Reasons for Living


I made mention in the other post that I hate life.  Not necessarily do I hate my life, I just hate life in general.  What really gets under my skin is that my life isn’t particularly bad, particularly when compared to those who live in Syria or Nepal.  Even my life today is better than it would have been say 100 years ago.

But none of that makes me feel better.

It’s weird going from ultimate purpose and no fear of sacrifice, to little purpose and no reward for sacrifice.

There is no pearly gates, treasures in heaven, or mansions on a hilltop awaiting for me when die.  If I die poor, miserable, and lonely, I’ve only got nothingness to look forward to.  I use to think that if my life ended in poverty and neglect, in some piss stank “nursing” home, I’d be ok.  After all, I’d see Jesus and enjoy him forever so who cares how this life ended for me?

Now I’m starting to realize the financial mistakes I’ve made in my younger years may come back and bite me in the ass.  If I don’t start saving money, my last experiences in the universe will be of regret and pain.  Then poof…gone.  I guess the “poof…gone” doesn’t bother me so much, I just want… umm…to…

I don’t know, what I want.

I want my kids to be ok.  I want them to be loved.  I want my wife to never experience loneliness.  I’d rather live a torturous life alone than to even think that she’d have to do same.

I really hope she dies first…at the ripe old age of 1000.

….with a $1,000,000,000.00 in the bank, so she’d never have to worry about money.

But that won’t happen, because life sucks and then you die.

I really honestly don’t want to live.  I need to live because I need my kids and wife to be ok.  They are the only things I live for.  Which breaks me out into a mad panic attack, because I’ve performed funerals for people who die too young.

Kids die.  Mommies (and wives) die.  And in a world where death is final, everyone dies too young no matter how old they are.

I talked with a friend yesterday who lost her husband of 60 years.  She called me wanting to talk about anything and everything trivial because she just wanted to stop crying.  I talked about babies being born in our congregation.  I talked about my upcoming trip to Seattle to see friends.  I talked my wife redecorating our home.  We’d go about 3 minutes and she would start violently sobbing for about 30 seconds, then get ahold of herself and ask me more questions.

“This hurts more than I could have ever possibly imagined, pastor. I knew it was going to be bad, but this is way worse than I could have ever guessed.”

Finally she gave up trying to have a “normal” conversation, and we said our good byes. Then it hit me like a ton of bricks:

She will never see him again. She will never smell him again. She will never laugh with him again. She will never hold him. She will never be his again.  There’s no place in the heavens where he is waiting for her.  On top of that, there is no God to wipe away her tears. No Spirit to comfort her. No Jesus to intercede for her.

2008-07-21_Old_Chapel_Hill_Cemetery_2I’m sure for the millions of non-religious people out there, this isn’t news. But imagine you thought your friends all went on vacation and your expected see them in a few weeks only to find out “vacation” was a euphemism for death. They’re just gone.

Someday that will be me. In my deepest of hearts I’d rather die than be the one left behind.

I have a friend is also an ex-pastor turned atheist.  His wife left him and his 1 year old baby daughter lives clear across the country. He can’t find a job in the same state as his baby girl. He told me about his daily struggles with suicide. If I were in his shoes I’m not sure I’d win that battle.

Here’s to hoping I won’t ever be in his shoes.

Sorry for the rambling.


5 thoughts on “Reasons for Living

  1. I was thinking since reading your post earlier in the day how I didn’t know what to say here, not because I don’t understand but because I do. But the other thing I thought of was that you as a pastor are so often the person that is expected to “say” something . . . and just how difficult and exhausting that can be for a person. The burden is heavy. Even more so that you no longer “believe” as you once did.

    When I was in nursing school, doing a psych rotation I had an in-patient, a woman in her mid-50’s who was recently widowed and couldn’t cope. Here I am an 18 year old taking her history and listening/documenting her story/concerns and getting a glimpse into the future. I don’t want to be this woman one day. Skip ahead and now together with my mate since we were 16 & 18 years old (now 59 & 60) I get it! I freaking get it! My heart goes out to your friend. Sixty years is a long time. You’re not really two people anymore. You are but you aren’t. Your whole life is in cooperation with another person, good &/or bad and you make it all the way to 60 years being two people but really more like one and then . . . the mate is gone. (Not that I have to add this but it’s like this when one loses their faith too.)

    My heart goes out to you too though because from your vantage point it seems so difficult to give hope. Take your friend whose wife just up and left. If this was over your friends apostasy what does it say of her Christianity. It’s all so sad. What can one say to that? How can a suicidal person see anything but the heartache of losing a child so far away? I don’t know what the answers are or how to negotiate it all. I struggle with depression. I often hesitate to really open up about it because I’m certain (in my own mind) that my depression voids anything I have to say. That I can’t or won’t be taken seriously. ‘Oh that’s Zoe. You know Zoe. Always so full of melancholy.’

    I feel I have no right to tell someone not to take their own life when I know what it is like to have times of despair in my own. On the other hand I feel I want to encourage them to stay, to not leave that legacy for their children.


    • Thanks for your words. They mean a lot, I’m glad you took time to write. As for my friend and his wife, they separated for good reasons. I’ve been encouraging both of them to move forward on a divorce. He already has started to move on.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. “This hurts more than I could have ever possibly imagined. I knew it was going to be bad, but this is way worse than I could have ever guessed.”

    This is what I have said many times too. After the burial I walked from room to room not just sobbing uncontrollably, but making howling sounds that did not seem human. This continued for 3 days. Even now several years later I feel the emotion and at any moment tears could form.

    But death doesn’t frighten me in the slightest: dying yes, that frightens me, but being dead, no. I think it no different to the hours when I am asleep or the time before I was born. I can’t imagine why it bothers you.

    Losing someone is just part of life, a lousy part, but it’s just the way it is.

    As children we can fantasize about being Cinderella or her male version Harry Potter, but at some point we put away childish things like a belief in a hermit magician who looks over us and will one day, one distant day reward us for being good little boys and girls.

    Growing up can be painful, taking responsibility for ourselves and those we care about, taking responsibility for the planet, removing the idiocy of childish thought and teaching our children how things really work; this is the adult path.

    Have some fantasy in your life to leaven the raw reality, but note that it is fantasy.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hello. Feel free to contact me. I had similar questions when I realized I was an atheist, though having never been a pastor, my sense of emptiness paled in comparison to what I imagine you are going through. Here is what I eventually learned, in case it helps you.

    Life is ever so much more precious to atheists. This is probably obvious, so I won’t dwell.

    In a very real sense, you are the sum of your actions. It doesn’t matter if you haven’t always done the best thing or the right thing, but you have to live with everything you’ve done. How you do that is what defines you. And when you are gone, people will remember what you did, how you behaved, and possibly why you did it.
    The first corollary to this is that your actions matter beyond your mortal self; if you impacted other people, you changed the world.
    The second corollary is that as long as you remember the actions of others, or were impacted by their lives, their “atheist spirit” will never die; simply because through their existence, they changed others.

    I understand the idea of pain at being the last one left. Consider that if you were the last one left, all those people would be left in you. I think if I were the last one left, whether on my planet or in my family, I would try find a way to make sure that some sign remained of those I carried. Even if I had to etch names into granite with sand.

    Consider reading:
    Childhood’s End (Arthur C Clarke)
    History Lesson (short story, Arthur C Clarke)
    Foundation (Isaac Asimov)

    The epigram of Clarke’s 2010: Odyssey Two, reads, “And because, in all the Galaxy, they had found nothing more precious than Mind, they encouraged its dawning everywhere. They became farmers in the fields of stars; they sowed, and sometimes they reaped. And sometimes, dispassionately, they had to weed.”

    Because Mind remembers what is no more, and in so doing, what is no more may yet have a chance at immortality.

    -An atheist philosopher who tries to always seek & tell the Truth.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. To paraphrase the words of Joss Whedon through his character Angel, “If nothing we do matters, then all that matters is what we do.”

    Enjoy and make the most of the now. Because ultimately that is all there is.


    Liked by 2 people

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