The Guilt of a Newly-Minted None

The foundation of being a moral person has always been about believing in God and following the teachings of the church. If you don’t follow the path Jesus walked, you are likely a heathen or a pagan or the unworthy of Heaven. Or, if you don’t follow Jesus and the teachings of the Bible, you are just lost and possibly weird, on the fringes of society and destined to be an outcast.

Heaven has always been the goal that we strive for in life. Be a good person, doing things in the name of Jesus and you will achieve your rewards in Heaven. We are told in order to go to Heaven you must be a good person. In order to be a good person, you must follow Jesus.

What if you don’t believe Heaven is the ultimate goal any longer? Can you still be a good person? Can you teach your children to be good citizens of society without using Heaven as the end goal? Can people be moral and decent human beings without getting anything in return?

I believe you can be a good person without the foundation of religion. However, as a woman who has grown up with the church and the teachings of the Christian religion, it is something that is hard to rectify in my brain. It has been so ingrained in my heart and soul that you can only be a good person if you follow Jesus. If you do what Jesus and God decree as correct and proper.

I have spent the last 29 years of my life thinking that God was the only way. That Heaven was the end goal. The only other option is eternal damnation. If you aren’t following God, you aren’t a good person, so you can’t go to Heaven, and therefore, you will burn in Hell.

Hell certainly doesn’t sound like a nice place to end up. When you look at the descriptions of Heaven and Hell in the teachings of the church, who doesn’t want to say they believe in God and hope that they will get to go to Heaven. By taking the belief of Jesus and Christianity on faith alone, it is supposed to safeguard them from the eternal damnation of Hell. Who wouldn’t want to do that?

Let’s not forget that Heaven is also a better alternative to ceasing to exist. When you die, you just are no more. I never really liked the idea of that happening either. So, what was the purpose of life? What was the goal? The end game? Ceasing to exist seems exponentially as harsh a fate as Hell.

So to alleviate either ‘negative’ outcomes at death, if we believe in God and the teachings of the church  or death will end much more pleasantly. I am sure I am not alone in this thought process. I am beginning to think this is how people get caught up in the beliefs and the church.

Looking back at this, the description of Heaven and Hell is more propaganda and fear tactics. If you don’t do what we tell you to do, you will be punished. If you do exactly what we tell you to do, you will be rewarded. Don’t question or you go to Hell. Don’t miss church or you go to Hell. Don’t forget to pray at supper or you might go to Hell. Don’t support gay people or you will go to Hell. Don’t be friends with Pagans or they will bring you straight to Hell with them.

A lot of fear goes into the foundation of religion. A lot of fear and ultimatums.  Fear and ultimatums lead to guilt. Guilt about doing things just right. Making sure you are following the faith perfectly. What if you slip up? You can be forgiven, but the people of the church may look down on you. You will be given a big heaping spoonful of guilt.

Like my previous post about Cults and Churches, the fear and the ultimatums and ultimately the guilt is what keeps a member of a church or a cult in line. It keeps the person feeling like they are a bad person if they don’t go along, if they don’t follow. The guilt can be enough to hold a person under the church or cult’s thumb for years and it is a form of brainwashing.

I came across this blog post recently and it made me think. The points are valid. How come our particular religion can be believed on faith, but someone else’s religion is clearly not correct. It’s not right and thus a fairy tale. All the creation tales in each different religion are similar yet, once you latch on to the one you like, it’s the only one. It’s the one that is supreme.

You can deny all others as false and ‘fairy tale’ but the one that you follow may sound similar, but it’s the only true one. You have reasons and rationale why. The brain has made connections on this that will allow you to believe that it is real. Why do you have all these answers? Because the fear and ultimatums and the guilt that goes with the teachings have given you all the answers you need to make sure you are properly educated in what to say and think. IE. Brainwashing.

Then comes a time when you doubt it. What if you doubt what you have always been told? What if you take a logical look at the things you have always believed and you put rational thought behind it? The guilt settles in.

What if I’m wrong? I am a terrible person for not believing. I should just have faith. God calls me to believe in the face of doubt. I cannot trust my own flawed judgment. I just need to put my faith in Him. Just follow the leaders of the church, they are the ones who have more knowledge than I do. I have to teach my child to believe as I have; otherwise she will go to Hell. Hell is a bad place. What if Hell does in fact exist? If you don’t teach your child about God, they will never be saved and you have condemned your child to a fate worse than death. If you don’t get your kid baptized, they will be eternally lost in the pits of Hell.

These are the thoughts that I still grapple with. I am beginning to realize that I am in fact an Atheist. I have tried to cling to the label of the lesser evil in society of Agnostic, that of someone who is spiritual and who is not sure what they believe. But, I do know what I believe. In my heart of hearts, I know that there is no such thing – there is no validity to the stories I have grown up with. I know in my rational mind that I don’t want to be putting my kid through the same fear and guilt that I am currently trying to dig myself out of.

I hold tight to the lesser label, a label that doesn’t really bring me peace of mind either, because it is less harsh than the reality. The finality of the whole concept. It lessens my guilt. It lessens the doubt in my doubt and the uncertainty. I am coming to terms with the fact that I was in fact brainwashed and I was conditioned with fear tactics and guilt to believe in something that can’t possibly be real.

It makes no sense to me now. I am trying to figure out why the concept of God and Jesus made sense to me before. A flowery story about a man who died for me and forgives me of all my sins. A story of redemption and of love and kindness. It made sense because it was about the good in people. It was about the rewards for being a good person. It was about being a part of something.

How come we can’t teach our kids to forgive our fellow human beings for their misgivings and their shortcomings. Can’t we teach our kids to be kind and loving to all those they come in contact with? Why does the basis of morals and the difference between right and wrong have to be set in the foundation of a religion?

Instead of guilt, I hope to give the facts. I hope to give the theories and the stories. As I learn more of the different stories and the different culture theories of how the world came to be, I hope I can pass on the questioning nature I have grown to possess and leave the guilt out of my daughter’s heart.

Guilty of Having a Baby

So, I had a different post in mind for today, but I have a friend on Facebook – whose post on her own blog, really touched my heart this morning.

She is a woman, married to a man. She wants a baby. I actually have never met her in person, but we have been friends through online sources for years. She has been having trouble conceiving a baby and every time I see her posts on Facebook, another failed attempt. It breaks my heart for her.

Frankly, I always knew there were people out there having trouble conceiving. But, I never really thought of just how lucky we were. Men and women were made to create babies. It shouldn’t be so hard for them. Not to mention that I remember having the feeling that it just wasn’t fair that I couldn’t just have an “OOPS” moment with my partner like my friends and family were. They weren’t even trying to have a baby and they suddenly had three.

Then I realized, today, after reading this post, that I knew how hard it is on women who can’t conceive. But, I never realized just how blessed we were in comparison. That made me feel a little guilty. I’m a lesbian woman. I should have had a harder time getting pregnant. Most of the time, I feel guilty that it wasn’t harder for me to get pregnant. No, we didn’t go about the conceiving part the way most lesbians do. I didn’t do the IVF and I didn’t do donated sperm. It was all natural.

I didn’t chart more than a couple months to get my ovulation. My donor was here for a week. We took a shot and it worked. I didn’t have morning sickness and I didn’t have any complications really in my pregnancy.

This is not a blog about how easy I had it. Its actually a blog post about how her post humbled me. I always say that pregnancy was not for me. And I mean that. I hated being pregnant. I’m not ashamed to admit that. I am so happy for the end result. Our baby is precious to me and such a gift. However, I was miserable – physically and emotionally for most of my pregnancy.

Reading her post, though, made me realize that she would be overjoyed to experience even half of what I had experienced. She would be overjoyed to have morning sickness and pelvic pain. She would love to have that feeling of butterflies when the baby moves around inside her. AND I want her to have that. She’s a wonderful woman, who deserves to have that.

I used to have the same feelings she had when my sister would get pregnant. How it wasn’t fair that she could just conceive baby after baby and we would have to work so hard at it. So, in a way I know how she feels. Of course, not the same way, but I can definitely empathize with her situation.

There is a girl at work in the same boat. It always crosses my mind what these women will feel when I share my stories of Peyton or my pictures. Every time I post them, I worry that I will break their hearts a little more and that is certainly not my intention. In a way, I am always slightly humbled by these women and their struggles.

I hope someday soon, they will have the same joy I have in my life. I never thought it was possible. Nothing is impossible. I truly believe that. SO, keep your chin up, girls. I am rooting for you! I’m sending all the positive thoughts I can your way. I can’t imagine how hard it is for women who have trouble conceiving, but I am sure that it cannot be fun to watch others around you getting what you want so desperately.

Please know that I am aware that I am one of THOSE moms. Posting pictures constantly and always posting something new about my kiddo. I always have you in my thoughts when I post and I am always sending just a few more rays of sunshine in your direction.

I will rejoice with you when the day comes that you see that little positive sign on a pregnancy test. I believe with all my heart, you will have that joy.

Take Care