“Most people think great God will come from the sky, take away everything and make everybody feel high,
But if you know what life is worth-you will look for yours on earth...”-Bob Marley and The Wailers, ‘Get Up, Stand Up’
At this point, I am about eleven months into my deconversion/deprogramming.I am still amazed at how free I feel now compared to the way I felt when I was religious. The joy and peace I have attained brings tears to my eyes. am living a life that I once thought impossible. As a Christian especially, the image of slavery is used to illustrate the effects of sin. Supposedly we are slaves to sin from the time we are born. It is only in Christ that we gain freedom and truly live. For me, however, it didn’t feel that way. Being baptized at ten and indoctrinated into a rigid form of Christianity was the beginning of my own Dark Age. Though my time in organized religion was not enough to completely destroy the individual I’d been before, it definitely weighed that smart, inquisitive little girl down. I can never thank my Mom enough for how she raised me until I was ten years old. My Mama’s style of parenting made my escape from the religion prison inevitable. But back when I was a believer-when I was locked away mentally and emotionally-I couldn’t see this.
It was so hard to imagine that this day would ever come. I didn’t know that I could live like this-able to truly enjoy my life, not racked with guilt, shame and fear over “sin”. I think of all those times I prayed to god as a teen for forgiveness for the “sin” of lust. I think of all the times I felt horrible just for having sex. I think of how I tried to police my own thoughts, because the church I went to said we had to literally be “perfect” to be saved. I remember how miserable I became wearing hijab, and how I’d rather just stay home than comply with all the rules of modesty. I remember how I used to my plan my whole day around salat.
I think of the way I obsessed over heaven and hell. I think of the pure terror I would feel at the thought that I may not make the cut and displease God. Simply being born and being human felt so bad. When I thought of salvation and eternity, I sometimes wished that I had never been born. I felt that it would be better to not exist at all than to live with the knowledge that I could end up being tortured for an eternity. Better to never exist and contemplate the terrifying thought: what if I choose the wrong religion? Better to never have to deal with the constant struggle, the psychological weight of being told I was a sinner, incapable of being or doing good apart from ‘God’.
But right here, right now, none of that matters anymore. The walls of fear, judgment and pain bequeathed to me via the Abrahamic faiths are crumbling. And for the first time since the dark curtain of faith descended on my young mind, I feel alive. It’s as if life has gone from black and white to Technicolor. I know that this life is the only one that I have. I can’t waste it. So I make every second count and I cherish it as I never have before. I have evolved.