Setting Short Term Goals

There was a time when I looked at my life much differently than I do now. There was a time where I would put on my Bible lenses and peer through them in order to see what I was supposed to be doing and where I was supposed to be going. My end goal? Eternity with God. All of the short term stuff? Irrelevant.

Times have changed. I have changed. What was once 100% guaranteed is now a mystery. My eternal afterlife is no sure thing. In fact, there is no evidence to suggest that there even is one. Could there be? Sure. Should I live this life in a manner that is putting all my eggs in that basket? No. In fact, by doing so, I am potentially missing out on experiences here and now that I could be enjoying with the ones I love. Nothing in this life is guaranteed. Nothing.

So how exactly does one live a life with the understanding that this may very well be the one and only one we get? I don’t have a good answer for that. There are times where I don’t feel like doing anything at all. Some days I just want my kids to go play quietly by themselves so I can read or even just take a nap. Then there are days where I look at my kids and think, “Man, what if I die tomorrow? What will they remember about me? That I was too tired to play? Too busy?” There needs to be a healthy balance and it’s tough to know what that is. There is no perfect answer. There is no right way to do it.

I have decided that since I have nothing beyond this life that is guaranteed, I need to be making short-term goals. The long-term, eternal ones are based on someone else’s stories. Someone else who lived a very long time ago should not be in charge of deciding what is best for me (or anyone else) now. I am in control of my life and I will be living it as such.

I have much to look forward to in this life that I do have. This one, rather short life is still a wondrous thing. Though I am stuck inside during this cold winter, I am looking forward to spring. I look forward to taking my children outside and watching them explore and enjoy nature. I am looking forward to the fresh air, the birds, the warmth and the freedom from this prison of wintertime. I look forward to spending time with my wife as we continue to fulfill our vow of growing old together. We’ve been together nearly 24 years. I look forward to the next 24.

I am looking forward to hearing back about my novel that I have submitted for publication. Will it be published? Maybe. Maybe not. If I get rejected, then I’ll try somewhere else. I am looking forward to finishing the second novel I started writing a couple of weeks ago. I truly enjoy it. It is soothing and it is a refreshing change of pace from talking about religion all of the time. I look forward to the day when my “life after religion” is a actually a life free from religion in all aspects. A life that isn’t triggered by religious nonsense that makes me feel like I need to voice my opinion about the harmful, intentional deception being peddled as divine wisdom. I look forward to the day when religion becomes background noise in this world instead of front page news.

I am looking forward to the little things in this life instead of the big things in the black and white (some words in red) printed life in someone else’s book. The little things in this life are the biggest things. They are the ones that matter. My children matter. My wife matters. My friends matter. Other people’s opinions do not and never should have. As I grow older, my skin is getting thicker and the words of others hurt less and mean less to me. Standing up for what you believe in, no matter what the belief is, is the only way to live. If someone disagrees with your beliefs, so what? As long as your beliefs do not grow into actions, they are powerless and can do no harm. Beliefs that do become actions that are harmful should be opposed. Otherwise, people need to stop worrying about what others are doing and live their own lives.

I will admit that have some prioritizing to do. Some rearranging of my “to do” lists. I have a lot of “in the now” to live and no more of “the next life will be better” to worry about. It is time to shift gears a bit and put a lot of what has consumed my time behind me. How I used to live and how things used to be are gone. The present and the future need my attention and that’s where I have decided I want to live. I will always have opinions about certain subjects. Sometimes, they will be strong opinions that I feel need to be voiced. However, like anything in life, moderation is the key. Too much of anything is bad for your health, both physically and mentally. As you get older, getting healthy and staying healthy is the only way to enjoy life to the fullest.

I am determined to shed this burden of my religious obsession. It weighs on me and it drags me down. I will never truly be free from it if I continue to keep the fire burning. It has consumed me for most of my life. In fact, for the longest time, I couldn’t get enough of it. I quit it once I realized the ill effects it had. I walked away from all I knew. But that didn’t make it go away. I kept peeking in through the windows, if only just to see how bad it really was. Like any addiction, the way to get over it is to put time and effort into something else, something healthier. And so, I will. I don’t think I can ever let it go completely as it is still such a destructive force in this world. But I need to stop looking for it. If it presents itself, I will deal with it. If it comes up in conversation, I will talk about it. If it comes into my life through friends or family, I will meet it head on.

I have so many interests in my life that I could be enjoying more if I can just let go of that which held me down for so long. It is like abuse. I feel abused. I feel hurt. I feel dirty. I feel ashamed and I feel foolish. This is why it is so harmful and why it is so hard to just be quiet about it. This is what indoctrinating children does. It creates adults who live their lives having to undo the damage. It is exhausting, and at some point, enough has to be enough. That time is hopefully now. Knowing who I am though, I can’t say that I will be able to completely follow through with the purging of religion from my life. But I need to try. This broken record is giving me a headache.

It’s time for a new song.

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10 thoughts on “Setting Short Term Goals

    1. It’s tough to let go of anything, especially something that wasn’t just part of my life, but was my whole life for so long. But I can’t just keep reopening old wounds. It’s not good for me or those around me. I have a lot of issues with religion in our society. I have a lot of issues when children are involved. But I need a break from it. I need to let it go and breathe for a moment.

      I have so much to say most of the time and much to say on this subject, but life is too short to focus so much on this. I have decided that a refocusing is not just a good idea, but a necessity right now.

      I’m not going anywhere, but I need to continue to grow and expand my horizons…and still occasionally rant. πŸ˜‹

      Liked by 2 people

  1. I keep asking theists what their reason for their belief is (aka the meaning of their lives) and this “Eternity with God.” pops up more often than not.

    So, I can understand why a human being would want to spend an eternity hanging out with a god, but why does no one ask “What god would want to spend eternity hanging out with human beings?” Do realize that this god supposedly created us and if he really wanted to hand out with us, why didn’t he create us as heavenly groupies in the first place? Why all of the rigmarole of life on Earth? Some say that this is a test, but an all-powerful being could have created beings who could all pass the test so why create some that can and some that can’t and then watch all of the flailing around?

    Stepping back and asking “why” questions, such as why would a god which is perfect and complete need anything, especially need an entire species to worship it, leads to the only conclusion that the whole scheme is totally incoherent. It sounds like it was made up by fourth graders.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I’ve wondered that too, Steve. According to the mythology I was taught by the catholics he created angels to be the groupies. We were his second try at this creation stuff. They were supposed to be utterly perfect, wanting to do nothing but hang around god all day singing hymns and praising him all day. Only they weren’t so perfect after all and Lucifer and his buddies rebelled and were booted out. And then he made us, and wow, did he screw that up…

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Well, yes, if this is your whole view of Christian faith, it is a scheme made up by fourth graders or at least folks in middle school.

      This is the core problem in a nutshell. People’s intellect matures, but their view and experience of Christian faith remains stuck. Of course, it is going to seem ridiculous.

      And, yet, there is no way to get someone else past this. They have to see and know it for themselves. None of us have arrived either. Hopefully we are growing and learning all the time.


      1. A lot of us here have “seen” and “known” it for ourselves. At least that’s how it felt at the time. It felt so real that we were certain it was from God. In fact, I thought that it was from God for decades, not just a short while. As people mature in their understanding and their abilities to see behind the curtain of religion, we see that a lot (most?) of what we believed or felt can be explained by rather ordinary means. The supernatural doesn’t come into play once we have a better understanding of what’s really going on.

        To Steve’s point, if God truly wanted a relationship with us, why ignore us down here in this life and give us insufficient evidence of a life after this where we are told he’ll spend time with us forever? Feelings, intuition, hopes, wishes, dreams, etc… are not evidence of a relationship…or a god.

        I’ve never understood why those who are called to spread the “good news” have a hard time doing do without saying that others just have to experience it for themselves. I’m not singling you out either. I was right there with you. As a believer, I was charged with the task of sharing the gospel to bring people to Christ. I never took that to mean I was to just read the words of it to others, but rather to show the effects of it in my life in order to convince others it was true. When I couldn’t do it, I accepted the fact that I had no good reason to believe it. I couldn’t even convince myself, let alone anyone else. If people can’t be convinced by believers, then only God would be able to do it. I assume, since he’s not around here anywhere, that would mean praying for it. Which many do. I did. People by the billions do. The fact that many reject it from the start or lose their faith after many years like I did is a testament to the fact that no one is answering those prayers. And that’s a big problem in a religion built on faith.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. We definitely need to refocus our priorities.
    I am so happy you have found enjoyment in writing, and hopefully income eventually.
    It’s good to remember we need to find some balance in our lives so we don’t go crazy.
    I am looking forward to 24+ more years with you too.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Ben, if your faith was like an addiction which now feels like abuse and has led to shame, it had to die for you to be healthy. In that sense, it is a good thing, I think.

    Have you thought that maybe there is something even beyond atheism, that non-belief can also be part of healing and someone’s spiritual journey?

    I can tell you equivocally that if I experienced Christian faith or thought of it in the way that many deconverts share over the internet, I certainly wouldn’t be a Christian either.

    I agree with so much of what you write about, Ben. I think we are supposed to be living in the here and now, being mindful, enjoying life. I’m not just looking for “pie in the sky” after I die. πŸ™‚

    To give one example relating to what Steve shared. I don’t think God needs our worship at all. It is for our benefit not His.

    To be human is to exercise freedom. God didn’t make us to be just like mindless “groupies.”

    I think you are right, you should enjoy your family and live your life. Whatever does not ultimately lead to freedom and joy is not from God.

    Hope you catch plenty of fish this spring and summer. Love those kids. They grow up fast. πŸ™‚


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