The date of my final conversion (or deconversion as it were) was May 14th 2017, but the story starts further back than that.
As a Christian I had always struggled off and on with doubt. I think every Christian does whether or not they are willing to admit to it. But things ramped up for me when my wife and I went through a miscarriage. I remember thinking about the verse in Jeremiah that talks about God knowing us while we were in our mother’s womb and asking myself “If you made this person why did you kill it?” and “If you love me so much why would you hurt us like this?” It was quiet jarring. The thought crept into my mind that it would be easier to accept that the universe was completely random than a loving god doing this to me. Thus began my cognitive dissonance. For those who don’t know cognitive dissonance is when you hold two opposing beliefs at the same time. An example would be someone who thinks we need to care for the environment yet drives a Hummer. I thought the world made more sense with out a god but clung desperately to the belief in one.
I lived in this state for a couple of years, wavering on and off to church, looking for other churches that might show me how to make sense of it. Nothing did. I prayed for an hour every morning asking god to say something to me to let me know he was there…ANYTHING. The song by Great Big World kinda became my anthem for a while. But alas nothing. Silence. I invented excuses for why I didn’t hear anything. Maybe I wasn’t a good enough Christian. Maybe it was because I wasn’t tithing enough. Maybe I wasn’t praying right. Maybe it’s because I was doubting that he wasn’t talking to me. But as time went on I pushed the problem to the back burner. I went through the motions. I played the part well enough. I served in my ministry and went to all the meetings I could. I felt like a zombie aimlessly lurching along until I found my next meal.
At this point my wife and I now had two awesome kids but it became too much of a strain to keep doing ministry. We both stepped out and just never went back to church. It was nice sleeping in on Sunday morning but I still felt the obligation to go to church somewhere. Again I looked around at churches. Maybe just find somewhere I could go, sit in the back and leave with out having to do anything else. I quickly lost the ambition to do even that.
It would be a good 6 months before I went to another church. It was on Mother’s Day 2017. We were invited to the dedication to of the daughter of a family friend. My wife was asked to be the god-mother. I figured this would be a good chance to give church another go. I walked in and it all felt very familiar yet foreign at the same time. We made our way to the auditorium and took our seats just as the video announcements started. This moment right here is what made me flip. The first announcement came up and it was the worship pastor. I’ll have to paraphrase as its been some time since then but it went something to the effect of “Hi I’m the worship pastor here and can you believe I used to be a barista? (yes, yes I can) I can tell you that our coffee is the best this side of the Mississippi, so make sure you stop in to the cafe after service and buy yourself a cup and maybe a pastry too! If you’re new here let them know and they’ll hook you up with a free cup!” It was like the rose colored window I’d been looking through shattered. This is just another business! They just want to make more money so they can improve the building, so they can make more money. All my years of indoctrination suddenly flooded into my mind.
I suddenly found myself in a very scary state. The foundation that I had made nearly every decision upon just fell out from under me. Things I once KNEW to be true suddenly weren’t. There was no magical figure in the sky who loved me and was watching out for me. I wasn’t created special, I was the result of millions of years of evolution. I didn’t have a divine purpose, the only purpose to life now was what I ascribed it.
As this post has gotten rather long I think I’ll leave what’s happened since to the next post. I plan on using this as kind of a sounding board for the thoughts that come into my head about the journey I’m on now and where it leads. Feel free to chime in with any thoughts you might have.