Posts Tagged ‘losing religion’

Losing my religion was like sitting in a boat on the shore, watching the tide go out. I knew I had all the equipment, intelligence, and education to do it just like everybody else, but something wasn’t sticking. I couldn’t go with the flow because something didn’t make sense on a fundamental level. I think that’s why I’m pretty annoying to talk to if you’re a religious person. The only reality I know is mine, and in my reality it’s impossible to put any stock in religion so everybody must be kidding themselves just like I did (which is, of course, a stupid thing to assume). As such, I adopt a patronizing “come off it,” attitude that doesn’t help anybody get anywhere.

But I don’t want to talk about my predisposition to annoy people. I want to talk about what it felt like to get to this point.

I’ve always had a certainty about the uncertain. It depressed me for a long time until I embraced it. It started around the time I started to think for myself (relatively early age, but later than some) and only actually started to feel good recently. I think it all began with what I think is my earliest childhood memory, when I was studying ancient Egyptian history and I asked my mother, “How come we know that God is real, and Ra isn’t God?”

My mother replied swiftly and firmly, but with no hostility, “Because we know. Our hearts tell us the truth.”
And bless her, she does know. Her heart is truer than I could ever hope for mine to be.

But for me, that was all I needed. I knew then that certainty in any form was out of the question. This went beyond “best guess,” territory into spiritual self-knowledge. I had made the connection between the mind wanting to accept something as true and the heart knowing something to be true, even if I didn’t know that at the time.

I also picked up the mandolin and my singing suddenly got worse

I’m using hideously campy language here, but I don’t know any other way to describe it. I’ve been down the road of trying to philosophically justify what I believe to be right and wrong or of trying to justify God’s existence, but at the end of the day if it isn’t in your heart, it’s not true. Truth is a sphere of permutations–an ever shifting net of fuck–and the more you try and grab at logical absolutes to prove that your ethics are the right ethics, the more it will trip you up. The harder you cling to water, the more it spills from your hands; everybody is merely doing their best to cup it a little so they can have a drink.

So I was clinging at it for a long time until I finally told everybody I had stopped going to church when I was about seventeen, but that didn’t lift any weight from my shoulders. Everything up until that point had been akin to waking up but not wanting to get out of bed. For the following seven years I watched as people walked around me, spiritual holes full of whatever they had found that worked for them. I laughed off religious experiences, all the while angry at each jab a secularist would take at Christianity. I was extremely jealous that some people could accept God so easily and yet I spent my childhood nights crying because I couldn’t. This manifested itself in a tendency to rise to defend things I didn’t believe as a point of honour. It wasn’t until very recently that I realized I was wasting my time.

Late last year, it was coming out as transgender that really put things into perspective for me. Religion seemed to matter a lot less. Or at least, trying to believe in God was revealed to be the pointless task that it was. I don’t think anybody can “try to believe” in anything at all. Similarly, and hilariously typical of me, I couldn’t try to not be queer. My life had been spiralling out of control as a result of me putting on this facade and things almost instantly improved the day I accepted it (the drugs helped). Finally realizing the intoxication of just being oneself, I no longer felt like I was standing in a burning building, begging the people around me not to leave.

So now on I march. Not exactly a paragon of what a person should aspire to, but if I had one piece of advice to give that I really believed in with every bit of myself it would be this:
Everybody has their own song that plays in their head. The sooner you start dancing to yours, the better.


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