Now That I’m Atheist, How Do I Explain “Moments With Jesus?”

Below is part of an email I received (the quoted section) from an old ministry acquaintance and my answer back to him. He wanted to know how I explain the “moments with Jesus” I once had and why that doesn’t influence my faith now. 

My reply is as follows:

So, as far as I can tell, these are your main questions. Let me know if I’m getting them all:

did u never meet with God? Did he never show Himself to u or touch your heart when it was just the two of u? No coercion or big show…just you and your creator. I was an atheist until i was 19 and then God revealed Himself to me and spoke to me and has showed up and provided and rescued me many times since. I just wonder if all those years in ministry ripped away the memories of when you first fell in love with Jesus?

I DO have memories of times when I was a Christian before Master’s and moments with Jesus. I prayed a lot, and read the Bible a lot prior to MC; but I also remember my first few moments in church around age 15 and the FIRST time I doubted in church and what was told to me. I was a sophomore taking a Biology class where we learned about evolution. It wasn’t a big deal until I went to church and they contradicted what I was being taught in school. Never before had I had someone question what I was being taught in school, but now that I was in church, the youth pastor would insist that schools were bad and only Jesus, the Bible and the church were good/truthful. This simply is not true, but I was 15.

During my sophomore year, I was new in church and I was reading the Bible from start to finish like I did any book. And side note, I’ve been an aspiring writer since I was able to read and I read everything I could get my hands on. The Bible was something I was interested in reading, but like any book, you don’t just believe what you’re given. You look up words you don’t understand or historical references and events. If the book claims to be true, then it should be able to be proven true.

Starting on page one, the Bible didn’t make sense, and as an inquisitive person I asked my youth pastor why the Bible seemed made up. This “Creation” story–how could we believe it? “It sounds like a fairy tale or something,” I said. As a former atheist, you understand it literally is impossible to believe what you’re reading in the Bible when you’re newly converted and that’s because the Bible requires faith (in other words, suspending your disbelief) and without it, you can’t believe it’s “true.”

Do you know the answer I received from my youth pastor about everything I doubted? Just have faith.

That’s NOT an answer.

I’ve spoken with many other youth pastors since starting my blog and Evangelical youth pastors insist that they’re taking a far more intellectual approach, yet they’re not. Even the most intellectual Evangelical youth pastor still insists that kids abstain from sex and push the Purity Movement. That’s not intellectual and it’s also one of the problematic areas of modern Evangelical society today–no boundaries and control of their members. To tell a teen what to do is out-of-bounds for a youth pastor. An intellectual approach would be level-headed and not based on all the learned hype that we’ve patterned our behavior after. The Evangelical community claims that society is so bad and tells people what to do, but that’s actually the pot calling the kettle black. Secular society doesn’t dictate what people believe in or don’t believe in. Who does? The Church.

So the moments with Jesus–here’s how I explain what really happened. It’s all hype and it’s LEARNED behavior. You weren’t born instinctively knowing how to praise Jesus or talk to him because someone had to tell you that he even existed. This is the same with any religion in any culture. No one was born a Buddhist or a Muslim or a Jew; it’s instilled in us by our families and culture. So someone taught you how to praise Jesus and you mimicked them. You watched them pray or cry or be loud or somber and you did what they did because that was the “way” to reach out to God. That was the same with me. I learned this behavior in church. God isn’t real; moments with God aren’t real.

We were followers.

moments with jesus

READERS: Do you get these kind of questions? How do you answer them? 

Feel free to share the picture above.

I’m Back, Full Force: Let’s Do This Shit!

In a recent profile on Brad Pitt, Salon talked about earlier parts of Brad’s career and what changed him over the years. Brad has come into his own as a great actor (and not just a pretty face) over the years, but as it turns out, he wasn’t always embracing the moment life had given him. He says:

For a long time I thought I did too much damage – drug damage. I was a bit of a drifter. A guy who felt he grew up in something of a vacuum and wanted to see things, wanted to be inspired. I followed that other thing. I spent years f–king off. But then I got burnt out and felt that I was wasting my opportunity. It was a conscious change. This was about a decade ago. It was an epiphany – a decision not to squander my opportunities. It was a feeling of get up. Because otherwise, what’s the point?

I spent the ’90s trying to hide out, trying to duck the full celebrity cacophony. It wigged me out a bit. I started to get sick of myself sitting on a couch, holding a joint, hiding out. It started feeling pathetic. It became very clear to me that I was so intent on trying to find a movie about an interesting life, but I wasn’t living an interesting life myself. (Emphasis my own)

As many of you personally know, I’ve had a rough time with attention (good and bad) and bouts of paranoia last year. In fact, the last two years have been brutal. Absolutely a wreck. I started hiding and even then I didn’t feel that great. I was planning on shutting my blog and social media (even private profiles) down completely and running off…line. I deleted hundreds of friends in an attempt to get more privacy and mainly because I was having a tough time figuring out who the Jesus trolls and haters were.

It was overwhelming. All of it. I could go on, but it was Dark with a capital D.

A few weeks ago I sat down with a very nice therapist with Great Hair. We talked about all of this–my blog, my story, my need for boundaries. As I talked it all out, I started seeing things more clearly and started realizing that this was manageable and it didn’t have to suffocate me like it was. I started to feel great again. Happy, even. Maybe I could DO this for real, I thought. I even got a “fuck it, who cares?” attitude about whether my mom or family reads my blog.

And suddenly, over the past few weeks, something miraculous has happened. My sense of humor came back. I don’t consider myself a comedienne but I sure as hell am starting to realize that sometimes, I am just that. I’m also a writer, sure, but not the kind of writer I thought I was or I was trained to be. I’m evolving. Plus, who needs categories all the time? Creators create.

My blog has been the bane of my existence the past 2 years because I just could not handle the eyes staring at me, and I’m not certain that’s going to change, so bear with me if I have an Amanda Bynes moment. I’m probably going to need Great Hair/therapist for awhile and that’s okay.

What’s about to happen now is what Brad Pitt talked about above: homegirl is going to embrace the shit out of it all and go for it. I’m not going to squander my opportunities anymore or hide from the ones sitting in front of me, because trust me, I have done just that over and over. I felt like Brad did and it’s a shitty ass feeling:

But then I got burnt out and felt that I was wasting my opportunity. It was a conscious change. This was about a decade ago. It was an epiphany – a decision not to squander my opportunities. It was a feeling of get up. Because otherwise, what’s the point?

The other day I spoke with someone in the TV industry and she was like “It’s great to talk to someone who’s doing it…creating. So many of us want to do just that.” I know, girl. For my entire life I wanted to create and I could not find my voice, my niche, until I started blogging. And then I lost it because I was scared and self-conscious. Well, I’ve found it again and I don’t give a fuck who says I over-share or disagrees with my opinions or doesn’t laugh at my jokes. It’s my life, right Bon Jovi?

It is going to trip me out still that things I say online are going to bother so many people, including half of my family members who don’t know that I’m really just joking.

hell to the no
When I blog, people on the internet be like…

 

But at the end of the day, I’m going to regret it if I don’t live my dreams and I am the single person who is currently holding myself back from all that. 

So, let’s do this shit!

teddy beardancing doc

dancing 2

FYI, I have heard the “Don’t forget me when you’re famous” line from SO many of you which is funny on many levels because: A) No one here is going to get famous, so chill. B) In the event I get popular, I will absolutely still be myself and we can do Google hangouts*. Deal?

If you enjoy what I post on my personal profile or my fan page, please help out by sharing my posts when you like them.

*Google hangouts subject to my nap time with cats schedule.

 

Love Lessons for Girls: The You-Went-Crazy Version

#1: If he cheat on you or beat you once, he’s gonna do it again. And then he’ll say…

bs tumblr

And again.

game

#2: If he won’t LET you make your relationship Facebook official, he’s sleeping with someone else. Or going to murder you. Let’s hope it’s option a.

status update

 

#3: If you’ve met him one time and move states away to be with him, we all totally think it’s going to last. Totally. We’re here for you, girl.

thumbs up

#4: If you make it out alive, your ex-boyfriend totally won’t take you back. He knows your level of crazy has reached level zeta and the only next level he wants to make it on is in Bioshock Infinite.

bioschock

#5: We’re laughing at you, not with you. But in a totally supportive way.

bey

#6: Your cat loves you more than he does.

grumpy

Jesus Troll of the Day: Jesus Warned Us of False Teachers

This commenter definitely hasn’t read my blog for very long. I present to you the Jesus Troll of the Day:

May I first start by expressing the sorrow I felt reading your testimony. In my journey I have learned that it is very common for people to twist the word of God to mean what they need/want/ or feel more comfortable with it meaning. His very word warns us of false teachings and teachers. This is why we must search for Jesus and keep Him close in our hearts. I believe one of the biggest problems in our society today is religious people who speak of the word of God but live completely against it. The word tells us salvation is a gift. It cannot be earned. We are sinners in nature and we cannot change that. This is the reason for Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. We cannot make it without Him. I have never been apart of any type of group or program dealing with religion. I found Christ on my knees in the confines of my home. Since I have found Him however he has put a desire in my heart to leave my home and go out to fellowship with other believers of Christ Jesus. The most important thing I have learned is that while Christ was here, he preached of Love, forgiveness, and mercy unconditionally. To respond to evil with Love. To live our lives with meakness and humility. He preached against sin, and requires repentance. In my search for a church today I look for these qualities in the teaching of the word. If what they are teaching doesn’t line up with the word of God I have no part in it. I listen to Dr Charles Stanley daily and he has helped nurture the seed that The Lord has planted in us all. I pray that in your tragic experience, you haven’t lost faith in our living, loving, Lord Jesus Christ. I also believe in all my heart that if you seek His counsel, he has a way to bring miracles and good out of it. There are great people/helpers in this terrible world we live in. There are many false teachers also however, and this is why it is so important that we align ourselves closely to JESUS CHRIST always. Prayer is our link. Salvation is our gift. Sharing the love he gives us woth others is just one of the many rewards he has to offer. It isn’t always easy. In fact sometimes it gets really hard. We have a whole world against us. But if we persevere, and stay true to his word, and our faith, we will not be the ones lying in disappointment when our time on this earth is over and we are reunited with our savior. God bless you! And may his strength and courage always be with you!

Zach Galifianakis and Me: We Belong Together

Sexy, amirite?
Sexy, amirite?

My love for Alan goes deep. Yeah, I said it. Alan from The Hangover Part III. I’m sure it got terrible reviews and I don’t really care…he makes the movie and I love everything Zach Galifianakis does so I Photoshopped myself onto his body. And I look a million times better.

Lisa-as-Zachg12I know, I know…it’s a little Amanda Bynes, isn’t it?

Source: Amanda Bynes on Twitter
Source: Amanda Bynes on Twitter

 

Luckily, I haven’t been arrested for throwing a(n alleged) bong out my window. Phew. Thank god. That’s the only thing separating the two of us, amirite?

Original source for the Zach Galafianakis pictures and by that, I mean my original blog post with them in it.

 

Don’t Be Fooled: Atlanta Dream Center School of Ministry IS Master’s Commission

This just showed up in my Google Alerts: http://www.atldcsom.org/index.php Apparently the Atlanta Dream Center is recruiting now for their Fall session of Master’s Commission which they are now calling the School of Ministry. Subtle, there. 😉 Oh and their application fee is $100. Jesus Christ! That’s a lot.

For those of you who don’t know, the Dream Center in L.A. changed the name from Master’s Commission to the School of Ministry one day last year when I Facebook posted about the fact that they hosted an MC. Guess they didn’t want to be associated with My Cult Life, did they?

#MastersCommission #TrueCultStories #DreamCenter

Book Recommendations

I’ve gotten an increase in book recommendation requests over the past few months, so I created a fun Tumblr on which to feature some books I love and highly recommend. It’s not a complete list but there’s something for everyone. For those of you who haven’t read the classics or want to read something smart, you should pick up the classics and read them from time to time, even if it takes you a year to get through one book. Read something fun at the same time! Hell, I typically read 4-5 books at once which is a really weird way of reading because the storylines merge together and you don’t know why a disease is spilling over into a chick-lit book. It’s interesting/weird.

What I’m reading now and love are the Sookie Stackhouse books. My writer friend Jennifer read them and raved about them a few years ago but I wasn’t interested in vampires. She also was on Tumblr before I finally fell in love with it. Anyway, back to the books. They’re definitely not what you would read when you want to feel like an uber smart nerd. These are not those books. But don’t put them down–they are fun, sometimes suspenseful and there’s some hot sex in one of them and mention of it throughout the others. I do wish I could edit some of them for inconsistencies but they are minor ones. All that being said, I like them alot and I think you will, too. Sookie is this great, strong woman who doesn’t use her body to show she’s powerful. She has insecurities over her actual power but she comes into her own and grows a lot. There’s a traditional romance and Bill does save the day from time to time but Sookie is a feisty one. She doesn’t put up with Bill’s shit, or Sam’s or Eric’s for that matter.

I started watching the True Blood series this weekend and I can officially say the books ARE better than the series.

I Have a Job

As you may know, most people need a job to stay alive. I have a job, like everyone else does. Blogging (and writing for that matter) is sometimes the most awkward hobby to have when working at a day job or even meeting people in real life, especially mixed company. It’s not socially acceptable to be openly critical of religion or pastors so it definitely isn’t easy to navigate through the world meeting new people with this whole other side of me. Luckily, I work with some very cool people who know that I blog but never let on they read it. Add to that that I haven’t blogged much (or very transparently) since I’ve started work there about a year and a half ago and you have a somewhat peaceful time. Also, we’re so busy there that there’s no time to play online.

I’ve had jobs where I could play around online and I have to say it’s sad that I can’t. I miss Facebooking and blogging daily and when I come home from work I’m exhausted. It’s mentally draining work and I definitely use my brain. To some degree I think having a mentally challenging job is a good thing. It keeps me challenged and that keeps me motivated. I hate being bored and I think being challenged makes me feel confident and invincible.

All this to say that as I’m sure you’ve noticed, I’ve been busy and blogging less. I haven’t always been able to connect with each one of you like I once could and I think that’s going to keep changing as time goes on, especially if I continue to blog. I’ll miss the days when I could sit around and chat with everyone, getting to know your stories. I think that’s what made my blog meaningful for me–the opportunity I got to know that I’m not alone and somewhere in the world there’s someone who has the same feelings I do. That has been priceless, so for each of you who I was able to connect with, thank for reaching out to me. I can’t tell you how tough it was for me to be receptive of kind people when faced with so many trolls….it was tough, but you all made it easy. And I love you for that.

I’m Kind Of In An Interesting Place Right Now

I’m going through this really interesting (I say interesting because I don’t want to put myself down) phase right now. I want to blog so badly but I have this aversion to good and bad attention. What the f*ck, right? It’s every blogger’s dream, really, and really what I set out to do in the first place, I suppose. But now that I have eyes on me from time to time it’s suffocating at times. I just don’t know how to deal with it, so instead of running away, I’m talking to this great therapist here and trying to figure out if blogging is something I should let go of for good (I think that would be something I could live with but I might regret it later) or if I should just be courageous and let people see me for who I am.

Bloggers have so much pressure on them, even from other bloggers. The fashion bloggers COMMAND that we bloggers never say a negative thing on our social media or posts. “No one wants to hear about your bad day,” they say.

I’m screwed, I think. I’m so moody right now I can’t even cover it up with comedy like I used to. The doctor is checking me out right now for the moods, don’t worry, but in the meantime, I have to live with it.

As you know if you’ve followed my blog at all, I’m not the kind of person who WILL fake it even if I can. And you know what, I think that’s an awesome thing and that’s what I look for in people I want to connect with. Also, I’m so over the self-help/always gotta change thing. I’m pretty kick ass as I am. Sure I have flaws but as I grow older, they grow into strengths and I grow stronger.