God’s Not Dead. He’s Surely Alive.

comments 8
Uncategorized

bouquet-677939_1280

Wait… what?? Do I suddenly believe in God again?

Yes.

Well, kind of.   I just had an amazing experience tonight.  Let’s say I now identify as a Pentecostal Atheist.

???

Back up 4 years, the most Pentecostal/Charismatic time of my life.  I was incredibly filled with Joy and the Power of God (as I called it then).  I “operated in the gifts of the Spirit” daily.  Meaning — I was so “in tune” with the Holy Spirit that I was tapped into this majestic flow that gave me this sort of insider view of the world.  I knew things and felt things other people didn’t.  It was like I had a backstage pass on the concert of life when everyone else was stuck in the audience.  Or like I had invisible goggles that let me see things that happened in the world that gave me direct connection to how God saw them.  I was chosen.  It was incredibly powerful.  And it truly gave me unspeakable joy.

Many moments occurred during this time of my life that I’ve been unable to completely explain now as an atheist.  But, as I always said, just because a Christian (or anyone) has an explanation doesn’t mean it is the correct one.

And now, at least experientially, I think I have an answer.

Let’s create a metaphor for this time of my life.  A secret Garden.  My belief in Christ was the door and my experiences as an Evangelical, Pentecostal Christian was the key.  The Secret Garden unlocked to me.  The best time of my life was as I described above– living in the heart of the garden.  Beautiful.  Vibrant.  Fragrant.  Life-giving.  Succulent.  ALIVE.

As my beliefs in the supernatural began to fade, I started drifting farther from the center of the garden until I came to the door itself.  My disbelief in God ejected me from the garden completely.

Yet another way I can identify with Eve — I was cast out of the Garden because of my sin: my unbelief.  And with that, the door locked and sealed and the key was gone forever.

As I was cast out, so were my spiritual gifts.  My joy became a ghost of the past.  My gift for music, completely parched.  My vision of the world flattened.  My senses grayed.  My life once tapping into the 4th and 5th dimensions now barely reached past the 2nd.  Lifeless. Dead. Tears. Numbness.

Gradually, sprouts emerged from the parched soil of my desert heart over the past 18 months.  I began to feel like a human.  And I’ve described new senses of freedom and happiness many times in this blog.  But beyond human?  Or even just unspeakable joy?  A mere memory that seemed impossible for me to gain.  Wasn’t it all based on my blissful ignorance?  And now that I have stepped into greater knowledge, I cannot now unknow something.  I cannot un-experience the suffering of the world, the unanswered prayers, the hypocrisy of religion, the reality of science and evidence that shattered my belief in God.  Once you see through something, you can no longer see it the same way ever again.  There is no becoming naive.  So I abandoned all hope of joy, let alone experiences I had in the Secret Garden.  My life became a balancing act of desperation in trying to find some meaning and general happiness in any day to day life.  It was there.  The freedom was new.  And in many ways, I was much happier than as a Christian.  But garden?  Never again.

My piano playing, composition, improvisation had been my deepest, most personal spiritual connection to God.  The easiest access into the depths of my Eden.  No need to walk through a door, it was like a transporter device that placed me within the deepest heart of the Garden, of the heart of God.  After being an atheist, it took me awhile to sit at the keys without crying.  Once the grief healed, I could play again, but never in a way that tapped into the flow as I could before.  It has always felt more difficult, more forced, more furrowed brows and less closed, fluttering eyes.   I still enjoyed playing, but it didn’t mean much nor had it any sort of magical flow anymore.

Something miraculous happened tonight.

Miraculous?  Yes,  in any way that that word matters, yes.  A miracle.

At our in-laws for an early Easter celebration, my little girl was distracted by all her aunts, uncles, and cousins. (Polygamist families are quite large ;-).  I was able to sit at a real piano and play, truly play.  And something magical happened.

A new door and new key appeared, and my garden unlocked before me.  Not believing in the existence of the supernatural/other-worldly/spiritual, my experience was exactly the same as if I had.

I composed a new piece of music that felt like the most beautiful thing I’d ever heard.  I nearly cried.  The music flowed from within my soul, not from my mind.  I didn’t even need to look at the keys.  When I had finally completed the piece, I breathed out a sigh of *ruach*, the Hebrew word for Spirit, a breath of new life.  And as I got up from the piano, a new, familiar joy overcame me.  A joy I hadn’t felt in 4 years.  A joy I presumed dead, forever.

Overflowing with excitement, I told my husband about this experience on our drive home.  “I’m happy again!!!!!” I told him, “Like I was when I first moved out here!!”  And then I remembered the lyrics to a favorite song of mine at the time:

“My God’s not dead, He’s surely alive
He’s living on the inside, roaring like a lion!

He’s Alive now I’m Alive!!”

It was incredible to me how TRUE this is for me now!!! Oh my goodness, what a mind-blowing realization!!!! God ISNT dead, He’s LIVING ON THE INSIDE!!! HE IS ME!!!! I’ve had him inside me all along!! A supernatural, sentient being?  No. Me. ME!!! I AM the Garden!

I had believed for soooo many years that the only access into the Garden was through a belief in God.  Belief gone, access gone, and even the existence of the Garden with it.  I thought the whole thing had dissipated like a dream dissipates upon waking.  I had no idea I could still tap into it.

So here I am ladies and gentlemen.   Filled again with the Gifts of the spirit — but now, they are the Gifts of Life, my Life.  In the Garden again, but one that isn’t exclusive.   I now believe that its existence is entirely due to the human experience and potential, chemicals in my bloodstream and science of psychology, not because of some other-worldly, supernatural thing, some exclusive belief or religious practice.  It’s just a deeper way of experiencing life.  And I’m there again.  A Pentecostal Atheist.

Want to know another incredible tidbit?   My first Easter out here in Utah as a newly-excited missionary, I drove early to church so I could praise and worship God without restraint before others arrived.  I blasted the song “He’s Alive” by Laura Hackett and soaked in the presence and power of God.   (click here to listen to it.)

I didn’t listen to this song much after this time in my life because I didn’t want it to lose its meaning to me.  And in past year and a half I couldn’t bear to hear it because of the pain it caused me.  Memories of the dead god.  Memories of the dissipated garden.  I just could never handle it.

For the first time since then, I listened to that song again tonight and cried.  I…. felt ….the same as I did before!!?!  That feeling of joy, of purpose, of LIFE!!!! It’s within my grasp!!! And I’ve grasped it!!! Without needing to repent, practice righteous, or do any sort of religious duties or Christian relationship junk.  It’s just there.  It’s mine.

And then I realized it’s Easter time.  Four-years later almost to the day.  What incredible, mind-blowing symmetry.  “God” has been resurrected in my life again.

Advertisements

The Author

I'm a closet atheist christian missionary. Paradigm shifts happen frequently for those who allow themselves to think critically about currently held beliefs and openly about new ones. I’ve developed the skill, or perhaps addiction, for change but the community around me is slow to catch up -- and would damn me if they knew where I stood.

8 Comments

  1. ktrinh4213 says

    I wasn’t sure how I felt when I started to read this, but after reading through it, I was happy to see you figured out one of the great secrets. 🙂 I took a comparative religions class at my college last semester and this is actually a Daoist idea: divinity is not something out there, but it’s something you achieve within yourself.

    I guess it’s a more flowery way of saying that you empower yourself, you control your life, you give your own life meaning. And I’m glad you had such a powerful revelation. 🙂 Cheers!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes! Exactly. Despite the confusion of some of my wording and lauguage I used, that is exactly the point I wanted to get across. Thank you for your response, and I apologize for the delay 🙂

      Like

  2. It’s taken me a while to respond to this. I didn’t know how I would feel after reading it when I saw the title. It was one of those “WTF?” moments 🙂 But now I think I understand where you’re coming from. And it gives me comfort. Because I don’t want to give up joy and creativity and the inexplicable euphoria that comes from getting lost in experiencing life abundantly, just because I no longer believe in what I thought was the source of all that! Maybe the “spirit” we’ve been taught to seek is our own innate self. I’m glad you felt the joy and freedom again. And I miss your writing. I know you must be hugely busy with a toddler and a business and a pregnancy. So, in case you wondered, there’s at least one person who enjoyed sharing your journey and wishes you had time to do it again. Your blog encouraged me at a very confusing and fragile time. Thank you for that!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for your encouragement! And yeah, my language probably was a bit confusing. But you definitely got the point I was trying to make — that everything good we received from the “spirit” we have within ourselves. Our innate self is glorious. And not because it is other-worldly or mysterious, but because it is THISworldly!

      And yes, life has been so busy. But I think I’m ready to start writing again. Thank you for caring and wanting to share in my journey. I explain some of our recent difficulties and reasons for delay in my most recent post, and hopefully we’ll be able to share with each other more frequently now 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Andy says

    Hey Teal, haven’t heard from you in awhile. I’m sure you are busy with your pregnancy (congrats!) and business.

    Just wondering how the pentecostal atheist life is going for you. Hope to hear from you soon.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s