My journey was completely different than Clay’s. I still find it fascinating that Clay and I share so many personality similarities despite our significant differences in our early childhood and adult years. Because of our different life experiences, we have learned a lot from each other. We have grown as individuals and also as a couple.
Not too long ago, I decided to be open and tell others that I am an agnostic atheist. Even though I feel so liberated and free with my decision, I also have feelings of alienation from society. The first person I told was my (ex) sister-in-law. We have known each other for 30 years. For a number of those years, she professed to be an atheist. I shared my new world view after my brother passed away from colon cancer in March, 2012. I expected her to be the perfect person for me to share my story with. In my mind, I saw her acceptance. But her actual response to me was, “Why? No!” It was not at all what I expected and I didn’t think our conversation would go where it did. Now, we don’t keep in touch much and I am unaware of her current beliefs or feelings about religion. Since my brother’s death, the only contact we have is via Facebook it is sparse. I haven’t discussed the topic with her since.
As an infant, my mother had me baptized in the Lutheran Church. I don’t recall attending any services in the Lutheran Church. Either we didn’t attend or I was too young to remember any details about the religion my family practiced.
My mother remarried while I was still a young child. I was about three when my parents divorced. I did not remember my father at that time. Later, I was lead to believe that my step-father was my birth father. My mother and step-father lied to me. They told the state that I was born at home and I had no birth certificate issued from a hospital. In fact, I was issued a second birth certificate and social security number. Volia’ I carried my step-father’s last name without the hassle of them asking for my for birth father’s consent or doing adoption paperwork legally. My step-father was documented as being 1/2 of my actual DNA. That charade continued until I was nine or ten years old. Around the age of nine, my brothers decided to tell me the truth without our mother’s knowledge or permission My brothers decided to do this because my step-father began to be unkind and quite nasty. Luckily, my mother did keep my real birth certificate and social security card. I started using my “actual” given birth name immediately afterward. My mother didn’t object to this.
When she married her next husband, she changed her religious faith to Southern Baptist. I remember many a Sunday, staring up at a preacher who was yelling and screaming about hell fire and damnation. As the sermon would continue the preacher would wipe sweat beads off of his face. The sweating could be due to all of his ranting and raving but, I am sure it didn’t help we were living in Fernandina Beach, Florida.
While my family attended this church, I went “up front” on two different occasions and I was baptized as a Southern Baptist. I suspect I was around five years old. I remember the huge metal tank set up in the church, which could have been a horse trough for all I know. But, to my young eyes it seemed like it took up the whole floor. My mother told a story about me asking the preacher if I could dive underwater and swim around his ankles first. She loved to tell the story and embarrass me!! For the ceremony we all changed into white gowns. After the baptisms were complete and we were changing out of our wet gowns, I looked over and saw a completely naked woman. How ironic, that the first time I saw pubic hair was in a church setting.
Also during this time frame, I recall a conversation that my mother had in regard to a check her husband wrote for the Sunday offering. The amount of the check was more than what was in the checking account. My mother was understandably scared because the check would bounce their account. But her husband’s reasoning was, God will support and take care of them during their time of need. This translated into God would have to make sure that we had the funds in the bank account to cover a check written to a church. My mother disagreed and did not want to tempt God.
(To be continued)