In a lot of ways, I feel like I’ve only recently begun to live my life. Having done away with, what I feel were, childish belief systems, I now seem to know and value what this short life actually is. Although I believe that this learning process is a life-long one, I think I’m just at the very beginning of a new journey.
I spent a lot of my years as a believer, trying to find ways of living the life I wanted to live (which always seemed to go ‘against the rules’ of Christianity), while trying to avoid the guilt that inevitably came along with that. As a teenager, and the natural rebellion that seems to come with that age, resulted in a huge pile of guilt that I carried around for many years. As a young adult and a musician in a rock band, I had to try to hide from most people my late nights playing in clubs and all the extras that go along with it. I had to try to justify in my mind the joy that I experienced in living that way against the backdrop of a belief system that constantly told me that it was wrong.
In the years leading up to my official ‘deconversion’, there were periods of time where I would talk openly about being an atheist with people who would ask me, while in the back of my head, I was still rather unsure. Most times, though, when discussing things of a religious nature, I would just clam up. Maybe nod my head in pseudo agreement and hope desperately that the topic would change soon. What I remember from those times is a lot of turmoil in my own head. A lot of not knowing what to think, say, or feel. For as awful as those years were for me, I think they prepared me for the next stage of life: coming out atheist.
I have now found my voice. I know what I believe, and why I believe it. That doesn’t mean that I’m close-minded. It just means that I’ve done the hard work of thinking this all out, and I’m comfortable in the conclusions that I’ve come to. The universe makes a lot more sense to me now. I’m no longer afraid to speak my mind (though, sometimes I choose not to just to avoid an argument that I know is futile anyway). Those closest to me, know my point of view, and there has been some progress in bridging those gaps. My only regret is that it took so long for things to get to where they are.
As I said above, I believe life is a learning process and a journey. I don’t think I’m starting at the beginning now, but the road has taken a sharp turn, and has opened up onto a much wider, pot-hole patched highway. I can take the experiences that I encountered on the wooded, overgrown paths of early life and use them to continue along down this smooth paved road.
I believe that this whole pursuit of mine is really just my way of trying to find some inner peace. Some way to be happy and satisfied with the life I’ve been handed. From as far back as I can remember, I’ve never been at peace with myself. There’s always been inner turmoil, self-doubt, paranoia, and guilt. More than anything else…guilt.
The problems I’ve had I believe root in my upbringing. Christianity (and most other major religious) foster guilt. I have always had such a problem feeling guilty about things. Even things that I had absolutely NOTHING to do with. I think that a lot of that comes from being brought up in a church that says that basically everyone is a sinner and most everything that humans do is sin. I have a real problem with that. I can’t honestly believe that by our nature we are sinners that need saving. And anyone who doesn’t believe and follow that ideology is doomed to an eternity in a pit of fire.
The more I find out about the differing veiwpoints and beliefs throughout the world and history, the more I feel it’s ok to believe what I believe. It’s ok to not follow ‘the crowd’ and do what everyone else is doing just because that’s the way it’s always been done. I hope that this trend continues. I think i deserve some inner peace for a change.