A Guest Post About Faith
Today I have a special post from a guest author. Our guest today does not have a blog, but she’s asked me if I could post a little article she wrote. The article came partly in response to a recent announcement, where an old classmate of ours (who is still at school and currently is the student body president) revealed that he is an atheist. Considering that the school is a Christian school (and not just in name only) this came as a bit of a shock to some people. I had my suspicious a while ago, so it was less of a shock to me. The person in question is a really nice guy, and it’s a credit to his honesty that he decided to let everyone know. This article was prompted by this announcement, but it is not really in response to it. It simply got the author thinking about things, and she really wanted to put her words down on (virtual) paper.
To get two things out of the way ahead of time: this is not a work of apologetics. It is not meant to be an argument but instead to be a reflection on faith. So don’t get your underwear in a bunch because her definition of “faith” or “belief” or “atheism” isn’t quite correct. It’s not that kind of post.
What do we know?
What is faith? What is atheism?
I could tell you what my parents think about it. Or I could tell you what my professor of philosophy might say about it. But I have to say that I am one who has her own opinions on this matter. I have been thinking about this topic since I was 9 years old. This was when my life had not yet turned around, I lost one of the people I loved most in this world, and I was living in a home that seemed broken. I questioned myself; I grew up in a Christian home, but where was God? Why did he take the one person who I really loved away from me? Why did I suffer every day? These where questions that a 9 year old girl shouldn’t ask herself. She should be off playing with dollies and having fun. After that it seemed like my life just kept getting worse. I still loved God: I still believed that he existed. But every day I woke up in fear. I could go into detail about all the bad things that happened to me, but that is not what this article is about. This article is for the purpose of asking why, in all that horribleness, did I keep my faith? What is faith? What is atheism? Is there a difference?
I personally have to say that there is no difference. Faith and atheism is the same to me. My definition of faith is that you believe in something. The definition of atheism is that you believe that there is nothing. Either way you have a belief. You have faith that there is or is not something. There was one time where someone might be reasonable in saying that I had lost my faith. But the way I see it I was just frustrated at God. I was hurt, and angry, and every night before I went to bed I would scream at Him, saying “If you existed then why did this happen to me?” I ask myself every day now “how did I get it back?” How did I turn out loving God? How did I start seeing, every day, His miracles?
My mom and dad changed when I was 13. They became much healthier people. You’d think “Oh, well they changed. Your life should be better.” But my life did not start to be better until much later. I went off to a Christian university. I was a broken and battered young woman who was trying to deal with everything that was happening. And somehow, God found me. Not through some divine experience, not through some miraculous voice in the sky. It was through what me and my family call “Jesus with skin on.” It was through human beings showing me love and kindness that I had never experienced before. This is the place where I met my soul brother and my husband.
Most of my friends who are agnostic or atheist I’ve found have experienced some sort of horrific trauma. They end up spending all their time focused on that trauma, and they end up missing the miracles that happen every day; the everyday un-coincidences. We could say that my grandfather just happened to get sick, which just happened to make me go to a school that was near him, which just happened to make me meet my soul brother and husband. We could say that. The truth is I see no coincidence. Instead I see a journey. I see God taking me out of a horrible situation and a horrible place and saying “Child, just wait a little longer.”
Most of what happened to me was because I did not want to wait. I kept saying “No God, everything is horrible. I want it my way.” Like a little two year old throwing a tantrum. I cannot regret my past because it led directly to my present. How would I know how different things might be if the things that happened to me as a little girl didn’t happen?
So I tell you: atheism is not the absence of faith, but the refusal to have faith in anyone else but yourself. If that is working for you, great. Keep going. Keep trucking down that path. One day you will trip over a big rock, and everyday you’ll wonder “why is this not working?” And I tell you it’s because you are only having faith in yourself. You’re not on your own. You don’t have to do it by yourself.