Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Shattering the Looking Glass

I have an astounding number of devout Christian friends, and public displays of their faith are common, particularly on their Twitter pages. Not only is it commonplace for my followers to include "God-lover" in their description, rarely a day goes by without someone mentioning Him (they often capitalize God's pronouns, I've noticed). They tweet things like,
Leaving this in God's hands,
or It's remarkable how much Your spirit is moving in my life,
and So thankful for the many blessings He has given me.
Sure, it's great that my friends feel open about something so personal, but when I read their tweets, I... I can't fight this sense of disconnection. Every prayer, every praise, every dedication to this loving god reminds me of how different I am from them.

It's like my computer screen becomes a window into some world I can't be part of. Looking in I see my friends pouring their lives into this god's ethereal hands, trusting his guidance throughout their hardships, and finding camaraderie among fellow believers. Part of me wants to join their world, but as I try to move closer, all I can do is press my hand on the glass, reminded of my own shattered faith.

I became an atheist several years ago. This entry is not about reconsidering my atheism (I doubt I could convert back to Christianity anyway), but about my desire to feel connected to my friends on the other side of the barrier separating the godless and the faithful. I used to think I could slip beyond it by pretending I still believed in God, and it worked for a while. Everyone assumed I believed in the same god they did, so they welcomed me wholeheartedly into youth groups, church services, and Christian day camps. But even then, that glass wall pressed on my mind, forcing me to keep my true beliefs silent, or openly lying when silence wasn't an option. And I still felt disconnected from most of my friends.

All I want is a true bond with my friends, not a false confidence perpetuated by my fear of confrontation. I won't apologize for who I am, but I am sorry that I lied to you all about it, and I don't want to compromise my true opinions any more. From now on, I want to be as openly atheist as my friends are openly Christian. That is why I am writing this.

It's also why I confessed my atheism on Twitter a month ago. Since then, only one person has asked me about it; I admire her courage. At one point in our conversation, she asked what made me decide to finally come out with my disbelief. I didn't really give her a good answer at the time, but I hope this entry is a more satisfactory response.