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Self-sacrificed for altruism for 40 years. Is it too late for me?

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I'm nearly 50. I have recently discovered Ayn Rand and Objectivism and I feel like I've finally found a home. But I'm afraid it's too late...

As a child and into my early teen years, I had many dreams and goals of becoming a world-class engineer. I was very good at math and science. Top of my class. 

But then in my teenage years, religion sunk its teeth into me, and I have spent the last 40 years sacrificing everything about myself. I gave up engineering, math, and science, and went to Bible college and seminary to become a pastor "to serve God." I married someone who would make a good pastor's wife. We had children together. I abandoned all my hopes, dreams, goals, and desires for the sake of religion, and for my family.

Now, today, I feel like I am dead. There is nothing left in me that is truly "me." 

Is it too late for me?

I read this thread and feel like maybe I am Peter Keating: 

I don't think I can go back and start all over. I tried to pick up math and science again this last year, and I have forgotten 99% of it. to start over, I would literally have to begin at Jr. High level math and science. This seems unrealistic at 50 years old. I also can't abandon my wife and kids.

Maybe it is too late to "go back and start over" ... but maybe I can work to warn people about self-sacrifice and religious altruism. 

Any ideas or suggestions?

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I wonder: 

Did you feel a call to the ministry?

Were you good at it?

Were you able to help some people needing advice on personal problems?

Do you still believe in God?

If not, do you find yourself more benevolent towards all humanity more than ever?

Do you have an interest in teaching math or science?

Have you seen the movie First Reformed? (I like it a lot.)

I suggest:

If you don't believe in God any more, tell your wife and children, explain why you've changed your mind, explain that you cannot simply choose what your mind takes as true, that you love them as ever and will always love them, and that you want them together in loving spirit with you.

Those relationshiips might continue to grow, in somewhat new ways of value. If you do still believe in God, and want only to leave the ministry, the adjustment for them is less colossal, I imagine, than the challenge of them having to accept that you are atheist.

If you have become atheist, don't lie to your loved ones about it. Be square and definitive about it, but not aggressive and militant about it. Find in your own thinking What in secular, natural terms is correspondent with elements in what the religious folk treasure in religion. You be agape.

Getting prepared to teach math or physical science might bring you some renewal of the old joy and love of these old friends. I bet you CAN restore this knowledge in yourself and even get farther with it than ever. Struggle and hope. Look to the future, not redo of the past, and look to organic unity from all good in your past to a future. Teaching math and physical science might have some joy of participation now in a goodness in the world even after you die. 

Growth and resilience are beautiful.

Edited by Boydstun
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Thanks for the thoughtful reply. I can tell by some of your terminology that you have experience with Christianity? 

I did not feel a call to ministry as many pastors describe it.

I was very good at pastoral ministry. But in recent years I have become very tired of the hypocrisy that is so prevalent in many churches. (Starting with myself). There is so much that must be hidden or even lied about in order to make it appear that we are becoming more "like Christ," etc. And churches often use guilt and shame to control behavior and to "help those in need." 

Do I believe in God? Hmm... I am probably now closest to a belief in Spinoza's God, which is one and the same with nature, or maybe "conscious realism," or something like that. I am currently trying to rework a lot of this.

I have had many conversations about these things with my wife and children. They understand and are coming along for the journey. However, it appears that my wife and I will be getting a divorce... but for completely different reasons. It is a friendly separation due to what we now recognize as best for both of us.

As for math and science ... it is so daunting to think of starting over. Especially as I am working full time (no longer in a church though). But I should start, simply for the love of math and science, if for no other reason... 

Thanks for the encouragement. 

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