I ran into an old friend at the local video store a few day ago, and our conversation got me thinking. As most of you know, I no longer consider myself religious or even theistic. I’ve pretty much embraced the naturalistic world-view and in a lot of ways, I’ve never been happier. I’m beginning to reclaim responsibility for my own actions and choices, and I no longer have to wonder about WWJD. The only entities I have to answer to are my wife and daughter and myself. It’s pretty groovy.
Not everything is so rosy though. The community I based a good third of my life on is pretty much closed to me now. Yes, there are a few shining examples of acceptance and true friendship, (thank you so much, you know who you are!), but realistically, I can’t go back to the place I called “home” for so long. Sure, I can go there physically, and there are even some who would still welcome me, but it would be awkward and difficult to say the least. Better to just let that part of my life go.
That’s the problem though. I’ve invested so much of my life and energy in that place. I never finished college, never got a degree, never became a teacher or scientist, never followed those intellectual dreams. I thought that there was a god who had a plan for my life, and that plan was for me to be a lay-minister, sharing god’s word at a summer camp. Maybe it was just an excuse, a way for me to avoid taking on real challenges, but I like to think that I had the best of intentions.
Most people assume that one de-converts from christianity (or religion in general) because of anger or bitterness. “I got hurt/betrayed by god/believers so I’m leaving those bastards!” That can be true for some, but for me, there’s no bitterness about god or other believers. Most of them are people who realy want to do the right thing. My disbelief is the end result of many years of questioning and thinking, and following the truth no matter where she be. If I’m bitter at all, it’s because I can’t shake the feeling that it was all for nothing. My education and training prepared me to be a Director/Program Director of a religious camp. I spent some of the best years of my life thinking up ways to proselytize and convert kids into a religion that I no longer believe in. Not only did I waste my own time, I spent it working against the very things I cherish now.
It’s so hard not to feel that I’ve wasted my life.
So what now?