Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Thank God For Angel

After receiving the Eucharist on Sunday mornings at church, I would close my eyes, get on knees, put my hands together, and talk to God. 

As a child, I did not know exactly what to say when I prayed, so I often asked God to care for the poor, the sick, my family, and me. Then, I waited for his response.

He never answered.

Soon, I found myself confused. Some told me that God wouldn’t respond aloud but that he would act in my name by protecting me and loving me.

My innocence led me to start praying more, since I believed that more praying would yield more results.

But even after praying each Sunday, I noticed that the poor were still poor, the sick were still sick, and my family was still the same. I began feeling like God didn’t care, and if he did care, it was only for those that were wealthy and happy.

Nevertheless, the environment of the church gave me a feeling that there was a God out there. People sang hymns joyfully, treated each other kindly, and worked together harmoniously.

Was I not getting it?

My doubts gave me an intense feeling of hopelessness. I thought to myself: "If God can’t fix the world, who can? If God doesn’t exist, why live?" I felt alone. And I felt like no one understood me.

But then in high school an angel changed my life.

No, not one of God’s angels, but my friend, Angel. He was an atheist who was comfortable within his own skin, a trait I had yet to acquire. Moreover, he felt that having this view didn’t make him a bad person. But at the time, I believed there was something inherently wrong with not believing in God.

After I talked to him several times, he gave me the confidence to continue doubting. I started feeling that I could be a good person,
although I was skeptical about God’s existence.

Yet I was scared to tell my family and friends that I didn’t believe in God. For me, it was like telling them I was gay. I essentially had to come out the closet.

My whole life I was trained that God should be a central part of my life and now I had to tell them that he meant nothing to me. Since it was so tabooed, it was difficult for me to reveal my atheism.

One night, my girlfriend, Ury, then a religious conservative, exposed my catholic family to my feelings in an unplanned conversation. Of course, I expected negative reactions.

Before I could get a hold of the situation, I was hearing it from all angles. My sister attacked me aggressively, calling me naïve and too smart for my own good. My mother criticized me passively, disapproving where my instincts were taking me. And surprisingly, my father was understanding, explaining that he believed there was a lot questionable about the church.

While they took their chances to share their perspectives on my atheism, I sweated profusely. I mildly tamed their reactions by telling them where my views stemmed from.

Thankfully, through time, they accepted it.

My experiences have led me to conclude that maybe us, nonbelievers, aren’t the lost ones, perhaps believers are the lost ones.

1 comment:

KiNeTiC said...

While I fortunately do not share the same catholic background, I still to this day feel like Atheism is a taboo in my every day life. I find myself not wanting to get into a dispute with a religious person because I know that my attitude towards God will cause them to lose respect for me. We are still a significant minority in this country but we must band together and take pride in what we believe in. Catholicism focuses so much on the bright gates of heaven, that its power becomes blinding and submissive.