Dear Godless Girl: What Do You Fear?

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Photo by MudflapDC

Mira asks:

What do you fear? Do you fear death?

I appreciate Mira’s question because it always forces me to consider my priorities and do a little self-examination which, to be honest, I don’t do often enough.

My Past Panic

I recall viewing the life of an atheist to be like the journey of a tightrope walker without a net. Should she tumble, there would be no salvation from the tragic drop. Jesus was to me like a safety net that kept me from falling to my doom. If anything unpleasant could happen in the future, I had the hope that it would all work out for my good and that someone loved and cared for me enough to have a good plan for my life. Oh, and of course I would go to Heaven later, so really, shouldn’t that guard me from all fear? Sadly, this ideal didn’t work out well in practice.

As a believer who valued my faith as my most prized possession, I still feared just about everything: sinning, caring what others thought of me, conflict, loss, disappointing God by not fulfilling his will for my life, and the list goes on. Let’s take a tiny glimpse into my thoughts back in the day:

Does God want me to major in Communications or Marketing? How far is too far with my boyfriend? Is lying to save someone’s life a sin? Oh no, I missed church again! My sexuality is shameful, but I can’t stop desiring physical affection.  Should I be Catholic or Messianic? If I die without repenting my sins, will I be shamed in front of God?  Please God, tell me what to do! Am I sinning by feeling a call to the mission field and then not pursuing it? I don’t pray as much as she does; does that mean I’m a bad Christian? What if I choose the wrong Bible translation to read? How do I know when I’ve met “the one?” What if I don’t believe in Hell anymore? What job should I apply for? I feel so ashamed that I dislike evangelism so much. What if I’m not praying hard enough for my father to be healed? Could he die because I didn’t have enough faith? What if…? Which one…? Help!

One reason for all this anxiety was a lack of self-confidence. Because I could only trust God and not myself to be strong, capable, or to make the right choices, I was constantly doubting my own abilities and decisions. Not having a true freedom of choice, I was left to rely on guesswork about God’s will. If things went wrong, it was probably my fault. I was a fearful Christian, despite having a hope of salvation and love from God.

My Present Peace

Mira, I’m not going to lie and say I don’t fear anything. Here’s a nice list:

  • I have a phobia of large ships.
  • I’m afraid of someone I love dying suddenly. Because that’s terribly sad and difficult, and I don’t enjoy grief.
  • I become anxious when confronted with something difficult I have to do for the first time–especially when I don’t know how to do it.
  • I fear (or rather, I try to avoid) the emotions of embarrassment, shame, loneliness, and sadness.
  • I do fear failure.
  • I fear violence upon my person.

Do I also fear death? Not in the sense that I fear what comes after death, because I do not think anything happens except body decay and a recycling of my physical self back into the earth and thus the universe of which I am such a tiny part. I think the only times I fear death are when I consider the many horrific ways there are to die. My morbid mind has watched too much news and too much dramatic television. I don’t want to be scared, in pain, or to die without my loved ones around me. Other than that, I don’t fear death. I have one life, and that is all; that is fine.

Being an atheist certainly is living life on a wire. Instead of fearing a fall to the ground, I train harder, try to make better decisions, and concentrate on building myself and my confidence so I can make it across. No one–and no net–is going to save me.

Is this scary? I don’t think so. In fact, I am  happier about who I am and what value I hold even more than when I claimed the Creator of the Universe loved me and spoke to me on a personal basis. My ego has shrunk, and reality has helped me live a better life.

No one has a plan for my life but me. My choices are my own. My mistakes don’t have eternal consequences and rewards; they have real consequences, and I need to care about them. I don’t have to guess what some other person thinks is right or wrong; I am responsible unto myself and the law of the land.

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14 Comments


  1. I fear the Reaper, though I’m told not to.

  2. I fear death in a similar way. I don’t fear being dead at all, I fear leaving my children before I get the chance to see them grow up. I fear leaving them without a mother (because they are MY children, and no one else could ever mother them like ME!). Also, I am the “fun parent”, so that would suck for them. :D

    • Awww!

      When my dad died, he had to come to terms with leaving us behind. He was also had an anxiety disorder, so he found peace through preparing practical things for us that he had control over: saving money, teaching practical tasks, spending time with us, making sure things were in order with his business, etc. Anything else was out of his control, and he had to trust that we’d be okay (and we are!).

  3. RE: MY PRESENT PEACE

    It might surprise some readers to realize that at least one bible author seemed to believe that death was the end of consciousness: Read the book of Ecclesiastes. To me that book sounds very existentialist.

    In my opinion, being a Christian does not oblige a person believe in every belief expressed by one of the Bible’s authors.

    The truth is, every Christian has to pick and choose which scriptures to believe literally, which ones to emphasize and which to downplay. Every Christian does this, without exception, and this is one reason we have so many branches of Christianity today.

  4. I fear inadequacy. I fear imperfection. I don’t fear death, violence upon my person, or the after-life. But I do fear Imperfection. How stupid is that, when you think about it. The thought of death just doesn’t phase me because I don’t care. If I die, I die. It happens. Sometimes I feel a momentary fear for what might happen afterwards, but that feeling leaves as soon as I remember that without eyes, I will not see, without ears I will not hear, and without nerves I will not feel, so it really shouldn’t matter. I don’t fear violence against my person because I just don’t want to spend everyday fearing what someone or something might do to me if I did the wrong thing, although perhaps if I lived under different circumstances I would feel differently about that. The after life kinda goes along with what I said about death. If I burn in a fiery pit for all eternity, I won’t care, because I won’t be able to physically or mentally feel it. That’s the point of being dead.

  5. Rejection. Failure. Not being able to look after my family. There are probably other things that I can’t think of just now.

  6. I appreciate your thoughtful posts, GG, and this is a good one.

    I don’t know any Christians who don’t have to deal with fears and anxieties, sometimes made worse by the (mistaken) feeling that it’s wrong to have fears or anxieties. It sounds like your dad handled his anxiety in a really good way that helped you as well as him. I’m glad you had him, even though it wasn’t for as long as you wanted.

  7. I fear heights, scorpions, and roaches.

  8. I’m a Christian. I’ve been here a lot. I like GG. @ROOFWOOKER…I would. Id tell you my fears. I’m afraid of many things…just not the christian you picture (i hope, I think) tatted and rockin it, I’m judged and put through hell…i keep going. It’s cool, I can take it. I still believe, but here this, I’m scared all day I’ll frick that up. Lol. Great post indeed. xoxo gg

  9. A fear of large ships? Is no one going to address this?

  10. I am glad godless girl is does do have a religious degree of faith in atheism. It means I can actually talk science on this blog should I choose too.

    Speaking of science I’m curious if this blog author has studied or majored in biology? I wish to know how many nonbiologists believe in evolution.

  11. Hi there. I stumbled across your blog today looking up information about a childfree life. I’m curious about one thing you mentioned. When you were a believer you said you claimed your creator spoke to you. This has always perplexed me about believers. I’ve always been curious what exactly they thought being spoke to was? Through the things that were happening?? If you could shed some light on that aspect of your past, that would be quite awesome. Thank you. And thank you for such a lovely blog. We have quite a lot in common!!

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