Santa's done more for me than god
By: Leandra Feagin

I thought I was procrastinating.

As the weeks dragged by, however, I found myself dreading each Sunday. At first I was oblivious to why I felt this way—I like to think I didn't know. I naturally pushed away the feelings. Delaying them, in a sense. As time passed I found myself growing edgy, no longer feeling the peace or warmth that I remembered from each Sunday's repetitive church events. But why?

I don't know how to begin this, there's no decent way to start. But today I realized something I couldn't quite postpone or shake from my mind. After coming to terms with this new idea, I found myself growing in confidence and understanding. Acceptance brought happiness in my case, as I no longer felt lost, with the exception of a bit of a nagging uncertainty. 

It all started a bit back. A few months or so before my mother met Robin, who in few months time would be my stepdad, when we were otherwise alone. An uneasy feeling fell over me. I questioned myself a lot then, feeling doubt. As though something didn't completely match—an extra piece to the puzzle, so to speak. I was, as expected, frustrated. Nevertheless, I deferred my self-conflict, now distracted with a new encounter once my mother met Robin. At first merely accepting, I quickly fell in love with this kind, generous man who brought love and happiness into our family. As a default from my former mindset, I found him as a blessing. Unfortunately, that discovery disintegrated with his passing. I was enraged. My first thoughts: how could God, almighty and wishing no unnecessary harm, inflict such pain on my family? On me? I felt as though He was only teasing me with hope.

I began cursing Him. I told myself that I hated God. Upon interrogation of many faithful people, I was met with the same unsatisfying explanations. I was told, “It's God's plan!” and “It's a trial!” Those poor replies left a foul taste in my mouth, only rekindling my anger toward God. I don't believe it. An avid question with a blinded answer, I don't think I ever will. 

The church was no longer a warm place. It didn't offer the reassurance it once had. Perhaps it was a punishment for turning my back on God. I didn't know. Naturally, I fell away from the church. Though physically present, I was mentally uncertain about my place in the House of God. Church ceased to be a religious goings-on for me, more so three hours of mindless listening.

I stayed in such a state for quite a while, and it seems my mom had picked up on as much. A few weeks ago, we were walking to church when my mom glanced at me for a moment. She then told me, “You are allowed to believe whatever you want, you are allowed to question everything." 

I only nodded and managed a weak, "Okay." However, her words got me thinking once more. Pondering everything I had and had yet to come to terms with. Maybe I didn't hate God anymore. Maybe I never really did. Maybe I stopped believing. I still went to church. I still ended up dragging my feet and nodding sparsely with each anticipated session. Never finding myself in a good spot, I didn't speak up of my quieted uncertainty. I lost hope. I lost faith in such a way that I didn't care anymore.

The lessons I am taught in church are good. They are inspiring. Last Sunday I made a worthwhile connection after church. I was lying in bed reading tales from those Aesop's Fables books. They are much like mythology: inspiring lessons taught through stories and tales. What if the Bible is like Greek Mythology, like Aesop's Fables? Just a collection of worthy stories? This was my new, strong ideal. “The Bible isn't true. The Bible isn't real or right. Just a book of Mythology blown out of proportion.” It stirred in my mind for a long time. I wasn't okay with it at first, feeling like I betrayed everyone. Like I had turned my back and was prepared to be shunned. I soon found comfort in these thoughts, however. The way they meshed with my self-discoveries from before, all my ideals and thoughts blending nicely. It just made sense. I liked this new idea. 

Last night I had an aberrant dream. In it, I was arguing with my six-years-younger sister about Santa Claus. I knew he wasn't real. She didn't. No one has told her such information, and from her collection of knowledge, it was only sensible to believe in Santa, whether or not she'd actually ever seen or heard him. For her, he hasn't been proven real or fake. So why not believe? This dream brought religion into play in my mind. God hasn't been proven a myth. He hasn't been proven real, either.  Both have brought my hope and excitement. Both encouraged me to do the right thing and both seemed to reward me. However, Santa Claus didn't take that away from me. Santa Claus left presents under the tree. God doesn't seem to leave anything for my benefit. It seems, ironically and against my former rank of beliefs, that this “Santa” has done more for me than “God.”

I feel indifferent, if not a bit sour for God. God doesn't answer my prayers. God doesn't heal the victims of dangerous diseases and sicknesses. He didn't cure polio. God doesn't fix or bless broken civilizations. People do. Doctors and scientists. God hasn't done anything that's been backed up. There is no proof of God. I wasn't saved by God. I was saved by skilled, knowledgeable, and devoted doctors and nurses. The only thing that's saved me in the past is science. I find it amusing that God only works through “personal blessings and experiences.”  It looks to me as if God only brings false hope.

I don't know how to feel anymore. I don't know if I want to believe in God. I'm going to keep an open mind and try to keep up with my Sunday School lessons. Maybe not from a religious standpoint, but instead with the mindset that I'm being told a story or taught a life lesson. I won't follow blindly. Not anymore. I don't think I can. I will go by evidence. I will explore. I believe in science. I will not be a follower, but a leader in my own credence of collected knowledge and virtues.