I often find myself bickering with the other, less dominant part of my subconscious over decisions that require any sort of action past the initial barriers to entry if I don’t see any results.
It’s a hard situation to describe, but basically, I used to be a Baptist Christian with SageBrush Church. I got Baptized, devoted my life to The Lord and all that good stuff. One of the first things that stuck with me during this period in my life was that “The Lord will provide”.
As an uncertain teenager with no idea what my life would look like three years from that moment (i.e. after high school), that was the exact type of reassurance that I needed, so I delved deeper. People at the church would tell me that “If it is meant to be, The Lord will provide” or “The Lord has already planned out your life”. 16-year-old me took that to heart and continued on my merry way.
Flash forward about two years. I converted back to atheism because I didn’t like how everyone thought I should “fear The Lord”, but also because I was too lazy to actually go to church. So much for being a devout Christian. I also didn’t like the idea that the Lord had given me everything I have. I was a hard-working student, employee, and older sister. I took pride in thinking that I earned my things myself, not that they had been given to me by some higher power.
I think what finally got to me was that I hated to think that I wasn’t in control. I needed to have complete control over my own life, and I didn’t like that The Lord supposedly had one already planned out for me.
Because I have so many people in my life who have a strong relationship with God, I’m constantly reminded that it’s so much more complicated than that, but it’s hard for me to overlook these things.
So I got rid of that idea completely.
Now we flash forward about another year, to the present day. I’m 18, moving away from my home state in about six months, and I have the whole world at my finger-tips. I could do so much, take my life in any direction, and honestly, because of my experience and hard work, it would really only take an email to the right person. A military personnel, a college advisor, my manager at Starbucks, or heck, a rocket scientist for God’s sake.
But then I take a moment to consider how I was able to get all of that experience in the first place. How lucky I was to have the support and recourses necessary to do what I have done, all because my dad had helped me. “Did The Lord provide me with all that? Or was it just my dads’ own hard work that got me here?” A common argument I have in my head.
When it comes to making large life-altering decisions, it’s a little more complicated than that. When I think how The Lord will provide for something, I think immediately of my best friend. She’s a student leader at SageBrush and an amazing human. She started college this year but didn’t struggle with the financial part, because she was fortunate enough to receive several scholarships that made up for the costs. It worked at so well for her that she has money left over. That is what I consider ‘The Lord providing’. When I joined Praxis, the application process was time-consuming and took a lot of focus, but not necessarily hard, and I’m able to pay for it all with only a little help from my parents. It worked out amazingly. “The Lord provided”
But at the same time, my dad was homeless for about a year, and he worked his way up to a $130,000+ a year job for his family- for me. My best friend worked to be an amazing person, leader, and influencer and she got those scholarships because of that. I put in the time and effort to join Praxis and showed that I was worth it. We all worked for our things. No one provided us with that.
Because of these two conflicting viewpoints on the same matters, I find the part of me that wants to believe in a higher power bicker with the part of me that doesn’t believe, especially when the odds of me doing something don’t seem so promising.
For example, I want to join the Ski Patrol at my local ski area. I sent them an email outlining my details and waited.
I could, of course, email them again, but this is where the bickering starts.
If I emailed them again, sought out a few contacts, pulled a couple strings or whatever, it would satisfy the atheist in me. That ambitious desire to work, to do. But the faithful side of me would argue that if The Lord wanted it to be, the Ski Patrol would have emailed me back already, and there would be a seamless transition into the program. This type of argument happens regularly
Am I just missing out on opportunity after opportunity because the faithful part of me is giving the faithless side an excuse not to do any work? An excuse not to do something because I’m afraid it might end in failure? Or are my small ruminates of faith- The Lord- actually protecting me from something, or maybe even setting me up for something bigger?
Maybe a mixture thereof? Like in “The Princess and The Frog” -you can wish all you want to (like my faithful side does), but you have to put in the hard work (as an atheist would) to make it a reality? But at that point, the flaw is that life isn’t a Disney film, and I don’t have a singular dream to wish on.
It’s so much more infuriatingly complex than that, and until I figure something out, I will just continue bickering with myself.