The “Shawshank Redemption” is a 1994 film based on a book by Stephen King called “Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption.” This is one of my all time favorite movies. I have watched it more times than I can remember. If you haven’t seen it, it is the story of a man named Andy Dufresne who was wrongly imprisoned for the murder of his wife and the man who his wife was having an affair with. He was sentenced to life. Shortly after arriving at the prison, he started digging a tunnel in the wall of his cell. After several years went by, he finally made his escape. Prior to leaving, he had one last conversation with his friend Red:
I thought of what Andy Dufresne said today when I was home with my kids. For some reason, this quote from the movie popped into my head. I looked at my kids and thought of what life is going to be like as they get older. I thought of all of the good times yet to come. I can connect with Andy when he said, “Get busy living or get busy dying.” I spent so much of my life as a Christian and living my life based on that belief. I lived my life as if it was temporary. I lived my life like it was just a glimpse of what lay ahead for me when I pass from this life into the next. I stopped worrying about the trivial things in this world because this world was destined to fall anyway. I was waiting on the next one to come. I lived that way because I was taught to believe that those things were true. So much has changed in my life in the past few years, most noticeably in just the last year alone. I no longer believe in Yahweh, Jesus or anything in the Bible. I don’t hang my hat on the hopes of an eternity. I have new eyes for this life and what I see is not what people once told me I was looking at. I realized that I was not truly living. I was actually dying by allowing religion to take my focus away from what was right in front of me.
Andy Dufresne was imprisoned for something he didn’t do. He was innocent, yet forced to serve a life sentence while the real criminal walked free. I can relate, as I imagine so many others can who were trapped in religion and managed to break free. I was serving a life sentence in the religious penitentiary for just following what I was taught. I was innocent. The true criminals were those who created religion to fool the masses and take control. I was in the wrong place at the wrong time when I was taught to have faith. I had no choice and I ended up paying the price for someone else’s crime. I was locked in a cell of lies, false hope and empty promises. I was stripped of my ability to deal with reality and cope with life’s tragedies.
However, just like how Andy found a weak spot in his cell, I found a weak spot in my faith; doubt. Doubt caused me to chip away at the prison wall. And like the escape from Shawshank Prison, it took me years to tunnel out. I had to break apart religion piece by piece and discard the rubble outside the walls. I lived in this prison for far too long, but my eyes were now fixed on the outside. I saw what this prison was all about and I realized that I didn’t belong there. So for me, just like Andy, it came down to a simple choice:
“Get busy living or get busy dying.”