Faith / Opinion / World

Confessions of a Nihilist – Volume 1

Art by Vincent Van Gogh

I tended to flirt with the idea of nihilism from the time I heard a quote from Nietzsche claiming, “Why should God rule and I serve?” After hearing his honest plea, I began to ask myself a similar question. Who put you in charge, I would demand, in the innermost aspect of my soul.? From my depths, the parasite of cynicism and nihilism suffused into the spring of my heart. Intellectually, I knew nihilism would only quench my soul, not fulfill me. Despite this knowledge, I endeavored into the Void.

The Void was initially beautiful, enticing, and mysterious. There was something new to be explored. I had grown up in a Christian school for my entire life and during my suicidal years, I found the answers given to me lacking. Cynicism crept into my heart bathing me in its poison. With each pluck from the tree known as Meaninglessness, I tasted falsehood and suspicion. Where was God? Why did He appear to be absent? As a follower of Christ, should He not protect me and love me? Why then did I experience the opposite in my self-loathing despair known as depression?

Similar to my friend Ivan Karamazov, I had all the questions in the world to condemn this Beloved Creator whom I only experienced as the Ruthless Vivisectionist. I raged at this God of my making. The God of legalism only leaves one starved for love and mercy while abundant in cruelty and self-hatred. I needed a brother like Ivan once did. I knew I could not throw away my faith. I had experienced the lawlessness in my own brother and the searching, never satisfied life of my sister. Instead of fully accepting the teachings of Nietzsche, Sartre, and Camus, I found myself within a sadistic purgatory. Christ could not reach me for I made sure to lock myself within a prison of my own making. The God who changed the lives of King David, the Prophet Isaiah, the Apostles, Augustine, Aquinas, and so on was on the hunt. Like a predator stalking its prey was I before the Consuming Fire. Grace unexpectedly reached me in my lowest, most depressed states imaginable. Too many times I sought to let the demons inside my cranial cavity win. My thoughts had become darkness that rivaled the ninth plague. Thick as sewage and gruesome as the Marquis de Sade, I threatened to let the sickness envelop me.

With each approach to the edge of the Void, Christ entered the abyss with me. I was 15 again huddled naked and alone on my shower floor with Christ’s peace wrapping me in His love with such fury, desire, and longing I’d never known. How could love feel so much like a warm blanket and a needle at the same time? I once more fell into the drudging of my sickness seeking to satisfy the thirst. Then I was 17 taken from class on a journey through time and space seeing the marvelous history that the Incarnate created and brought back with tears staining my notebook. Once more God reached into the life of a disheveled, emotionally arrested 17-year-old who may have been no more emotionally older than a mere eight years old. Finally, I had grown tired of a loving God, I had too much grime and disease to be loved by a Holy Creator. I reveled in my hubris and gloried in the end of my pain for I was to be the captain of my existence. Pills in hand I made to swallow, interrupted by a silent thought of wait. “How much longer shall I let my wretched plane of life go on?” I pondered. I agonized over the mere 30 seconds keeping me from the sweet bliss of non-existence. God once more appeared in the form of an unsuspecting friend to whom I owe a great debt of gratitude for which he will never know just how amazing existing is.

Suffering suffuses the entirety of the human condition. Without suffering and pain, life would almost be too good to be true. The necessity of suffering renders the Christian with a meaningful, dependent life upon the One Who Is. This Great Iconoclast measures the galaxy, utilizes the seas, and breathes into newborns. Though suffering seems to exert meaninglessness upon its victim, the sufferer finds in it a gift of resilience and hope for an eternity apart from it. I write this after another brief stint staring into the abyss. This time the abyss nearly won in my mind ideologically for my heart was far from the sympathies of death. But God, delving into the wretched prison I had built, showed me something new. I wrote this prayer after encountering His mercy and grace again:

This morning God entered my heart, once more bringing to life a piece of me that was imprisoned. I was ambushed once more by the True Triune God. Not the god of my making. For so long I’ve conjured a false image of a God who’s proven time and time again as the Great Iconoclast! He bears upon me and smashes the images I create of Him. For I toil and suffer in slaving to create these false images of an unmerciful, terrible Being who hates me with hate similar to my own against me. Yet, this God, The Iconoclast, tenderly and affectionately ravages these images through His amazing grace and unstoppable love. Through the mouths of babes, He’s awoken my faith. Reading Soul Survivor has renewed in me a faith I thought was lost. I became a follower of Nietzsche, Sartre, and Camus, concluding all had lost meaning. I thought this to be the rational option and decided to condemn existence. For what was good and evil in the eyes of the Void? I’ll tell you, for He has a name of Christ my Savior. Upon looking into the Void, Christ had come and wrenched me from it showing life and love which against the Void it cannot stand for it despises love and life. I thought death an enemy and a servant of the Void, but death itself is not an enemy but a friend. Death offers us a new look upon Christ defeating death. Being defeated death is now a servant of Christ. I’ve never been more wondering and hopeful about life as in this moment in the renewal of my faith and heart. Today is a good day. To paraphrase Chesterton, I had sinned and grown old, my Father still younger than I showed me once more the importance of remaining young. I lost sight as a cynic and partial nihilist. And Christ spent His time renewing and healing my broken heart. The cynic and nihilist granted me solace from my suffering, but Christ used it to heal me. I feel in my heart a space carved out in the Dark Night of my Heart. That space I thought was a festering swamp of deadly disease, has in fact become a masterpiece rivaling the Sistine Chapel. Thanks be to God who never gave up on me. To Him I owe my greatest gratitude.

I offer nothing more than my story in hopes that as this series of mine surfaces, I might help those who are in the midst of their own suffering. Depression, anxiety, suffering, pain, and the temptation of nihilism looms among the population today and I wish I could erase the sickness with a stroke of a pen, but alas I cannot. What I can give is a relief from the plane on which we exist and shed light on the incomparable goodness found in the Person of Christ. This series will continue to explore the depravity and good, light and dark, and personal accounts from those who have walked to the edge of the Void and survived.

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