Giving Credit Where Credit is Due

“I’m sorry to say that we need to transfer your son to a hospital with a trauma center as soon as possible.  The MRI has revealed two skull fractures, with bleeding.  He needs to be where a neurosurgeon is close by.”  I was stunned.  He seemed fine just an hour or so ago.  He was walking and talking.  Everyone thought he was okay.  He wasn’t.  After a harrowing drive to the local ER, he now lay on a gurney, barely responsive and suffering.

After he was transferred to UC Davis, I sat next to him in their trauma ER—numb.  I had no cell service, no way to let people know what was going on.   I was alone.  Sometimes at my most vulnerable moments, my past indoctrination will kick in and old tapes will begin to play in my head.  “I should pray’” I thought. I was desperate and I considered reaching out to the God I no longer believed in.  Should I pray now and ask God to help us?  I stopped, walked over and stroked my son’s arm—so strong, so tall, so good looking, so funny and full of life just hours ago. Fear gave way to anger and  I prayed: “Really god?  Really?  Is this how you work?  Nicely done!”   My head cleared–the spell broken–there is no god.”  My rational mind reminded me of a simple fact:  Noah had an unfortunate accident; there was no god looking down on us, deciding that a tragedy would be the best way to bring us back to him.  Suddenly I felt relieved.  Things happen, some good things, some bad; this was not some sort of test or punishment.  It was the luck of the draw and now Noah needed the best medical care available.  He needed his mom to be strong for him. That’s when they walked into the room, like super heros to save the day– Noah’s trauma team.

I quickly came to the conclusion that these were the people I needed to put my faith in—a group of young, smart and hard working women and men who had sacrificed time and energy to finish medical school and dedicate their lives to helping someone like Noah.  As they began to examine him, they were encouraged by what they saw.  They explained the extent of his injuries and what to expect in the next few days.  They were optimistic.  I felt myself relax.  There would be no miracle, no answered prayer that night, only talented doctors, medical staff and a very strong and healthy 15-year-old boy who would do the work.  Without another prayer uttered, the bleeding stopped and surgery was avoided.  Over the next few weeks, the love, support and positive energy of good friends and family would aid in Noah’s recovery and my physical and mental health as well.

While at the hospital, I posted what was going on, on my facebook wall.  It was really my only way of communicating to the outside world, because I did not want leave ICU.  My first communication said something like, “Noah is in ICU at UC Davis with a brain injury, we would appreciated your positive thoughts and prayers.”   Yes, I said “prayers.”    I had actually hesitated before  using that word, but to me prayer means putting love and positive thoughts into the universe and I wanted as much of that as possible.  I assumed that even my Christian friends, knowing what I believed and didn’t believe, would respect that.  I should have known better. Some Christians saw it as a glimmer of hope that I was turning back to God and Jesus and because of some of their responses, I couldn’t take it anymore and I was forced to address the concept of prayer, most specifically Christian prayer and what I thought of it, and….well…. let’s just say things got ugly. Christians don’t want you to stand up for your beliefs unless they are in agreement with theirs, otherwise you are mean, hurtful and hateful.  For now, I am just so grateful that Noah is very much on the mend and we got through our ordeal without a prayer chain, a pastor visit, or a mythical god doling out miracles when it suits his fancy.  We got through it with the love, support and positivity of loved ones who came along side us in very tangible ways.   I have  more to say about that, but I will have to save it for my next blog post which I have tentatively entitled, “Jesus! Stop with the Prayers Already!

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12 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Julie Findon
    Jan 09, 2011 @ 09:40:07

    Barb – first of all, I’m so glad to hear that your son is recuperating well from his accident. How horrible for you! I’m so sorry that you had to go through that. Second, I’m also so glad to see that you are writing again; I always look forward to hearing your views and perspective on life after god, or whatever it is that you call what we are doing now. I understand about the prayer issue. Right now, my best friend (I’m in my 50’s and she’s been my Bf since high school) is scheduled for surgery on Wednesday because of lung nodules that they have told her look like lung cancer. Of course, everone’s all, ‘God is good,’ ‘we’re praying for her,’ and “Our God is awesome,’ and such. So tired of it; if God is so good, then why did she get this again (she had breast cancer 15 years ago.). And if God is good when test results are good, why isn’t God ‘bad’ when they are not good. Of course, I know the answer; I’m just ranting here. It just bugs me when I see everyone relying on and trusting a make-believe being.

    Reply

  2. Chris
    Jan 10, 2011 @ 00:36:43

    Wow. I’m so glad you’re son is okay. As a new ex-christian I’ve wondered how I’d react when the something along those lines happens to me and my family.

    I just took a few hours and read through your whole blog. I’m a fan. 🙂

    I spend a lot of time reading the articles and comments over at ex-chrstians.net and found you there. I had questioned my faith for a VERY long time (when I actually started to realize what was in the bible), but could never bring myself to fully reject it. That was until about a year ago when I couldn’t take the doubt and questions any longer, so my wife encouraged me to look for the answers I needed and make a decision. I wrote a message to about 8 close christian friends asking them to help me.

    My main struggle was with hell – the “loving god” that created it – and the apparent lack of freewill that we humans have in our choice to believe in him or not (according to the bible) – Not to mention all the other craziness in the bible (that most christians don’t even know is in there unless they happen to take time out from a culture of fun games, bowling night fellowship, Michael W. Smith CDs, C.S. Lewis books, and orange mocha frappuccinos made in the church lobby’s café to read what is actually IN the bible) … Okay, I’d better stop now or I’ll write a book.

    Long story short, after about a year of back and forth with the friends I emailed, around Oct. of last year I decided I couldn’t be a christian any longer. When it all came to a head my “coming out” happened all at once because I was talking to a good amount of my close christian friends anyway. They told their wives, then they emailed their prayer chains and so on… I guess it all kind of took care of itself.

    Anyway, reading those articles at the website as well as your blog has given me such great encouragement – Turns out I’m not alone and I’m not (that) crazy. I still have a very hard time not writing things on my christian friends’ close-mined facebook status updates. I feel like I’m just wasting my time whenever I do. Going back and forth with them makes me feel like I’m living in the twilight zone. Ha!

    Thanks for your honesty and very interesting stories. Maybe I’ll post a few of my own someday. 🙂

    Reply

    • HeIsSailing
      Jan 16, 2011 @ 21:15:01

      Hi Chris, and welcome to the world of de-conversion. The road is clear ahead, you may proceed 🙂

      I am more interested in reading your story, but I noticed your site is on Facebook. I don’t have a Facebook account, so I likely will not visit. But in any case, I wanted to say hello and give a fellow de-convert a bit of support!

      Reply

  3. notabarbie
    Jan 10, 2011 @ 00:40:16

    Hi Julie!
    I know what you mean. Even before my son’s accident, I got so sick and tired of hearing people say that they were praying for a certain situation or they praised God for answered prayer. One time on facebook, I wrote on my status: “Praying to God for help and comfort is a bit like reaching out to an abusive husband for comfort after he has punched you in the face.” The fact that Christian’s do this is another proof that people who remain in the Christian religion are brain washed. I had one Christian friend comment back, “So, should we not pray then? Are you saying I shouldn’t have prayed for my baby granddaughter?” Her newborn granddaughter was born with some sort of issue that had to be repaired surgically right after birth. I responded back by saying “if praying makes you feel better then by all means, pray, but the outcome will be the same whether you pray or not. What saved your granddaughter was the skilled surgeons and medical staff and her recovery was helped by caring friends and family that held her and loved her.” She simply would not acknowledge the people who had truly saved her daughter. She would give glory only to an invisible being that caused or “allowed” her malady and suffering to begin with. It is frustrating and you are welcome to vent here any time. Thanks so much for reading and commenting.

    Reply

  4. notabarbie
    Jan 10, 2011 @ 01:44:31

    Hi Chris!
    What a great comment. Thanks for reading! I can’t believe you read my whole blog, but thank you! I remember when I discovered that I wasn’t alone…I was so relieved. I too felt like I was going crazy. It was a rough time. It’s great that you “came out” all at once. Now you can just deal with all of it head on. I spent way too long hiding and avoiding. Hindsight is always 20/20 though, isn’t it? I guess we all handle it in the best way we can. I too discovered that debating religious issues on facebook…well…anywhere for that matter, is pretty futile. Even though I held my tongue on their walls, my Christian facebook “friends” never had trouble coming after me on mine. I wanted the debate at first, but they would get so angry and attacking, that I had to cut a lot of them loose eventually. (Oh the sweet, sweet love of Jesus) Besides, what I wrote on my wall was adding fuel to their prayer/gossip fire and I didn’t want to give them that anymore.
    So how are you doing? How are family and friends responding around you now that they know? You said your wife encouraged you to seek answers. Is she a believer? Where does she stand on all of this? I would love to hear your story, when you get a chance. You should consider blogging. It’s very cathartic. I can tell by the way you write—it will be good ☺. Have a great day and welcome to freedom!

    Reply

  5. Scott
    Jan 12, 2011 @ 23:08:49

    Hello Barbara-

    Thanks for your encouragement over on exchristian. I am amazed to discover how many others are out there in very similar situations. I followed your link in exchristian and read some of your blogs. You have been through a lot! It is like being well… born again (to borrow a phrase), to finally give myself permission to ask tough questions. How did your in-laws, extended family etc handle your deconversion? One of my biggest issues is not just my immediate family, but extended family on both my wife’s side and my side. The xtian roots run deep in my family. It’s feels like one of those home remodel shows on tv and I am having to go in and demolish all of the framework that has supported me for all of these years. Anyway just wanted to say thanks. Hope your sons recovery continues to go well.

    Scott

    Reply

    • notabarbie
      Jan 16, 2011 @ 01:25:20

      You are so welcome Scott. It feels good to encourage others. I know how badly I needed it…and still do at times. You are right; de-converting is very much like demolishing what you have always depended on and starting over, but it is so exciting and there is so much out there in the world and when you see it without the Christian lens…well, it’s like seeing a whole new world. My family has deep fundamentalist roots (Church of Christ) and sadly, they really want nothing to do with me–even with everything that has gone on in my life these past couple of years. The same is true for most of my hard-core Christian friends. I think they would all be okay if I just kept my agnosticism to myself. Of course, that would be almost impossible since they have a double standard. It works like this: I’m to be quiet about my non-belief, but they are allowed to speak up for Jesus and the gospel whenever the opportunity arises. I actually tried keeping quiet as they tried to re-save my soul for a while–it didn’t go well. As a Christian, I was a leader and a teacher–I did damage. I want to do what I can to undo some of it and so I won’t keep quiet.
      I hope you are doing okay and I do wish you all the best. Let me know how things are going from time to time.
      Barb

      Reply

  6. jay
    Jan 15, 2011 @ 22:02:17

    Barb-
    I am so glad that your son is doing well. I hope he still is! I also discovered your blog and read through most of it in a few hours and breathed a sigh of relief to find someone who is/has gone through something like what I’ve gone through. I was a Christian from a strong Christian family, looked for and married a strong Christian man and have been raising our children in the faith. I had doubts in college – before I got married – but pushed them down and refused to believe. I actually did read the bible and knew the horrible things that were in there, but rationalized it as we do. However, I am a science teacher and could not help but be exposed over and over again to science, evolution, critical thinking and other science teachers. As I researched more and also got burned by christians, I came to realize that non-believers are not evil (strawman!) and that evolution makes a WHOLE lot more sense than creationism once you understand the science.

    I deconverted about 3 years ago – I had probably deconverted 10 years ago but I had lingering doubts/concerns. But 3 years ago I read the God Delusion and my husband found it and confronted me on it – so I admitted it to him. I have just “come out” to my parents and my children. I’m not entirely sure what path I’m on – whether divorce is in my future or not – or whether my christian husband can work with me to find a balance I can live with. I don’t like the indoctrination that my children get at church and I wonder if I could counteract that better by living here at home or getting out on my own. Still working on this. And it is comforting to read about your journey in this as well. (I have stopped being on Facebook because I can’t stand the christianese of my “friends” and I’m not interested in confronting them).

    Thank you for this blog – it is very helpful!!

    Reply

  7. notabarbie
    Jan 16, 2011 @ 01:44:06

    Hi Jay,
    Thanks you for reading and commenting. My heart goes out to you. I hope you realize just how brave and strong you are. It’s hard, I know, but it does get easier. Things will work out one way or another with your husband. Either you will move on, or you two can come to some sort of compromise. How old are your kids and what has been their response to our de-conversion? Remember, they have your DNA and your thinking mind. They’ll figure it out. None of my kids are believers now and that took place separate and apart from my decision. I’m very sorry that you have to go through all of this. Do you have anyone close by to support you? I know when one leaves Christianity, the social network is the first to go. If you ever need advice, support or encouragement, you can always write me. I’ll do my best to help.
    As for my son, he is better, but sadly, he has anosmia, which means he can’t smell, or taste and we were hoping that those senses would have returned by now, but they have not. It could take a year, or he may never recover them. It’s really difficult to see my teenage boy go from inhaling everything in site and raving about something I made to blankly chewing his food as if it’s a chore and then leaving half of it on the plate. I’m optimistic though–we both are. Anyway, hang in there and let me know how things are going. Tell me more of your story. I would love to hear it.
    Barb

    Reply

  8. HeIsSailing
    Jan 16, 2011 @ 21:11:11

    Hi notabarbie. I am glad to read that Noah is doing well. A family member of mine recently had a life-threatening ordeal. A very rare disease that left him paralyzed for several weeks. My family has pretty much all de-converted by now , and I don’t think he got a single prayer. He came through it okay because of some extremely skilled physicians, cutting edge science, and some very loving and patient family members.

    Just imagine, if you had prayed for Noah’s recovery, you would have considered Noah’s natural recovery and the doctors’ optimism as God’s answer to your prayer. Something, huh?

    Reply

  9. Jay
    Jan 22, 2011 @ 22:45:00

    Barb –
    Thank you for this blog! Here is some of my story – I don’t write a blog because I don’t know how I feel about everyone being able to read it, but I have found hope in other people’s blogs so I like my story being somewhere.

    I grew up in a Christian home. We went to a strong fundamental independent church every week and I went to Bible studies there every Sunday night and in the summer I did everything with and for Christians. I went to a Christian high school. I loved Jesus with everything that was in me and on days that I was sad, I turned to Jesus for support. I prayed and asked him for everything – praying without ceasing. I memorized Bible verses and was the best at sword drills. I was the best at Bible trivia – I knew it all. I’ve read large parts of the Bible and maybe all of it – but I’m not sure about that. I was an unusual child in that I sought for answers more than other kids my age – wanting to dig deeper and understand more. I remember at 14 or so learning about Calvinism and Armenianism and the differences between them – and learning why we were Calvinists. At home we talked about the Bible and Jesus all the time and prayed often for large and small things. We saw the evidence of Jesus taking care of us in having enough money for food, clothes and eventually college (even though it was my dad earning the money, it “came from God”). I was innocent and naïve and pure and glad that I was.
    I went to college secure in my Christian beliefs with the plan of studying Biology to be a doctor. I studied evolution in freshman Biology for the first time and I knew that evolutionists had made this stuff up because they wanted to believe that there was no God, so they were just making stuff up to explain how it could work with no God. Obviously there was a God who created all this. My first moment on this path was when I found out that micelles form naturally in water (they have polar and nonpolar ends and thus form a ball with nonpolar ends pointing inward and polar ends pointing out). This is a perfectly easy, normal, natural arrangement of molecules that is simply more stable than any other arrangement. It is not magic. And it looks an awful lot like a cell membrane. In fact a cell membrane with the double layer of molecules with nonpolar ends in the center and polar ends out is a natural arrangement of molecules when you have more molecules than can fit in a micelle. God is not necessary to explain the arrangement of molecules in a micelle – physics explains it just fine.
    My next step on this path was in a neuroscience class when I fully understood how proteins interact with signaling molecules. I realized in that class that incremental changes in the DNA (a mutation) could make a protein better or worse at binding with a particular ligand. And I then realized that an organism with that better mutation would be better suited for living in an environment that selects for a protein that binds with that ligand. I saw for the first time that evolution was possible. Random mutations. Incremental changes. Selection for that change. Evolution.
    It took me another 5 or so years to fully accept this and take the next and final step. I met an atheist (actually there were 3 in my life at that time) who was kind, gentle, open, honest, intelligent – all the things you want in a friend. I believed until then that it is only through Christ that people are kind and gentle and loving. The other atheists I’ve met in person and online are also kind and loving and thoughtful. The Christians I spend time with are petty and selfish and demanding and holier-than-thou (not all of them obviously). I finally read The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins and realized fully how people created god, not the other way around.
    But here is where I am. There is no supernatural explanation needed to explain the movement of the sun. There is no supernatural explanation needed to explain the differentiation of species. And in the last 15 years, I have seen that there is less and less that “needs” a supernatural explanation. So therefore I have come to believe that there is no supernatural explanation needed for anything. The god of the gaps.
    My children are 14 and 12. I have told them that I accept evolution even though it goes against what the Bible teaches. I have told them that I am uncomfortable in Church and I don’t believe what the preacher says. They know that I have different beliefs than my family and my husband. I told my parents everything and they are accepting but are concerned – they are praying for me. They don’t want me to tell my kids anything more because they are concerned for my kids. Both my kids have been baptized in the last two years – they both say they believe in god and they continue to go to church. My daughter didn’t really blink at all when I told her, my son had more questions and seemed unsure for a day or so, but we have a very loving relationship and we have just kept going. I think I am very close to both my kids, and we spend a lot of time together just having fun together, but we don’t talk about god and Jesus and Christianity much together. It is my hope that if they choose to leave the church that they can because they see that I have left.
    I am uncomfortable in the church because I feel like it is a trap. I am trapped in that if I don’t believe it is because Satan is tempting me and has influenced me to the point that I don’t believe. I feel like it is all about guilt – obey or feel guilty than ask for forgiveness and feel better than sin again and feel guilty again and feel guilty for not being perfect all the time. And I look at my children and I think that they are amazing and perfect the way they are – they do not have “a sin nature” that needs to be beaten out of them. They are not inherently evil – they are amazingly good and they have always been this way. I cringed when I heard in church recently (I go once in a while) that we must be broken before god. I don’t want my children to think they must be broken! Ever! I want them to know that I think they are amazing! And that I want the best for them!!

    I want desperately to be out of my marriage. I am only afraid of the kids feeling like neither place is their home – going back and forth between my house and their dad’s. I have all the plans in place to leave any time now and I am hoping for the courage to do it – or not. I am leaving a beautiful home with lots of space and nice views and a great kitchen and going to an apartment. That sounds silly but I wonder if it wouldn’t be better to just manage here for a few more years – if only for the kitchen (and that my children don’t have to move). If I knew that I would find someone on the other side – someone to make it worthwhile it would be easier (maybe?). I am afraid of hurting my children, hurting my parents, exposing myself to all the community as an atheist, and then being alone in an ugly apartment. Does that sound silly? Will I find someone? I would be able to buy myself a house so the apartment would only be temporary. It wouldn’t be as beautiful as this house, but I could find one that is quiet with nice views and a terrible kitchen that I could renovated to make it what I want.
    So I guess I should end because this is already soooo long. Thank you for allowing me to share on your blog!
    Jay

    Reply

  10. notabarbie
    Feb 09, 2011 @ 02:29:37

    Jay, oh my god, I feel your pain and your desperation–your fear, etc. We have very similar stories in many ways. I wish I could reach through the computer screen and give you a hug and tell you it will all be okay and in time it will. There is no easy answer. I guess the only advice I can give you is don’t do anything right away. That was the best advice I was given. You don’t really have to do anything except perhaps go talk with someone and yes, I mean a therapist, that is NOT a Christian. Talking it through is so helpful. It helps us get our minds straight and make good decisions. Also check out http://www.marlenewinell.net if you haven’t already. A good friend of mine just went on a retreat with her and it was life changing. There are a lot of good resources out there and, of course, you can always talk to me. Email me: notabarbie@comcast.net. Let me just add this, you will be okay. It’s just a rough road, but you won’t be alone. Hang in there and thanks for sharing. Comment anytime 🙂
    Barb

    Reply

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