I ceased to believe in god when I finally let go of the idea that somehow suffering can be part of god's long term plan.  After quite a lot of other sh1t happening, my 30 year old husband of 10 years suffered permanent nerve damage to his lower spine due to cancer.  While he appeared to everyone else to be reasonably healthy, he was in fact unable to urinate.  He also lost sexual function and partially lost bowel function.  He had to self catheterize for the rest of his life.  Which turned out to only be another year due to proliferation of tumours in his brain. 

I am no philosopher.  I find that when people are talking about hypothetical occasions of suffering and god's will, they can always come up with hypothetical ways that God could be working in the situation.  So therefore, apparently, we have no right to judge it as unacceptable for an omnipotent god.  I could dismiss hypothetical suffering as not being in conflict with an omnipotent god.  I did for over a decade.  I could, however, not dismiss the private indignity and pain he suffered daily as being somehow beneficial to something.  No possible benefit could come of my husband being unable to urinate.  No one will be inspired by a situation like that, and even if they were, it is abhorrent to think that it would in any way justify the suffering and indignity he went through.  It was a humiliation that brought him to depression.  I lost my belief in prayer then, and my belief in god followed along accordingly.

The christians in my life had many things to say about the situation.  At the time, the things were often hurtful, even as they were trying to be encouraging.  Things like 'it's all part of god's plan and god is always in control.  You just have to trust in him.'  It rang hollow.  More than hollow.  Horrifying really.  It was better for us to just admit that 'sh1t happens' to everyone, believer and unbeliever, worthy and unworthy.  He and I faced what came with courage.  And I was proud of the depths of courage he and I found in the horror that came.  He died almost four years ago.  And it was my strength that saw the situation through to it's conclusion.  Not god's grace.  I was there for our two children through all of it.  We came through it.  There was no 'Footprints' poem moment where I realized that when my strength failed, that a magic daddy carried me.  I found depths to my humanity I didn't know I had.  I found wisdom in many situations that saw us through.  I was proud of myself for that.   And I was proud of my late husband for his dignity in facing death.  I became an atheist at peace with the choices I had made given a tragic situation.

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Tags: cancer, courage, fortitude, suffering

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Comment by Rebekah Bennetch on September 21, 2011 at 12:20am

Just read this entry again. I loved this line the most: "There was no 'Footprints' poem moment where I realized that when my strength failed, that a magic daddy carried me."

 

Thanks for sharing your story, Lana.

Comment by Lana on September 20, 2011 at 9:16pm
I was brought up in a culture where every good trait I can exhibit ultimately comes from god, so it actually goes against my first instincts to be 'proud'.  Self-effacement and giving credit to god is how it is done.  I am accused by my family, particularly my sister, of being proud and stiff-necked.  If that's the worst insult I get this year, I will be doing well.  Oh yeah - and I'm the puppett of satan - though I think I put those words in her mouth.  She certainly didn't disagree with them.
Comment by Kris King on September 20, 2011 at 6:59pm

I despise the "it's all part of a plan" argument, because that implies that we deserve the crappy things that happen to us - they're supposed to happen, because that's part of the plan for our lives.  It's incredibly dehumanising and excuses the most appalling tragedies ...

I think you have every right to be proud of how you coped with this ... you have, it seems, come through stronger and with a clearer sense of who you are and what you're capable of.  Massive respect ...

Comment by Matthew Land on September 15, 2011 at 6:06am
Im sorry for your hardship. It happens, and sometimes there is nothing that can be done.  The belief that suffering and hardship are tests from god come from a point of ignorance and systematic brainwashing of religion.  By considering it part of "gods plan" it relieves the person from having to except that life is not fair and bad things happen at random.  These are the same people that believe that praying for someone is the same as actually doing something to help out.  I am truley sorry that you have to deal with this, but at least there are people on this site that can understand.
Comment by Steph S. on September 15, 2011 at 12:15am
Condolences.

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