This Beautiful Life, part I

I have a friend from high school, Michele.  We grew up in BibleLand, Arkansas.  Michele went to college there.  She married there and she has lived there her entire life.  She kept the faith.  I did not.

Recently she messaged me to tell me that at 31 she had left Christianity.

She has now started a blog to document her deconversion and has agreed to guest post them here.  The first will make you misty eyed.

… The Struggles

There have been hard times. My very first struggle began when my husband started to change his beliefs. I was afraid! WHY would he stay married to me? Where would he get his morals? Was he going to all of a sudden be one of those guys who goes to strip clubs, watches porn, and leers over women? What would become of our marriage? And we did have some interesting events and discussions along these lines, but what I found was this: A person is going to do something or not REGARDLESS of their religion. And I could not deny the overwhelming evidence that Christians cheat as often as non-Christians. Christians get divorces as often as non-Christians. And non-religious people stay monogomous as often as Christians. I believed the myth that Christianity made marriages stronger. But after I started looking at the evidence for this, I realized there wasn’t any! So, Brian and I decided what works for US. And to be honest, as long as we’re not hurting anyone, it’s none of anyone’s business what we do! It was refreshing to be able to finally TALK about all of this.

And you know what? It brought us closer. I finally asked: what if we both agreed it was better to be apart than together? Well, then we’d be apart. It’s silly to do otherwise! On the flip side of that, knowing he’s with me because he LOVES me and NOT because the Bible says he has to be with me is quite nice. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I am worth being with for ME. And the other way around. He is an unbelievable man and I WANT to be with him! We have a lot vested in our marriage and our family. We are in it for the long haul.

Another hard time was the original realization. It was very depressing to think that it’s all me. Every single decision was not affected by a higher power. My life isn’t orchestrated by anyone other than ME! First of all, it felt like a big weight and responsibility. But after a few weeks I began to realize that it had always been this way. There had never been a God, so really nothing changed. And now it’s quite empowering.

Also, how are we going to raise our kids? This is still a very tough one. It’s so easy to say: don’t have premarital sex because the Bible says so. Honor your father and mother. Don’t lie, steal, cheat, …etc all because the Bible says so. Let me tell you one thing – I now have to think. for. myself. Seriously, for the first time since grade school, I’m having to explore the why’s. It’s not good enough to say “because God says so” because frankly, we did those things anyways! I mean really … even as a Christian, most of us had sex before marriage (or everything but- HA!). Let’s be honest, being a Christian gave us guilt about it, but we still did it. So, let’s look at a real reason to behave morally. How about because we live in a society. Therefore we interact with other people daily. We must make these interactions pleasant so people will want to interact with us. We will be able to maintain trade (and thereby eat and play!) if we are honest. People will want to be around us (and therefore marry and procreate and play!) if we are humble and generous and kind. We, as humans, must work together to make this world a better place if we want to live in a society and play and enjoy life!

Let me tell you, I’ve had to THINK more than I ever did as a believer. I can no longer say “I’ll pray for you” because, frankly, the results are no different. So now I ask: What can I DO? Can I bring a meal? Can I watch a kid while you go through this hard time? I’ve had to actually give of myself. I miss the easy answers, but … in the voice of Barney Stinson: CHALLENGE ACCEPTED!

Life is truly good without god.  Sure, it’s harder being the minority and actually having to put thought into why you want the things you want or to why you do the things you do, but it’s infinitely more rewarding.

It’s an arduous journey in the bible belt.  However, it’s one of the greatest axioms of life that most worthwhile things take more effort to achieve.

Here’s the amazing part though: Michele has told me she’s presently maintaining seventeen different private conversations with people in her life who feel just like her, but are scared too be open about it.  Coming out of the closet it hard, but it’s powerful.

Head over to Michele’s blog and leave her some encouragement (or leave some in the comments here).

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