Atheists: To Whom (If Anyone) Are You Ultimately Grateful?
John ShoreBesides here on Crosswalk, John blogs on JohnShore.com.
- 2009 Jan 22
A while ago I posted An Honest Question: Atheists, How Do You Process Your Guilt?. The question I asked in that piece has been on my mind, because I've lately had occasion to feel truly overwhelming happiness as a result of some stuff happening in my personal life.
We often reference and feel the succor that God offers us in times of grief and pain, but I can honestly say that I'm as grateful for my belief in God when I'm experiencing extreme joy as when crippled by pain. And I mean really grateful, because if I didn't have a God to whom I could send up my gratitude that is so far beyond my ability to comprehend or grasp, I'm not sure I'd know what to do with the intensity of that emotion. It feels like I would just explode.
You know how that is. Your children form a tableau in which it's evident they're at perfect peace with the world. Or you're watching your spouse as he or she sleeps, and have that moment where it moves through you what a wonderful choice you made, what a superb man or woman you're spending your life with. Or you work really hard at something for a very long time, and it produces tangible results beyond anything you ever dared imagine it might.
All those sorts of moments, you know, where you feel that sheer, crazy, almost immobilizing joy.
And right then, when I feel that feeling, I am sooooo glad that I believe in God. Otherwise, I just can't imagine what I would do with that emotion---which, for me, so quickly turns into gratitude.
So atheists/agnostics! Tell me what you do with your extreme joy and happiness. Does joy of that turn for you into gratitude? I am truly and seriously wondering. I'm not trying to trap you, or any of that nonsense. I genuinely want to know. I'm Considerably Dense, but I'm not so slow that I think that only people who believe in God ever feel so joyful and grateful that crying is basically the only response to it.
And I know that when I feel grateful in that way, everything in me seems to naturally and spontaneously . . . pour skyward.
Anyway, if you see what I'm asking: When you feel the kind of joy and happiness that I'm here (so lamely) trying to articulate, what do you do with it? Does it fly upwards for you, too? Or does it stay inside you, and sort of ... I don't know ... bounce around in there, making your insides ring and light up like a pinball machine? Does joy of that sort become gratitude for you---and, if so, what do you do with it?
C'mon. We Christians are always telling you how you can experience Extreme Joy with God. Share with us, if you would, how you experience it without God.