This past year I have experienced a lot of life changes. I figured it was time to write some of it all down. I feel like I should start with some background on me. For the sake of time and avoiding revealing too much, I will keep this somewhat brief.
I was born into a large fundamentalist Christian family. Overall it was a very loving and caring family, although we were not perfect. My younger years were much more strict. Girls were to wear dresses, have long hair, and taught to care for the family. I was homeschooled to avoid the worldly influences. I use the term “homeschooled” loosely. My mother, in my opinion, was very over worked. She had 7 children she was homeschooling along with all the house work and her duties as a pastor’s wife. I don’t know how she was able to do what she did. The schooling of the kids seemed to be low on the priority list. Out of the 12 years of primary school I should have received I only attended an actual school for 2 years of them. In spite of that I went on to complete 2 years of college and trade school.
Being a pastor’s daughter I had the opportunity to see the inner workings of a lot of churches. Despite this I don’t ever remember questioning the idea of god. I believed it all wholeheartedly. In my teenage years I led bible studies, organized youth group activities and went on mission trips. By the time I was nearly 18 years old I realized there were major political issues in churches. I knew there was something completely wrong with how things functioned in churches and that it wasn’t what God would have wanted.
I maintained my belief in God, even during some rough “spiritual” years, but pulled away from church. This continued on even after I met my husband. He had similar feelings about God and church. We both believed in God but didn’t know where we fit as far as church went, so we just didn’t go often. I started feeling guilty for not being in church more when we started having kids. I thought it was important to take my kids to church. We seemed to always find a reason/excuse for not being able to go.
My husband and I would have theological discussions from time to time. It generally involved us sharing how we disagreed with religious people around us.
Shortly after our 5th wedding anniversary he sat me down while the kids were napping and as gently as he could, told me he thought he didn’t believe in God anymore. I was dumbfounded. I did not see it coming at all, nor did I expect my response. As hard as I tried I couldn’t hold back from crying. I felt like my entire life was falling apart, even though I was not religious.
I was told when I was younger that lives and marriages in which God was not the foundation would fall apart. It was often taught that if someone didn’t have God’s love that they would not know how to love someone else. I started trying to figure out how my marriage would survive this new development. I loved my husband completely and we had a great relationship but without God in it I was terrified it wouldn’t last.
I knew my husband was smart and generally a rational person. I had to hear him out on this but I seemed to cry every time anything on that topic was brought up. It went on like this for weeks, through Christmas no less. I’m sure I made some unkind comments to him during that time but managed to refrain from showing any anger.
About 3 weeks later, after listening to some of the things my husband was learning, I decided to read my bible from start to finish. I wanted to find out for myself what I believed without falling back on what I had been raised to believe. I tore apart Genesis. I was comparing verses, adding up dates, and estimated populations for different stories. I was obsessed with it. Every spare minute I had my nose was buried in my bible. During this time my husband and I started to have more conversations on God and the bible. He shared what he thought was illogical about the existence of god and I tried to find answers.
Around the time I was finishing my study of Genesis, my husband and I had the rare chance to have dinner out alone. This was the first time I told him that the God of the bible just didn’t make sense. It was clear to me that a lot of the old testament stories could not have happened. If I couldn’t trust parts of the bible, how was I to believe any of it to be true? We talked about how there was so much we were never taught about the bible or that we overlooked and we were just discovering. I told him I was not to the point of saying “atheist” but I definitely was not holding to my former beliefs.
It was only a matter of a week or so that I finally claimed the title “atheist”. It has now been 9 months and I have discovered so much in that time. This journey has not been all pleasant. There has been some serious conflict with friends and family. I am far from being the woman I would like to be but I am on my way. My marriage is the best it has ever been which is saying a lot because we have always had a good relationship. We both have grown and learned to much individually and together.