I’ve Lost My Faith…

This is going to be a deeply personal entry for me. It may even sit in my draft folder for who-knows-how-long because it’s not really something I’ve ever discussed with anyone outside my wife, Sara, and we haven’t discussed it in length; though I know she understands how I feel. *edit* In fact, this post has been sitting in my draft box for almost 4 months and is, I suspect, the biggest reason why I mostly stopped blogging over the summer.

Anyway, back to the topic at hand. I want to be clear that I have NOT stopped believing in God. I believe that declaring with 100% certainty there is NO God is just as ignorant, egotistical, and wrong, as declaring with 100% certainty there IS a God, and he believes that same things you believe. But I have lost my faith in Christianity and in the Bible. I am not, and will never be, an atheist. The closest word that describes what I believe (or what I don’t believe) is agnostic.  I don’t know why I feel compelled to blog about it, I just do.

Growing up, my parents were not religious, at least not outwardly. I believe I was pretty close to being a teenager before I ever set foot in a church of any kind. There are a lot of reasons for this. My mom was brought up in a strict Church of Christ household, and she did not (and does not today) agree with much of the CoC “doctrine” (if that’s the right word). My dad was Southern Baptist, but being in the Air Force and moving every four years (or less) did not lend itself to my parents finding a church when I was a kid.

Once my dad retired from the Air Force, we moved back to my parents’ home town, but we just weren’t in the habit of going to church. I was brought up to believe in God and the Bible, but I had no idea how many denominations of Christianity there were, nor what made any of them different until I was well into my teen years. I spent the ages of 4-9 in Utah, and learned a good bit about Mormons, but it was so prevalent and ingrained in the culture there, I had no idea that other people did not believe the same things they believed. For example, they taught us in school that Jesus came to North America after he was crucified and ministered to the American Indians. That floors me to this day.

Anyway, once my family moved back to Texas, we went to church sporadically. We always went to a Southern Baptist church, and I had fond memories and an overall positive view of Southern Baptists, and the church in general. When I was in high school, I became good friends with a group of kids that were very active in their respective churches and youth groups, and I was “saved” two days before my 17th birthday.

I was all-in. Church every Sunday. Bible study every week. Daily prayer and meditation. Church softball with my youth group. Lock-ins at the church. You name it. If it was a church activity for the youth group, I was there. Those are still some of my fondest memories from my teen years.

I look back on it now, however, and realize just how obnoxious and arrogant I was. I still cringe when I think of the time in my Philosophy class at the University of Texas that I argued with a professor over whether I KNEW if I was going to heaven or not. Of course I KNEW. The Bible told me that if I accepted Jesus Christ as my personal Lord and Savior, then I would go to heaven. If it was in the Bible, then I KNEW it was true. But, that is a lie. Yes, I had faith I was going to heaven, but I did not, and could not, know I was going to heaven.

These days, I don’t really believe in heaven. I believe when you die, you just stop being. No afterlife, no heaven, no hell. Just…nothing. That’s probably a sad idea to some (or most) of you reading this, but I think it’s arrogant and childish to believe that there is a life after this one. Heck, not only that there is a life after this one, but that ONLY people who believe the EXACT same thing I do will get to be in the “good” part. EVERYONE else goes to the “bad” part. That is the HEIGHT of arrogance, in my opinion.

So, you may be wondering, what exactly happened to me to make me lose my faith. To be sure, I have had my fair share (or maybe more than my fair share) of sorrow, trials, and heartbreak. But those things alone had little, if anything, to do with it. It had more to do with the things I see around me, that caused me to lose my faith. War, death, starvation, disease, the abuse of the innocent and the helpless, all the bad things that happen to good people. All the while, Christians believe it is just “a part of God’s plan”.

Well, you know what? If God loves us (and John 3:16 tells us he does), then why wouldn’t he end these things? Why would he allow children to be physically, sexually, and mentally abused? Why would he allow ministers to rape and pillage their church congregation (literally and figuratively) all in His name? Why would he allow something like 9/11 happen? Why would there be discrimination and hatred scattered throughout the Bible?

Christians I know almost always say, “We can’t know the mind of God”, and it’s “His will”. They’ve told me that it is man’s “free will” that causes all of the bad things in the world. I’ve even had Christians tell me that maybe the Lord is “testing” us. What. The. Fuck. Seriously? Let me be clear about this: IF there is a God, and he can stop bad things from happening, then He can go FUCK himself for not stopping the bad things in the world. I will never understand the Christian who just shrugs their shoulders, and completely wipes their hands of the bad things in life, and proceeds to “leave it to God”.

I think I’m starting to understand why it is I have been hesitant to post this entry. The overall tone of it seems much angrier than I FEEL. I really hold no animosity whatsoever towards Christians or Christianity. I just don’t believe in it any more. It’s something I’ve come to grips with over a very long period of time. I’m certainly more at peace with my feelings than I have been in the past. In fact, that’s probably another reason why I wanted to write about this.

So, there you have it. I really don’t know why I felt so compelled to write about this other than it’s been weighing on my mind for quite a long time (several years, in fact). I know there won’t be a lot of people who agree with me, and many who will flat-out condemn me to Hell for it. That’s ok. In fact, I’d rather go to Hell for eternity than worship the same God as the Evangelicals and the Religious Right.

A lot can happen in two years…

Two years ago, I was at a completely different place in my life. I was lonely, depressed, stressed out, and I weighed 426 lbs. That’s right, 426 lbs. My dad talked me into getting weight loss surgery in early 2010, and I started seeing a doctor in March of that year. My doctor set me up on a plan to meet the requirements for Lap Band surgery, and off I went.

I was always a heavy guy. Even when I was a kid, I was always one of, if not THE, biggest kids in my class in school. Growing up, I was fairly athletic, playing football, and baseball, and doing all the things kids do. I never really felt “held back” by my weight in any physical way, until I got into my mid 30s when I hit the mid 300 range.

That was when I really started noticing how much my back hurt when I was walking, and how winded I got when I was at work. I also had a hard time keeping up with my boys. After my first wife died, my weight problem got even worse, and before I knew it, it had snowballed to over 400 lbs. I was unable to do almost anything that required even minimal physical exertion.

I was also incredibly lonely. Once I started with my weight loss doctor and I began seeing results, I gained a bit more confidence and decided I would “test the waters” in the dating pool. It’s not easy finding a dating partner when one weighs over 4 bills (shocking, I know), but I set out to try. Being lucky enough to live in a fairly large city, I signed up on a couple of dating websites just to see what was out there.

To my complete surprise, I started dating someone fairly quickly. Her name was Stephanie, and she was only the 2nd girl I had ever really dated (my first wife being the only other). That relationship lasted a little over a month, and I could tell that it wasn’t really going anywhere. Over Memorial Day weekend of 2010, she broke up with me.

So, back online I went. I had started emailing/texting a couple of women from the site when I ran across a profile for a very cute, but younger, woman. She was about 9 years younger than me, but, I thought, what the heck? Worse thing that could happen is that she wouldn’t answer my email. I didn’t think she liked me at first, but once we started texting back and forth, we became very close in just a matter of days. My first email to her was on June 1st. By the 4th, we were both pretty smitten.

We decided we would meet up on Saturday, June 5th. The main problem? She was a single mom with one kid, and I was a single dad with two kids. Our solution? Meet at the mall, and let the boys play in the play land while she and I talked, and got to know each other better (we even sneaked a kiss or two while our boys weren’t looking…haha). 

It was in that play land that I KNEW I was in love with her. I was pretty sure she felt the same way, but I knew I had better not say anything because the quickest way to scare someone off is to start throwing around the “L” word too quickly.

I also had a small problem. Before she and I had hit it off so well, I had made a date to meet another woman later that Saturday night. After the date at the play land, however, I knew that it was not fair to anyone (especially the woman I was now in love with) to go through with that date.

I texted Sara after our date at the play land, asking, “If I cancel my date tonight, would it be ok if I came over for dinner and/or a movie?” She texted back almost immediately, “ABSOLUTELY!” So, that night, we had our first official “grown up” date.

I also decided that night that I couldn’t hide my feelings any longer, and told her that I was falling in love with her. She looked at me and smiled, and said she felt the same way, but was afraid to say it so fast. I think we both knew right then and there that we would get married, and live the rest of our lives together.

It’s now two years later. I have lost about 180 lbs, I am healthier than I have ever been, and I am more in love with Sara with each passing day. I never thought it was possible to be this blissfully happy, but here I am.

Here is a nice picture of our family taken this past Christmas:

Happy Anniversary, baby! I love you!

This was posted by my wife on her blog. If you are not following her, you should. She’s awesome (if I do say so myself).

crazyantelope

Today was Colin’s birthday party. We did what every mother dreams of doing for Mothers Day and went to Chuck E Cheese!

Oh, wait, that’s not what most moms want to do on Mothers Day? Must be why the place was basically empty!

(I should say my Mothers Day started in the “normal” fashion – sleeping in, breakfast in bed from my awesome husband and kiddos, and wonderful presents!)

For months now, Colin’s been determined that he would get the new “magic ticket” from the ticket blaster – this one ticket is worth 1000 tickets! Pretty sure that’s the biggest number he’s able to fathom. He kept telling us he was going to get the magic ticket so he could get “all the prizes.” We’ve been trying to explain that wasn’t really how it worked, but he didn’t want to hear any of that.

When it came time for a…

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Don’t wait until it’s too late…

I lost a dear friend yesterday. Someone I’ve known for close to 30 years. We literally grew up together, and I loved her more than I can say. She had a terrible, random, and tragic accident. She was almost a week from her 41st birthday.

Tracey and her ex-husband, Steve, were my two best friends for about 25 years. They were high school sweethearts who married after they graduated college, and stayed married until less than 3 years ago. The last time I talked with Tracey was via email not long after her divorce was final, about 2 years ago.

I tried a couple of times to reach out to her since that time, but to no avail. I assumed talking to me brought up bad memories of her ex husband, with whom I was still very close. I should have tried harder.

Her birthday was a week from this Sunday, and I had already composed half of the email I was going to send her in my head. So many things I wanted to tell her.  About how much my life had changed over the last two years, how much I missed talking to her, how much I wanted us to be close again, but now I won’t get the chance to tell her. Ever.

I know there is someone out there you love that, for one reason or another, you have lost contact with. Call them. Email them. Write them a hand written letter. Something. Anything. TODAY. Before it’s too late.

What’s in a Name?

My oldest son, Colin, is ADHD and Autistic (“on the spectrum” as they say). Although I hate using those terms to “define” him. He is so much more than those terms.

He is a very challenging, and very special, little boy. My wife and I are very lucky, as far as parents of  children on the autisim spectrum go. Colin is VERY verbal. That’s not to say he communicates easily, but he basically talks nonstop. He is not really able to have what one would call a “normal” conversation. Colin’s coversation skills basically equate to constant questions. Even questions he knows the answers to. ESPECIALLY questions he knows the answers to, actually. Plus, like a lot of other autistic children, Colin repeats words and phases he has heard from other people. Whether he knows what they mean (or even if YOU know what the mean) or not. This is called echolalia.

So, I don’t know exactly where the phrase “good day pickle” came from, but I can give it an educated guess. I’m pretty sure it started with one of his teachers telling Colin, “You’re a pickle”. Since Colin doesn’t really understand something like that, he thought it was hilarious that someone thought he was a pickle. He started calling people that all the time. Even upon first meeting someone, he would say, “Hi! I’m Colin. You’re a pickle!” The fact that this would usually elicit laughter (even nervous laughter from strangers) just encouraged it.

When Colin would go off to school every morning, I would call after him, “Have a good day!” He managed to turn that into “You’re a good day pickle, daddy”.

When I started dating Sara (who would become my wife about 8 months after we met), she thought it was pretty funny, too, so it soon became a catch phrase between the two of us as a way to kind of put a smile on each other’s face whenever Colin was being “difficult”.