Me, faith, God… and the good and kind folks who like me…

I received today a truly wonderful email from a very kind woman with whom I had previously corresponded.

In it she talked about this being the year of Christian/Jewish Restoration, and about how we were both due, and about how “I know you don’t like God all that much…”

And she included a video to a beautiful Christian song, and words that she hoped would help bring me back to God.

I like her. I thought her letter was sent in a wonderful spirit of caring and compassion from a genuine, kind, and beautiful person to whom I matter.

And I sent her the best letter I was capable of writing.

I’m not posting her letter here because it was for me alone.

I’m posting my reply to her because this is something I need to say to the folks who are worried about me, my soul, my faith, my relationship with God… and I know there are a few of you who read me who are. From time to time you let me know.

Hi, Kate*,

It isn’t that I don’t like God very much.

I am incapable of belief. I tried. I spent all of my youth and some of my adulthood trying to believe in God in any form, and in religion in any form, and I simply don’t, and can’t.

I’m not an angry atheist, I’m not declaring God evil or dead or wrong, or the people who believe in God evil or vile or wrong.

I’m simply a person with a complete inability to ignore reality in favor of things people belief that fly in the face of reality. I am incapable of faith.

What I know of life and can prove is that what we have in this world is this moment and each other. While I would like to think there is something after death, and while I know that energy cannot be destroyed, I don’t believe that I will continue after death as myself. Wish it. Don’t believe it.

But in life, we have now, and we have our own brief existences,** and we have the people who matter to us. I have spent my life since I figured that out working to leave something important behind for the people who matter to me. My family, my writers, and my readers.

And I very much like the idea of a year of restoration. I’m due. So if you don’t mind hanging out with an atheist, I’ll be very happy to celebrate the year of restoration with you.

Cheerfully,
Holly

I am mindful daily of the life I am living, and I am living the best, most honest, and most creative and worthwhile life I am capable of living.

I choose my actions with care. I work daily to make not just my own life but the lives of the people who matter to me better.

I do this because I love my own life, and I want to help other folks find ways to love theirs.

And that’s it.

When I’m gone, I’ll be gone. If I’ve succeeded at the job I’ve chosen, the work I’ve started will spread out in ripples, and some small part of life and existence far into the future will be better because I once lived.

I think that’s enough.

 


*Kate is my fill-in name for folks I want to keep anonymous. Not a real Kate.

**Added in this version, but not the original letter.

 

 


 

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About the author: Novelist, writing teacher, on a mission to reprint my out-of-print books and self-publish my new ones.

13 comments… add one
  • Mil Holmes Nov 19, 2018 @ 9:24

    Ahh, yeah, I can totally relate to your reaction. I do have faith and it is based on my own personal experience. I disagree with a lot of “religion” and do not attend church on a regular basis nor do I always attend traditional ceremonies. I’ve had discussions with preachers, spiritual leaders and have read a lot about different things when I was discovering the foundation of my life.

    Looked into the definitions of believer, atheist and agnostic. Hah. Confusion reigned as I can relate to bits of all the definitions. My own path in life is what was given to me and I will walk it with pride, even when I stumble and sometimes fall. I do know where I am going when my path leads to the unseen door. That is enough for me and I, too, hope to help people find their own way.

    You happen to be one of the many teachers sent to guide me on my path. Prayers and Good Thoughts are sent your way as we journey together on this particular path of our writing life.

  • Brittany Thibodeaux Mar 28, 2017 @ 18:13

    I don’t have anything inspirational or thought-provoking to add. I just wanted to thank you for being frank. As a corporate professional (by day!) in the bible belt (even in one of the largest cities in America), it’s hard for me to own up to these exact thoughts and feelings. I don’t lie about my beliefs, but I shy away from the topic because of the lack of understanding.

    For a few minutes, I felt like someone understood. I have hope that I’ll be able to be myself without shying away from the topic at some point. Perhaps when I’ve finally become a successful writer.

    Thanks for being an amazing woman.

    • Holly Lisle Mar 31, 2017 @ 12:20

      Hang in. There are times and places when you can dare to speak out. Work is usually not one of them.

      Writing, fortunately, IS. Save the frustration, work it into your fiction. It’s worked for me for years.

  • Irina Mar 9, 2017 @ 6:13

    I am a person of faith. I never felt the need to push my believe on others, not even gently, because I don’t believe you can teach faith or try to believe. You either do or you don’t.

    I believe in a close approximation of the Christian God and if the topic comes up I don’t deny it. (I kept quiet – though I never lied – about it for a while after a drunk teenage self proclaimed atheist threatend to set me on fire as “revenge” for the witch trials, until the people around me had grown up.)

    I don’ worry about people without faith. If there is a benevolent and omniscient divine being, it will see the hearts and deeds of people and not lip service.

    I worry about people without ethics.

    • Holly Mar 23, 2017 @ 10:06

      “I worry about people without ethics.”

      Me, too.

  • Julie S. Mar 6, 2017 @ 8:24

    I’m not religious. I don’t believe in a personified god or gods. Religious family members and friends never push even the suggestion that I should “try” and believe because I think they’re wise to the fact that any kind of pushing infers they think I need saving in one way or another, which means by inference I’m not “good enough” the way I am.

    To the people above in the comments, consider what your “gentle” pushes really mean. And how it would feel in reverse, if someone who doesn’t (or can’t) believe tries gently to convince you your belief doesn’t exist.

  • Anthony Element Mar 4, 2017 @ 13:55

    Hi Holly,
    Your letter perfectly expresses my own feelings.
    For years, I called myself an atheist, but of late I’ve begun to call myself a humanist. (same thing but sounds less, “In your face”.
    I recognise the need for ceremony and tradition in the lives of we humans, but the various belief systems behind so many of them simply make no sense to me.
    Cheers,
    Anthony
    PS Loving HTRYN. It’s not just having a system for revising, is changed the whole way up think about writing. YOU ROCK!

    • Holly Lisle Mar 6, 2017 @ 10:52

      Thanks. I don’t care much for the word atheist — it’s literally “without belief in God (theism)” and as such, implies within the word that the person referred to is missing something. Humanist is not too bad, but comes with a lot of baggage I’d rather do without. I’m more of a rabid individualist, in that I believe fervently in the rights of the individual and the fact of our existence as thinking, creative individuals as the origin of those rights.

      But individualist, like atheist and humanist, has other and lesser meanings. And if I say atheist, at least people know what I mean.

  • Elaine Milner Mar 2, 2017 @ 18:26

    Thank you for sharing this well-considered explanation, Holly. I am one of those who have strong faith and are concerned about you. I have said nothing about it because, from things you’ve written, I think that would simply irritate you. That would not be helpful to anyone. I hope you don’t mind that I pray for you though. I have greatly benefited from your hearty courses, generous encouragement, and the best forum I’ve ever found. I always hope the best for you.

    • Holly Mar 23, 2017 @ 10:12

      If you can get something good out of what I’m doing with my life, I’m satisfied with that. I appreciate your consideration.

  • Holly Lisle Mar 2, 2017 @ 5:53

    Hugs, Hannetjie. 😀

  • Hannetjie Joubert Mar 1, 2017 @ 9:58

    Hi Hollly!

    You are and will always be my mentor. I have such great respect for you as a person, a writer and teacher. Ps. Nothing will change that!

    You’re an amazing person. A go-getter, a fighter/warrior.

    Talking about God is the one place where words fail me. But the only thing I can say is that it’s not about faith, not about the seen or unseen. If you’re ever curious to pursue God or get to know Him. Go to the source. Cut out the middle man. Literally ask Him straight up. You’d be surprised at the answer 🙂

    Thank you for being such an amazing person!
    And my right brain’s hero!!!

    Warm regards,
    Hannetjie

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