(I Thought I Had It All…..cont’d)
As I began my 40 day journey reading The Purpose Driven Life, I was immediately confronted by ideas and concepts that challenged my atheistic worldview and everything I thought to be true. On Day 1 of trying to determine my purpose you can only imagine my disappointment when I read the following:
Unless you assume a God, the question of life’s purpose is meaningless ~ Bertrand Russell, Atheist
What was I supposed to do with that statement? I had just spent the first half of my life believing there was no such thing as God and now I found myself at a crossroad. I wanted my life to have purpose but what if what he said was true, that there really is no purpose to life without God? Then what? This is all there is? I was destined to wander through life aimlessly, no purpose or meaning found outside the selfies posted on social media? My self worth measured by the number of likes, comments and shares until I died? Really?
After chewing on that thought for a while, I looked down at the page before me only to read the next alarming heading ….. It’s Not About You ….. yeah, good luck trying to tell that to my only child self ….. she would argue that it’s only ever been about her. In fact one of my closest girlfriends used to laugh in amazement about how I could turn every conversation into being about me. I wondered why she was still my friend ……
The next twist in my pursuit of purpose that I was presented with: I was made by God and for God …… What happened to the Big Bang? Evolution? My ancestor the monkey? I even began to wonder if this God of the Bible was a bit narcissistic ….. honestly, all this talk about being planned for God’s pleasure, worship, relationship with God …… Part of me wanted to just close the book and donate it to charity, my logical brain didn’t see any point in continuing because I could not fathom believing in God. It all seemed so ludicrous to me, it went against everything I was ever taught in school, every field trip from museums to science exhibits …. they all reinforced my worldview, the universe was created from nothing; all life forms evolved into what I saw today over billions of years and when I die it’s all over ….. who was I to argue? Its not like I had a Ph.D. in physics or math, so my forgone conclusion was that it must be true.
However, the realization that I could have possibly squandered more than half my life chasing all the wrong things overwhelmed me. I felt desperate to a live a life with purpose and meaning, and so I continued reading in spite of my reservations. I had to admit that I had begun to wonder if maybe there was some truth in the pages of the book, besides I owed it to myself to at least explore the possibility.
As I kept reading, I felt like I was walking through some sort of self discovery, I began to look at purpose and meaning from an entirely different perspective, an eternal one. As I began to view my life that way it transformed how I viewed everything. Most of my life up to that point had been according to the gospel of Ricky Martin “Livin La Vida Loca”.
I found myself on Day 15 of my 40 day journey with my vision being expanded beyond just me and God. Now there was this concept of belonging, relationships, of doing life with a community of people, like a big family with lots of brothers and sisters and it was called church. ….. I had been to church before, I wasn’t a big fan, I thought it boring, a complete waste of time and to be perfectly honest, filled with weird people who talked funny ….. I’m sure you’ve meet them ….. “God laid it on my heart to tell you”, “I’m called to do…”, “This will be a real blessing for you”….. But I was trying to keep an open mind because so far some of what I had read seemed plausible. Who knows maybe now that I had a better understanding of why they went to church in the first place it would be different. So it was official I was going to church to find out about these “weird” brothers and sisters. I was not however going alone, I was dragging Patrick with me as a buffer.
Immediately what came to mind was a really big church not too far from home and so on a random Sunday morning we headed to church. We pulled into the parking lot, it was so busy there were parking lot attendants directing traffic …. it was like we had entered another world. We parked the car and as we approached the front doors they swung wide and there were people welcoming us. They were warm, friendly and seemed genuinely happy that we were there. However, something emanating from further inside grabbed my attention and I moved toward the sound. At first I thought it was just music piped in through a loud speaker, kinda like a sporting event but as I continued to follow the music I found myself entering an enormous theatre. I glanced around but I found no evidence of an organ, no choir. Instead I saw a stage at the front compete with keyboards, electric guitars, drums, musicians and singers, lighting, smoke machines and projection screens …. it reminded my of a Bon Jovi concert. I continued to look around at all the people and they were up on their feet, hands in the air, singing ….. I was suddenly overwhelmed by emotion, not really sure why. Patrick, looking at me, not exactly sure what to do with the sobbing idiot next to him, put his arm around me in an attempt to comfort me and offered to take me home, but I shook my head …… I Was Home ….
Now that you know HOW I ended up in Church, I will begin to explain the WHY. Because as I reflect back I now know why I didn’t experience the same overwhelming feeling when I visited the zoo for the first time and laid eyes on the monkeys ……