July 29, 2014

Dear Christians:
Another word on prayer.

Dear Christians,

Last week, we talked about my thoughts on prayer. You may have read it, and asked yourself, what could have possibly happened to make this woman feel like prayer is so pointless? And it's a good question to ask, because as I look back, I see my journey to nonbelief starting right in the moment that my faith in prayer was shaken.

Growing up, I was very close to my mother's father. He was a good man. He worked hard to provide a life for his family, and he loved his grandchildren very much. I can remember sitting and eating Pappy cereal. He's also the reason I have an endearing love for Reese's peanut butter cups, the colder, the better, as he always had a pack stashed in the fridge.

I can remember thinking that he was as tall as the trees when I was little. That was an exaggeration, of course, but when you are small, tall people are simply fascinating.

He was an amazing musician. A talented singer. A man of God.

I will never forget the day that my parents sat us down to explain that he had a tumor in his lungs.

They explained, carefully, what a tumor was. What it could do. What treatments were going to happen.

Afterwards, I climbed into my closet, a flashlight and my Bible in my hand. I prayed and read my Bible for hours. I was eleven.

I don't understand what I did wrong (or I didn't), because despite my best efforts, my grandfather died, after a short but brutal battle with his cancer. He wasted away. The last time I saw him, he was skeletal. He didn't remember many people, but he remembered me. He wrapped his arms around me and held me as tightly as he could at that point.

A week after that, he was gone.

I know. There's a plan. There's a reason. I've even heard, "What if he was saved from something that happened later, something more terrible?"

That's my least favorite. I can't help it, but it sets my teeth on edge. You'd think, if you are saving someone from something horrible, you'd not cause them to die terribly, slowly, painfully, over the course of days, weeks, months. You'd make it quick. You'd be merciful.

For the rest of my time as a Christian, I wondered what I had done wrong, that day in the closet. Why hadn't God listened? Why hadn't he saved my grandfather?

And I wondered too what kind of a god would bring things like cancer into the world? Why would he allow that?

I know, I know. Fall of man. Devil. God's not evil, he just can't interfere. Wait, he's omnipotent. He can interfere...he just...won't? I don't know. It's all so confusing for me anymore.

But that point, that was my first experience with doubt. A seed was planted. It took events over the course of sixteen years to water and nurture it, but grow it did.

Until it blossomed into what you see before you today.

A fully formed atheist.

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