I Scared The Hell Out of Myself!
By Nate Gaunder
I remember being young, obviously. I remember being told a lot of things, especially in Sunday school. I learned a lot about this guy named God. I was taught that God was the creator of all existence by literally everyone in the church! They would tell me he is the beginning and the end, the alpha and the omega, he was king. I was taught that he is the one who made me, as well as everyone and everything else. Turns out, that God was also my father? This was news to me since I already had a dad, yet everyone knew. A matter of fact, God was everyone’s father. “Who’s your daddy, and what does he do?” My daddy made the universe! I also learned a lot about God’s son Jesus. He was a Jew, something everyone made clear. I was taught that Jesus was the reason why I get to live with him and God forever! Oh, and he too was also my father.
[Side note: So God is our father, as well as Jesus’s father? Yet Jesus himself is also our father? But Jesus is not God’s father? Jesus is his son? But they are not related, yet they are the same? Hmm… think of Jesus as God’s adopted son, and we are his less fortunate spoiled kids. Damn, child support must be a bitch! ]
So Jesus, I was told, is our savior because he died for our sins! How did he do that? Well a good old fashion story of torture does the trick. I was told that he was whipped, beaten, had food thrown at him, people mocked him, he was spit on, all while dragging a cross up this hill! To top it all off, once he got to the top of the hill, he was nailed to that very cross, then he was stabbed with a spear! The fuck?! However I took it at the age of 5, all I know is that we needed to feel super bad for him and that we should thank him for killing himself, I mean ‘sacrificing’ himself, even though he was just going to come back to life.
[Side note: For me personally, nothing about the story of Jesus’s ‘death and resurrection’ impressed me. He was going to rise again, right?! All you have to do is skip ahead a few pages to find that shit out. So, what sacrifice? What Death? Why death? Why torture? Why couldn’t he just forgive us? Why do we even need to be saved? What is it that we have to be saved from? The plot doesn’t add up, and that’s why it’s good to read ahead. ]
Sometimes they would bring up God’s Holy Ghost, but “don’t worry” they would tell me, this is a friendly ghost. Not like Casper, he’s evil. This ghost is like the family pet, and this pet wants to be your best pal and keep you on God’s path. Sweet! There were also angels who lived with God. Angels were like God’s fairies. Along with his son Jesus and their pet ghost, they lived in this place called Heaven. Heaven is supposed to be this magical palace with an army of fairies and streets of gold and what not. Picture a catholic church, but in space! God ruled his kingdom with authority and love! Nothing could go wrong! Well, little did I know, there was this whole other messed up side to this story that was already kind of demented!
I found out that this asshole fairy named ‘Lucifer’ wanted to over throw God. He convinced a 3rd (roughly) of heaven’s fairies to join him so that together they all could defeat God! Needless to say, that didn’t work. God then takes hold of Lucifer! “You want to rule something?” God would say furiously “You can be the ruler of earth!” At least that was what I was told.
[Side note: I would always picture God holding Lucifer by the throat, lifting him up off the ground as Lucifer would gasp for air. God then would hold him up over the earth, deliver that mind blowing “fuck you” to his face, then let him go, and by ‘go’ I mean God tosses him away like a bad habit! ]
He cast him down from heaven, along with the other fairies, and started to do evil things. First, they stopped calling themselves fairies, demons is more suitable. They would tempt, taunt, and even possess people. Lucifer, well, I guess even he changed his name. He changed his name to Satan. I can see why he did that, considering that his nick name would of most likely had been ‘Lucy’. So Satan ruled earth, and he is the reason why there are so many bad things happening in the world. More importantly, there is this evil place where all evil resides. This was a place for all the people who refused to believe in Jesus, where only the worst of the worst lived. People would be tortured and burned for all eternity, not even a drop of water. I would imagine it would be like living inside a volcano, experiencing all the horrible “I’m burning alive” feeling, but you never die! So yeah, for all eternity?! Even at the age of 30 writing this right now, that is simply something that I can’t even begin to grasp; eternity? All I knew then was that it meant forever, obviously.
Hell, for me, didn’t scare me much as a little kid, however it did give me a really fucked up view of the world and everyone in it. Whenever my mom would take me out shopping for clothes at the local thrift shops, I couldn’t help but stare at everyone around me. I would be lost in a haze of confusion; I would be asking myself “how many of these people are going to hell?” It didn’t make sense. I would never see for any reason why any of the people I’d see on a daily basis would have to go to such a horrible place. They seem like nice people. But if they didn’t know, nor want to know God, then that means that they must be bad people. It never freaked me out to see many potential hell dwellers in my midst. Still, I didn’t know if non-believers could be trusted. The thought of it all started to give me horrible anxiety! Trying to make sense of it all at such a young age was stressful, so I would bottle my emotions and refuse to think about any of it, that is, until I got older.
When I was about 18 the idea of hell began to take hold. Many times I would lay in my room at night thinking about all the people who would be going to hell. It was scary, it was sad. I would think of close friends of mine, the ones who weren’t saved. The thought that they would burn for all eternity, it would bring tears to my eyes. My chest would tighten, I felt overwhelmed. One night, while feeling overwhelmed, I went out for a walk to try to make sense of it all. While walking, I stopped on this bridge overlooking the water. I couldn’t help but think “why does anyone have to go to hell? Why do my friends have to? Are they that bad of people? Can I sacrifice myself? Can I give up my seat in heaven so someone else can take my place?” It made me feel very shitty that night. That was the first time I thought ‘what’s the joy of heaven’?
Aside from that, hell caused me to be scared of nearly everything! Scary movies, scary looking dolls, really bad music, scary TV shows, scary commercials, bible stories, ‘paranormal activity’, which I thought was real!
[Side note: The 2009 film ‘Paranormal Activity’ scared the fuck out of me! I actually thought that it was a real life film. After watching it, I didn’t sleep for 3 nights. My anxiety was so intense, I was just waiting for Toby, the fairy, to come into my room and throw me down a flight of stairs. No satisfaction being thrown down a flight of stairs by a fairy. ]
I would always anticipate an encounter with a demon. I always thought it would happen in my basement. Basements are scary as shit! Yet, I know as long as I believed in Jesus I would be okay. Jesus ‘will take away your fears’ they’d say, he didn’t. I would still get anxious; my heart would feel as if it was bursting out of my chest. At times it was hard to even breathe “Is this it? Is Satan trying to get me?” I would think to myself! My anxiety was through the roof! Despite it all, I would tell myself that “It’s ok, it can’t all be real?”
A couple years ago I felt driven to study the religion that was I was brought up in. I began my journey by reading reviews and essays online, as well as studying early Christianity, the crusades, listening to audio books, YouTube and most importantly, Science! I started to have major doubts about all of it, especially when I mainly focused on the Bible. I thought that it was important for me to read the bible as an adult, since that last time I skimmed through it was when I was a kid.
[Side note: I say “as an adult” because there is a huge difference between reading the bible from when you’re a kid opposed to an adult. Opinions change and you’re a lot smarter when you’re older.]
I decided to read the Bible as I would any book, to read a story, to see if it would be a good one, or a bad one? Well long story short it sucks, like a lot. It’s pretty twisted at times, there are zombies, pregnant virgins, talking snakes and donkey’s, apples that fuck you and the entire human race over. There is plenty sex, drinking, death, rape, murder, torture, fairies, demons, and many lectures on purity. It has poor character development and it’s horribly scripted (regardless for being nearly 2000 years old). It’s like bad science fiction meets Dragon Heart, except the dragon is way nicer and the dragon doesn’t command you to rape anyone. One thing that I noticed, or didn’t notice, was that there was really nothing in regards to hell. It talks a bit about ‘the lake of fire’ but that doesn’t answer any of my questions? How was hell thoroughly made? Who works there? How hot is it? Do I at least get my own room? Is it like prison? Do I have to shit in the open? Could one make a collect call to heaven to see how things are going? Nope, there is squat! I’d think to myself “is hell even real? Does anybody know?” My mind began to question things; thoroughly!
Studying as much as I could, I realized that none of it was actually real?! There are no demons, there is no Satan, and there is absolutely no such place as hell! I couldn’t believe it! My mind did a complete 180 degree turn. “This shit was never real!?” I’d think to myself. Wow, how my younger self would have loved to have known this. Years and years of anxiety fearing that my friends would go to hell. To be honest, I thought I was going to hell, despite being a Christian. I always assumed I’d be going there since I never liked being a Christian, hated going to church, never understood the pastoral message, and never was impressed by Jesus and, more importantly, I didn’t care about God. I knew when I was a young teenager that I was going to end up going down below. It was a scary thought! But I couldn’t bring myself to actually want to go to heaven if none of my good friends would be joining me. Though I know that it is all a crock of dog shit, the anxiety is still there, I still know what that feeling is like. It’s also somewhat embarrassing that I fell for it! That I actually thought this was a real life situation. Wow, how naive one can be, but then again, I was 5 when I was taught this horrifying story! However, I now know that I will never encounter a demon fairy! It’s a huge relief to know that no one has to suffer such a horrible fate! I know I won’t suffer that fate, or my kids, or my wife. I know that when we die, we will simply die. No torture, no fire, just an eternal sleep. To know that when the time comes and we take in our last breath, we will return to what we were before all of it started!
Now, can I get an amen?!