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Thread: For those 60+ and not Christian... page 2

  1. #11
    Mike in Virginia's Avatar
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    Fascinating question. I have to come at it from an unusual angle. I'm 61 and felt empty for years. I had no belief in God, and figured that I just had to survive long enough for my daughters to get out of college and on with their lives. At that point, I would just continue to exist until my time was up.

    Then, in January of this year, I met a woman through an incredibly unlikely sequence of events. We ended up falling in love, and are now engaged; we will be married next March. Not only was our meeting unlikely, but we are from such different backgrounds that it boggles the mind. I grew up in small town USA; she grew up in the Bronx. She is from a broken home; my parents were together until my father passed last year. She is 12 years younger than I am. She is black; I am white. No way we should be a perfect fit. But we are.

    As I look back at it all, I can only think that we were guided. I'm sure it sounds strange, but I have come to think that God put us together. Yes, my faith has been restored, and it is wonderful.
    Live your life and love your life. It's the only one you get.

  2. #12
    JoanieL's Avatar
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    A little shy of your age parameter. Married twice, plus a couple of 7+ year live-in relationships; I'm basically a serial monogamist. And an atheist for about 30 years. No kids.

    I'm not sure about empty, but sure, I've had times in my life where it seems that there wasn't much meaning in my life. I'm a bit of a loner. I was bookish as a kid. There was a period of time in high school when I hung with a group of six girls, but other than that, I usually have two or three close friends and other than that don't socialize much. Funny enough, I like city living because when I'm in the mood to cut loose, I can do it with strangers, get in a cab afterward, and not think about it again.

    I like being coupled when I'm part of a couple, but I like being single also. What I don't like is when I feel lonely even in a relationship - that hurts, and that's usually when I figure out a way to extricate myself. Perhaps I'm too much of a romantic to stay once that happens.

    I don't know if believing in a sentient creator has anything to do with it, but personally, I'm much more comfortable not believing in a creator that would let children suffer, would let disease ruin and shorten lives, etc. If I believed in such a creator, I'd probably be angry all the time.

    To be perfectly honest with you, I've never personally seen a long marriage that I envied. I'm not saying they're not out there, just that I've never seen one.

    So, sometimes life seems a little blah, but mostly it's fun or interesting. And since I've had periods of time when I was on my own, I know that if I'm bored or blue, I can change that. I just have to pack up the car and go.

  3. #13
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    I'm younger (45) and divorced after a 10 year relationship/marriage and have been with my current boyfriend about 3 years after having been friends for 13, so coming from a different place, but I've definitely been through multiple periods (including quite the existential crisis at the moment) of emptiness, or longing for something more/else. I'm also an atheist with no children. I think the thing about having children and/or a religion is that it gives you something to fill that empty space. People get "empty nest syndrome" because of a sudden loss of the distraction. If you never had that distraction then it can be brought on by something else, loss, upheaval, change in ones life of some sort, that makes you question your place in the universe. The first major incident I had was after I had gotten off drugs and had to face life head on, including who I had been for much of that life. This one seems to be triggered by my divorce (amicable, we're still friends), moving back to the states and finding someone that I love intensely, along with quite a bit of self realization.

    The first time I was comforted by my own insignificance, as it allowed me to forgive myself. Unfortunately that approach isn't as effective these days. One thing that I've found is helpful is making things. There's something about the act of creation that helps remove you from mundane, even if it's simple, if you can throw yourself into the act it can be like a form of meditation. (Unless it goes wrong, then it's self flagellation.) Winter can be particularly difficult, as you're stuck inside for much of the time, so there's the lack of sunlight thing, but also much of what I do is done outside (gardening, working on furniture- I REALLY, REALLY want a workshop.) so I have much more time to dwell on what I would rather be doing. I've been able to come up with things to do, and we have two very active dogs that don't allow us too much rest, so that helps.

    If you're having a really hard time of it, I saw the other post you made about feeling depressed, please find someone to help you. A good therapist is invaluable as long as you view them as a tool to be used and not a miracle worker. They've helped me save my life. Otherwise, a really good friend or trusted family member that will listen without judging is helpful.

  4. #14
    Sabine's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sakura_girl View Post
    since I am a scientist by nature[...]

    [...] in which case the love slowly dwindled to a life partner (which I assume is the case for the large majority of relationships).

    [...] since this really is a Paleo forum, I would understand that most people are not Christian.
    Why do you assume this? Or understand that? Seems contrary to your nature.

    (Okay, I'm not over 60, and I don't know if I'm a Christian or not, but I had to see what this thread was about. Also, intrigued by OP asking people to share without doing so themselves first. Isn't that the typical arrangement?)

    Along with Marcadav, I think everyone feels empty at times. And regardless of age, religion, marital status, it is up to the individual to fill or deal with their own particular emptiness.

  5. #15
    Lewis's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sakura_girl View Post
    Do you at times feel empty? Despite having a wonderful marriage for so many years, if at all. Please share
    Not 60+, not married. Neither do I attend worship at any church, although I'm not against it either.

    This kind of makes an interesting pair with an earlier thread you started about happiness. I guess the Buddhists would see religion and the problem of happiness as connected.

    This is interesting, too:

    I have always been at odds with my religion, since I am a scientist by nature
    I think some people like to portray "science" as being at odds with "religion". I'm not convinced it is -- which I guess you were saying, too. I think science gives a particular view onto the world -- like looking through one window of a building. It's valid as far as it goes, but it's not the only view. Can't poetry, for example, tell us something about the world?

    Science can't give you a complete view, because it knows nothing of consciousness, which is a pretty big hole ... and some of the attempts to fudge this one are pretty embarrassing and tend to revolve around pretty basic misconceptions.

    The show-stopper is that our scientific understanding seems to imply a world ruled by causality. But if everything has a cause (as opposed to a reason), where does that leave human freedom, the possibility of moral choice, and most of the conceptions that we use in our dealings with our fellows every day (whatever our religious beliefs or lack of them)?

    I don't think you can think your way out of these problems. I suppose even Kant didn't. All I think you can do is look at different pictures of the world and draw out all the implications and make up your mind about what best fits the world as you experience it. I think one of the best arguments for the theistic case is probably A. J. Balfour's Gifford lectures:

    Theism and Humanism : The Book that Influenced C. S. Lewis: Arthur James Balfour, Michael W. Perry, C. S. Lewis, Arthur J. Balfour: 9781587420054: Amazon.com: Books

  6. #16
    Goldie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sakura_girl View Post
    ...I am thinking of when one hits 50 years old and is living with someone they thought was the love of their life, until they hit some sort of hardship, in which case the love slowly dwindled to a life partner (which I assume is the case for the large majority of relationships). How do you spend the next 30 years of life together?
    I have been with the love of my life for 25 years. For us, hardships have increased our love for each other and bonded us closer.

    I'm not sure how religion and life-long love necessarily fit together. I am Buddhist, my husband is Protestant. We are completely accepting of each other's differences, and we also have many things in common.

    As far as a marriage relationship that lasts through a lifetime, I think it has a lot to do with commitment and open-mindedness. Commitment to each other and to keeping the relationship working, and open-mindedness to change and compromise. As a relevant example, I was Christian when we were first married, but over the years became disillusioned with various organized religions. As I pondered on that disillusionment, I found that I had difficulty understanding the belief in any kind of deity. I studied different religions and then found that Buddhism fits with my world view. (Buddhism is actually a philosophy, not a religion.)

    My husband could not completely understand my change in view, but he is totally accepting of it, as I am totally accepting of his religious preference.

    One of the things that makes us human is our capacity to think these deeper thoughts!

  7. #17
    sakura_girl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sabine View Post
    Why do you assume this? Or understand that? Seems contrary to your nature.

    (Okay, I'm not over 60, and I don't know if I'm a Christian or not, but I had to see what this thread was about. Also, intrigued by OP asking people to share without doing so themselves first. Isn't that the typical arrangement?)

    Along with Marcadav, I think everyone feels empty at times. And regardless of age, religion, marital status, it is up to the individual to fill or deal with their own particular emptiness.
    Sorry, I didn't realize there were traditions to do that.

    I am in my twenties, and I just actually broke up with my first boyfriend to whom I have been with for over half a year (hence the depressing posts...). He is atheist, and I am Christian, at least by upbringing. We make a pretty great couple; we can do many things together due to similar interests and lifestyle (he is not Paleo, but he thinks it has some merits; otherwise minimalism and practicality match to a T). However, he is very staunchly atheist until I can prove to him that Christianity is the way to go....which is ridiculous because I can't "prove" anything with belief-driven philosophy. I thought about marrying him, but I thought it would cause too much of a rift over time to make decisions based on my faith, and to also be disconnected by the part that I am working toward a life closer to God, when he isn't. Our life goals are too different, and I can see how my life may become unhappy over time because of this. And empty if we grew old with each other.

    Anyway, my decision was made, and I feel very sorry for him to have rejected him so quickly, and just sad for myself in general. I'll get over it, but what other great time to contemplate life's greatest rewards/pains than this?

  8. #18
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    I'm a bit over 50, and in my second marriage (probably my last one).

    I spent some years as a very devoted christian, but that pretty much ended with my first marriage (about 16 years ago).

    Feeling empty inside is related to a lack of purpose in one's life. This "purpose" can be related to one's beliefs, or one's career goals, one's hobbies, or one's family. It can be a deep sense of acceptance of one's life. That empty feeling has been called the "god-shaped hole in your heart"... to which, I'd like to say "bullshit".

    Whether you call it a purpose, a calling, or your dharma, it is important to figure out what you are meant to be/do in your life. For some, it is some sort of religious activity, for others, it is a career that seems to fulfill that void. Some will never find it unless they are married/have kids (just some, not everyone, of course). It could be pursuing the arts, the sciences, or volunteer work.

    Once you find your dharma, you'll find less emptiness in your heart/soul.

  9. #19
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    I'm almost 63 and will be celebrating 45yr anniversary on Dec. 30. I've tried several times to put my thoughts/beliefs into words, can't seem to get it right. I will say that I understand that faith/religion fills a need for many people. I found it unfulfilling and too contradictory to what I 'felt' was true and right. I'm sorry you felt a conflict with your boyfriend's beliefs~ personally, I think people should be judged by their works, not by some label they choose to define themselves. (that goes for vegans too)

  10. #20
    zoebird's Avatar
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    In reading your response, I would say that it is important to have similar life goals (going in the same direction), but they don't have to be terribly specific really. DH and I had really one goal, which was to be and live authentically ourselves, finding work and a lifestyle that we love. I think we've done a good job.

    At your age (early twenties), I was still holding on to the last vestiges of "faith." I was trying really hard to be christian because my family was and because I knew several and. . . I don't know. . . I am already so "different" that I didn't want to be more different. That being said, I was never particularly evangelical about it because I saw no need for others to be christian.

    Had I been more honest with myself at that time (it took several more years), I would have realized that I'm basically buddhist (philosophically if not religiously), generally pacifist (not quite as far as quakers, but close), and also atheist (though to not confuse people, I use "non-theist" as atheists tend to have a certain rhetoric which is not a rhetoric that I share). In all truth, I should have just "come out" as not-christian as a teen (and I did try and it was a huge mess of messiness -- which is why it took me many more years (5-6) before I was just open about who I am in terms of religion/spirituality.

    I do not want to go back to that "dark time of emptiness" in my life where I was striving/pretending to be christian, but not actually wanting to be christian and wanting to follow my heart/conscience.

    Even now -- a good 10 or so years after "coming out" -- my family still takes issue and freaks out on a regular basis. It's frustrating because I"m all like "let it go already." But . . . yeah. I'm exploring a lot about the separation that I feel from my family right now.

    Anyway, once I was able to step into what I actually do believe, I felt much more fulfilled. Since then, I've worked diligently to keep on that path of authenticity, and I feel like I've done quite well. I'm in a bit of a "funk" right now -- not quite sure why. Perhaps its a sort-of "mid life crisis." I'm struggling, whatever it is. But, it'll turn around. It always does.

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