I vividly remember the exact moment I stopped believing in God. All it took was one discussion, in one philosophy class, and I was done. Done with God, done with all religion, done with anything even remotely spiritual. I didn’t need even one hour to ponder what the philosophy teacher had said. By the time I walked out that college classroom door, I had already made up my mind to extinguish THE LIGHT that had shone brightly in my life for the previous 20 years.
Are you pondering what the professor said that made me change my mind so quickly? The answer is … I have no idea! All I remember is that some pretty powerful words were spoken in order to convince this “good Catholic girl” to change my mind that fast. I wonder if my inability to remember is the work of Satan—or God?
Even though I said it was only one philosophy class that caused me to do a 180, I guess I should say instead that it was that one philosophy class that was the “final straw.” You see, there had always been small blips in time when I had questioned God and the different religious beliefs that were held by not only my Catholic family, but also by families all around the world who were of a different denomination than us.
I think one of the biggest questions I always asked, and no doubt it’s THE biggest question most believers ask, is a simple three-lettered word: WHY? We want to know WHY God would let terrible, terrible, just absolutely terrible things happen to good and/or innocent people?
During college, it was rare for me to hang out with any Christians, and I sure didn’t seek them out either. So, I didn’t believe in God, and had hardly any friends or family who lived nearby to act as a support system or to try to explain the answers with Scripture when bad things happened. My parents and maternal Grandma Woods tried over and over to get me to come back to God, but it took a long time before their urging came to fruition.
I vividly remember the exact moment I decided to once again believe in God. I was pregnant with my second child, and I had been ordered to have bedrest until it was time to induce. I was laying on my bed taking turns between reading the Bible; The Purpose Driven Life; and How to Live Like Jesus – the last two were books my Grandma Woods had mailed to me. I was reading these books because I had gotten tired of my family and friends harassing me—err, gently encouraging me—to read them, so I decided while I was unable to do much more than be still all day, I’d go ahead and do what everyone asked.
When I finished reading all three books, it was like college all over again, because a rapid, but earnest, decision was made—this time though it was to believe.
All my Christian family and friends were ecstatic, and I received multiple letters and cards proclaiming Amen! and Hallelujah! Some people commented that I was pretty wishy-washy, since I believed, then didn’t believe, then believed again, and they said I’d probably go back to not believing in a matter of months.
Well, it was 20 years before I stopped believing, and it’s now been 10 years since I started believing again, and my faith grows stronger and stronger every day. I don’t really think I have to worry about any moments of wishy-washiness returning—do you?
In Love, Texas – Population 2, my first Christian contemporary romance novel, the heroine Rebekah’s life was inspired by my life as a small-town newspaper reporter, my reunion with my high school sweetheart, and my faith journey.
Rebekah, just like me, stopped believing in God when she was in her late teens because of all the “why” questions and because of a “final straw” moment. The hero of the book, Joel Foster, comes back into Rebekah’s life when she is a reporter, and Joel is now some sort of “Jesus Freak,” so he tries his best to convince Rebekah to try to come back to both him and God. The quote below is said by Joel to Rebekah (he calls her Rebel for short).
You know all of us still ask questions, Rebel. Lots of people, myself included, still try to comprehend why God lets bad things happen. I want you and I together to keep searching for that answer, or if we never find a satisfactory answer, at least maybe we both can accept that even if we don’t understand why He does it, we can agree everything God does is for a good reason—part of His Master Plan that will give the best end results. (–Joel Foster)