In Part 1, I had turned my back on my erstwhile mentor and her sect of “believers”. Instead of rediscovering my faith with another group, I found myself discovering the pleasures of alcohol, drugs and sex. My then girlfriend was just as sexually adventurous as I was and wasn’t opposed to the occasional drug induced blackout. She gave me a novel by Max Simon Ehrlich called The Cult to read that had a more profound effect on me than it should have. I started researching “religious organisations” like The Heaven’s Gate, Jim Jones and the People’s Temple, The movement for the Restoration of the Ten Commandments of God in Uganda and Aum Shinrikyo in Japan. I further researched other mythologies such as Greek, Roman, and African Religions and saw unnerving similarities between them all. With the prevalence of megachurches and celebrity pastors, I realised Christianity and organised religion was nothing more than a vehicle for megalomaniacs to milk the weak minded and exercise their “God Complexes.” I even went as far as likening the Bible to the novelisation of the 1980 film “Clash of the Titans”. I called myself an atheist and was proud of it. I actively sought out religious nuts just to crush their beliefs in debate backed by science and even passages from their own bible. My girlfriend backed me throughout my rants and atheistic stance until one summer when she “found god”. It had something to do with a tragedy in her family and a wise youth pastor from their local church. Honestly I wasn’t listening at the time. I was too consumed with disgust that a person who I believed was woke and enlightened like me would be suckered into believing in fairy tales all over again. We called it quits when she kept trying to bring me “into the light”. I had plotted a new path for my life and it didn’t include some white bearded old man with a throne in the clouds.
Life continued after college and so did my path. I was reacquainted with Lynnett during my first year after graduation. We had dated in high school and the adult her impressed me with her raw intellect and exceedingly low tolerance for rhetoric. She was a believer but not devout enough to turn down a good drink. She called herself a baby Christian and yearned for a deeper understanding of the Christian faith. She kept speaking of “an encounter” she prayed to have. At the time, I never really understood what she was on about but simply went along because I loved her. I softened my position, in front of her anyway, just so we could get along. She’d invite me to attend church with her, and I would go along just to make her happy. Most times I would simply zone out and day dream throughout the services. We moved to South Africa and she managed to secure lucrative employment but the story was not as remarkable for me. I sent out job applications but none garnered favourable responses. For close to a year, we relied on her salary and for some reason her faith grew. She stopped drinking and started a veracious prayer regime. We were barely surviving hand to mouth and there she was believing that we were part of some grand plan by an omnipotent spirit in the sky who would eventually reveal the deeper truth within our suffering. It made no sense to me.
In this haze of confusion, we discovered that we were pregnant. Our little bundle of joy was born frail into an unforgiving world. We fought through two months until I finally received a break and finally got a job. Half way through my first day at my long a waited job, I received a phone call from my wife. She was hysterical and her voice was drenched in tears. But I got the message. Our little man had been restless all night and the morning was no better. My wife had finally managed to settle him down and decided to sing him a lullaby. Her face was the last thing he ever saw as he drifted off into eternal sleep. This only reaffirmed my assertion that there was no grand design by an all knowing God or supreme being. There was no God. If there was, then he was indeed the cruel flesh eating Spirit of my high school priest. What loving God would finally give a man the means to cater for his family with one hand and take away a third of that family with the other hand on the same day? I thought this would finally sound the death knell for my wife’s idiotic beliefs, but this tragic event however, had the opposite effect. She immersed herself deeper into her bible and prayer.
After the tears and heartache, we lived through the wrecks of our lives and began to gather what was left. When we finally felt that sanity had prevailed within both of us, we began trying for another child. For three years we tried. Doctors confirmed that there was nothing amiss with either one of us and it was just a matter of timing. I drank all manner of concoctions highly recommended by uncles, friends, grandparents and strangers that were meant to boost my virility. My inexplicable wife however, stuck to praying to her imaginary friend. Besides the foul potions I consumed in copious amounts, what annoyed me the most during this period was my wife’s prayers. I’d listen to her ramble on during our bedtime prayers about how much I needed to feel “His” presence in my life. She prayed for me more than she did for herself. After what seemed like an eternity of having my bowels scrubbed clean by nondescript dried roots, rust powders and what I could’ve sworn was a cockroach milkshake, we fell pregnant again. Lynnett attributed it to the almighty blessing us but I still believed it was yet another process of science stimulated by conducive conditions.
I was at home alone one afternoon flipping through channels on the TV. For some reason I found myself thinking of our unborn child and a profound dread came over me. What if the same fate that befell our first son was to befall the second. What if the forces of the universe decided to conspire against us as they did before and claim our child to maintain whatever cosmic balance? All of a sudden, I felt my chest tighten and my heart started bouncing against my rib cage. I tried to stand but a bizarre numbness possessed my legs and fingers and the room began spinning. I felt myself being pulled to my knees and the first words that came to my mouth were “Please God”. At that moment, I didn’t look to the rationalisations of science to explain the events and dispel my insecurities. My lips took a life of their own and I began praying. But the words were not for my life, which at that time I believed was in imminent peril, but for that of my child. I remembered how the deities I had studied were all moved to action by a subject’s sacrifice and offering. All I thought to give at that time was my life. As I knelt there sweat pouring out of every orifice with my hand clutched to my chest, a bizarre wave of peace and calm swept over me. Right then, that’s when I felt it. It was like a thousand butterflies engaged in an aerial ballet inside my chest. Then a gentle push and mild shuffling. Not violent or in aid of some escape but simply to signify presence. Then I felt the voice of Jesus rather than heard it. It was in these three words, “It is done”. It was as if I had waited my whole life up until that moment just to hear those three words. It was at that moment with my face drenched in tears and sweat, that I rededicated my life to Jesus Christ and began searching to reignite that fire I had as a child.
I would later be told by the academic and educated in human anatomy that what I experienced was a “garden variety” panic attack that yoga, deep breathing or herbal medicine could’ve easily cured. But what I experienced can never be quantified into words or expressed in any academic text. Now, blessed with the gift if hindsight, I realise that I was never really an atheist. What I practiced was antitheism. It wasn’t enough for me to dismiss the existence of God but I had to bastardise the scriptures as well. I actively sought out conflict with believers not just to crush them in debate but to recruit them over to my side of the fence. Though I presented my dismissal of faith as a product of consistent disillusionment with Christianity and its practitioners, deep down I knew the real reason. I simply needed a justification for enjoying and exceedingly indulging my sinful lifestyle. I felt the only way I could engage in acts of indiscriminate debauchery with a clear conscience was if there was no moral yard stick standing against it. In deepest recesses of my essence I believe I knew God existed and even during my period of raging atheism/antitheism I still found myself praying before I ate sometimes. Today my wife and I have a healthy and extremely adventurous son who also has a burley rugby player for a little brother. The journey hasn’t been easy and I still find the “old me” trying to claw back and at times he gets in a few good punches. It’s an ongoing fight. But knowing that I have this life growing inside of me each day that I feed and nurture, keeps me buoyant. And like Steve Harvey said “He ain’t through with me yet”.