When I was a Christian, I read the book ''A Grief Observed,'' by C.S. Lewis. C.S. Lewis was once a self-proclaimed atheist, but as his life took many turns, he was drawn to Christianity. He is often quoted by many Christians, as being a poignant voice for them. Frankly, he still is one of my favorite authors. He has a way with words that is not only convicting, but also comforting.
In ''A Grief Observed,'' C.S. Lewis talks about loss, pain, suffering, and the process of grieving.
"Nothing will shake a man -- or at any rate a man like me -- out of his merely verbal thinking and his merely notional beliefs. He has to be knocked silly before he comes to his senses. Only torture will bring out the truth. Only under torture does he discover it himself." ~ C.S. Lewis
What is this truth that he's talking about? For him, it must have been Christianity. It must have been a belief in the supernatural, and a god...and somehow, this helped him grieve the gut-wrenching loss of his wife. This 'truth' as he calls it, must have been pretty damn comforting, during a time of great sorrow and pain. Truth with a capital 'T.'
I once accepted C.S. Lewis' truth, as my truth. Prayers and supplication were my truths. Suffering once had redemptive value, as that too was another one of my truths. But, a few years ago, I embarked on a journey away from this truth, and traveled down a stark, lonely path towards a new one. When I discovered what it meant to call myself an atheist, it felt like someone had given me a great gift that had been sitting in front of me all of my life, waiting to be opened. Also known as ''reality,'' this gift provided me the keys to freedom, to living my life authentically, and learning to trust my own intuition. When practicing religion, especially one of the Abrahamic versions, you need to realize and accept that you are no longer in charge of your own life. This 'god' that you've agreed to follow, is going to guide you, comfort you, and shelter you from every frightening storm imaginable. But, in return, you will be obligated to 'serve' this god, and that can be the tricky part. I was indoctrinated at a young age, into Christianity, and children are human sponges, as they say. I was a good girl, all of my life...followed the rules, and all of my choices, were based on how I could put others' needs above my own. (to a fault, at times)
I've talked to lifelong atheists both here, and in my offline life, who have a somewhat dark opinion of Christianity - that it is steeped in deception, fear and depravity. As an atheist now, I can identify with them, but having been a zealous Christian, I remember making excuses for those things. We are only deceived, because evil is present in the world. We fear that which we don't fully understand, and how can we ever fully understand the mystery of faith? And, depravity is part of the sin complex. Religion isn't depraved, it is mankind that rejected God's gift...and thus, depravity exists.
See? One can make up a lot of seemingly convincing and viable excuses to stick with religion. The brain is an amazing organ, and it will find a way to process that which is unfathomable. (How can one fathom lies? Call it religion. lol)
So, today, is one of those days that I thought blogging about all of these thoughts, might be cathartic for me. I'm an atheist, but there is something that I can't quite fully let go of, when it comes to my former self as a theist. I don't quite know anymore what that something is, even though I've done much self reflection.
Bur, then it dawned on me today, that maybe I will never know what that something is, and I must find a way to accept that I was duped by religion, nothing more or less. Perhaps, this is what C.S. Lewis meant by suffering, and how it will lead you to truth. The road has been illuminated for me, and if I dare to look over my shoulder at how far I've come, there is still this part of me that wishes to run back over all that trampled ground, back into the waiting arms of theism. The comfort of nothingness, as compared to the vast potential that awaits me. I know what I've left behind, so why do I still look back?
Therein lies the process of grieving. It is a push-pull paradigm that one must go through, in order to grow, learn and emerge a butterfly. I'm not there, yet. I'm still grieving. As futile as it seems on some days, I cannot move forward until I allow myself to grieve the loss of my faith, fully and deliberately. My deconversion will be complete, when I've fully processed and made peace with the fact that religion was never my friend. Never my saving grace. Never my Comforter. I'm almost there, but not quite yet.
I sometimes think it would be easier, if it were all true.