This is the fifth part of a 6-part series chronicling my journey away from religion. If it offends you, I’m sorry, but you really shouldn’t let other people’s experiences trouble you. This is my experience and isn’t intended to discredit your experiences or beliefs in any way. My journey is mine and your journey is yours. I respect them equally.
Part 5: Pulling at the Seams
At 45 years old, I found a lump of cancer. Turns out there were three cancer lumps. I didn’t know it then, but separation from The Body had commenced. For me cancer was not a gift, not a blessing. But it did write the book on life perspective, and for that reason, I’m grateful I took the time to read it.
I settled into a daily routine of cancer treatments. Of course, no one has any idea ahead of time that each treatment comes with its own sideshow, flaunted in typical vaudeville fashion — fear as an expert juggler keeping every dread circling overhead and apprehension as the classically trained musician spreading its refrain onto every moment. I invited my vaudeville friends to coffee with me, and it was around this table that I began to see each day as a gift instead of a struggle with the flesh.
And there were my cancer treatment buddies who helped pop my religion bubbles one by one. A militant breast cancer fighter who wore camo every day to symbolize the fight for her life. The prostate cancer warrior who protested the negativity of cancer in his body by intentionally spreading positive affirmations. And the liver cancer trooper who was tickled pink every morning to be alive another day and refused to believe in regrets. His belief system — absent of god, yet brimming with hope and life — was peculiar and astounding to me.
I didn’t know that narratives of pain quelled by hope and love existed outside of religion. I believed the world was a dismal and hopeless place because there was no truth, no god. Yet, as I witnessed the lives and reactions of my fellow cancer buddies, every human being I met was suddenly drained of the evil god insisted they had been born with. Suddenly my ideas of right and wrong were re-positioned inside of me, functioning as a personal moral compass instead of a judgmental snare. Perhaps life is just life and today is all we have. Perhaps people are just who they are, doing the best they can with what they know.
As soon as I came to terms with the fresh refrain ringing inside my head — people are neither sinners nor saved; people are just people, each capable of good and bad — I knew it was time to reclaim myself, dump the misbelief, and leave my sad marriage. But untangling myself from the blanket-sized helping of religion that had warmed and muffled me since childhood wasn’t as simple as I anticipated. There were fabrications to raze, beliefs to dismantle, and self-esteem to acquire. Even though it took me two years to sort it out, I am grateful I was able to rotate my belief system away from all religious affiliations and focus instead on the value of human life and love.
Making the Cut Part 6: The Final Slice
The Final Slice
Although my childhood was irrationally magnificent — I felt included, part of a hand-picked delegation — it left me without a proper education and without a solid sense of self. By the time I was able to fully separate from The Body and from the damaged beliefs that had consumed my being, there was much to look forward to but so much I had to leave behind as well . . .
Don’t miss Making the Cut: Part 6
Here’s Part 1 (in case you missed it):
If you found this article interesting, I accept hugs in the form of
— Generous highlighting and applause
— Copious comments spilling with gratitude and deep-thoughts
— Scads of followers Julie Nyhus MSN, FNP-BC
— Positive thoughts directed my way
In peace and light,