Starting sometime in college I would pray every night before bed. It got to a point where I felt like I couldn’t sleep unless I’d done it. Then, around age 28 or so, I stopped til about a year ago (a 5 or so year break in that habit).
But let’s back up.
When I was growing up my family would attend church with varying amounts of consistency. When we lived someplace with a pastor my folks liked, we were more frequent attendees. When I was in elementary school I remember waking up some Sunday mornings and staying in my bedroom for a long, long time. Why? Because I hoped my mom would think, ‘oh the kids are sleeping so peacefully … is it worth waking them up for church?’
In middle school I was a part of something called “God’s Gang” … cool, huh? It was for middle schoolers to meet one night a week (?) and … I don’t remember, sing, pray, all that jazz. At the time we lived at West Point, New York and cadets were the leaders of this group. They would give testimonials about religion, Christ, that sort of thing. And sometimes we would pray or sing and people would raise their hands … I remember thinking, ‘what? Am I the only one not getting it? I haven’t had any experiences where I felt like “oh God is really speaking to me” or some passionate movement to raise my hands … You just … Keep your hands at your sides. It’s super easy.’
In high school I actually enjoyed church for the first and possibly only time in my life. The pastor, and even his backup pastor, was fantastic. I enjoyed their messages … although I found the fact that there was an actual BAND on stage at CHURCH very weird.
Let’s fast forward.
In college I dated a girl who, through no direct action on her part, inspired me to start praying every night. I honestly don’t remember why. But it comforted me, made me feel good, and I liked it.
Fast forward more. (There are a lot of gaps here, eh?)
I’m 28ish, reading a book called We, which is a dystopian novel by Yevgeny Zamyatin. It was a precursor to 1984. I read this and BOOM. The praying stopped. Another gap here, kind of a shocking one, I honestly have no idea why this book made me lose belief but it did. Now, you may think, ‘why not re-read the book, dummy?’ I do want to. Maybe I’ll go, ‘huh, I’m a wackadoo’ but maybe instead I’ll think, ‘yep, God is dead to me.’ I don’t really want that second one.
Here’s my weird situation I’ve got going on. I sorta belief, sorta don’t, but I want to. I want one of those ‘testimonial’ moments in life. I want to experience something where I’ll say, ‘aha! Yes! God, it’s you! Great stuff!’ And I kinda, sorta, maybe had that. But I’m still not convinced …
When my wife’s water broke at about 32 weeks I was incredibly afraid for my son. Staying in the hospital I began praying nightly again, for the first time in a long time. It once again brought me comfort, and a sense of peace before bed. Those are nice things when you’re otherwise full of fear.
But … But … The sort don’t believe side of me has thoughts like this: If I was to make up a complex set of lies, you know how I’d spread them? The exact same way religion works! You first get a group of adults to buy in, then you have those adults bring their kids around and indoctrinate them early so they have a reduced chance of stepping back and thinking, ‘um, is this all just a bunch of bull?’
For my Christian-leaning side I placate myself with this thought. Any GOOD relationship has had trials. I think a marriage would be scary if you hadn’t been downright ticked off at your partner before marrying them. You need to know you’re able to be angry, talk it out, and still love the other person. If you are a devout (whatever) and you haven’t thought, ‘huh … I do wonder …’ then that’s no good. Really. Looking at religion from a purely logical standpoint – it’s pretty nuts. But, the popular religions of the world all trend toward peace and harmony which I like. And it’s comforting to think of God, and Heaven (New Testament God that is). And it’s hard to shake a set of truths you’re told growing up, even if it turns out they’re not true at all.
Sorry for the overly personal post. But hey, my diary blog here is the flypaper for the annoying, buzzing thoughts that fly through my brain.