I got a small taste, a glimpse of what it must be like for a gay man coming out of the closet. Don’t get me wrong, my experience lacks the sheer anguish those in the LGBT community face, but it did bring greater understanding for what many of them must go through. I’m coming out of a different closet. You see, for ten years of my life I was a devout Christian. I believed the Bible as the infallible word of God. I taught Sunday school, worked with church youth-groups, drove kids to church on Wednesday nights. I was all-in, believing with all my heart.
Then, over time, I stopped believing. For months, I attended church, striving to believe. I wanted to believe, but couldn’t. So, I sang the songs, prayed and read my Bible. At the time, Leo the Christian warred with the real me. I wanted to explore science and culture without a biblical filter biasing my view. I wanted to write without letting down those I loved. The real me wanted to watch Game of Thrones or Spartacus without feeling guilty. I’ve always been fascinated with Pagan culture. I don’t believe in pagan spiritualism, but love the concepts of respecting nature and exploring beauty. Sometimes, I just want to swear. These things make me who I am just as much as my love for my family, my geek side, and my political views.
On one hand, my inner nature prompted me to experience life, on the other, my religious beliefs fought against that nature. Challenging one’s world view is traumatic, and that was a difficult time for me. Before you start feeling bad for me, realize it was far more difficult for my wife.
As whole people, we are free to experience life and be true to our natures. Repressing ourselves causes stress and disharmony. For a long time after I stopped believing in Christianity, I still acted like I did. I went to church, and still do. I didn’t lie to people. In fact I spoke about it to my wife, my pastor and people I respected. I just didn’t announce it. Wanting to cause as little damage as possible to those I cared about, I just carried on as usual.
I worried about what my taste in movies and television would make my wife feel. I was afraid to listen to the music I wanted. I was afraid to go to the Renaissance festival because I knew that my wife learned of my unbelief the day we went to one. These things seem inconsequential, but prevented me from expressing my true nature, and caused stress. My shoulders were always tense. Sometimes, my wife would ask if something was wrong. I’d say no, because nothing was consciously wrong. Subconsciously, things were not alright. I was in a different kind of closet. Not one as dangerous as many face, but a closet nonetheless.
Well, I’m coming out of that closet. Not to prove a point, or to influence others. I’m coming out for my own health. I’ve learned that stress is the most damaging force this human race faces. As I learn about my own body and how it works, I know that to be healthy requires one to manage stress. I also know, that we do have an inner nature that must be satisfied. I know that i can live in harmony with that nature or at war with it. I’m choosing to be at peace with myself.
So yeah, I’m an atheist, or an agnostic if you prefer. As a curious soul, I’m open to any possibility, but very comfortable with my unbelief. I will continue exploring this amazing universe we live in, but I hope I never find the ultimate truth. How boring would that be? I will continue seeking beauty in all its forms, and appreciating people, pets, nature and even technology.
Today, I still go to church, because I promised my wife I would. Fortunately for me, we go to a great church full of loving people. It’s not difficult going to this church as a non-believer. Would I rather stay home? Of course, because I don’t get anything out of it outside of socialization, but going isn’t a difficult chore. I thank the wonderful people at my church for that.
So, where does that leave me? On a journey, I guess. Living life, and finding peace with my inner nature.
Let me introduce myself.
Hi, I’m Leo Godin. I love to explore and learn. I appreciate beauty. You’ll often find me challenging beliefs and searching for truth. If you see me at church, know that I love singing your songs, and though I don’t share your faith, I respect it and consider it beautiful. Likewise, if you run into me at a local drum circle or new-moon ritual, know that I respect your beliefs. We may not share the same understanding, but I will enjoy experiencing beauty with you.
This is me, and while I try to improve every day, I’m satisfied with who I am.