The sunset was beautiful tonight. The sky was a rainbow of colors; the clouds were wispy and light. It was the kind of sunset that, in the past, made me feel awe and wonder. It was the kind of sunset that made me stop for a moment and thank God for the beauty of his creation.
I didn’t thank God tonight for his creation, though. What I did do, however, was reflect on how I used to see things, and how I see them now. I still felt that same feeling of awe and wonder. I still felt that sense of peace in my heart when I see something beautiful and perfect. It made me think of the other things I used to believe in and how they are the same, yet different, without God.
I still appreciate the beauty and power of nature. There’s just something amazing about the world we live in—I truly can’t describe it. When I think about all of the things we know about our planet, our solar system, our universe…the life, the science, the microscopic to the massive…I am humbled. I am but a tiny part of this world and this life. And now, without God, I appreciate it even more.
I still believe in having and pursuing dreams. I used to hope and wish and pray for things to happen in my life. I used to believe in destiny…that God would create things in my life to happen the way they were supposed to. I was not very ambitious; if it were God’s will, then it would happen. “It” being…whatever God wanted it to be. I always felt that doing things that I wanted for myself would “put God on the back-burner” and it would be selfish of me to achieve things that may not be God’s will. I can think specifically of one example where I was faced with a big decision that I wanted to choose one way, but believed that it was not God’s will, so I chose another path. Ultimately, that path has taken me on a 14 year journey that has come full-circle, and I am choosing the other path this time…the one that I want. Except now, I know that I’m not being selfish. I know that I’m doing what is right for me, what feels right in my heart, what I can touch and feel and see with my own eyes as something good. Instead of hoping that God will “make a way”…I know that I have to make my own way. And instead of letting God be in control, I know that I hold the reigns. No one is in charge of my life but me. If I want to pursue a dream, then it is 100% on me to make it happen. No one is going to make things happen for me. For some, this might seem like a sad reality, but for me, it is liberating. I can finally have dreams! And goals! And I know with complete certainty that I can achieve them. It might be hard, it might feel impossible at times, but I have the power and ability to make my life what I want it to be.
I still have hope. Some people would say that atheists have no hope. Without the promise of heaven, what’s the point? I’ll tell you the point: life is a gift, no matter how you believe it was started. Without heaven, I’m spending my time doing and thinking about things that matter. I’m not going to settle for a good-enough life. I’m not going to say, “oh well, at least I have heaven to look forward to.” Life is short. Life is much too short to waste time being miserable, complacent, or ordinary. One of my favorite quotes from one of my absolute favorite people: “Life is too short to be anything but happy.” I believe in loving people, and loving them hard—giving all of myself to those I love, so that one day, when I am gone, I will still be remembered and loved. My hope is in the fact that there is a lot of good in this world. My hope is in the little things—enjoying a sunset and feeling awestruck. Because Life is Good. Life is Beautiful. And I don’t need God to show me that.