As a Special Needs Mom, I prayed for my son’s health to be restored, healed, and for peace for my family.
Initially, praying helped me feel better, provided me with a sense of security, and helped me through our chaotic life.
My prayers were never answered, and I began to wonder why praying no longer works for my son.
After a recent trip to the doctor, I realized that I had found more peace by not praying.
My son has a heart condition that doctors have followed for years.
Initially, when doctors discovered the defect, they thought he would need immediate surgery.
Imagine my panic almost three years ago, when I learned that doctors wanted to perform open heart surgery. My son had just turned three years old, and he was so tiny.
I struggled to make sense of the news of my son having his chest opened, put on lung/heart bypass, and having his heart repaired.
In the chaos of those days, I left my high paying position in Corporate America, I became a stay at home mom, and I dove into the full-time job of raising my medically fragile son.
Then nothing happened.
Despite an initial echocardiogram that indicated severe issues inside the heart, a follow-up test stated the heart improved.
Our cardiologist changed his mind about surgery, and we agreed to be followed carefully to monitor any changes to his heart.
From January 2016 until July 2018, our doctor did routine echocardiograms that measured the severity of his illness.
Most appointments my son got an echo, we met the doctor, nothing changed, and we left the office.
After my initial shock, not much changed in his heart and we continued with our life.
I forgot about the disease that was ravaging his heart.
We didn’t pay close attention to symptoms because his tests remained the same for years.
Our appointment last week felt no different than the previous appointments with our cardiologist.
He sat quietly while an ultrasound wand videotaped the function of his heart.
After we finished the test, we moved back to the clinic room and waited for our doctor.
Our regular cardiologist had the week off, and we met one of his partners.
A young cardiologist that barely appeared to be in his 30s walked into the room. His hands fidgeted back and forth, and his face seemed to be serious and stoic.
He greeted me.
Before I could respond to his greeting, words quickly fell out of his mouth.
It took me a moment to register what he told me.
“Right atrium dilation and increased pressure.”
My stomach dropped to my feet, and my heart began to pound so hard it felt as though it was coming out of my chest.
I knew what this meant for my son.
After years of no change in his heart, his heart could no longer keep up with the demands of his growing body.
My hands began to fidget, and I could feel my fingers move frantically up my arms as I made sense of this news.
We would need to schedule open heart surgery.
I remember sitting there, and I thought about praying to God.
Then I remembered I don’t believe in God.
For years, anytime I got terrible news about his health, my inner voice quietly spoke to God and begged him for a miracle.
At that moment, despite the devastating news I received, I realized this next step would be on our own
Following the news of surgery, I spent the rest of the evening updating family and friends.
Messages flooded into my inbox, on my social media, and via text messages.
“May God Heal Your Son.”
“In Jesus Name.”
When we attended church, these words provided me with a sense of safety and security.
As I read the words that evening, it occurred to me that prayers meant nothing to me.
However, prayers to a God I did not believe in, meant nothing to me.
I had a moment of profound clarity that evening.
For years, I depended on prayers and begged God to help my son.
Every time I prayed, I felt powerless and empty. Relying on an all-powerful being in the sky for my son’s health made me feel out of control.
While many people feel peace when they pray, I began to feel no peace or safety with prayer.
As my son’s health deteriorated each year, praying gave me more anxiety than it helped me.
My ability to believe in God slowly dissipated with every surgery, every medication, and every new diagnosis my son received.
At first, I told a friend that I was in a fight with God.
How could a loving God knowingly allow my child to suffer?
My church friends tried to console me and remind me that not all prayers are answered.
I learned God didn’t answer prayers on demand.
I couldn’t believe in a God that would allow my son to be sick.
As I watched my friends lose their children to disease, I could no longer believe a God would allow such enormous suffering.
I grew tired of hearing that my lack of faith caused my son’s diseases.
Over a period of months, I disrobed my cloak of Christianity.
Then I became an atheist.
Now I was presented with another challenge with my son’s health, and I no longer had faith to lean on.
For the first time in my atheism journey, I needed to look at a situation objectively and practically.
While I sorted through the sea of comments on my social media, I set my phone down and took a deep breath.
Suddenly, I realized this entire situation was under my control.
I didn’t need to pray to God to heal my son.
Instead, I learned I could trust myself more than God.
Similarly, I realized I could trust our team to make the right decisions to help my son.
Over the span of 5 years, I hired a team of professionals to treat his diseases.
My insatiable need to help my son had enabled me to advocate for his care, find him doctors, and improve his quality of life.
I controlled all of his care, made all the choices, and advocated for him.
God wasn’t a factor in any part of this journey.
Every time I prayed, I gave up control and counted on someone else to fix the situation. By relying on someone else to help my son it always gave me high anxiety, frustration, and anger.
With a deep exhale, I realized that I no longer had to “Give it to God.”
Rather than feeling deep anxiety and panic, I felt calm for the first time raising my son.
I knew that no matter what happened I trusted our doctors.
Our doctors have the skill, experience, and knowledge to fix his heart.
Scientific data shows that my son’s operation has a 98.5% survival rate.
Sure the idea of my doctors opening my son’s chest terrified me, but the confidence I have in our team, scientific advancements, and long-term prognosis for his surgery dampened any fears that permeated my soul.
For the first time in my life, I realize that by trusting my ability as his mother, his doctors, and medical advancements I no longer live in fear.
The unknowing power of God’s ability to heal never worked for me.
Leaning on God never helped me feel safe or secure.
As we prepare for open heart surgery, I have never been more calm, more centered, and more in control.
As a result of my atheism I no longer “give it to god,” and I chose to trust in science.