Writing Resources from Fifteen Minutes of Fiction
FaithThe following is an actual speech that I gave to an actual church group (P.O.R.C.H. [Presbyterians Of Reasoned Christian Hope]in San Luis Obispo, if you're curious) on the prompt "Tell us your story."
I was raised Christian, but fell away from the Church at a young age. I can't say if it was a disbelief in the doctrine or that I just hated sitting through sermons, but it was the first sign of rebellion from a budding teenager.
What I can say is that my hard-headed attitude and drive to be "right" certainly brought it beyond all reason.
In high school I became a militant atheist, and took pride in the fact that I drove several people from their religion, "freeing them from the shackles of social control" that religion represented. I did debate as part of our debate club both against the existence of God and in favor of Evolution (both of which I won handily), in addition to soapbox tirades at the slightest provocation. I felt "wronged" by religion for deceiving me, for duping me, and above all, for being illogical. How can something be both itself and its own son? I'd heard of the song "I'm my own Grandpa", but this seemed a generational link too tight.
My actions are inexcusable and if I could take it all back, I would. Because I've seen what a blessing faith can be. But it is what it is.
At the time I was also suffering from horrible depression, which I still suffer from to this day. It's hard to describe depression to someone who hasn't experienced it, so I hope none of you can fully understand what I'm going to describe.
A lot of people think depression is being sad. That's part of it, and I know it's different for everyone. But that's not the bad part of it. Depression is more of a muting of all feeling to the point where nothing can elicit any response. Things don't hurt anymore. Nothing causes you happiness--that's absolutely out the window. But it's the lack of negative emotions that really gets to you. Something happens--you fail a test, or something--and you should feel mad. But there's just...no madness to be found. You can't even muster up the energy to be sad. It's as if everything has just become some shade of grey. Nothing really matters. Nothing makes you feel anything. And it's month after month after month. The sensory deprivation alone is enough to drive people to madness. I don't condone cutting, but at the very least I understand that frantic drive to find something that triggers a reaction--physical or emotional, at that point anything is a reprieve from the monotone rainbow plastered across your heart.
I started dating a girl who quite literally saved my life. She gave me a reason to live and helped me combat the worst bits of my depression. Unfortunately, she also had a whole slew of issues, including massive anxiety and a major inferiority complex, as well as pretty severe mood swings. You'd think that two broken people leaning on each other to combat the stresses of life--how romantic, right?--but no, it's just a horrible situation for both people involved. One person becomes the prey and the other the predator, and after finding someone willing to grant me affection, I was more than willing to put my emotional and mental needs aside to fulfill hers.
I still remember the night we broke up.
I went down to CSUMB to visit her. It was the day before our third year anniversary. The trip takes all day by Amtrak, so not a jaunt that can be done every weekend. I got down there and we spent time together, but something seemed off. She was sort of absent and a little bit flighty, which was odd--she was normally very cognizant and mindful. I was trying to fit in with her friends (a hopeless task) when I noticed she'd been gone for awhile. I went up the steps to check on her only to find her hanging out of the fourth story window.
I sprinted to the pane and pulled her back in, and there was a brief, frantic moment of panic. At some point an RA was involved--I can't remember the details precisely anymore. It became a blur of emotion. All I can remember is finding a janitorial closet and falling to my knees in a moment of weakness and reaching out to a God I had long abandoned. When I had lost all else, my faith returned.
We broke up, but I kept true to the promise I made that night--if God kept her safe, I'd turn back to religion. So I went to Mercy Church and had a nigh traumatic experience before returning to my Presbyterian roots (I was raised Presbyterian). I'll never forget the first sermon, where the pastor used the term "chiasmus", nor will I forget the first P.O.R.C.H. meetup where I was asked to present a full defense of N.A.M.B.L.A. (North American Man-Boy Love Association, a lampoon group from a South Park episode). And the rest is written in the annals of P.O.R.C.H. history.
*Brief dramatic pause*
It would be great if the story ended there. What a tale, right? A boy who loses all faith and finds it in a moment of weakness...but sadly, after three solid years of trying as hard as I could to be Christian, I just couldn't do it. I lost my faith. I did some soul searching and discovered that I didn't truly believe in the Bible. That it didn't make sense for a God to send his Son (who is himself) to die. And so the next time you say that P.O.R.C.H. is a diverse group from differing religious backgrounds, you don't have to look further than me to prove that point.
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