Thursday, October 21, 2010

Some Life Lessons I've Learned

I remember how much I used to think about how life was difficult but it was nothing in comparison to eternity; I could still look forward to an afterlife in paradise later without so much trepidation. This little trick used to alleviate my pain related to OCD back in the day, albeit in small measure, and served as a bit of a "security blanket". Now, I understand that each day could be my last and there’s no happily ever after. I think this holds a lot of weight for many Christians. They feel like they can handle the monotonous and perilous struggles of life because they believe there is a proverbial pot of gold waiting for them. For example, the slaves of the antebellum period undoubtedly drew strength from Biblical stories, like Moses and the Exodus. They truly believed that god would rescue them similarly and this certainly gave them a sense of hope and purpose.

We’ve all heard the stories of beautiful mansions, streets paved with gold and arch enemies of the animal kingdom nuzzling each other. It’s a beautiful construction of humankind’s passions, imagination and desires. There’s no more crying, no more killing and certainly no more humans being sinful in heaven. If only you follow Jesus, you too can possess a mansion on a thousand hills. We are told that sex will no longer be practiced but something far greater lies in store.

I used to tell myself that the present miseries pale in comparison to an eternity in bliss. But, what does an atheist tell themselves when melancholy comes knocking? It’s made me work harder, smarter and try to resolve my problems with greater determination. I can’t afford to hold out for eternity when this is all there is. I’ve got to be a better person now, a better parent, husband and more productive citizen. I’ve got to overcome my problems and stop holding out in a state of idleness and frivolous prayer. In short, I can’t depend on Jesus; I’ve got to depend on me.

Things are different these days. I have a keener sense of my own mortality and how every day could be my last. This can be a bit depressing at times and I find myself asking, “is this all there is to this?” We’re born, we go to school, we get married and have children, we work, we retire and we eventually die. At least, this seems to be the standard mode of operation. I know that a lot of apologists use this as a reason for believing in god. We have this sense of dread about death and the solution is found in believing in an afterlife.

As an atheist, I’m learning to stop taking things for granted and to stop sweating the small stuff. I’ve learned to let things go because I don’t have time to hold on to things. I’ve learned to not take things for granted and to examine things critically. I’ve learned to stop leaning on a crutch, namely Jesus, to get through another day. I’m becoming less dependent on others and more self-reliant. Atheism has allowed more of the real me to come out. My psychological problems have lessened and I have a clearer picture of the person I want to be. My family has undoubtedly noticed a difference in my behaviors. My wife and I get along better now. Is this a result of atheism? I don’t know but I do know that I’m more passionate about learning and I don’t want OCD to get in my way so I’m vigilant about getting better. What sparked my newfound interest in learning? The answer is atheism. Atheism, science, skepticism and using logic have been appealing enough that I don’t want anything to distract me. It’s been a positive adventure; although, I don’t know how much more I can give to this blog.

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