Where to begin? I have issues of fidelity, marriage, children, religion, science, and belief bouncing around in my head, to name a few.
These are tough topics to tackle, made even tougher by the audience that might read what I’m about to write. My apologies to any friends or family that will be shocked or offended by this post. This site started out as a journal for me, evolved into a training log, and then moved into a platform for me with a reading audience. I know quite a lot of that audience has dropped off in the last few years, but I assume that I still have the occasional friend, family member, or reader who will happen by here. It is time for me to get back to writing for me as I wade through this next period of exploration in my life.
So. I was a fraud.
I was not the happy, loving husband. I was not the morally upright Christian. I was not the intelligent geek. And 2012 was the year that it all came to a head. A friend told me recently that you can only wear masks and pull off a lie for so long before it becomes unsustainable. This year, my lies became unsustainable.
I wrote a long time ago that people live a life that is truly based off of what their priorities are. I THOUGHT that intelligence and logic were a priority to me. Heck, I’m a programmer, and those two items are part and parcel of what I undertake every day at the office. I thought I was fairly well-educated. I thought I approached life from a logical perspective. I thought I was rational.
I was raised in a very rigidly religious household. Discussion of things non-Biblical did not occur in our household. Science, when it came to evolution, was looked down upon with scorn. A show from NatGeo referencing carbon dating and the earth being so many billion years old? Hogwash. Carl Sagan on Nova? Turn that rubbish off. No explanation was ever given, none of the inconsistencies were ever discussed, and science, in relation to how it conflicted with religion’s teachings, was shunned. Now, I wasn’t explicitly TOLD not to believe these things, but the unspoken rigidity of belief created a culture that caused me to fear speaking against things and definitely guided me away from asking questions.
But I doubted. I would sneak In Search Of with Leonard Nimoy when my parents weren’t watching. I would watch the forbidden Nova. I would read sci-fi novels by Asimov and Clarke, Orwell and Bradbury. They taught me about a world of belief and science and culture that was completely foreign to mine. One that was “other” or “outside” and so completely different and fascinating compared to the sheltered world that I was raised in.
Oh, there were times where I was more vocal about my disbelief. My dogtags in the Marines were imprinted with “Agnostic.” And it was years after I left home before I sought out a church again. But the church culture, despite my upbringing, felt wrong and strange and often lacking in logic and intelligence. Yet, sought it out again, I did. I would often quote Proverbs 22:6–”Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not turn from it”–as the reason I came back into the fold. But honestly, the real reason I went back to the church was because I felt like I was expected to. It was part of the life plan that I should be living out. It was what was right.
So I gave it my best. I put everything into learning Godspeak. I poured myself into belief and internalizing and teaching and setting examples. And I thought I did a pretty decent job of it. But all the while, I felt like I was perpetrating a fraud. I pictured myself as this little black spot in a room full of bright light. I would pray with pastors and fear that God would give them insight into my disbelief. Which, as I write that out, makes no logical sense. But more on that later. I didn’t consciously set out to deceive people, and I genuinely tried to extol the virtues of the teachings of Christ as well as live them out in my life. But the Bible? Creation? Virgin birth? An interventionist God? I couldn’t wrap my head around believing these things.
So, if I felt like I valued intelligence and logic, why did I not question what I was being taught and what I was regurgitating? Because it wasn’t a priority for me. I put that priority behind the appearance I had to maintain for my family and friends. I had to wear masks for people to see the Jeff that they expected to see. I had a role to fill and there was an expectation that I had to live up to. Also, the culture in church is not one of honesty. Oh, everyone will talk ad nauseum about truth and challenging your faith and asking questions, but in reality, the hard questions are never answered. If the question is too challenging, the answer is faith.
Faith. Faith, belief that is not based on proof. The concept of faith has really got me to thinking lately. We, as humans, live in a logic-based world. We react to our environment with logic. We expect it to behave a certain way based on how we have observed it behaving. Our brains make logical pathways and logical assumptions based on how we learn. We communicate with each other using a logic-based method of reasoning and language. Everything about us is steeped in logic. So, why faith? Why, if God created this world around us and us to interact with it based on logic, and if the world it created is supposed to lead us to believe that God exists, why faith?
So, that seed. That little one right there, doubting faith and believing in logic, was the tipping point for my priorities. The more I thought about that idea, the more the mental shackles of thought were thrown off and the more I began challenging the inaccuracies, inconsistencies, and omissions that I had been exposed to for my nearly four decades. And those changed priorities have led me to a complete overhaul of my life. They have led me to re-evaluate what I want from life, re-evaluate what it means to be happy, re-evaluate how I want to raise my son, re-evaluate what it means to be intelligent, re-evaluate what is truly important.
And now I sit here, a single dad, in a loving relationship with a wonderful, intelligent woman, reading about atheism, creation science, gender equality and how to make home made sunscreen lotion.
Let the exploration begin.
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