Discovering the Meaning of Life – Stacy Gleiss’ Story

Jun 24, 2022

Side B Stories
Side B Stories
Discovering the Meaning of Life - Stacy Gleiss' Story
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Former atheist Stacy Gleiss traveled across the world and explored worldviews and philosophies until she finally found what was true, good, and beautiful in Christianity.

 

Stacy’s Philosophy Group:
Philosophy in the Forest: http://philosophyintheforest.com

 

Authors and Books recommended by Stacy:
Soren Kierkegaard
Lee Strobel, The Case for Christ
C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity
G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy

Episode Transcript

Hello, and thanks for joining in. I’m Jana Harmon, and you’re listening to the Side B Stories podcast, where we see how someone flips the record of their lives. Each podcast, we listen to a former skeptic or atheist who unexpectedly became a Christian.

On the surface, in a world without God life seems so free. Someone can live without constraints of religion and morality without someone or someone telling you who you are or who you ought to be. You can dream and idealize. You can create and recreate yourself and your identity, your own meaning and your own purpose, pursuing it on your own terms. You can design yourself in your own life, free from criticism or control except for yourself.  It’s called expressive individualism.

But oftentimes the underbelly of this pursuit begins to show. The idealism begins to crumble, and the dreams begin to fade. Satisfaction fades to that which is elusive and fleeting. Temporary pleasure erodes into long-term pain. Poor choices result in deep pain and regret. Perhaps we are not the best judge after all. Perhaps our identity and our ideal cannot be found in what we want or what we think is best for ourselves. After all, identity is fragile if it’s based upon our own passing whims and desires. Meaning becomes meaningless if it’s only determined by what we create or deem important. Temporary pursuits gratify for the moment, but lasting satisfaction seems an ever-elusive dream. As one of the wisest men who ever lived said, it’s like chasing after the wind, and we know that when we sow the wind, we often reap a whirlwind. We cannot run from ourselves and our own brokenness. 

Our story today touches on these personal realities. Searching for identity and meaning and purpose on her own terms, yet finding herself in dark realities and desperate places. Is there something more than this, Someone who can provide a life that is true and good and beautiful?  Let’s listen to Stacy tell her story of moving from darkness to light, from a kind of death to life that is truly life.

Welcome to Side B Stories, Stacy, it’s so great to have you with me today. 

Well, thank you for the opportunity. I’m really happy to be talking to you today.

Wonderful. It’s great to have you. So our listeners know a little bit about you, Stacy, why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself. 

Well, my husband and I live in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, which is the northernmost part, so it’s very cold, and we enjoy a lot of outdoor sports, fishing, hunting, hiking, and so on, and a lot of my time is spent with a tiny house mission center called Philosophy in the Forest.

Well, that sounds intriguing, and I would like to come back to that a little bit later and find out more about what Philosophy in the Forest is. So why don’t we get started with your story. Were you raised in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Has that upper Midwest region of the US been your home since you were a child? Where did you begin your life? And tell us a little bit about your family, whether or not there was any religious belief or anything associated with that? 

Yes. So I grew up in Michigan, in lower Michigan, the lower peninsula, the mitten part, as they say, and I lived on my grandfather’s farm for a good bit of the time. We lived in a rural area. We were not religious. My parents did not talk about God. I don’t even think we owned a Bible. So I didn’t have a religious upbringing, but when I was about 12, my family joined the Mormon church, so we went from 0 to 100, you know? Because that’s a very active, involved faith.

There must have been a strong Mormon community around you, I’m guessing? Is that how your family got acclimated or involved with the Mormon church? 

No, actually it was pretty rare when I was a child. There weren’t that many Mormons around, but my aunts, my father’s sisters, had joined the church at a certain point, and they kind of brought missionaries around us.

Oh, I see. So you had some influence of Mormonism in your life, and I’ll explore that in a moment, but did you have any historical or orthodox Christianity or any form of Christianity around you at all? You said you grew up without much reference to God in your family, but I wonder in your friendships, relationships, in your culture, was there much of Christianity around you? 

Not that I sensed really. I mean, there’s churches everywhere, and you kind of have an idea that a lot of people are Christian, but I didn’t really have any interactions with that until we became Mormon.

Okay. So like you said, back to this Mormon faith, I know that Mormonism does require quite a fully orbed belonging, as well as belief. How long were you and your family in the Mormon faith, and is it something that you embraced personally? 

Well, first I think my parents may have been in about five years, but I left the church a little earlier than they did. First of all, for me, as far as beliefs, I didn’t believe it. Instinctively, there’s such a concentration on Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon that you don’t get enough about Jesus and God, which they do talk about, but it’s kind of overridden by Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon, so I knew that there wasn’t an ancient people living in North America. Pretty much American Indians came here first, so I knew instinctively it wasn’t true, but I was going for social reasons and kind of putting up with it because Mormon kids were nice, nicer than the average kids that I grew up with or were in my school. And I had a lot of rejection issues because of a disfiguring accident when I was five, so the Mormon kids were nicer, and I liked the activities, so on that front, it was good. On the truth front, not so good.

Okay. So it was a great placing of belonging and building friendships and relationships but not so much in terms of substance of belief. 

True.

So even through all of that, belief in a real God or Jesus or anything just wasn’t even on the radar?

No.

But you said that your family left after five years and you left before that. What caused you to leave if it was a good place of belonging? 

Well, it was kind of accidental. It was kind of a passive exit, I guess. It was a casualty of a change in my life that happened when I was 16. I went on a cultural exchange trip to Japan. I became very infatuated with the culture. I saw it as a place of acceptance and meaning, and there was a layer of spirituality with Buddhism there that I thought was interesting, and so I became infatuated with it, and I was quite determined to live there, to the degree that I married a Japanese man at 18.

Okay. Well, that’s a major pivot in your life. 

It is.

When you’re moving from American culture to the Japanese culture, I’m sure there’s quite a lot of cultural adaptation, much less expectations as a wife, and then also you mentioned the spiritual aspect of Japan, which is a lot more Eastern in its influence. Let’s start with the spiritual influence there. You moved from a very kind of Western understanding of a potential for a Judeo-Christian God, but you moved into an environment in which it was, in many religions, even godless. You mentioned Buddhism and that you married someone. Did his family embrace that kind of Eastern religion or spirituality? 

Yes. So you mentioned about the change from a Judeo-Christian American culture. I traded in my culture really not knowing very much, so it was pretty challenging, so whatever I’m telling you wasn’t immediately obvious. I saw all the interesting things about Japan and the acceptance, and I just jumped headlong in, and then I would learn more about the faith. For example, it seems like Buddhism is more of an over layer to their culture. It’s more recent for them. Because their ancient worldview is more feudalistic, honor, shame, the typical things you might think of, and then also a paganistic polytheism, so that’s kind of the under worldview, and then the over worldview has the Buddhist elements, which are a little more, I think, peaceful feeling in a way. And calm. Meditation and everything you might think of with Buddhism.

Did you embrace that personally? 

I think I would have liked to get involved with Buddhism a bit. His parents were definitely Buddhist, and he said he was Buddhist, but he never practiced it. He didn’t pray at the altars or the temples, so sometimes I would sneak in and pray for something at the family altar or at a temple, kind of say a quick prayer for acceptance and for understanding of what it was I was facing, spiritually and otherwise. But he never did those things. And I would come to learn that he had more of an older, ancient culture perspective, the guilt/shame culture and that kind of thing. He was very proud of their warring history, so he really liked that underside and kind of mocked, actually, any spirituality. So that came to affect me, obviously.

I felt acceptance from his parents and from the neighbors, actually, but a lot of rejection in the home, under that kind of underside of the culture, which is more guilt/shame, I guess.

I would imagine that would be quite difficult, in terms of coming from the individualism and freedom associated in the US, particularly the rise even of feminism, and you’re talking about the eighties, so a lot of that had happened in that time, and when you go to a culture like Japan, where things aren’t quite the same, I would imagine that would’ve been challenging in your life. Did you stay in Japan for very long? You said you moved back to the US. 

Yeah. We didn’t stay in Japan as long as I thought we were going to. So we ended up coming back to the US, and then I had children, but even here in Michigan, downstate, especially in the eighties and early nineties, there were large pockets of Japanese families here to support the automotive industry, and we lived in a pocket like that, so our house was always run the Japanese way, according to the culture. There was no duality. The worldview was according to the older Japanese culture and then plus atheism, which my husband was clearly atheist, I would figure out over time. That he just didn’t like any spirituality at all. So that was our worldview in our home, Japanese culture plus older Japanese culture plus atheism, basically, and I came to feel that way, that there was no God.

What did you think, in terms of what you had around you… Granted you lived in a culturally saturated Japanese environment, and your life and your lifestyle at that point was probably really engrossed in that, and you didn’t believe in God, and that was a perfectly obviously acceptable point of view within your family and your surrounding culture. I wonder, did you ever give a thought to God, even as an adult? What did you think religious belief was? Was it a construction? Was it something that was just culturally constructed for people to gather, like the Mormons?

Yeah. I think that that Mormon start kind of had an effect there, too, whereby I thought, “Okay, the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith, those stories are just not true,” and that’s kind of modeled after the Bible in a way, and the Christian culture, so I thought probably that’s also not true, and it seemed like a crutch as well, so I was pretty ingrained in my atheism by the time… The marriage lasted 14 years, well two years engagement and then 12 years together, so… yeah. By the time I left, I was a full-blown atheist, and on top of that, I had studied existential philosophy near the end of my marriage, and although Christian philosophers come into play there, like Anselm, Augustine, and Kierkegaard, their cases were kind of downplayed. Every time we would get to those particular areas of study, they seemed to be downplayed, and there were so many dominant atheists in the mix in existentialism. So it kind of further backed what I had come to believe.

So you became convinced, more than ever, that there really was not God. That it was just probably a construction of sorts, a social construction. 

Yes. And if I could mention how it felt to me.

Yes. 

What it felt like was I was living in kind of a challenging household culturally and belief wise and with the guilt, shame, and all that, and the rejection, so what it felt like to me, by the time I graduated with my degree in philosophy, was that I lived in a box, this cultural box, and below me was like a false floor, like it was an un up-ended cardboard box, and I was going to fall through, and there was nothing but a black hole abyss under me. And then it also felt like… I thought there should be something above or some hope, some sky, some daylight, and I couldn’t sense that, either, so that kind of feeling caused me to lose a lot. It caused me to lose my… I left the marriage abruptly. I kind of lost my way in my mind, and I lost my children. And so it was tough.

That sounds devastating, devastating. I suppose that, as a thinker… If you are studying philosophy, you think about things critically and existentially, and of course, the endpoint of a nihilistic worldview can be very despairing. There is not much in the way of hope and life and light there, according to those who are proponents of that, those philosophers. And so it sounds like you really hit an endpoint or a point of, again, existential angst because of the logical endpoint of your views. 

Yeah.

Ideas do have consequences. They don’t just live in your mind. They actually affect your life, and I would imagine that could be very devastating, especially in the fact that you’re losing your marriage and your children and you’re losing your own way. So it sounds like the bottom had dropped out for you, and you found yourself in a very dark place, a despairing place. So walk us on from there. What happened during that time period? Or what brought you out of that? 

 

So you just kind of took some steps forward. All the while still embracing an atheistic worldview? Or naturalistic or materialistic worldview, as someone would be more prone to say. 

Yes. That’s right. So my husband was, I said, American, and normal meat and potatoes guy, outdoors-man, and he told me he was Christian, and then I asked him why, because now I’d had a husband who told me he was Buddhist and found out he wasn’t Buddhist. I said, “Okay, so you’re a Christian. What does that mean?” He had no idea. He just said, “Oh, I just believe. I was baptized.” So okay, well, then, I guess I’ll just stay with what I have, but I suppose during my move to this small town, of course now I was seeing more churches. They were popping up into my purview. My coworkers were all American now. So I got this sense, and I think it was a pretty Christian town actually, and I got the sense that Americans were really nice and tolerant and forgiving, and that wasn’t the version of the Japanese culture I got. I got the older version. So I was feeling pretty good about that, and they were probably having an influence on me. The catalyst for my change, I think, was Sally. This woman whom I met over the phone accidentally. That’s quite a story on its own.

Yes. That begs some curiosity. So an accidental meeting on the phone. You met a woman named Sally. I presume she was a Christian? 

Yes. That’s right. Just like I was finding most of the people around me were Christian, or a good portion. So Sally was from another state altogether. She was from California, and I’m in Michigan. So we met accidentally. She was an older woman, and she witnessed to me. We became pals by phone and letter. I didn’t really go for anything she said, but shortly after I met her, a really dark secret came to light, and Sally was there for me.

So I guess that meant a lot. Obviously, you had developed a relationship, a friendship with this woman who seemed to have a faith in God, in Christianity, and it sounds like she cared for you at a time when you actually really needed it. And that opened you? Did that soften you to the things that she was saying about God? 

No. No.

Okay. 

No, it didn’t. So this dark secret was really, really not good at all, and it involved my daughter. She never… I had two children. My son I regained custody of, but my daughter never came back. She was so broken from my leaving and from my breakdown that she wouldn’t come back to me or spend time with me. So this dark secret was revealed by her, and it really turned my world upside down. And my friend Sally sent me a Bible right after she heard about it, and inside the Bible, it had this note, this sticky note which is still there to this day. It says, “This book will contain all the help you need.” And it contained scripture. I paid no attention to it.

Two more years would pass. I’d lose touch with Sally, because she ended up in a nursing home, and she had no relatives whatsoever, so I lost track of her. But between the Christians I lived around and Sally and this burden now of this guilt over my daughter’s situation… Well, I saw a church one day that had a sign that said, “Got Jesus?” or something to that effect and had a class. It mentioned a class. I went online, signed up for it, and that was Alpha. My goal was to disprove the faith, so that I could get Sally and the other voices, whatever they were, out of my mind and then maybe I might try Buddhism again. I might try to understand that better because I never got a chance with that.

So you walked into a church. You had had some experience with church. It was just the Mormon church. What was your experience when you first walked into a Christian church and opened the Bible for the first time? 

Well, the people were all really nice. And the Alpha presentation was tolerable, understandable, kind of nice sounding, and so I stuck with it until… I almost dropped out at about the 11th or 12th week, though. There was a lesson on forgiveness, and having been in a Japanese culture for so long, I just had this sense that I have to carry the weight of the things I do wrong on my back all the time. It’s kind of like sackcloth and ashes or something. I have to do this. So I didn’t like that. I told them I didn’t like it. I thought it was a ridiculous idea that Christ would bear that, and then a member of the group, the church, gave me The Case for Christ book, and I read it, devoured it, and came out thinking, “This is probably true,” and kind of, “Now what?”

So the Alpha course is really presenting an overview of the Bible and the story of God. Who is God? Who are we in our humanity? Obviously, they talked about the need for forgiveness and how we carry some sin, and you wanted to hold onto the burden of your own guilt, and the gospel, or the good news, is that Jesus wants to carry your burden of sin for you, so that you can receive forgiveness for what he did on the cross, rather than what you’ve done to try to remedy your own guilt or sin. But that was too tough to take for you. 

Yes.

So it just didn’t make sense. So you left there, but then you found intellectual confirmation or something that was satisfying for you to believe that it’s true, but there’s a real difference between believing a person came in history and did something on your behalf and actually accepting it personally, and it sounds like there was a great divide there for you. 

Well, it took me a couple of weeks to think, “Now, what do I do?” Because it was, I guess, that offense. The offense of the cross. Am I going to be able to accept that? And so a couple of weeks later, I was at a funeral, my husband’s uncle, whom I didn’t know very well, but I found myself sobbing inside during the whole thing, like something deeply touched me in a way that I can’t even explain today. But when we left, I turned to my husband and I said, “I think I’m Christian,” and I began… At the funeral party, I remember witnessing to other people. “I think I just turned Christian at your father’s funeral.” And they were glad for that because he was a Christian man, so that was kind of interesting.

Yeah. So I guess the pieces came together. You were able to see your own need and accept His gift for you of salvation. 

Yes and no.

Okay. 

So that’s kind of a bump in the road that I came to, still. I thought… So here we are. My husband and I start going to church. I get baptized in Lake Michigan. Life is better. I feel a little relief. I could sleep better. But the bump in the road is that I still retained, unwittingly, a lot of control. That I had to fix things. I had to make things better. Constant. And then, this particularly became an issue when, about five years after I became a Christian in 2010, so it was about 2016, my daughter, who had been back in my life for then about nine years, abruptly left, estranged me. There were a lot of reasons. I hadn’t handled her brokenness well enough, I felt, and she felt that way. So there was still a harshness. I didn’t say this, but there was a harshness to me from being in that culture, a lot of rough edges, and when I accepted Christ at that funeral, my image is the Grinch, like the heart, the little heart that’s in the cage, like the heart’s growing and busting out. So some of those edges smoothed, but it was probably too late, and I still did not give all of my guilt to God. And I realized that…

So she was gone. My husband and I moved up here to our second home here in the Upper Peninsula, where there’s a lot of nature, and there was more time. I didn’t work full time then. And I began to be outside a lot, just walked miles. I walked 10, 13 miles a day, just talking it out with God, and eventually would get so much insight and vision that, while I believed, the fact that I wouldn’t give over my children, and I still idolized my children so much, and I wouldn’t give up the control I needed to keep all the balls in the air and everything right, that that was showing I didn’t trust the gift. I didn’t trust God. And so my belief was too shallow. It was almost… I envisioned like Abraham and Isaac, like I had to say, “No matter what, I believe, and I trust you with these most precious things to me.” So that was the bump in the road that ended up deepening my faith. And that allowed the guilt to almost be completely gone, and then it allowed me to feel joyful and do what I’m doing today. So that’s where I’m at with that.

Yeah. It’s such an oxymoron, isn’t it? The more we surrender and the more that we give, the more joy that we feel, and that’s certainly the case with God and our humanity. We want to retain control. It’s just something that we have to lay down almost daily, almost moment by moment. It is a constant struggle, and it sounds like you had a real, real deep challenge with that, and I’m glad to hear that you’ve learned, in a sense, the joy but the difficulty of surrender.

I’m curious—Stacy, you said that you have come to a place where you are today which is a lot more firm in your faith and your life and the life of your mind coalesce more, and you mentioned at the beginning that you actually have a place, a house of ministry where you talk about philosophy. Now I’m curious because, at the beginning, you were really invested and believed in the existential philosophers, and you felt the despair of nihilism, but there were some philosophers that were put off to the side, you had exposure to, but you really, at that point in your life, had not embraced. I’m curious, then. After you became a Christ follower, you believed in God and Christ and a different worldview altogether, did those philosophers resurface in your life? And how was philosophy really re-framed in your mind in terms of how you see truth and reality and how it applies to your life, and then what you’re doing now with it to help others understand really philosophies talking about the big questions that we all ask about life.

Talk with me about how you were able to put those pieces together. 

I’ll try to summarize that. That’s kind of a big one. So it’ll be almost two years ago now, a year and a half, I started the Colson Fellowship Program. I felt a need to study more. I hadn’t had so much time when I was working full time, and I felt the need to study my faith more and go deeper with it, so at the same time, I wanted to be better at defending the faith for my children. My son still communicates with me, and he’s not a believer, and he has a lot of nihilistic thinking. Both of my children suffered quite a bit. So it was important to me to study apologetics.

I felt such, as a young person, such a need for meaning in my life, and Kierkegaard has the stages along life’s way that show a human being’s kind of progression from what they call a mass-man to a knight of faith. There’s this over-arching paradigm. And so I used that to identify people that I encounter, I guess. So here in the forest, there are all kinds of people, just like there are in the cities or anywhere else. There’s believers. There’s marginal believers. There’s spiritual but not religious. There’s transcendental worldview folks. There’s atheists. We have them all right here in the forest. We have a microcosm of what’s everywhere.

So I used Kierkegaard’s system, these stages upon life’s way, to understand where they are with the meaning of life and where their worldview, along with kind of a worldview survey that I have—I run that through my mind technically. I typically don’t ask them to take it, but they may, and I kind of identify where they are. But this is a lot of relationship building. This isn’t like I bring somebody in and I’m like a spiritual counselor. This is relationship building with people. That’s where philosophy’s a little more relaxed, I think, as a term. They don’t come in expecting I’m going to hit them over the head with my Christianity or my worldview. It’s very open and very soft entry. I call it pre evangelism. But not only do I use Kierkegaard’s philosophy in what I do, but I also use C.S. Lewis. So in order to get to the truth, it feels like the good and the beautiful, which I love G.K. Chesterton for his take on beauty, and I use a lot of his stuff as well. So the good and the beautiful lead one to the truth, I believe. That’s easy to show when you’re up here in such a beautiful place. So I kind of use all of that to bring people to the truth which they can base their meaning of life on and gain fidelity of belief.

No. It really sounds intriguing, and I imagine you foster a great deal of very deep and meaningful discussion, very insightful discussion, and how wonderful that you lead people towards self-introspection, towards introspection of their own views, but also views about reality and leading them to a place of being able to see, perhaps for the first time, what really is good and beautiful, and ultimately true. So it sounds like a really wonderful and very unique work, and it’s intriguing, and I know that you have actually a website, don’t you? Philosophyintheforest.com? 

I do. Yes.

And so anyone who’s interested in seeing more of Stacy’s work can certainly go online and take a look.

So Stacy, as a former atheist—for years, you were an atheist. How old were you when you became a Christian, by the way? 

Well, I became Mormon, if that counts. Mormon was 12, but Christian was… I think I was 46?

46.

Yeah.

So you lived a good long time really looking at the world through atheist eyes. 

Yes.

And I wonder if those who are skeptics or who are actually looking at the big questions, maybe even struggling in their own sense of nihilism, I wondered how you would advise a skeptic, who might be listening today. 

Oh, the skeptic. I would say to the skeptic that—and this is Kierkegaardian of me, I suppose, but the most important thing for the existing individual is to find the meaning of life, the reason for which we should live and die. And without that, we’re living precariously. We can’t know the absolute truth. We can reason our way close to an approximated truth, but we cannot know the absolute this side of eternity. Therefore, the individual needs to get as close as possible, and in order to do that, it takes investigation. It takes thoughtful investigation. But also it takes taking a step back and understanding what the higher truths are of this world. You can find them, those things which are good that we know are ultimate goods. And those things which are clearly beautiful. And build upon that to get to as close to the truth as possible. And then, from there, you need to think about, “Is there a litmus test for this or that view that I’m looking at? That I’m thinking will hold up this goodness and beauty?” Look at the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and find out whether it’s true or not. And I would challenge them to do that in an open-minded way, and if they find that it’s true, then they need to go with that. That’s what I say to the skeptic. You’ve got to get rid of your bias. You’ve got to be open minded and investigate, and The Case for Christ book is a good book for that part of it. Mere Christianity is good for talking about the good. And I love G.K. Chesterton’s Orthodoxy for the nature and the beauty and the joy that that brings us. So that’s what I recommend for the skeptic.

Yeah, I like what you’re saying there. There’s something called abductive reasoning, where we reason to the best explanation for reality. It may not be certainty, but we look at everything holistically, and we look at a cumulative case for what we see and experience, and it leads us to truth, really. Like you say, we all have certain biases, but we try the best we can to look at things in a neutral point of view or through a neutral lens. Again, that’s not absolutely possible, but we do the best we can to look and find actually the person who is truth, and like you say, it stands and falls really on the person of Christ. So that big question is, “Who do you say that I am?” He asks. He asks that of all of us. 

So in terms of your advice to Christians who might be listening, what would you say to Christians in terms of how they would engage someone who’s skeptical? 

Yes. Very important. I’m glad you asked that question. Because it’s a struggle out there. A lot of Christians struggle to do that, to share the gospel, and I’ve found that, number one, I have to be approachable, and before I just had all these rough edges and stuff, even when I first became Christian. So the joy that I found by giving the control over to God more and more and more, that relief is so incredible, and that gives me joy, which makes me approachable. So be approachable. Be joyful, really joyful. I don’t mean just say, I’m going to be happy today. It’s different. You’ll know if you don’t know now.

And second, I would say be a listener. Make relationships. Both my husband and I have a lot of relationships in our neighborhood, and our neighborhood is big in terms of miles because there’s very few people, so you live five miles away from somebody, you know who they are. So we make a lot of relationships, and I think, in our minds, we have a little gauge—I wouldn’t tell them this exactly, but where they are with their worldview, if they have a worldview—well, everybody does to a degree, but how strong is their worldview? How embedded in that? How knowledgeable are they about it? And kind of gauge that through relationship.

And then, third, I would say find an opening to bring in the good and the beautiful, and for that, I recommended a couple of books. Mere Christianity and Orthodoxy as good reads. Sometimes difficult but really helpful. So find that opening, because today people really want the good, and they’re very skeptical of you saying you have the truth. Naturally. So the good and the beautiful are really keys. And keep encouraging them and telling them that our meaning in life really is to face that difficult topic, that the meaning of life is very important for them to grasp, so that they can have a firm foundation, like I have. So that’s what I’d tell them.

Yeah, that’s very good, and if I could just add one more question onto that, just a natural outflow of what you’re telling us as Christians and the importance of meaning, and I think meaning is really on the surface of culture these days. People are searching for meaning. So, in your life, if someone said, “Well, how is your life meaningful?” or, “What is the meaning that drives you in your life?” “Have you found that source of meaning that moves you every day?” How would you define meaning or your quest for meaning or the manifestation of meaning in your life? 

My meaning isn’t based on any man-made culture. It’s not based on anything man-made or circumstance. My meaning is based on a God Who loves me, Who delights in me. He finds me delightful, and when I’m joyful, He finds me really delightful. He rescued me because He delighted in me. That’s the meaning of my life, is I know my God wanted me. And it makes sense. He’s an artist. Obviously, he’s an artist. He wants all kinds of crazy people, really. He wants all kinds. So I’ve been through all of this, and I have a meaning. All of this has had a meaning. As tragic as some of it has been, but it has a meaning and a purpose. And I’m there to delight my Lord as much as possible, as much as humanly possible.

Yes. To know and be known by God. And to make Him known-

Yes.

… is what you’re saying that you have found. You’ve been found by the Creator of the universe. But I would imagine that that really fuels your life. It sounds like it does. 

It does! It drives me hard. Because I want to help so many people, and I find my time is very taken up by that relationship building piece now, and… yeah. It’s unbelievable, really.

Yeah. So you want others to find the joy and the peace and the meaning that you have found. 

Yes.

This is a beautiful story! It is good, and it is beautiful. And it’s true! 

It is.

And your story points to all of those things, Stacy. So I just want to thank you for coming on and really revealing some very deep things about yourself, some very hard things, but pointing us all to really think, as a philosopher would, to make us think about our own lives and how we view those big and deep questions. And I hope that everyone who’s listening to this will be more thoughtful and intentional about pursuing those big questions and actually pursuing the person of Christ, where all of that lies. 

So thank you so much, Stacy, for coming on today. 

Thank you.

Thanks for tuning in to Side B Stories to hear Stacy’s journey from atheism to God and Christianity. You can find out more about her group, Philosophy in the Forest, in the episode notes. For questions and feedback about this episode, you can reach me by email at thesidebpodcast@cslewisinstitute.org. If you enjoyed it, I hope you’ll follow and share this podcast with your friends and social network. In the meantime, I’ll be looking forward to seeing you next time, where we’ll see how another skeptic flips the record of their life.

 

Stacy’s Books:
“The Mind Hike: Finding Meaning Through Truth-Seeking” https://amzn.to/3h8rAJo
“The Six-Foot Bonsai: A Soul Lost in the Land of the Rising Sun” https://amzn.to/3vcX6xZ

 

 

For more stories of atheist conversions to Christianity, visit www.sidebstories.com

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