In a few weeks I’ll mark one year of apostasy. I can honestly say that I’ve reached a point of peace and contentment with my views on religion and spirituality. The only question I ever ask myself is what took so long. I spent two-thirds of my life as a prisoner of irrationality. Why did it take me two decades to admit it? I was in denial. For even back in the cold days following my baptism, it didn’t seem right. I knew there was something wrong.
Something was wrong with the fact that 1+1++1 equaled three everywhere else but equaled One God at church.
Something was wrong with the idea of an Omniscient God creating mankind and setting us up to fall.
Something was wrong with the idea of morally good people being condemned to hell for disbelief, while immoral folks could get a pass to paradise just for believing in Jesus.
Something was wrong with Black people giving up so much of their money to churches while our community remained ignorant and impoverished.
Something was wrong with church members turning a blind eye to the indiscretions of the so-called men of God.
Something was wrong with the greed and materialism on full display at church.
Something was wrong with the legalism and the obsession with adhering to rigid rules.
I knew it all along. There was always a part of me that observed my faith community and knew it wasn’t right. But as a teenager I couldn’t admit that to myself, because of my fear of ostracism in this life and eternal torture in the next. I couldn’t face my own questions and doubts. I understood that doing so might lead me to become a disbeliever, an accursed atheist, and I couldn’t risk that. So instead I did as I was told. I brushed off my thoughts as the devil trying to tempt me. I tried to “just have faith”. I read and studied the Bible. I prayed. I devoured evangelical books. I was bold and vocal in my support of Christianity. I laugh when I look back at it know and think of the way my family, church and some friends would commend me for being so outspoken and so studious regarding my faith. They thought I was doing it out of a deeply felt commitment to Christ. I wasn’t. Most of the time I was trying to convince myself that the beliefs that had been forced upon me were true.
Even after I matured and left home, I continued with the delusion. Though I was an adult, lived on my own and no one could force me to go to church, I still paid homage to Christianity. I gave it my allegiance to the church in word. But as I neared my thirties I reached an impasse. I felt that I had to take some form of action and make a firm decision regarding my faith. My experiences in the Baptist church left such a sour taste in my mouth that I knew I could not attend church again. My issues with Christianity as a whole were still unresolved. The idea of not belonging to an organized religion was still unfathomable to me. I saw converting to Islam as the solution to my problem. I could still be a theist and I wouldn’t have to grapple with the theological dilemmas of Christianity(I had no idea that Islam would give me a whole new set of theological issues and disappointments to deal with).
Taking shahadah was a desperate attempt to hold onto my faith in god. If you’ve been reading my blog, you’re aware that it did just the opposite. It took just seven months of life as a Sunni Muslim for me to face everything that I suppressed for nineteen years. This is why I will never feel any regret or shame for my journey into Islam, because it helped lead me to the place I am now. I no longer live in a state of denial.
4 thoughts on “Denial”
Your blog is amazing and this post in particular sound as if you were writing about my life; the only differences are that I was a cradle Catholic who left religion at age 25 and faith at 24 after reading every “holy” book under the sun and having my doubts validated. I would love to be a guest blogger, if you ever need one 😀
@Emelyne: Thanks! Isn’t it ironic that our quest for knowledge about organized religion is what leads so many of us to abandon it?
Yes! I was in mass at least 5 days a week (Catholic), I volunteered for 2 different youth groups, I sang in the choir, I taught vacation bible school and I read any and all Christian books but my doubts only grew and the questions became harder to answer.
Once again, (and like Emelyne) I feel like you are writing FOR me. I love all of your posts.