Sent in by George R. Davis
On April 27, 1971, I skipped my last class of the day and followed an old railroad bed behind the school into town to the neighborhood pharmacy. After some surreptitious searching among potions and hot water bottles, I found the bottle of Sominex (“Take Sominex tonight and sleep, Safe and restful, sleep...sleep...sleep.”). I guiltily handed the clerk a crumpled five dollar bill, studiously avoiding her eyes, feeling like I was buying a Playboy magazine. At home later that afternoon I stuffed the bottle under my pillow, full well planning to swallow the entire contents that evening and end my miserable, despairing existence.
The thought of death was sweet. No more suffering. No more emotional pain. The added benefit of my suicide would be revenge against those who had contributed to my pain... to pay them back for all the bullying and verbal abuse through the years. Some kids in pain lash out with violence; others shut down and destroy themselves by suicide. I was one of the latter.
That evening, though, Bill, a friend of my brother, stopped by and invited me to a teen Bible study taught by Rev. Bruce Jones at a newly built coffee-house called “His House”. For the first time in my life I heard that I was truly loved, (by the Creator of the Universe, no less!), and that He had a wonderful plan for my life if I would only accept His Son Jesus into my heart. I was promised a life of joy, peace and freedom from sin filled with a sense of purpose as I walked daily with God. That night I decided to give God a try. I went home and flushed the pills down the toilet.
That was thirty six years ago. For thirty five of those years I embraced my faith with my whole heart. I sought the Lord daily for guidance, help, comfort and strength. I attended Bible School in Germany and the United States, did inner-city mission work, youth pastored, pastored a country church, had a radio ministry, taught, preached, prayed, and led worship teams with the best of them. I tried a variety of Christian expressions seeking the best group to bond with: Methodists, Baptists of all stripes, Congregationalists, Plymouth Brethren, Charismatic and Calvinists. I knew the Bible cover to cover, and possess an extensive library of Christian writings of a couple hundred volumes.
It was all dust in the wind. Like many Christians I met throughout the years, my life was really not very different than the average guy on the street: except for a spiritual gig replete with buzz words, formulas and standards for living and acting, and an ever awareness of not offending God by thought, word or deed, either by sins of omission or sins of commission. Though I sought God daily for guidance, my life often spiraled out of control, and I found myself down many a dead-end. I would have been just as successful rolling dice for guidance.
Sometimes we adopt a worldview because it serves a need for a given point in our personal journey. Maslow would probably say we are seeking self-actualization with a view to transcendence. I had sought meaning and love and purpose, found it in Christianity for a season, then awoke gradually to discover the best years of my life had been wasted on anxiously trying to please and serve a non-existent Being in the fervent hope he would in turn bless my life and my children and give me that abundant life I had been promised so long ago. The Christian faith served me for a time, albeit not very well. It kept me immaturely dependent upon an invisible God to guide my life and meet my needs when I should have shouldered those responsibilities myself. I would have saved a lot of heartache and grief had I done so. I would have made better choices in life. I would have chosen a career that would have provided better for me and my family. I would have dealt with my moral shortcomings more severely, not expecting someone Else to “heal” them.
There’s now, after much heartache and mourning having rent myself from my former faith, an inner restfulness. I still feel betrayed by God...lied to about the potential for an amazing life that would rise above this earth’s siren song, promising abundant joy, peace and victory over failure. But I gave it a good shot and found such promises wanting. I feel as though I have outgrown an old suit of clothes and laid them in a box to be dropped off at the nearest Salvation Army. No more striving to please a god who is not that much interested in what I want, or wish for or dream about if he exists at all. Though sometimes I still wish it were all true, that I just took a misstep somewhere, that He will coming calling for me, searching for my companionship, dusting me off, hugging me, telling me everything’s okay, I see my life now in the cold light of reality as a miserable attempt to please an emotionally cold, judgmental, abusive father I never felt loved me. God was that Substitute Dad. Both of them, now dead, have finally given me peace.
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Online Reading List
- An Outline of Intellectual Rubbish by Bertrand Russell (1943)
- Bible Teaching and Religious Practice by Mark Twain
- God is Imaginary
- Is there an Artificial God? by Douglas Adams (1998)
- Skeptics Annotated Bible
- The Age of Reason by Thomas Paine (1795)
- Which Way? by Robert Ingersoll (1884).
- Why I Am Not A Christian by Bertrand Russell (1927)