The Gatekeepers

Something I’ve been told a lot as a Christian-turned-atheist is that “If you’re an atheist now you were never truly a Christian.” This never fails to piss me off. Here’s why.

To begin, I’ve already told my story, so I won’t repeat it in detail, but to sum up, I got saved (or whatever phrase you want to use; that’s the one I will) at 5 years old. I have at least one picture of my baptism the first week in October of 2000 for anyone who doesn’t believe I was. I was faithful and I feel I knew quite a lot about the Bible and Christianity in general. Then at 21 I became an atheist because I felt that Christianity just didn’t add up anymore. For anyone playing along, that’s 16 years of being a Christian.

Sitting there saying that I was never a Christian because I’m not now invalidates 16 years of my life. You’re literally telling me ‘Your entire childhood was a lie’. You’re also saying you know more about me than my own parents. The people who raised me. You’re claiming you know me better than the people who literally gave me life.

You can say all you want to that all atheists are the same. We aren’t. You can say you know my story but you don’t. So don’t pretend to.

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Why My Siblings are My Favorite People

So, I’ve got two siblings, one of which I’ve had pretty much as long as I can remember. My brother Casey’s birth in 1998 was one of the first things I can remember at all. My sister, Lissie, came much later, in 2007, so I remember that a lot better. However, despite my rocky relationship with my brother when we were kids, and my sister sometimes annoying me now, they’re still my favorite people. Here’s why.

  1. They both share my DNA. I know this is small, but they’re basically me biologically, just younger. And I’m awesome and worthy of being protected and loved, right? Why not them too?
  2. They’re nonjudgmental. They know me and have known me their whole lives. They know that if I do something wrong, I don’t intend to hurt anyone. They don’t judge me. My brother was the first person I told I was an atheist and he just told me that he disagreed with me but respected my opinion, and I loved him even more for that.
  3. They show they love me in special ways. I can’t even tell you the last time Casey told me he loves me. But I know he does. He just tells me without telling me. Lissie does too. When I broke my ankle last month, she bought a bear at Walmart for me and brought it to my apartment to give me something to cheer me up. I got a card and everything.
  4. They shape my personality. Casey is the main reason I like a lot of the music I like and I wouldn’t want it any other way. Lissie got me binging a show I forgot I liked when she played the theme song at Casey’s birthday lunch last year. I just watched Indiana Jones for the first time in a decade today because Lissie wanted to watch it while I was watching her today.
  5. They’re family, and they’ll likely be around for awhile. As my parents get older, my siblings and I will have to help each other out and help them out. If I’m gonna have to spend the next 5-8 decades with someone, might as well be them, right?

There are five reasons. If I ever think of more, I’ll add them.

Why I’m Not Making Any New Year’s Resolutions in 2018

A couple of days ago, I asked my boyfriend what his New Year’s Resolutions were. He just responded, “I don’t have any and don’t intend to make any,” and went back to whatever he was doing. I’ve been thinking and I decided I’m not going to either. Here’s why.

  1. I have no reason to believe I’ll keep them. I’ve made resolutions pretty much every year I’ve been alive and have never kept them. Even when I made a poster with them on it to hang on my bedroom door I didn’t keep them. I said that year I’d read 20 books. I only read 19. I lowered that to 15 the following year and still didn’t succeed. Didn’t even come close that year.
  2. I don’t want to lower my self esteem when I undoubtedly break one. As I said above, I don’t see myself being able to keep many, if any, of my hypothetical resolutions. I get really hard on myself when I fail at anything, even something small. Earlier today I was helping my boyfriend assemble a shelf and had a meltdown when a couple things popped off. Something on a bigger scale would be a lot worse.
  3. I need to better myself for myself, not for the sake of saying ‘I kept all my resolutions this year.’ My motivations need to run deeper than that. If I’m only doing it just for bragging rights, that’s not going to be enough. If I want to lose some weight, I need to do it because I need to be healthier, not because I want to be able to say ‘I kept my resolutions so I’m better than you.’
  4. It puts undue pressure and stress on myself. I tend to not do well when I’m being timed at something. Having 365 days to lose 70 pounds (yes, I need to lose about that much believe it or not), even though that’s a lot of time, makes me feel stressed out.
  5. I feel such freedom when I’m NOT under pressure to succeed. It’s so freeing to not have to be under a time limit for something, especially when you’ve got anxiety. Honestly, I might actually be happier in 2018 for that very reason. I guess we will see.

There you go. 5 reasons I will not be making any resolutions for the next year. What about you? Are you planning to? If so, what are they? If not, why?

Why I Became an Atheist

After my last few blog posts publicly outed me as an atheist, I’ve had a lot of people ask me why. I was always a pretty devout Christian (well, maybe a 6 or 7 on a scale of 1-10 anyway) and it took a lot of people by surprise. So, I’ll go ahead and explain and then I won’t have to again.

Before

Before I began to go astray, I was pretty devout. I was raised religious and knew my Bible pretty well. I had been known to get into some religious discussions/debates and I could even hold my own pretty well. I was always the type of person who kept an open mind. I wasn’t going to tell someone they were wrong because I disagreed with them. The only times I wouldn’t be as likely to listen to someone was if they either seemed very ignorant in what they said (or how they said it) or they were being arrogant assholes. I had and still do have lots of Christian friends, though I don’t talk to them as much usually. More on that later….

 

The Beginning of the End

In mid 2014, I was bored in my room one day and stumbled across some videos from Hemant Mehta from The Atheist Voice. I don’t recall which, but it was definitely one of them pointing out flaws in the supposedly infallible Bible. I thought about turning a blind eye and pretending I didn’t hear it but then I decided that I shouldn’t pretend that Christianity is the only possible answer.

 

Questions

Soon, I began drafting a document with questions I had about God. I asked several pastors I knew and not a single one answered. They were either too busy, forgot, or told me they didn’t want to tell me what to believe. I was heartbroken, so I went to my dad. He answered them, or at least tried to. He was unsure on several of them, but at least he tried.

 

Discovery

It took me quite a bit of time to decide. I continued going to church, hoping someone could help. Nobody ever did. Eventually I slowly began to give up. Finally, in November of 2016, I decided I couldn’t accept the existence of a god anymore. I had been watching other atheists on YouTube and I felt their answers were more logical than any I’d ever gotten from Christians. And I didn’t see how any other religion could give better answers. I told a few people, including my brother and my then-boyfriend, but kept it a secret from the rest of my family for awhile. I was unsure how my parents would react and since I lived with them I didn’t want to upset them and make the household tense. I also didn’t (and still haven’t) told my sister. She’s young and I didn’t want her to get confused.

Finally, in February 2017, I moved out into my own apartment. I told them about a week and a half later. To their credit, they took it pretty well. I don’t know how they felt behind the scenes, but they did accept it and didn’t force me to continue attending church.

I wasn’t so lucky with my grandmother. She yelled at me, made it clear that she didn’t know how atheism works, and still refuses to respect or even accept it and keeps telling me I need to pray over petty things (for example, I’m supposed to pray before going shopping that I won’t buy anything I don’t need).

 

Now

Now, I have a lot of people trying to reconvert me. They even sometimes have friends who back them up and don’t stop. However, there are also people who respect my beliefs whether they agree or not. I’ve had friends tell me that despite me being religious from the age of 5, I was never a believer if I’m not now. That’s probably the most upsetting thing believers tell me. They don’t know my story but they assume to. I will admit, I was that kind of person once (the type to say things like that) and I am so sorry for that. My good friends are accepting, though the Christian ones might pray for me, but if they do, they haven’t pushed it on me, which I’m grateful for.

So….yeah. This is how I came to this conclusion. At this point I don’t see anything reconverting me.

Things to Never Say to an Atheist

I just recently let my atheistic worldview become public. I’ve gotten quite a few interesting responses to the idea of me deconverting. Here are a few that I absolutely hated with my explanation on why you should never ever say them.

  1. You can be a Christian and be mad at God. I’m not mad at God. I don’t believe in God.
  2. You’ve clearly been hurt by something or someone. This one really gets under my skin. The idea that you only de-convert because you went through something traumatic makes me really angry.
  3. If you’re an atheist, why do you have morals? Really? Really??? You really think that you can only have morals if you see them in some holy book? If that’s the only reason you aren’t going out killing people and robbing stores, you need to have a serious examination of your own priorities.
  4. You just don’t want to listen to and obey God. You realize what atheism is, right? Lack of belief in God. Listening to and obeying God is, in my opinion, the same as listening to and obeying Zeus or Ra.
  5. I’ll pray you see the truth. Okay? Saying you’ll pray for me isn’t comforting to me because I don’t believe in the power of prayer.
  6. Have you really thought about it? Have you? I was raised in a Christian household where all I ever learned at home was a Christian worldview. That was my childhood. Do you really think I would have decided to completely turn away from that without putting thought into it?

    There are 6. If I come up with more I will add and reshare.

    Why I Bow My Head During Prayer

    I struggled with my faith for 2 years before I became an atheist last November. And yet, despite not believing that anyone is listening, I still bow my head during prayer.

    Before I explain why, let me just say that if you believe in God, that’s your decision. I’m not going to stop you or judge you. It’s not my place to tell you what to believe.

    Which brings me to the why. I don’t bow my head because I believe someone is listening. I do it out of respect for those around me. I don’t want to be a distraction for anyone.

    If you want to pray, pray. I’ll bow my head and let you do that if I’m there. But please, don’t get upset if I don’t join in. It’s not in my nature to pretend to be something I’m not.

    The Crippling Reality of Depression

    Recently, I saw a post on Facebook from a girl talking about how depression hinders her and makes it seem like she’s lazy when she’s not. I almost cried because I thought that I was the only one affected like that. She mentions that she hadn’t brushed her teeth in a week. She hadn’t brushed her hair in a month. I never realized the true extent of the damage depression does. But now I do. And I feel like everyone needs to know.

    Full disclosure: I don’t brush my teeth twice a day. I’m lucky if I do it once a day most of the time. I can’t keep a clean room (let alone my entire apartment!) for more than a couple of days. I constantly have dirty laundry, dirty dishes, an unmade bed, unkempt hair, etc. I don’t shave very often. I don’t brush my hair all the time. I often forget deodorant. Why? Weariness. I don’t mean to forget. I don’t mean to walk around looking like a homeless person. I don’t intend to forget to do my laundry or leave dirty dishes laying in the sink. I just get…too…weary, I guess. All I ever want to do is lay around and do nothing. I’m always tired. I don’t like being lazy. In fact, I hate myself for it. It’s easy to tell someone who looks lazy to ‘just do it’. You think I don’t want to? I want to function like a regular adult. I’m 22 years old. There is no reason to be this way. I should be able to act like a normal adult…right?

    Wrong.

    Depression is a harsh mistress. At best, you have a few good days where you don’t feel the need to lay around and cry all day. Then you have days that you spend mostly just…existing. You’re still weary, you’re still weak, but you aren’t having a mental breakdown. Then there are the days you’ll not only feel worn out from the moment you get up to the moment you go to sleep, but you’ll have a rough day emotionally, which drains you further.

    I moved out on my own for the first time almost exactly three months ago. Ever since, I’ve not been able to keep my apartment clean for a single day. I don’t want it to be messy, I just don’t have the energy to clean it. When it DOES get clean, it’s because one or both of my parents come over and help. It’s a two-hour process we do about once a month. It makes me hate myself even more that I have to have Mommy and Daddy come help me clean at 22.

    That’s the thing with depression–it’s crippling. It’s not me being lazy and shirking my responsibilities because I feel entitled and lazy. I genuinely don’t have the energy to try. I wish I did. I cry over it. A lot. I’m crying right now because I know I’m not strong enough to be the person I want to be.

    If you struggle with depression, don’t think you’re alone if you can’t manage to leave your room some days, not even to get up and function like a normal person your age. Don’t feel like you’re less of a person. You’re not. You’re stronger than you’ll ever know. Just being able to acknowledge that you want to do it makes you stronger than most people. I’m not saying you shouldn’t try. But if you’re trying and it doesn’t seem to be helping, don’t feel like you’re inferior because of it. Reach out to someone. People who love you will try (and maybe succeed) to understand.

    I know this was really personal and for once that was intentional. I want to show that if you feel like this, you’re not the only one. And you can talk to me if you want. I get it. I understand what it’s like. And for the first time in a very long time, thanks to the Facebook post, I feel less alone than before. I hope this makes someone feel that.