Facing the Past

I feel like I should apologize for disappearing. I was on a thinking sabbatical. Not a sabbatical from thinking but a sabbatical TO think.

My last post was about my nostalgia for my old faith. That ended up dragging me down into my core with deep thoughts about my old faith, thoughts of spirituality and the whole rest of it. I get overwhelmed and feel like I need an answer NOW. Usually at that point, where my anxiety levels are too high for me to cope with, I remind myself that I have my whole life to figure this out.

That very morning I got an IM message from a woman I adore who is also now an apostate. She informed me a woman from our old church had died young, leaving behind a devastated husband and 2 small children aged 3 months and 2 years. I was stunned. They have no cause of death aside from the standard heart attack, which is technically what everyone dies of. She laid down for a nap and never woke up again. When my friend told me I dissolved into bits at the harsh reality of life and how quickly death can come. It was especially heart breaking because the woman who had died was so incredibly kind and gentle hearted. For all the negative christian examples out there, this woman was an incredibly positive example. She was simply a beautiful pure soul.

After finding out I immediately called another mutual friend who still attends the same church. She was in bits as well. She said through her tears that God must have a plan, that it just must have been her time and that we just had to trust God.

After I pulled myself together a few hours later I was laying down replaying the conversation in my head. I felt such disquiet. It was Gods plan and we just had to Trust him? Then I realized what was wrong with this comment and so many others I had been hearing right up until my loss of faith. So very many things said to explain God and His actions sound exactly like the victim of abuse defending their abuser. In society anyone who decreed and carried out the death of someone who was a young mother and wife would be a sadist and trusting him with that decision and carrying it out would make us certifiably insane. So why is this an acceptable justification for God? How about the many other ones that are uttered in justification or even thanks for God? About how we’re nothing without God, unable to function? About how even though He gives such incredibly hard trials (or absolutely mind numbingly bad circumstances) he must have a reason and we should trust, he is doing it for our good. Without him I am nothing, I have no worth and I can do nothing.

It all sounds like a day time drama about abuse victims who suddenly idolize their abuser.

After several days of shocked mourning I was informed last-minute of her funeral arrangements. I intensely dislike the idea of funerals. I have only been to one and avoided all others like the plague. Furthermore I did not want to go to this one because it was being held by my other church. However, even though I had lost touch with the woman who had passed away, she was such a testament to living life well and full of love and gentleness that I felt the urge to go simply to honor her. And to support my friend who originally told me because she was devastated at the news.

I hesitated for days to blog about this because it feels almost voyeuristic or inappropriate. I finally decided to because the funeral did have a big impact on me.

The thing that had a positive impact on me was hearing her sister eulogize her. That was incredible. She shared so much of her life so eloquently that I was mesmerised listening to her. I felt, not like so many do – that I wished I’d known her better, but so deeply happy that she had led such a full and happy life herself, surrounded by so many who loved her and being such an incredible influence to those around her. That woman was deeply and sincerely loved by so many and that was incredible to realize and watch them say goodbye.

The thing that had the most negative impact on me was listening to the pastor speak. It was more or less impersonal despite him having known her for 10 years. He read bible verses and spent so so much of his time speaking of her faith in such forceful terms it was as if it was the only thing that truly counted about her. I found that distasteful and yet if you ask believers they will say it WAS the single most important thing about her, because choosing to follow God is the single most important thing you can do with your life. I also found it extremely distasteful that he used the opportunity to evangelize unbelievers with the promise that if they too believed, they would see her again in heaven. Wow. Nothing like making the most of a vulnerable state of mind.

I also got the message loud and clear that if you were not a believer then you did not matter. You were nothing. Worthless. You would not know any of the peace and comfort the believers had while dealing with losing their loved one who was also a believer.

*sigh*

I do not begrudge them their solace. I never will. I just disagree with it completely. However, I find it draining to analyze their faith and their grieving process so I will move on.

For me personally, facing death that way when I usually go to significant lengths to avoid it, was liberating. I am not afraid of my own death… I am, however, not ok losing anyone around me. While occasionally I can logically reason that it is part of life and that I would want to turn my grief into a celebration of their life, other times I find the concept so frightening it paralyzes me. Do. Not. Like. Watching people mourn and let go and also letting myself mourn and saying good bye had a very liberating effect on me though and I am glad I went to honor her.

The most interesting thing for me, finally, was the realization that I have fully let my faith go. I do not hold onto even a shred of it. Nothing the pastor talked about or other believers talked about rang true to me or hit home. It was familiar but foreign. I have no issue, whatsoever, with the concept of simply ceasing to exist. I find the fact that my body will be consumed by the earth and re purposed for whatever nature deems necessary to be a deeply comforting reality. I have no qualms with mortality and not living forever in heaven. That my body will be reused to create more life is honor enough for me. The only way I now seek to live on is in memories of everyone I love and that when I leave, the ones I leave behind know how deeply and fiercely I loved them and they carry that with them til their own end. I want to be mourned and celebrated at my death for being exactly who I am and all I care to leave behind is a legacy of intense love.

Omg how cheezey eh? It’s true though 🙂

I drove home after that feeling intensely free. I saw what I could have been a part of and it held no sway for me anymore. I went home and laid in my hammock and watched the sunset feeling a weight had been lifted off my shoulders and was happier than I had been in a long time.

RIP D. Your memory will be well honored. ❤

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