I was brought up in a bible-oriented church family but strayed away as a young adult, eventually becoming cynical and atheistic by my late thirties. I read everything I could get my hands on to prove God didn't exist, researching how beliefs, faith, and a religion-based humanity developed throughout the world. I figured it out. I couldn't accept traditional concepts of the church's teaching of the Old Testament anymore. The usual questions 'doubting Toms' have -,”Hhow could a loving God let suffering happen?” “Which belief system was the right one?”, and so on - couldn't be answered to my satisfaction, so religion didn't make sense to me anymore. Science could answer most questions with proof about how the world, our universe and humanity were created. I believed in nature & science; still do. My family knew how I felt about religion and Dad, especially, tried to 'bring me back to the fold', but to no avail.
As time went by, I found that not believing in any religion was easier. Science and nature made more sense. What is, is. There was no more than what the five senses observed. The only belief I held that had, as yet, no scientific backing, was that there was intelligent life in the universe - how could 'we' possibly be the only ones? I felt complete for the first time in my life, but oddly I also felt there was something missing. When I pondered this missing feeling, I would remember how I had felt when I was younger, more naive. I’d felt a spiritual connectedness with something but I’d buried that feeling because it was associated with religion, which I did not believe in anymore.
On my atheistic/agnostic journey, I was eventually softened to the idea that there might be something else to life by something that occurred after my Mom’s death. On her deathbed, I asked her, with my family present, to slap me upside my head when she got on the other side, so I would know it was real. She chuckled with us, dying soon after.
Mom died five days before Christmas; her favorite holiday. It was our most difficult but we carried on for the 11 grandchildren. My Mother-in-law had also died from complications of Alzheimer's a week before my Mom passed. With these two deaths I was under some stress and my 'non-belief' system was not working for me at all. I didn't feel I could turn to religion without being a hypocrite, so I was very ready to return to work to distract myself - although I didn't know how I was going to do that with my Mom being dead. I felt like life was going to stop; everything was heavy. Breathing, walking, thinking...very little talking. Lots of sleep. No praying. I felt the worst I've ever felt in my life...I couldn't stop crying. Life was hopeless.
I was off work almost all of December with both these deaths and the winter work break. Shortly after Christmas, having my car packed with all the work I had brought home to do during break, I began on my normal route to work. The roads were wet, but not icy or slushy; little to no snow present. My mind was trying to get me to work when suddenly, not three blocks from my home, I watched in total disbelief as a car swerve in front of my car, hitting me head on. All I could do was slam on my brakes. I ended up with a case of whiplash, some bruises and a totaled car. Every time I went over the accident, I could not find any reason for that car to swerve; except that the driver may have fallen asleep at the wheel, as he was coming home from work. He was not injured, but his car was totaled, too. We were both going under 30 mph, thank goodness!
In time, I came to believe that Mom had had a hand in my 'slap upside my head' in her own special way. Consequently, I began a different journey, studying quantum physics and eastern philosophies. Slowly, I began to understand that there is more to life than just what our senses show us; we create our own worlds, happy or sad. It's easier to choose happy, although I chose sad for a long time. The best thing about life - you can change your mind at any time along the way!
My life has changed 360 degrees; I can't remember being happier. I am complete and I realize now that I have always been complete, I just didn't know it. I continue to feed my mind and soul, one of the things I've learned I need to do for myself to be happy. I have learned that our thoughts guide our lives and I've changed my life by changing my thoughts. I've learned that I control myself; others do not control what I choose to do. They may influence me but, ultimately, the choices are mine and mine alone. It is my responsibility to make good choices for myself, not only for me but because, eventually, they will impact the lives of others. I’ve learnt the truth in the saying, “Be true to yourself and you will be true to others.” I've also learned that serving others is the purpose of life and that this will eventually make happiness for everyone, once enough people understand.
My entire career has been dedicated to serving mentally and physically handicapped adults. There are many, many ways to serve others, whether it be with a smile, a monetary donation, or time spent working with those in need. I've learned that a quiet mind is a happy mind; meditating and emptying my mind helps me make better choices in life. Once all the chatter calms down, I can hear MYSELF think. I've learned I don't have to be a genius or religious or rich or famous to understand that we are all one; everything is interconnected. We are all one big family; one organism!!! In our universe alone, our world is microscopic, ‘dust’ - and we are even smaller!
It has taken me most of my life to understand these simple concepts. Once I understood, my life changed for the better. If one person gets something from my journey, that would be good.
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Written by Julie Fike
Julie would love to communicate with you. Please email her at firstname.lastname@example.org