An Atheist Changed

“The world doesn’t need more safe writing. Write something dangerous — something that challenges the status quo. Something that moves you (maybe it will move others, too). Then, no matter how scared you are, share it.” – Jeff Goins

—-

Okay, Jeff Goins. Challenge accepted.

Have you ever been scared to share something?

I am, right now. I’m actually shaking in my flip-flops (yeah, finally! 75ºF!)… Or maybe that’s just from the A/C  blasting.

Seriously though. I’ve got a story to tell, you guys, and I’m nervous.

My spiritual life has changed and I don’t know what to say about it. Do I tell the truth? Maybe I should just keep writing like nothing happened… If I DO tell, will people think I’m weird? Will I get hate mail or rude comments? Are people going to think I’m dumb?

Today, I’ve made up my mind: I’m gonna tell you what’s up.

The fears are still there, but I think honesty is best, you know? If I were to just keep blogging as usual, it’d be a lie. Because things aren’t as usual. And I feel like the only way I can continue writing is if I speak my truth. So here it is.

Kindred spirits, you know how we all seem to be on this quest for truth and purpose?

We want to know why we’re here, what life is all about, how to be happy.

That’s the story of my LIFE! I am a seeker, and I started young. I cracked open a Bible when I was 7, but found the thee’s and thou’s too confusing for my young vocabulary. In middle school, I was friendless and teased and found comfort in internet forums. I found purpose and joy in the high school choir and the theatre department. Once I got into the real world, I searched for meaning and value in dating and guys. After and alongside that, it was the Zen studies.

Zen was close, you guys. Soooo close, thiiiiis close. My index finger and thumb are almost touching, that’s how close it was.

My Zen studies give me a lot of presence, peace, and a radically different perspective. I’ve learned to approach life differently, to go with the flow, to appreciate the present. All great stuff. But something was still missing.

When I started being dragged going to church last summer, I had no idea where it would take me. I didn’t think it would take me anywhere. I thought church was weird, that you had to be dumb to believe in God, and that relying on myself was probably my best bet. That Jesus stuff seemed sooo spiritually immature.

At first, church did seem weird. There was music and hands raised, abundant kindness, love, and prayer. I was out of my element and wondered if it was all just for show.

One day, after the novelty had passed, I walked in with a new pair of eyes and I realized: these people weren’t playin’. They had genuine faith. And when I saw it for the first time, I recognized it: the something that was still missing.

Those people had a light, a peace, a joy that I never had. They loved one another. They hugged. They asked questions. They remembered my name and my story. And when I asked what their secret was, they all pointed to Jesus.

My first thoughts went something like: “Jesus? You mean that guy I made fun of and liken to Santa or the Easter Bunny?”

And then I experienced some major cognitive dissonance. Christians were supposed to be rude, judgmental hypocrites, using their religion to condemn, judge, and prop themselves up high. These people were kind, caring, accepting, and using their religion to grow, serve, and love like crazy. They worked to humble themselves. Everyone was on level ground.

Once my prejudices were challenged, it was emotional warfare for a while. I wanted to believe – I wanted that something, but I couldn’t. This Jesus was pursuing me, yet I clung tightly to my old beliefs. THOSE were right. THIS stuff was crazy.

Slowly, it started to look less crazy. I asked lots of hard questions and got surprising answers. And all along the way, Jesus was guiding me – but gently, and by request (He’s ever the gentleman). With His help, and that of my pastor and supportive friends, I tore down my misunderstandings and doubts, brick by brick.

In November, after praying for the first time (and receiving majorly clear answers the next day), I joyfully surrendered. I left my old life and my harsh judgments on the ground and stepped forward into new life. I didn’t struggle anymore. I knew the path would be rough, but I no longer had any ties or extreme doubts holding me back. The strings had been cut. I was set free.

And that’s the most surprising part of this journey: the freedom! For so long, I resisted Christ because I wanted to live life my way. I didn’t want to follow any stupid rules or become part of a boring herd. I didn’t want to give up my brain.

But I trusted Him. I moved forward, followed His prompting, and asked lots of questions. And guess what? I still have a brain, you guys. I still ask questions – even hard, doubtful ones (Jesus can handle it).

And those stupid rules? Not so stupid! I’ve never felt condemned or forced, only lovingly guided. And every time I’ve changed because of it, I’ve been better off.

My biggest worry, of turning into a plain, lame weirdo? Not happening. I might be weird, but I’ve always been – people, I can still be myself! Yesss! Turns out we weren’t created to all be the same (duh, how boring would that be?) I’m not brainwashed, or part of a mindless herd - I’m part of a warm, loving, supportive community that bands together to serve and strive to live the way Jesus taught us to. All in our own ways with our own personalities.

Not sayin’ we’re perfect. We still mess up. I gossip and grumble and lack patience. We don’t always live, love, and serve the way He would, but that’s because we’re not Jesus. And why we need Him to show us the way.

So that’s where I’m at, folks. I’ve been on a spiritual rollercoaster and had no idea how to handle it in my writing. So I didn’t.

I’m still a little afraid. I don’t want to be judged, mocked, or laughed at. But at some point, I’m gonna have to get over it. No better way than baring my soul and hitting “Publish,” right?

Maybe this was weird to read. Or encouraging. Or eye-rolling. Whatever your reaction, I get it. I’m not looking for agreement or approval, or to say that I’m right and you’re wrong. I’m just saying that this is my story and I had to tell it. To keep writing without doing so would just be fake. And if one thing burdens my soul, it’s pretending to be something I’m not.

Thanks for helping me honor my experience, friend. Please know that I honor and respect yours too.

Much love,

Kaylee

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About Kaylee

I'm Kaylee. Through the last several years, I've embarked on a journey of awakening, of striving to live a Zen-inspired life. The changes have been remarkable! My goal is to help others along their own journey by sharing my insights and experiences.
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11 Responses to An Atheist Changed

  1. Greg says:

    I’d like to share something that may also challenge the status quo as a male. This brought tears to my eyes. Beautiful! Thank you for your courage and honest expression. These Beatles ALL YOU NEED IS LOVE lyrics came to mind immediately:

    There’s nothing you can do that can’t be done.
    Nothing you can sing that can’t be sung.
    Nothing you can say but you can learn how to play the game.
    It’s easy.

    Nothing you can make that can’t be made.
    No one you can save that can’t be saved.
    Nothing you can do but you can learn how to be you in time.
    It’s easy.

    All you need is love.
    All you need is love.
    All you need is love, love.
    Love is all you need.

  2. Gary Korisko says:

    Kaylee:

    Wow. Good for you. It’s a hard road that leads to who you really are… and a harder one that leads to where you can share it openly.

    I’m very happy to see you posting again!
    Gary Korisko recently posted..Comment on A Broken Rose And A Serving Of Crow by Gary KoriskoMy Profile

  3. Lee J Tyler says:

    Kaylee,

    What a brave and powerful post. It is amazing when we ask the questions we have and then get an answer.

    You write so openly and bring your true personality to every sentence you write. That’s a gift from you and to your readers. (Thank you.) You have found another gift that is all yours and will be with you anywhere you decide to go. Beautiful.

    Thank you for sharing your story.
    Lee J Tyler recently posted..Can Anyone Give Me a Hand?My Profile

  4. Bobbi Emel says:

    Hey, there’s my girl! I was wondering where you’ve been.

    Kaylee, I know this was really hard for you to write, but it’s a huge step in the path of your life that you’ve shared something this intimate with us. It’s life-changing for you and I know it will change your writing and outlook on life, so it’s great that you let us all know what was up. Otherwise, we’d be wondering what happened to the “old” Kaylee!

    I hope that the Jesus you follow is the great teacher and example we know from history and not the one that is used so often as an excuse for unkindness and discrimination. I’m pretty sure he’s the former and not the latter!

    Have you ever read Anne Lamott? She’s my very favorite Christian. Irreverent and reverent at the same time, completely neurotic and authentic. Everyone needs to read her, especially Christians! Start with “Traveling Mercies.”

    Much love to you, Kaylee!
    Bobbi Emel recently posted..How do we recover from the Boston bombings?My Profile

    • Kaylee says:

      Hey Bobbi! Always good to see your face in the comments, I’ve missed you in my absence from the blogosphere!

      The Jesus I follow is absolutely the great teacher and example you’re talking about… I’m not looking to excuse unkindness, but transform it by following His example. It’s funny, I didn’t know THAT Jesus existed until this journey… I had lots of misunderstandings because of those who DO use His name to excuse their hatred. But the guy you’re talking about? He’s pretty radical and amazing. So yeah. No worries there, Bobbi. :)

      I’ve never read her, no.. I’ll definitely put that one in my Amazon cart. Thank you! And thank you for your constant support, Bobbi. I so appreciate you!

      Love and peace,
      Kaylee
      Kaylee recently posted..An Atheist ChangedMy Profile

  5. jayalakshmi says:

    this is amazing!!
    Happy for you and I am sure you will be guided gently and lovingly By Jesus!!

  6. Ken Wert says:

    Loved reading your story, Kaylee. Congratulations on your spiritual journey, on making the leap of faith. Pretty exciting, right? I’ve been on both sides of the faith question myself.

    For me, I try to weave my faith into what I write, perhaps not as obviously as I could, but it is there behind the words, behind the motivation and hope to inspire others to grow and reach for higher ground.

    Thank you so much for sharing this with us and the courage it took to open up and step into your faith online. You’re a shining example of a courageous and compassionate Christian.

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