THE WHOLE STORY
I would like to fully explain why I converted from atheism to Christianity. I have shared bits and pieces of my conversion story in previous articles, but I want to tie it all together in this two-part series. By writing this, I hope to clarify how powerfully God moved in my life.
THE BETRAYAL OF TRUST THROUGH TRAUMA
As an eleven-year-old, I’d grown very fond of the security of familiarity, placing all my trust in my family. Creating the memories and traditions that make being part of a family so special was what built the feeling of safety in life. In one example, my sisters and I would wait at the top of our stairwell on Christmas morning until our dad turned on the foyer Christmas tree lights down below; an indicator that it was time to come down and discover what Santa had left for us. I would be the first to race down the stairs in excitement that awaited all of us. My parents would leave the lights dimmed in the living room, which would make the revealing of Santa’s mystery gifts feel more magical.
In another example, my family was active. After dinner, we would go outside and play ball as the sun went down. We did this frequently, which helped feed my sense of closeness with my dad and siblings.
When my parents divorced, the cheerful, optimistic, positive part of me became quieted, reserved, and reticent. I lost my sense of safety in the world, my trust for relationships, and my feelings of balance in life.
My dad would urge me to keep going to church, since we were raised Catholic—but I refused to attend over the course of two church invitations. The notion of God had become detestable. How could a God allow this suffering to take place? I became sure there was no God because, I assumed if there wasa living God, He was only good, and I was obstinate in believing a good God would never allow anyone such agony.
SUICIDE AND PURPOSELESSNESS
When my questions about life following the divorce became too much to handle in my heart, I felt myself imploding. This new reality where my mom slept in another house was too much to take in. My experience was utterly nightmarish, emotionally. The structure of life had changed, drastically, and life had become more about survival than development. Nothing I had believed about life seemed to hold together anymore. I couldn’t find myself able to accept the circumstances of my new life, and I couldn’t wrest the old reality back from its grave. This ultimatum birthed the deepest, darkest feeling I had ever conjured: I wanted to kill myself.
For 11 years, suicide was simply not a word I would ever consider, let alone a thought I would visit. But suddenly, out of absolute nothingness, death became a possibility;adesire. I learned how heavy and sinister wanting death felt like from the inside; like being trapped inside a cage without a lock or key, light, or hope.
I was in my teens, lying on the floor of my room with the door closed, crying uncontrollably. Nothing was the same anymore.
I took myself to my bathtub. After the water passed over my head, I started seeing stars and could hear my heartbeat. Alone, my family clueless to my intentions, I was merely moments away from breathing my last, when I came out of the water. I breathed, looked at the walls of the tub, and just wondered — “Why?…” All I knew was I was afraid of feeling pain in my lungs, and, I didn’t know what to expect when I died; I was intimidated by the possibility that I would be unpleasantly surprised.
My relationship to my mom was strained after the divorce. After she moved into another house, I had to begin a new routine of packing bags for sleepovers. Mom had a different presence after the divorce, because of that, I did not want to see her often. Consequently, I felt guilty for this. When mom sensed my lack of desire to spend more time with her, she was hurt. Unfortunately, her aggressive expression of hurt made me withdraw even further, and I quickly learned that our new relationship dynamic was painfully different from the way it was growing up.
Throughout all of my adolescence, I didn’t talk to my dad very much. My relationships with both my parents were evidently paralyzed. The horrors of the divorce made everything that once appeared to be so beautiful into something faded and unrecognizable.
KORN’S IMPACT ON MY LIFE
When I was 16, I found my first Korn album, “The Untouchables.” Upon playing the first song, “Here To Stay,” I was hooked. Never again would I find a band as interesting and addictive as Korn; their lyrical expression of rage, pain, and depression were spot on with that of my experiences. I learned that I not only related to Korn, but that they spoke into my existence in such a way that nothing else seemed to come close to. Korn became my musical “Gospel,” in that I would listen to them for hours on end, embracing their anger, resistance, and ability to fight pain with rage and hate as a tool of my own. I came to believe anger and hatred were ways to find strength in the darkness of my despair. Korn was like a strong dose of morphine plunging into the depths of my most crippling thoughts and feelings.
A LUSTFUL LAST RESORT
As a result of the loneliness, combined with feeling as though there was nothing to live for, I found myself craving compassion and closure. Without realizing that’s what I was seeking, my search for compassion and closure ended up driving me to idolize romantic relationships. But, since my intention was to gain closure from emotional pain, and not actually to get involved in an authentic relationship, the source of my search was shoddy and lustful. Putting God on the back burner and placing girls in the forefront of my mind forced me to depend on my relationship to lust, and my identity became lost in the pursuit of others’ acceptance — at a time when not even I was in a position to accept myself.
After so many years of contemplating life and its brokenness, and with the help of a conversation with my sister, I decided to pursue film studies in Florida. By moving to Florida, I intended to leave all my memories behind in their place of origin, expecting that my departure would numb the pain. It took several years of being away before I learned that the kind of pain I experienced isn’t curable by geography, but by the spirit. My spirit had been impacted by my anger and bitterness, and without a safe sense of self.
In Part 2, I will explain how my journey was met with faith, and how my relationship with Jesus impacts my life now. I’m excited for you to understand in your own way just how goodGod really is.
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