I still have obnoxious tendencies, but it is no match for the complete obnoxious behavior I exhibited as a devout Catholic. I was one of those bubbly judgmental people who clapped their hands too loudly. I wore in-your-face Jesus clothes and made sure to let everyone know I didn’t curse or wear anything too revealing. I spent every day at the church with my friends and youth ministers and even went to morning mass as often as I could.
After years of this, I found myself sitting in my youth minister’s office and listening to my friends and youth minister bash someone for their skimpy clothes. I had a moment of clarity: who are we to sit their and judge people and then pat our own backs about how Christian we were. Luckily that moment of clarity hung on a little longer and I stopped attending as often. I wasn’t ready to let go yet, but I did distance myself.
I fell on some hard times and watched as support washed away. I was a little lost and I kept thinking I needed to get back into church. When I was in college I fell in love with my now-husband. He’s Jewish. When I introduced him, people were not friendly to my new situation. They were visibly upset that I once was a model Catholic and now have seemed to be drifting away.
Then I had a baby before we got married! It was as if I was trying to do everything I could to be a “sinner” but I still hadn’t completely lost faith yet. When I had my daughter, family and friends were wondering when I was going to baptize her and I could not bring myself to do it yet. When I moved across the country with my family I tried to go to church again, but it didn’t feel right. Then one day, I wandered into a book store and saw a display of a book called, “The God Delusion” and I picked it up.
I read it in two days and was in a whirl spin. It lead me to read books about evolution, biology, genetics, and so on. It seemed to answer these nagging feelings I’ve had for so long. I went to some meet-ups and met other people who were interested in talking about science, ethics, and their old religious life. I didn’t feel like I belonged with anyone and I think that was the best part. My husband isn’t religious but he wasn’t a non-believer, so there were tense moments. However, I think he’s come around to letting go of old superstitions.
The equivalent of “being tested” for me was when my daughter started asking questions about our religion. We’ve sent her to synagogue when she’s asked, I’ve taken her to mass, and so many more places. We spent an extensive time learning about Greek mythology and learning about different religions. I figure she’s got to make a decision for herself some day and I’m just going to let her know what exists. I’m most proud at how less gullible she is then when I was her age.
I’ve lost some friends and I’m totally okay with it. I much more comfortable with saying I’m a non-believer or Atheist. I have coworkers who try to get me to go to church and I’m not afraid of speaking up anymore. My brothers are not religious either and it’s not a “thing” or a group. It’s not a label for them to be atheist, they simply are and I admire that. My biggest regret is losing all that time when I could have been learning about science. It was a dangerous time for me to think, “Don’t worry, God will take care of me.” I could have been doing good, learning more, being more open to ideas and this world I live in. That’s what I can’t stress enough. I have to come to terms with all that wasted potential praying to nothing and deciding how people should live their lives.
Once at work, we watched a seminar on what made people happy and the presenter said, “Religious people are happier” and I thought perhaps ignorance is bliss. The truth is I have never felt more freer and happier than I do now, accepting that I have to make the most of this life- to be kind to one another and to this world because it’s all there really is and it’s still a lot!