe me, it was much more of a shock to me. To others, it wasn’t a shock at all, because ever since I first left my Pentecostal church, and refused to beg God for the “gift of tongues,” they were certain, I was already in the claws of the devil.
I do not mean to start any kind of debate with this blog, nor do I intend to shake any faith. I have no intention of convincing anyone to abandon their own journey, or their own truth. I am simply answering a few questions, based on where I am today. For some reason, people assume that just because I no longer believe in the things I used to, I no longer have a meaning in life and that I no longer have a purpose. It is these questions I would like to address.
“Is the purpose of our lives something you think about, have you drawn any conclusions?”
Yes, I do think about the purpose of life, and my life in particular, and the more I think about it, the more simple I think it becomes. The purpose of life is to live. To experience life, to breathe, to travel, to love, to create, to make life beautiful around us, to help others, to inspire and be inspired, to learn, to grow. To ask questions, to seek answers, to make mistakes and then to fix them. To savor every moment. To become breathless at the shore of the ocean, to be paralyzed by awe when looking up into the tattooed, sparkling night sky, to recognize the constellations. To be embraced by the rays of the sun, to taste the saltiness of the ocean, and then the saltiness of my own tears. To dance in the showers of the rain, and walk through heaps of colorful leaves. To burn my finger at the hungry flame of fire, and to shiver in the cold of the winter. To inhale the perfume of fresh flowers, to breathe in the aroma of books, old and new, and to open all the windows allowing the fragrance of the air after a spring shower to linger. To be a daughter, to be a granddaughter, to be a sister, to be a cousin, to be an aunt, to be a friend, to be a wife. To feel the butterflies awaken in the presence of a beautiful man, to kiss, to make out, to make love, to taste wine, to brew coffee, to find a favorite loose leaf tea, a favorite painter, and a favorite composer.
I think as a Christian, I missed so much of it, because the purpose then was to prepare to live in the afterlife, to look towards the afterlife, constantly focusing on eternity, and in the process robbing myself of what life is really about. Even the most beautiful of moments, the deepest of feelings, the most passionate of emotions were dulled down with, “heaven will be so much better.”
Perhaps, the beauty of life is just that, that it ends.
“Why would we be here if not for something greater?”
We do not appreciate how great it is that we are here. We overlook the majesty and greatness around us, everyday. When I started looking into evolution, and the complexity and beauty of life, of existence, the greatness of the cosmos, I was crippled by awe. The universe is great, the process of evolution is astounding, and when we look at the world around us, we realize how much greatness we are already living in. We are just used to it, accustomed to it, so we often fail to notice it. And somehow a magic man in the sky creating all this in 6 days seems greater to us, than the detail, beauty, and complexity of nature and evolution. If you want to be here for something greater, go stand on the shore of an ocean and listen to it roar. Go out into the desert and look up at the night sky. We are living among greatness, yet, so many of us are still blind to it.
“I have a problem with being alive and having no other purpose other than to do good deeds, eat well, learn many things, and die.”
Were you depressed before you were born? Where were you before you were born? And are you depressed knowing that you might have not existed? If not, then why are you worried about dying into nothing, into a place of no consciousness? For me it was a much bigger problem believing that when I die, I will know that so many of my friends and family are eternally being tortured in hell, by the very same God who claims to love me. I could never imagine being happy in heaven, because I knew so many others would be in agonizing pain and suffering… forever. In response, I was told that my mind would be wiped and I wouldn’t remember those I loved on earth, and the feeling of bliss will wash over the feeling of love and pain for those I lost to hell. But I didn’t want that, I didn’t want to forget the people I loved, I didn’t want my mind to be wiped clean so I would no longer remember them. They were part of my journey, of my odyssey, of my story, and my heart was made up of them. So that was a much bigger dilemma for me, than the one I am leaning towards now. To go where I came from. I am just amazed at what I get to experience now, today, in this moment. I was unconscious until only 29 years ago, I have no idea where I was, and I am ok, not knowing.
Beautiful things end, and that’s ok. That’s what makes so many things priceless, because they are here for only a short while and then they are gone. This makes me invest in every friendship I truly care about, to love those around me deeper than ever, to remind them that I love them, because I don’t have the luxury of being careless, and catching up with all of them in a heaven. Now is all we have. Recognizing this made me redo my life, throw out things that didn’t matter, and fill it with things that did. To cut out the people who brought pain, negativity, and suffering into my life, and dedicate more of my time and energy to the people who help me grow, who challenge me, and who truly care for me. I want to see as much as I can, to travel to as many places as I can, to love as deeply as I can, to experience as much as I can in this lifetime, and to taste every moment, because I do not know if there is anything else after this life, and I am okay with that. The quality of my life drastically improved, and I appreciate the little things around me, and every new discovery takes my breath away.
Are you scared of being wrong?
I am not scared of being wrong. If there is a God and he knows my heart, he knows how I called out to him, he knows how much I want the truth, he knows that I would be willing to sacrifice it all for him, if he were real. And if he is a good God, I do not believe he would send me to hell for not finding the evidence for his existence. I tried, believe me I tried. If there is a God, which I am open to, I do not believe he is the God of the bible, because the God of the bible can not be a good God.
“Do you think you know more than god? And do you think the scientists and historians know more than god?”
I was 27 when I encountered doubt, and I do not assume to know more than an almighty God, but I would assume that an almighty God knows more than the scientists, the archaeologists, and the historians, but the God who supposedly authored the Bible, does not.
“Christianity has lots of issues when it comes to the Bible I agree, but in my own family and church, I love many things about it, like how my parents treat us, and the morals we have, did you change when you lost your faith? Like your morals?”
There is much I love about Christianity too, but that is mostly our culture you love, because if you read the Bible, if you study the history of Christianity, it changes with the times. There is good in Christianity and there is bad. There is good and bad in every culture, in every religion, in every faith. Since becoming an agnostic, I haven’t really changed in my morality, I value my family, I still hate divorce in most cases, I still hate abortion, I still love and cherish my friends. I still hate swearing, I don’t get drunk or do drugs, I don’t steal, or cheat, I don’t litter, and I care for animals. I actually feel like I have become a much better person, and definitely less judgmental. I now know that I am not accountable to a man in the sky, and no one is watching me. I am accountable to myself, and no one can forgive me but me. I can’t just get on my knees, ask for forgiveness and wipe my slate clean. I am deciding to be a better person for me, not because someone is watching me, not because I fear a hell, and not because I am anticipating a reward, but because I want to make this world better, kinder, and more beautiful. I am accountable to myself, and I am the one who has to live with myself. (Well my husband does too, but he’s much more accepting)