As a Christian, all glory is meant to be directed heavenwards. It doesn’t matter how much work, effort or intelligence you put in, if something is successful it’s: “Praise God” or “Hallelujah” and “thank ya, Jeezus!”.
As an atheist, I have learned the joy of being able to claim my hard work, intelligence and effort as my own. It’s great at the end of a hard day, to crawl into bed with a sigh of satisfaction knowing that I did it.
I’m the one who kept my patience and loved my son through another screaming fit and remained calm while he puked all over me for the umpteenth time. I’m the one who still had the capacity to care for and feed my family after a long day at work. I’m the one who did the dishes and gathered the energy to clean the bathroom.
For someone who has spent the bulk life having to accept all my shortcomings as being my own sinful nature or my fault, while giving credit to god for anything good in me, it is extremely freeing and empowering to be able to say, actually, this is all me. Everything. The good, the bad and the ugly. When I fail, when I succeed, it’s me.
It is from MY strength, MY power, MY wisdom, MY tenacity that I have done the amazing, incredible, wonderful things I have done.
Just as it is from MY weakness, MY stupidity, MY laziness, MY complacency that I have made mistakes and fallen-short.
I have learned that, without relying on a god, most things in my life have remained absolutely the same as they were when I did rely on one. And it’s because there is one majorly important factor that didn’t change when I became an atheist:
I’m still here.
My personality, my characteristics-all the things that truly made me who I am-have stayed the same. I still fight for the things in which I believe. I still show compassion to others. I’m still very giving of my time, energy and resources. I still feel deep empathy for those suffering. I still face every day hoping to do my best to handle what comes my way and to love those around me to the best of my ability. I still lose my temper. I still whine about things that make me uncomfortable. I still get lazy and loaf around.
The only difference?
When I’ve done a good job at something, I can take the credit for it and feel proud instead of having to give all the credit away to someone or something else.
Now I feel whole.