Hey there. I was a deeply religious Christian until age 20 or so, struggled for 3 or 4 years before being able to confidently call myself atheist. That was 4 or 5 years ago, I have rebuilt my identity and belief system and am happily living a richer, more loving life. I feel at peace with where I am, much more at peace with where I’ve been; couldn’t, but wouldn’t, go back... Maybe it’s just a personal problem, or life—but there’s one thing that I haven’t been able to and don’t know how to replace after giving up faith: Everything used to be okay, no matter what. I could pray, and not worry, for the most part, about things out of my control. I think it’s a positive that I can’t just be at peace, and cop out (leave it to “God”), when I do have choices to make and can take action. I am getting better at seeing multiple paths and possibilities and do have a wonderful support system of friends. I’m just not great with uncertainty, and I don’t know what to do with life’s bad, now that there’s not a larger purpose for it all, no reason to believe that things will culminate with good… I think practicing mindfulness may be the closest I’ve come, or the most promising help—to learn to focus consciousness and give attention to the present moment with acceptance. It’s definitely a practice that takes practice, but it provides some sense of calm, and control learning to have that focus. Still, I have a hard time. Any suggestions other than anxiety medication? What do you do with hard times and uncertainty without the belief that everything happens for a reason and there is a positive force in control?
Lauren, for me there is a positive force in control. Me. I am the positive force in control of my life. I realize things will happen, already have. But if I continue putting one foot in front of another, eyes forward, I have always come through. This is what works for me. I hope this has helped in some small way. Stay well. Peace.
Hey Lauren. I find it's a lot easier to zone out in overwhelming situations than it is to stay present and see things through. The nagging feeling I'm making poor life choices... feelings of loneliness... financial difficulties... marital / family difficulties... and so on. Maybe I should check into this whole mindfulness idea myself :)
The second half of your post reminded me a science fiction short story by Edward Hamilton called "The Inn Outside The World". It's a strange story, but I find the perspective it offers to be helpful, so I thought I would share it with you. I can't find it (for free) online, so here's a little summary:
There was an inn outside the world, where notable figures from across history gather to enjoy each other's company and make conversation. Some small object could transport them back and forth, so people like Charles Darwin, Martin Luther, and even people who lived on other planets in the future could meet, talk, share a drink, and go back to their own places and times. There was also a dark hooded man named Su Suum who was always at the inn. He always listened, but almost never spoke.
Eventually one visitor to the inn pleaded for help because of some calamity that was happening to his civilization. No one had ever done that before. No one knew whether they should or even could help. And for once Su Suum spoke up.
Su Suum was the Last Man. He talked about how at the end of time there were no people. No lasting artifacts of civilization. No achievements. Just the memories of how people conducted themselves in the face of adversity, and how they treated each other.
You ask some really deep questions, and I'm not sure if I'm making all that much sense :(
Anyway, I wish all the best for you Lauren.