Sometimes, Christians ask if I regret living in such a boring world. After all, they believe in angels and demons, heaven and hell, God and Satan. I just believe in the world I directly experience. Do I feel like I’m losing something? Do I feel empty?
Out of all the things I miss in Christianity, that epic world that so many Christians love is not one of them. For me, it was a nightmare.
Honestly. I mean, these days…I don’t really know how I managed to get through life when I thought that things in my life happened because the devil was trying to tempt me or God was trying to show me something. Every temptation to go against the Christian code was a test, with God sitting there, looking at me, and Satan eagerly hoping that I would walk right into the trap he had set for me. Seemingly random events might have a purpose God wanted me to see within it. That…really made my life a lot more complicated than it is now, plus, well, it’s stressful to be watched 24/7 by all-powerful beings you can’t see.
This battle was intimidating. After all, I thought, “we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12).
For some people this background is beautiful. The “real world” is boring, and the haunted world, with heavenly and hellish beings, makes the world more beautiful and exciting. For others, these beings are metaphors, perhaps, that empower them to live their lives better.
It wasn’t that, for me. In my case, God, Satan, and the rest complicated my life.
The world was epic and overwhelming, a constant horror flick filled with angels and demons I couldn’t touch or see.
When I left God, I left all that fear and mystery behind.
There are no monsters in the closet. No haunts under the bed. Events in my life — good and bad — aren’t reactions from God to I have to worry about. I don’t wonder about God’s plan for my life, or anyone’s life. People don’t suffer because of Satan; they suffer because terrible things happen, and it’s not part of any divine plan — it’s up to us to do something about it.
And when someone dies, I don’t worry about whether they went to heaven or hell. I just live in the blunt reality that they died, that I contributed to their life and they contributed to mine, that I am free to interpret their influence in my life, and that I can be a person who uses their bittersweet physical and philosophical legacy to nourish future generations.The raw, naked simplicity of reality keeps me focused and clear-minded. It’s beautiful.
I’ve kinda gotten used to it, but sometimes I’m reminded of that epic world I used to live in.
And I shudder. I don’t want to go back to the epic horror story.
I don’t want to worry about imaginary monsters anymore, when there is so much in the world that is right in front of me to embrace and explore. When there are people to love, songs to listen and dance to, jokes to be told, trails to be run, books to be read, life histories to share in the raw simplicity of what I actually experience.
I love this simplicity — it feels firmer, like I’m actually grasping reality, and in that way it makes me feel secure. I don’t want my psyche to go back to the shadowlands of my demon-and-angel-haunted past. If it works for you, OK; as long as you don’t hurt people, I care about you, and I appreciate any care you show me.
It’s just a personal preference — it’s my story. I’ve felt horror and ecstasy in that world of imagination, full of demons and God, and my life is much healthier now. I don’t want to go back.
To you, perhaps, this life I live may seem dull, muted, like I’m missing out. But let me put it this way:
Every night when I peacefully close my eyes and drift to sleep, I’m deeply grateful that I don’t have to worry about angels and demons around me, in the closet, under the bed, or floating in the air…
And I sleep better.
And wake up, glad I’m here, and that you’re here, and that the real, flesh-and-blood, grits-and-gravel world is here. And I’m relieved. I got out of a haunted shadowland, and I’m actually Here now.
I mean…that raw sense of presence is one of the most honest, beautiful things about my life these days.
You may not agree, but hopefully you understand.
Thanks for reading.
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