“Pray to God and accept Jesus Christ as your savior and you shall be saved”, said the pastor to the child.
Every night I pleaded to God to wake up as a member of the Ingalls family from Little House on the Prairie. He could make anything happen right? If Jonah could live in the belly of a whale and Jesus could be resurrected, why was my request so unreasonable? Doesn’t god love all of his children? I was baptized and saved; I went to church every Sunday and Wednesday; I never missed out on making crosses out of macaroni at vacation bible school; I memorized bible verses in exchange for a pieces of candy and most importantly, I kept my mouth shut like a good little Christian girl. After all, it wasn’t as if I was praying for riches and fame, I just wanted normalcy…whatever that is.
I imagined being on this very long ‘Santa’s list’…he would eventually get to me. It was only a matter of time that Charles Ingalls would find me and carry me away to Walnut Grove. I did not care if I had to live in a shack with no electricity or risk dying at a young age from disease and I would be damned grateful for those socks at Christmas!
Apparently God had another plan for me. Yes! That’s it! My faith is being tested! He wanted to see how long I could endure my life of neglect, abuse and utter loneliness! I would surely be rewarded if I could stand up in the face of adversity!
I tried my best, but my legs were too weak.
The false hope given by the church only made my emotional roller coaster even more extreme. I felt as if I were stranded on a desert island watching each rescue ship approach only to be blown up before my eyes. Couldn’t they have brainwashed me with reason instead of all of these silly fairy tales? Cruelty.
When I left, did the church care that I had disappeared? Why would they? After all, what benefit was I to them? My only contribution to the church was the measly dollar my grandfather slipped into my bible before I got onto the church bus. Heck, that didn’t even cover the cost of the generously given cookies, candies and Kool-Aid that were used to ensure our return to their house of worship. I also failed the church when they relentlessly pressured me to convince my family to attend services. How could I tell them that my mother spent most of the daylight hours in a drug-induced slumber and my grandfather was too busy working and taking care of my alcoholic grandmother? “I’ll try”
Years of faithful attendance and not one person from the church tried to find me and bring me back to the flock. You would think that my abrupt departure would raise some red flags amongst the good Christian people. It did not.
I suppose I shouldn’t be that surprised given the manner I was recruited to their church…lured in by an elderly couple driving around in an RV offering random children free candy and a ride to church.
Religion is a joke. Faith does not bring about miracles. If God wouldn’t help an innocent child, what hope was there? At one point, I felt that the church was my only way out. I looked forward to being fed the bullshit lies because it gave me hope. They told me exactly what I wanted to hear, but they never told me what I needed to hear, the reality. There was no Walnut Grove in my future....unless I, not some magical being in the sky, made it my future.
Due to my circumstances, I was already a withdrawn child. It was a rare event if I spoke to anyone, even other children. Needless to say, I did not have many friends and I kept to myself most of the time. After leaving the church, I became even more withdrawn. I trusted no one and felt more alone than ever.
If only someone would have preached common sense to me, or had given me tools that I could actually use, perhaps my dreams would have been more realistic.
Today, I live my fairy tale, and there was no God involved. I found my ‘salvation’ in education, experience, world travel and most importantly, realizing my independent mind. I know what it is like to be truly happy, to love and be loved, and it is all my doing.
To be continued….
The proud Atheist