Life does not look like what I thought it would be. Nearly every day I walk into an environment I really should have been done with 25 years ago and feel a part of something I forget I’m too old for. My friends are people the same age as my oldest son. This was never what I was told life would be.
Growing up in Evangelicalism, I was given a picture of the ideal life for a woman. That life had little to do with her own education and absolutely nothing to do with her own fulfillment. She was created to be a man’s servant, that word disguised as some fancy thing called a “helpmeet.” She was created to care for children, as many as she could possibly have. She was created to serve others. It was only the man who was created to pursue his dreams and calling, women were created to support that dream.
Oh, sure there were a few women who went to college and then on to work, but that wasn’t ideal. That was a result of living in a fallen world filled with sin. God’s ideal for women was to have them serve, everyone but themselves. If you want to be a good Christian woman you serve, you are quiet, you submit, you busy yourself in the home. There is a long list of things women can do, but being a leader is never one of them, being their own, autonomous person is not one of them. The list of what women really shouldn’t do is exponentially longer than what they should.
One thing in particular a woman can’t do is give herself any credit. Of course, it can be said that men aren’t supposed to either, but it never quite works out that way. A woman who acknowledges that she is intelligent or is good at something or has done something good and worthwhile, is usually corrected “gently” and reminded that it was God who did that through her. It’s a backhanded way religion uses to remind women they really aren’t so great. If it weren’t for God they’d be nothing…the mantra of Christianity.
It wasn’t until I rejected all those beliefs that things began to move forward. It wasn’t until I realized there was no god anywhere at any time that I was able to begin to take steps to better my life. It wasn’t until I knew without a doubt that I was my own person, no input or control from some invisible being, that I could see a way out. And once I saw that way, I stepped out of the darkness that had surrounded me my whole life and into the light that can only come from reality.
I studied and I did so well on tests that I placed in classes most recent high school grads can’t. I did that on my own. I had no help from some celestial being. I have done the work and have three high A’s and a solid B in my four classes. I had no help from prayers to some invisible ‘friend.’ This is all me, and it’s all because I am intelligent and capable, not because some supernatural force is suddenly allowing me to see clearly. Now I have the grades to request a letter of referral from one of my professor’s to enroll in the honor’s program. I did that. Period. No one else. No god or deity or force has done any of this.
When I believed in those things, when I believed there was a god, I was frozen in fear. I was abused and beaten down. I was depressed and listless. I prayed and no answer ever came. There was no salvation and I was told to wait…wait until I was dead, then I would have the peace and joy I prayed for.
The nice thing about Atheism is that I don’t have to wait. I can acknowledge that I live in a place and time where it is for me to pursue them immediately. I don’t have to wait for permission from a husband. I don’t have to wait for a sign from on high. I simply get up and I do it.
What a waste it has been, the past 48 years of thinking I had to work harder to please God, then he’d finally give me happiness. 48 years of life in the garbage bin all in service to what I was told was the only true way, but when put under the weakest of microscopes, mere thought, it was discovered to be a lie, a placebo for life-saving reality.
But now I don’t have to waste time worrying about whether I’m going along with some unseen, unwritten plan of some cosmic being who cares so little for me he allowed me to be battered by my own mother and father.
There is no plan, there is only action. My action, which becomes my plan. And that is how one succeeds and moves forward.