I consider myself agnostic now. Despite myriad past “spiritual witnesses,” I now find no compelling reason to believe there is a spiritual realm or next life. (I believe those past experiences of mine can be explained by the fact that the human brain has an exceptional ability to find patterns. Whenever I came across or experienced things that resembled what the church teaches, my brain most likely recognized the pattern and confirmation bias would set in: I was “receiving a witness of the truthfulness of the gospel.”)
Maybe I’m wrong, but I feel peace of conscience. (If there is a deity, wouldn’t he/she/they/it know my journey, my heart–my reasons for disbelief–and not condemn me? . . . )
Anyway, after leaving the religion of my youth (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints–“Mormons”), I have loved being able to serve in whatever volunteer capacities I choose, rather than having them assigned. Love docenting (being a tour guide) at our local art museum; being a spiritual care volunteer under the chaplain at the regional hospital; teaching the children in Religious Exploration class at our UU fellowship (ethical behavior, critical thinking, knowledge of world religions, etc); and serving as a support meeting moderator for people transitioning out of the LDS church here in Utah County! And since I’m used to dedicating a portion of our earnings for donations, I now love being able to use those funds to make charitable contributions to whatever organization, family, or individual I wish to support.
I’m not sure I’m more productive, however. I’ve suffered so much depression in the past that now, enjoying life is a huge priority. (Thank you, Wellbutrin, for mostly eliminating my depression!) I now spend a lot of my time talking (and smooching) with my husband, Erik, sharing thoughts on Facebook, strength training at the gym, taking naps, cooking fancy meals, tucking in my kids, going out to lunch with friends, practicing flamenco, enjoying long conversations with people I meet, saving money (aka “shopping sales”!), and experimenting with my wardrobe and makeup. Oh yes, and reading an occasional romance. 😉
I’m also trying to train myself in communicating more respectfully and patiently with my kids. If some of that rubs off on them, I think it will be one of the profoundest ways I can “leave a legacy” and “serve mankind.” (Kindness begets kindness . . .)
I’m grateful that a man I know asked a question today online concerning how people without a religious faith or belief in an afterlife choose to use this one life of theirs. More productive? Less productive? More selfish? Less selfish? Greater ambition? Less ambition? It provided me the impetus to write out these thoughts of mine.
–For those interested in viewing it, here’s a talk touching on existential angst which I gave at our UU fellowship last April: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=34SXKFZ5cxg