I am leaving to study abroad on Sunday. (mini freak out here). I’m going to Ireland!! When I come home, I am officially moving into my new apartment with my fiance Patrick. This means my mom wants me to clear out my room and get rid of all the junk I’ve been storing in here since 2nd grade. I started with the bookshelf.
Most of my bookshelf was Christian literature. It was a weird feeling to see all of these. To be honest, I was super surprised at just how many I had. I haven’t read all of them, but most. They brought back a lot of emotions for me. I remember hating memorizing passages from Luther’s catechism for my confirmation. I remember really enjoying Mean Girls, Sexy Girls, and Idol Girls and the retreats I read them on with my youth group. I remember being angered and frustrated by A Call to Die because it made me feel like an awful person.
My friend got me 10 Lies the Church Tells women for my birthday after I had a heartbreaking conversation with a youth leader who I admired. He shared his messed up ideas about women and their “role” in society. I remember breaking down and sobbing, being angry, and then just deciding that he was stupid. It was a defining moment in my teen years, and what shaped my desire to be a rational Christian for the following years.
These books were my efforts to make sense of religion. To make me feel fulfilled and happy. The topics range from building faith to seeking logic and truth. I read all those words looking for answers, and now I know I only needed one thing: atheism. Some of the books I have good memories associated with, others not so much. But the ones I have the most positive memories with were the ones I read with other people, in bible studies, youth groups, church, small groups, or whatever other settings bible things are read. Which only supports my theory that I liked religion for the community it provided me.
My bible especially still holds some value that I have a hard time letting go of. I was in a women’s bible study at my university. Sure, some I thought were a little loony, but I still liked it. We would read passages of the bible and pray. It was an hour a week to escape from work and school. Patrick would always ask me what I got out of it, and sometimes I had an answer, sometimes I didn’t. But looking back I think I mostly enjoyed having a break that I could look forward to every week where I knew I would be surrounded by women with positive attitudes.
But I know when I go back to school my relationship with every single one of those girls will be non-existent. They don’t really know anything about me, and we no longer have the commonality of Christianity. So I suppose my atheism opens the door for me to cultivate new and meaningful friendships and find a new weekly break to look forward to. As far as my bible goes, I’m still opening it up and reading, but it seems a whole lot crazier, weirder, and less good-promoting than I remember. And it’s a little sad. Something I put so much trust in, so much thought in, and so much hope in is really just a crazy book of a vein god. It’ll be less sad overtime, and new things will become important and sentimental.
I also feel less guilty about consulting my stuffed penguin chewy after a bad day instead of the bible, so that’s a plus.
I know this was a long one, but thanks for letting me share. Please share something about your story.