Disbelief & Finding My Way Home: Part 1

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. Here, I hope to clarify for people who may relate to my testimony just how powerful God truly is. Needless to say, Part 1 will be darker/heavier because of context that this took place before I understood what to make of my past, emotionally and spiritually. Part 2 will complete the story and bring us to the present where I can now see God working in my faith, and I will share more on that with you as well. 

By writing this, I hope to bring clarity, hope, and direction to others who are in the position of searching for life’s answers without knowing which way to turn.

THE BETRAYAL OF TRUST THROUGH TRAUMA

My parents’ divorce left me reeling, drowning in questions and denial. Growing up, I’d grown extremely fond of the security of familiarity, of placing all of my trust in my family’s presence, the memories we made, and the traditions that made being a part of family so special. For example, we were told to wait upstairs on Christmas morning until our dad turned on the foyer Christmas tree lights in order to come downstairs and see the mountain of presents in the living room. They would dim the lights, and we would never think anything of my parents’ droopy eyes as they had been up an hour earlier preparing the eye-popping display.

In another example, my family was active—we would go outside and play ball after dinner as the sun went down. We did this frequently, and it fed me the passion for exercise, activity, adventure, and fun.

When my parents divorced, the very cheerful, optimistic, positive part of me became very serious, quiet, reserved, and exclusive. My thoughts burrowed inward, trying to grasp with profundity the depth of my own pain.

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 any kind of God was not only unappealing, it was detestable. How could a God allow this suffering to take place? I was sure there was no God because no God would allow me or anyone to experience this excruciating emotional pain and familial division. But that was only the beginning of the pain.

SUICIDE AND PURPOSELESSNESS

When my questions following the divorce became unbearable and everything I’d believed seemed to be wrong, I felt myself imploding intolerably. This new reality where my mom slept in another house and everything was drastically different was utterly nightmarish and terrifying to me, emotionally. The rules had changed and life had become more about survival. Nothing I had believed about life seemed real anymore. I couldn’t find myself embracing this new reality with my family torn apart and unfamiliarity at every corner, and I also couldn’t wrest the old reality back from its grave. This realization birthed the deepest, darkest feeling I ever thought was possible: I wanted to kill myself.

For 11 years, this wasn’t even a thought. Suicide was not even a vocabulary word that I was capable of conjuring. But suddenly, out of absolute nothingness, death became a possibility; a desire. I’ll never forget, because wanting death was the most degrading feeling. I’ve learned there is nothing darker than wanting death, and that death’s invitation is consuming.

MENTAL BREAKDOWN

I was in my teens, 13-15, lying on the floor of my room with the door closed, crying until I could barely breathe through my nose. All I could think of was how nothing was the same anymore; there were no remnants left of my past reality, everything was over and there was no going back.

My mind tried to get creative about how to end my life, and I took myself to my bathtub. On more than one occasion, when the water pressure began choking me, my mind was screaming to find a reason to live to avoid the pain of air emptying from my lungs. My chest was growing tighter and I had to decide if I was going to die this way. I started seeing stars and I could hear my own heartbeat; time was drawing close and I didn’t want to let in—I wanted to die. Alone, my family outside somewhere, 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 begged myself for justification as to why I had chosen against death. I didn’t have a good reason: I was afraid of the pain of losing air—my lungs screaming for me to save myself was horrifying. Living in a house full of people who didn’t know me or my pain was also horrifying. There was no escape. The misery drew anguish and bitterness.

No, there is no God. A God wouldn’t allow this suffering. God would be evil to allow this. These were my thoughts and I got out of the tub to continue living, although without certainty; wondering how else I could end my life.

PARALYZED RELATIONSHIPS

My relationship to my mom was strained after the divorce. As soon as she left home to move to another house, I had to begin learning to pack bags for sleepovers. Every week I would pack necessities to take back and forth. There was more than one problem with this. The first was that right after the divorce, the presence of my mom was very different than from before the divorce; her new presence was something I did not like, nor did I want to be around. Because of her attitude and behavior, I did not want to see her often, and I felt guilty for not wanting to see her. After all, she was my mom. Not only did this seem contradictory, but it was causing me mountains of stress, guilt, anxiety, and racing thoughts. I would constantly analyze everything that was said and how it was said to pick up on anything I could in order to placate the disagreements we had. Mom had picked up on my lack of desire to spend more time with her and became angry and hurt. Her anger made me withdraw even further, and I quickly learned that our new relationship dynamic was terrifyingly different from the way it was growing up. This change haunted me—what was to become of my mom and me?

More confusing was the way my dad seemed so uninvolved with me. Our relationship seemed to have retreated, which lasted about a decade. Throughout all of my adolescence, I didn’t talk to my dad very much. In every sense of the word, my relationships with both of my parents were paralyzed. We weren’t moving forward, no one seemed to want to move back, and we were not on the same page. The horrors of the divorce crippled us and made everything that once was so beautiful into something unrecognizable, dilapidated, obsolete, disappointing. My heart was throbbing with fear, but there was no closure.

KORN/CLOSURE/VALIDATION

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, depression, and self-mutilation were spot on with that of my own thoughts. I quickly learned that I not only related to Korn, but that they spoke into my experiences. 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 my own. I soon believed that anger and hatred were ways to find strength in my darkness of despair and trauma. My desire for death was still present, but Korn was like a strong dose of morphine; they would speak into my darkest place and tell me my feelings were valid.

LAST RESORT

Along the way of finding myself tortured by the questions challenging my sanity, I found myself drawing closer to girls. Their attention gave me energy and I desired to impress them and earn their loyalty; their relationship. I ended up bringing my search for purpose to my girlfriend my senior year of high school; someone who I would learn later on could never have fulfilled that part of me. No girl ever could have, but I didn’t know where else to search for closure from all the pain. I didn’t know where else to search for purpose. I was living for me, and hating every second of it.

FINAL ULTIMATUM

After all those years of heavily contemplating my life and its brokenness, topped off by resorting to lust and infatuation—I decided to pursue film studies in Florida when I was 21 to make something of my life while I continued my search for something beyond the pain. By moving to Florida to study film, I was intending to also leave behind all of my memories in Michigan. Like a placebo pill however, my mind wanted to make believe leaving Michigan would numb the pain (my past). But, after many years of being away, I’d learned that the kind of pain I experienced wasn’t solved by geography, but by the spirit. My spirit had been plagued by anger, bitterness, selfishness, and resistance to any sort of aid—and in turn, my mentality, maturity, and belief system were closed-minded and shallow. More on this will be elaborated upon in Part 2.

JUST THE BEGINNING

What is important to note here and now is that this isn’t the end of my story. This is just the first step in the path. All of this, as it were, marked by darkness, bitterness, and despair–this is not the end of anyone’s story. This is the reason for Part 1 and 2; I need you, as the reader, to fully grasp this picture as its own image, because when you understand the rest of the story, you will come to see where the transformation is, where God’s hand was, and how it’s a matter of taking a leap of faith to see what even our physical eyes cannot. In Part 2, I will explain all of this so that you can see for yourself that our pain and our questions have answers and solutions, even if it doesn’t seem like it yet. I can tell you right now that despite my pain, God is still good!!

LET’S CONNECT

If you resonated with this article and would like to read more, please follow this blog, and please share this with anyone. You may also find me at my Facebook page at Lance Price Blog 2017, Twitter at LPBlog2017, Instagram at LPBlog2017, Pinterest at Lance Price Blog 2017, or on Tumblr at lancepriceblog2017. Please feel free to leave your thoughts or any questions you may have in the comments below. I’ll do my best to respond as promptly as possible. May God bless you today!

Jolt

Author: Lance Price Blog 2017

Something I’ve loved to do since I was in High School is write. What starting off as as merely poetry transitioned into a more serious passion. Now, as a blogger, I want my writing to help people understand themselves, others, and Jesus in fresh ways that maybe they hadn’t understood before. My sincerest hope is that my writing will be an inspiration, and a means of encouragement for those who are going through a hard time—whether it be related to trauma, spiritual crisis, or an issue regarding family/divorce and relationships. I also mean for my articles to act as a boost of confidence for those who are already riding the waves of optimism, joy, and hope. You'll also notice my new "Movie Reviews" page, which will be made up of my movie critiques. Though these are not the same as my blog posts in the sense that they are not Jesus-based but movie-based, I will still review films from an open-minded Christian standpoint. Above all else, as a Christ follower, I hope my faith will permeate the words of my articles and encourage others to follow the Lord of salvation, love, grace, mercy, empowerment, forgiveness, and eternal life. I hope the very best comes from reading what I write and that these goals are met through the hearts of readers being challenged and changed for the best. Thank you for reading!

25 thoughts on “Disbelief & Finding My Way Home: Part 1”

  1. I am so sorry for the suffering that you went through as a kid. Mine, Lance, was not that my parents divorced, but that my father died of Pancreatic cancer when I was one month shy of 13. Everything changed from that moment. I found that I was looking for something to fill his hole that was in my heart and nothing did until I found Jesus at age 45. I went through a terrible first marriage which ended in divorce. We had no children which I have always been grateful for and I see through your story just why. God had a plan for me but I wandered the country from job to job and relationships that did not work. Until I met Jesus and my second husband of 24 years now. I am so thankful.
    Thank you for your vulnerability and honesty.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your words! I appreciate your sharing a piece of your testimony with me as well. I truly believe God works in ways we may not be able to see at first, but eventually, as our eyes are opened (spiritually), we see where God’s hand is moving and where His love for us has been all along. He’s never so far away, we just haven’t always had the ability to see Him as He moves.
      I’m so glad you met Jesus when you did, and that your faith has helped you to see your life with a fresh perspective as well. God is so good! Thank you for reading and commenting! God bless you 🙂

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    2. I’m also incredibly sorry to hear about your father and his passing. I can imagine how hard that must have been for you, especially at almost 13. I’m so grateful to know that you were able to discover Jesus even despite that pain, even if it wasn’t right away. My prayer for your is that your life would continue on the path it is now as a believer, that you would be able to see God’s blessings in your life, and to continue to remember that none of this is permanent because He has made all things new. I hope you have a beautiful day!

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  2. One of the statements that you made was very insightful to me…”Korn was like a strong dose of morphine; they would speak into my darkest place and tell me my feelings were valid.” From my often misguided fundamentalist background, it was very important to have all the right answers to all of the right questions. It was all about the mind because “feelings need to follow faith.” But what you’ve pointed out is that there has to be a feelings component too, particularly for some people (like teenagers in your case).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think my metaphor could have been improved in this scenario, and because of that, I really appreciate your comment! I think it may have run better if I had said something like, “Korn was like a strong dose of morphine; their lyrical response to pain would calm my angry thoughts and ease my suffering with empathy.”
      What I’d also like say in response to your comment is that I appreciate your humility. I agree with you that, in your awareness, it isn’t as important to have all the right answers to all the right questions; in fact, I don’t believe we get the right answers to our questions but a small portion of the time. I notice that when reading scripture, unbelievers perceive ambiguity, which to them is evidence that the scriptures may be contradictory. But when believers study scripture scrupulously, we perceive multiple layers of significant meaning. This one difference (a LARGE difference, mind you) leads us to the dilemma of “right or wrong answers.”
      I believe that, emotionally-speaking, we need to feel validated by Christ, and that it’s not only about having the most accurate responses to our questions, but about having answers given to us by the most loving, personal, emotional God; that our validation would seem less methodical, formulaic, or structural, and more personal and intimate. In this way, we would perceive His concern, compassion, and His love—and in turn, His answer would carry a new meaning, a heavier significance, and a stronger pull towards faith. Why turn down the legitimate answers of a loving God who we can perceive wants us to feel passionate alive? That said, I believe feelings do matter, spiritually, and it sounds like you understand that, too. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. The emotional component really does seem to be important, especially in the teenage years. For me, when I was 16, I was preoccupied with books from the library about witchcraft and the occult. They gave me a sense of power and control, or at least promised those things. That’s what made me feel better, sort of the way Korn and similar music helped you. And let’s be honest, teenagers are full of feelings and emotions, so if we as adults don’t consider those things, we are not going to minister to them as effectively as we should! Anyway, looking forward to more of your faith story!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. That’s such a good point! I completely agree with that. Since each individual’s spiritual upbringings are different in various ways, it’s incredibly important to keep in mind the way we are ministering to others needs to fall in line with the way they are already connecting with the world; namely emotions, but even rationality and morality. Thank you for sharing what you experienced in your teens and the effect it had on you. It sounds like we had differences experiences which led us to the same result, and that only goes to show the power of faith in Christ, as well as the way Jesus answers our needs in a way nothing else ever could. Again, thank you for commenting and sharing a part of yourself here! God bless!

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  3. Lance –
    Thank you for sharing your story, the good, the bad, and the not so great… It is those parts that we want to always keep hidden, that we don’t want to talk about, or think others will not relate to or understand, that are often the most important parts of our stories. They are the parts that speak to God working for good what the enemy intended for harm. I am so sorry about your parents divorce, but I am so sadden by the young early teen man crying out to belong, to be noticed and wanting someone to love him and hold him, as he lay on the floor being overtaken by thoughts of death. The words you wrote were so profoundly powerful and even the way you described how listen to the music was the morphine you needed. Thank you for sharing honestly and openly about your story – It will make a difference and touch people in a powerful way. you are right God is still good even though you endured pain… that in and of itself is a powerful statement that many need to hear! Blessings to you

    Thank you for linking up with #TuneInThursday today! I am so blessed to have you linking up your posts as part of the community.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Debbie, your words are extremely appreciated, more than you know. It’s incredible, sharing my testimony with people who understand the depths in which human darkness can run. I appreciate your ability to relate and to step into my shoes through my story. I hope and pray that my witnessing to people through my past experiences, that they will have a sense of hope that their pain isn’t the end… I truly believe it’s barely the beginning, and that should be a sign of hope. I am looking forward to publishing Part 2 in the morning, and finishing my testimony by shining the light of how God has worked since the journey of Part 1 ended.
      I look forward to linking up with you again! I am blessed to have found someone else who is passionate about our relationship to the Lord, continuing to grow in intimacy with Him who loves us and desires us above all else. God bless you, and thank you again for reading and commenting! I deeply appreciate your thoughtfulness!

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  4. Lance, thank you for sharing your story. I truly believe God uses the honest sharing of our lives to impact the lives of others for His glory! God bless you for allowing yourself to be vulnerable to bless others.

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    1. Deb, I really appreciate your comment. Thank you for reading! I hope and pray that my testimony can be a means of gathering hope in Jesus, given how unlimited His power is, as is the number of people His love reaches. I consider it a privilege to be vulnerable enough to help others see the way Jesus moves. Thank you again for reading this!

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  5. Lance,
    Thank you for your raw authenticity here. Your story had me at “hello”! (:-)) I believe it is one that needs to be told over and over again to many. And guess what! I’ve only read part 1! I can’t wait to jump over to part 2 and see where this goes!

    Thank you so much for sharing your hope with us at #MomentsofHope. It is so good to “meet” you and I look forward to reading much more!

    Blessings and smiles,
    Lori

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Lori,
      Thank you for reading this, and I truly appreciated reading your comments. I can’t tell you how humbling your words are. I’m also so grateful you find the hope in these words to be something worth repeating. Even more so, I’m excited for you to read Part 2, where God shines brightly :).
      It is a blessing to “meet” you as well, Lori! I’m looking forward to seeing how God works more and more of His love and power through your blog, as I can tell your stories will touch many, many people. May God bless you, your family, and your writing!

      So glad to have met you here, Lori!
      Lance

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  6. Wow. The family delima and packing a bag to go back and forth really reasonated with me. I wish I could be as open and vulnerable as you have shared here. Did not know you were an atheist. I’ve read several of your blogs and they are very teachy – not preachy. I appreciate that. That draws me in even more. I look forward to reading all of your posts as well as future ones. I’ll be honest – I have not read part 2 of this yet – partly due to fear. If that makes any sense at all.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. T, thank you for your comment, I really appreciate your words. I’m glad you were able to resonate with some of my words here, and I’m also glad that you don’t perceive my words as preachy. I always pray before publishing these articles that God would speak through me in some way to help others and to witness His love/Truth in some way. I do not ever mean to sound preachy. For that matter, I am humbled that you feel called to read more of my articles, and I hope you will read as many as you feel led to read. I believe your desire to read more is God calling you into a part of yourself that perhaps you haven’t yet spent time investigating—maybe my writing can help you. I hope and pray that is the case. If you have any questions, please feel free to ask, I’m glad to help. 🙂
      May I ask you why you feel fear about reading Part 2? That’s actually the more uplifting part of the two ;).

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      1. I’m sure it’s uplifting. However, I’m scared that what I may read. My family is all over. Yes, I went through the same stages when your parents divorced. With mine – my parents never divorced and I was to young to even know anything was different in my family until one day in high school that made me become a hermit. Naturally, I’m a very shy person. Words spoken that day in high school has stayed with me throughout my life. I’m fortunate in a lot of ways but I do feel trapped, as if in a cage. I read your post about being nice. I’ve always been a very nice person and it comes naturally for me. That’s not the fake part. The fake part is me having to pretend in other ways. I’ve opened up a bit – like a test. Sadly, it didn’t go very well. I’m not even making sense now. Why am I scared to read something uplifting? I have no clue. It causes anxiety suppose – which I do suffer from – for a very long time.

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      2. I may not be following, so let me clarify–are you saying you weren’t aware that your parents had divorced until one day in high school? Please correct me if I’m wrong. I’m sorry you feel trapped, and I hope you are able to pinpoint where that started from. With regards to my post about being nice, I hope that didn’t miss the mark. The article was meant to say how niceness isn’t a mark of Christianity. Surely there are people who are genuinely nice, but that doesn’t make them a Christian. That was the point of that article, and to express how joy is the mark of a Christian instead (joy, and hope).
        I’m also sorry that the idea of hearing uplifting news gives you anxiety. Is there anything I could try to answer for you, T? Anything you’d like to have someone attempt to uncover? I’m happy to help if I can.

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