“The world can lead you astray from the path of Jesus.”
-Pastor Trevor Johnston
As a child, I was raised as a Catholic. I went to Sunday school, completed my First Holy Communion, and prayed regularly. I remained a believer of Christ until circumstances tested my faith. Those circumstances were a series of unfortunate events that affected not only me, but someone very important to me —my mother. She was my idol as a child. I saw the goodness and kindness in her and could not understand why God had targeted her. Her father was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, then her mother became ill and passed away. My grandfather came to live with us shortly after the funeral. Being a mother, a caretaker, and working full-time took a toll on my mother and our entire family. As a 12-year-old girl, I could not comprehend why God had let this happen to us. I constantly questioned how God, who I was taught to be so loving, could be so cruel. I prayed to him for relief and assistance, but when none was given I began arguing with him. Then one day the arguments ceased; I had stopped believing in God and refused to acknowledge his presence.
My family still attended church and I was obligated to continue attending even though I did not believe. Soon enough I began to voice my discontent and lock myself in my room so I would not have to go to church, to a place I no longer revered or respected. Looking back now, I can see how much pain and anguish I felt during that time. I disconnected from God not only because I blamed him for everything, but also because it was the only thing I had control over in my life. I also believe I was not taught properly about God from my church, nor did I have a true relationship with him. Back then, when I said, “I’m Catholic,” it was the equivalent of saying, “I’m a girl.” Neither of those phrases held substance to me because I didn’t understand the deeper meaning behind them.
I remained an atheist for 11 years. I did not speak about God, nor I did not want to debate his existence with others. I simply remained impassive and unaffected. While my mother and sister respected my need for space on the subject, others were not as welcoming or kind with my choice. A close friend of mine told me that if I did not start believing in God then I would go to hell. My father called me the “devil’s child” and we would frequently get into heated debates regarding God and Catholicism. I would counter back, asking for proof of his existence and list all the transgressions that the Catholic Church had committed. I wanted not part of it; I did not want to be associated with them or God.
Although I was atheist for 11 years, I did not disregard all morals and values, nor did I commit any unfathomable sins ignorantly associated with atheists. I was not, nor have I ever been, promiscuous. I remained pure and continue to be celibate to this day. I am stating this because I whole-heartedly disagree with the stereotypes some Christians associate with atheists as living abominable lives of sin. We all are sinners; no human is perfect. That is why Jesus sacrificed himself on the cross for us. He is our only salvation.
The reason I am sharing this with you all is because I would like to provide some insight of what events might lead someone to choose atheism over God. Please be patient with atheists and refrain from being judgmental. Let us practice what God commanded us to do—love your neighbor as yourself.