Just Like A Divorce

One of the greatest disillusionments in life occurs when the promises of marriage are broken and a divorce occurs. This is especially true when one spouse surprises the other by announcing a sudden and unforeshadowed separation. The shock to the spouse who receives such a pronouncement is truly monumental. The entire picture of this person’s future life, along with all the practical plans underway to enable and support that life, are suddenly derailed and empty. This kind of disillusionment requires a painful recovery period, but eventually a new life and new dreams are formed.

Unfortunately, this recently happened to someone close to me, and seeing it caused me to question myself. Why had I felt so strongly like this had happened to me, as well?

The answer was obvious. It had happened to me. When our Christian belief structure collapses, it involves more than just replacing one set of beliefs and values with another one. It involves the loss of a personal relationship with someone we thought we knew. This transition is just like a divorce from God - and the kind of divorce described above: an abandonment separation, sudden and unexpected. God is just gone from our lives and from our future plans.

Some of the thoughts and feelings I went through in this process ranged from anger to despair to grief. “God is gone. He abandoned me. I was depending on Him to define and direct my very life, but now I am undone. I don’t know what to do with myself. I mourn deeply - I am hurt beyond words. I feel like I have died, for my old life is surely over now.”

These are things we would expect someone to feel in any human divorce of this nature. It is precisely what we feel when we lose God, even though the very process that led to it is telling us that God was an illusion. Our virtual spouse and friend, our important promiser, is a fantasy and always was. This realization might cause us even more of a problem as we suddenly feel like the world’s biggest and saddest fool for allowing ourselves to become so attached to something that is not real.

Ringing shock though it may be, we do eventually find ourselves slowly healing and new views and possibilities begin to emerge from the fog. Our cognitive, rational mind keeps telling our emotional, subjective mind that God is imaginary, and after much repetition the subjective mind finally “gets it”. I call this the “shaking off point” where we take stock of the facts and “shake off” the emotional energy we have had toward this mental construct called God and regard it with some dispassion and even, perhaps, some bemusement.

When I reached this point, I really had to just smile at myself and wonder at the amazing creative capacity of the human mind. I said to myself, “That’s where I was, but this is where I am now and this is where I must begin to move forward again.” The dregs of our old emotions and attachment are still there and still must be acknowledged, but we can set them firmly aside and begin to cast about with our new, sharp-focusing eyes for fresh possibilities.

For those like myself who leave God and religious myth behind and adopt a fully rational view of life, it is much like being a newly divorced person. We must find new relationships to fill the void - especially a new relationship with ourself. It must become a relationship that is based on things that are real and things that are not going to steal more of our lives from us. We have lost too much already to an untrue paradigm to waste more precious time in some other equally un-real myth. Now, we wish to live a real life, based on real things.

Nurtured and practised, this attitude and approach to life represents true health. I have come through the pain and trauma of the divorce from God, and now I feel exhilarated and exuberant about life again. It is an exuberance that is stronger than any I felt before, and that is still quite amazing to me.

In the old story, when Alice returns home through her looking-glass, she leaves all the wondrous creatures behind inside the fantastic world of the mirror. She has re-entered the real world, and the Queen of Hearts is seen to be no more than a fabrication of Alice’s own wonderful mind. We have returned (or perhaps arrived for the first time) out of the mirror, and into our real lives. The process was painful - just like the divorce it truly was - but we have survived and we are stronger now than we were. The real world is displayed out in front of us, like a wonderful and hearty feast, and all we must do now is work and play and enjoy each day in it. Our old relationships are past and gone, and our good new life is real and vibrant in this and every moment.

The present moment is not mundane. It is, in essence, extraordinary. -DC

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