Chapter 2:3 - Losing Faith
In Everything I Believed In
< Chapter 2:2 Chapter 2:4 >
At 8 years old, I began losing faith in everything I was taught about God, life and the idea that I would have any kind of future. I was still in the hospital rehabilitating from the operation where they amputated my leg when the next event was to rock my world. I screamed for my mother one morning as I was getting ready to start the day. I was in the bathroom and I stood in horror as I started urinating blood. I don’t know if you can imagine the thoughts that run through your mind as a child having just gone through the trauma of losing your leg. And less than a month later, as you begin to question your religious beliefs, you look down and see a toilet that is blood red. I’m thinking to myself, “Ok, now I really pissed God off. I questioned him and started losing faith, and now he is really angry.” I don’t know about you, but as children we were taught that there are certain things you just don’t question?
Another thing we learn as a child is that “because” is a very powerful word. As a child we start asking questions like “Why is the sky blue? Why can’t my puppy talk like you and I? Why do I have to eat my oatmeal?” And very patiently, our parents start every answer with “Because…” followed by the best explanation they could give to help us understand. As we get older and become even more curious, we look for the deeper meanings in things. So after our parents give us the first answer, our curious little minds want to know more so we ask, “But why is it that way?” And again they do their best by saying, “Well, it’s because…” Now I don’t know if you know anyone like this, but there are some children out there, who still need to know more. They’ll say something silly like, “But why?” At this point, many of our parent’s become a little less patient and start answering with things like “Because I said so.” And soon it turns into just “Because.” Have you ever noticed a child at this point? They have become so programmed to the response that when the authority figure says “Because”, they just walk away like they are thinking to themselves. “Ok, that’s just the way it is.”
As a child, my religion had a lot of that “because” structure built into it. Life was the way it was because God decided it was going to be that way. And when the authority figure ran out of reasons for the “why” questions, it became “Because God wants it that way. It’s not for us to question.” So I figured if you persisted in asking one of those kinds of questions that only God knew the answer for, you were showing him that you were losing faith and could really make him mad. You know that look your parent’s used to get when they got to just using the word “Because.” It was one of those, “Ask me again, and I’ll spank your behind” kind of looks. Well there I was, imagining I questioned God too many times. When an 8 year old thinks he pissed God off… his world dramatically changes.
So as I stood in the bathroom looking at the toilet with the water turning red from my urine, all I could think was “I questioned God. I questioned his existence. I must have really made him mad now.” Ideas of a horrible death were running through my mind. I’m thinking to myself, “He took my leg because he was mad about something and I don’t even know what I did. Now, for me to know I’m doing something to make him mad, and continue to do it anyways; I’m looking out for the plague.” I was terrified.
We started making trips to different doctors and hospitals to find out what the problem was. After being directed to a urologist and after several painful tests, they found that I had a problem with one of my kidneys. There is a tube called the “urator” which runs between your kidney and bladder. My left urator was closing off for some unknown reason.
Think about this from the perspective of an 8 year old for a moment. I’m already thinking I made God really mad. And now the Doctors are telling me that they don’t know why this is happening to me, they can’t come up with any explanation. That just became even more reinforcement for me that God was really punishing me. I was told that I would need to go in for more surgery and if this surgery weren’t done, I would risk kidney failure.
I’m going to review a couple of points again, because I don’t think people can really fathom what is happening with a child when all of this is going on. I’m 8 yrs old, I’ve just lost my leg and can’t understand why. My beliefs at that time are that God was a “punishing God“, a vengeful God, and that for some reason, a reason that I couldn’t fathom I had pissed him off. Now… add to that the belief that if you really want to get God mad… question him on his actions. If you do that… you are showing that you are losing faith, and if you begin losing faith… you’ll be punished for that. And now, to support that idea, I have gotten the reassurance that I had been a bad boy again and was being punished with more health problems that could not be explained.
From this small child’s perception, at least there was no doubt about one thing in my life anymore. Now I knew that I truly was a bad child. Somehow I had done something that had God absolutely furious with me. But what had I done? Why? The question continued to spin out of control. I looked at every aspect of my life. I was living by God’s commandments, I was going to church, I listened to my Mother and Grandmother… most of the time. I know I was selfish at times, but was that a big enough crime to get this kind of punishment?
The only answer that made any sense to me was… something I had heard the minister talk about in church, “The sins of the Father are passed on to the sons”. So maybe it wasn’t me after all. Maybe I was being punished for something my Dad did, or his dad before him. I had heard that my father drank a lot, and he did leave my mother standing at the altar. Maybe I was being punished for what he did. And where I made my big mistake was that rather than keeping my faith, and accepting God’s punishment for my father’s sins, I had questioned Him, I had begun losing faith, and now He was really angry.
And at the very same moment, I’m thinking to myself, “This isn’t fair, I didn’t do it… he did. What kind of God would do this to a child because of something his father did?” Again, there were the two conflicting ends of the spectrum. My religion is telling me to “have faith”, and my logic saying, “This isn’t fair, how can I have faith in such a vengeful God?”
I prayed, I really did, I prayed for forgiveness, for a miracle, for my leg back. I prayed for it to all just go away, for it to stop hurting. I prayed for people to stop staring, and for kids to stop laughing. I prayed to God asking for forgiveness. But it didn’t go away. As a matter of fact… it was going to get worse.
They scheduled my kidney surgery for July 9th 1974, which happened to be the day after my 9th birthday. So I got to spend Christmas and my Birthday in hospitals that year. I still remember that birthday. I celebrated my birthday with only my mother and the hospital staff. Because I was in the pediatric ward, none of my cousins were allowed in the hospital to help me celebrate turning 9 years old…
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The Warrior Sage Chapter/SectionWho Is Willard Barth?Author's NotesPreface - Exploring Strength And WeaknessChapter 1:1 - The Process Of Self-AwarenessChapter 1:2 The Stages Of Child DevelopmentChapter 2:1 The World Changed ForeverChapter 2:2 The Vicious Cycle Begins
Chapter 2:3 Losing FaithChapter 2:4 My Dark SecretChapter 2:5 Where Is the Love?Chapter 3:1 Seeking Paths Of AcceptanceChapter 3:2 The Road To Alcohol DependenceChapter 3:3 Leaving My Childhood BehindChapter 3:4 Escaping Responsibility; The Joy Ride EndsChapter 3:5 Living A Duality BeginsChapter 3:6 Out Of ControlChapter 3:7 Crossing The Line To InsanityChapter 3:8 The Black-out Drinking BeginsChapter 3:9 Facing The MusicChapter 3:10 A New BeginningChapter 3:11 More Lessons To LearnChapter 4:1 The Final PartyChapter 4:2 A Moment Of ClarityChapter 4:3 My New Life BeginsChapter 4:4 Sober - Time To Face The WorldChapter 4:5 The First Year Of SobrietyChapter 4:6 Major Change Comes In Year TwoChapter 4:7 My Daughter Is Born April 20, 1992Chapter 5:1 Life Changing Decisions Follow My Daughter's Birth Chapter 5:2 Recognizing The Voice InsideChapter 5:3 The Empress HotelChapter 5:4 A New Chapter In My Life BeginsChapter 6:1 Finding My Way HomeChapter 6:2 Falling Into PlaceChapter 6:3 A New AwarenessChapter 6:4 Personal Finances And Personal DevelopmentChapter 6:5 The George Washington StoryChapter 6:6 Letting Go So Others Can Grow Chapter 6:7 The Wrap Up
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