An unexpected change in viewpoint

Patricia - Wilbraham, Massachusetts
Entered on May 19, 2008
Age Group: 18 - 30

I have always had this belief that there was a God. As a Protestant, I went to church religiously to get a better understanding of this eternal being. The church placed this idea in my head that God will protect you and that he has a plan for your future which gave me such a pleasant feeling. I believed the changes that I’ve witnessed in my life were caused by a higher being and not the result of my own actions. But only until recently have I changed my viewpoint on God’s existence.

My uncle who’s studying to be a psychiatrist at Stanford University has been studying psychological disorders for six years now. Before entering his profession, he was a very strict Catholic. So when my uncle told me he no longer believed in God I was caught off guard. When I asked him why his opinions changed he explained he has recently begun his therapy sessions. Through these sessions he has heard the suffering and the problems that people endure on a daily basis.

One patient, in her late fifties, was raped as a child, then later gang raped as a teenager. She suffers from severe depression along with agoraphobia and has attempted suicide on many occasions. She even tried killing herself by sitting in a bathtub full of bleach. Where was God when this was happening? Was he sitting back and watching as she screamed for help? If my uncle told her that to pray to God every night she would laugh in his face. How can someone tell her that there is a God when she’s been permanently scarred by such horrific experiences? Imagine feeling so lonely and abandoned that ending your life seemed like the only thing to do to erase the pain.

I couldn’t even fathom living a life where I couldn’t trust anyone because of the betrayal and pain that I have been put through. But isn’t God supposed to “protect you”? If God will protect everyone, why didn’t he stop her from attempting suicide or better yet, why didn’t he prevent her from being raped? The reason that I believed in God is due to my very comfortable lifestyle. There has never been reason to doubt his existence because, in my mind, all the good that has happened in my life is due to his “great plan” for me. But when I hear stories like this I question my religious beliefs.

I often wonder if dismissing God from my life is a good idea. But when I think about it, I realize that it is the doing of those around me and myself that has gotten me where I am today. It is hard to dismiss a belief I’ve had all these years but all I can think about is how there are so many people out there who are living lives that they don’t deserve. There is no ‘grand plan’ unless you make one for yourself.