When I was younger, maybe about eight or nine, my grandparents took my sister and me to visit my great-aunt. She lived in the mountains, in the middle of nowhere, and it was the first time my parents had not accompanied us. My grandmother told us to go for a walk, follow the fence up onto the mountain and back. And I didn't. I led my sister up the path onto the mountain, and forgot all about following the fence. After about half an hour of talking and playing and wandering around, I realized we were lost.
I knew that I should have been able to get a general idea of where I was by the sun, as it had been on our backs as we walked up the path. I knew that if I walked back toward the sun, I would find our way back home eventually. But there were so many trees I couldn't orient myself. We had stumbled off the path, and could not find our way back.
My sister was the first to panic. I had been holding it together for her sake, but when Jess started to freak, it was nearly impossible. I told her that we would find our way back, that all we had to do was follow the slope of the mountain and we would find a road, and from there we'd have no trouble finding our way back. When we did that, and only ended up in bushes, not a paved road, I lost it.
Like the good little Christian children we'd been raised to be, we cried and prayed for help. None came. Finally, I told Jess that we would go back the way we'd come and try to retrace our steps. By this point, the sun was beginning to set, and I knew that Jess was imagining a long and fearful night on the mountain, because she kept asking about bears. I didn't have an answer for her, and so we stopped talking, lost in our own anxieties and imaginings. In the silence, we could hear a voice shouting, so far away as to be almost inaudible.
Our grandmother. We followed the sound of her voice back over the mountain until we ended up in the road almost a mile away. I think that was the moment my faith in the Almighty began to crumble. And I realize that I must not have been very strong in my faith for it to be so irreversibly damaged by something so minor.
The killing blow to my religious leanings came when I was sixteen years old. I prayed that God would make me a better person. That God would teach me something that would change me profoundly for the better. And then my very first boyfriend raped me. On Christmas Eve, of all nights.
For a while afterward, about two years, I told myself that it had happened for a reason, that it was all part of The Plan To Make Starky A Good Person. It was my crutch, my lifeline. It was my delusion. It was the only thing that kept me sane during that dark time. And I knew that I was starting to finally heal and move on when I realized that if there really was a God, He had one hell of a funny way of answering my heartfelt prayer.
Some people will say that I turned away from God because I was angry at Him for answering my prayer in such a way, that it has made me a better person and I am blind to that fact. I will admit that at first, I was angry. I felt betrayed, by the boy who said he loved me and the God who was supposed to protect me. I won't deny it. But when the anger faded? There was indifference.
I no longer care one way or the other if there is some higher power guiding my life. It won't change the way I live, or the things I hope for, or the way I treat others. It doesn't matter what pretty words I offer up to the heavens.