I Was A Lousy Christian.
Posted 17 March 2012 - 03:17 AM
One week ago, it all fell to pieces.
Everything I had assumed was real, and true, the foundation and the entire fabric of my worldview disintegrated into gossamer shreds and blew away forever.
There are many who might say, and they may for all I know be right, that I was no true Christian in the first place. I certainly didn't live my life like one, that much I was certain of. I had tried to live a righteous life from time to time I suppose, and the desire was there, of that there was no doubt, and I had also tried to stop "working" and trust in God to guide me, "resting in his finished work of Calvary" ... but most of the long years in the faith were shadowed interminably by feelings of guilt and condemnation. I wept tears of remorse and begged for my mind to be cleansed and my heart to be filled with love and light and for my selfish worldly heart to be broken. No matter how many times I read the encouraging verses regarding the comfort of God's presence, and no matter how often old friends would try to lift me up and get me to acknowledge the promises of the Lord and his faithfulness, my inner life was consumed with unease, fear and shame. Surety of my salvation was an incredibly elusive thing for me. My prayers were empty apologies, and in the end had all but ceased.
I became a believer in 1983 when I was 19 years of age. But let's go back a bit...
I was adopted as an infant and raised in an agnostic home in the UK. I found out I was adopted when I was nine years old. The only exposure my brother and I had to religion was a brief two year stint in Sunday school at the local Church of the Nazarene (I remember reading Psalm 121 out in front of the congregation one Sunday as an nine year old) . My parents likely saw it as a parental duty I suppose but both my mother and father were resolutely non religious people. Dad was a professional engineer and definitely agnostic if not atheist. Mum dabbles in New Agey type esotericism and astrology but nothing to any great depth. We emigrated to Canada and began a life in the suburbs in an eastern Canadian city through the seventies and I had a fairly typical middle class adolescence. I did not attend church during this time but at age twelve or so the Gideons bible people gave all the children in our public school a New testament and I had a brief fascination with the Book of Revelations, which after reading the whole thing both scared me and caused my parents annoyance because I wouldn't stop asking questions about it.
As a teenager, I "rebelled" against the rather straightjacketed suburban life I was offered and began experimenting with recreational drugs and alcohol, as often happens... As my teen years progressed, my life had begun to become complicated and I lacked any sense of direction and purpose, and my use of various entertaining psychotropic substances increased. I grew my hair and began reading books about the counterculture in the sixties, listened to a lot of heavy music and read books like Helter Skelter, Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, Brave New World and Watership Down. In the end, I had a serious drug overdose at 18 and ended up in hospital, waking up only to listen to a nurse berate me on my stupidity. After recovering, I entered a very dark period in my life, marked by suicidal thoughts and a very bleak view of life on planet earth. A certain sensitivity to the huge injustices of this world began to surface in my life and this has continued to this day, I exist in an almost ceaseless state of outrage it seems... I had to make some changes or I believed that I wouldn't last a lot longer. My existence at that time was miserable. I packed a backpack and with a small box of books and next to nothing else, I left for the west coast. I left a cold, dreary, brown eastern city with spring still a long way off to a western town on the seaside where daffodils were up and the sun was shining
Three days later, I was a born again Christian. I was visiting a friend who had preceded me out west and for three days we debated and talked together till the wee small hours and I was converted at around 2:30 am March 7th 1983. The next few weeks were unreal, as I became a part of an alternative street oriented Christian community loosely based around a local non denominational street ministry, food bank and coffee house. I met a whole lot of very interesting people and some out and out lunatics during this time. I was fully immersed in this vibrant and dynamic environment, very much a part of a kind of late blooming Jesus People scene. The first few months were blissful. I participated in evangelism, did volunteer work at the coffee house, listened to peoples testimonies over the open mike, listened to masses of live folk and gospel music, praised God and sang I saw the Light, had all night prayer vigils in the sanctuary, healing meetings, Larry Norman concerts, Rez Band, Bible studies, house meetings and barbeques, picnics, you name it. I met so many people that hugged me and made me feel so very valued and welcome. I was astonished by it all and fully engaged in a manner I hadn't seen before in my life. I wanted to serve Jesus. I realized the enormity of God's plan for creation and felt so full of this news I was bursting. This street ministry was unconventional, and full of ex drug addicts, ex prostitutes, travellers, visionaries and ex a whole lot of things. There wasn't a lot of structure and discipline and sometimes the borders between those ministering and those being ministered to were rather blurred. There was a lot of "street" left in this street church. The pastor was an ex gang member from the fifties. It was at this time that I had a brief sexual relationship with a young hippy girl who I met hanging out at the coffee house... this brief encounter between two young horny kids planted devastating seeds of guilt and shame in me as the obvious violation of God's laws was plain to see. This was not the last time that this problem surfaced through my twenties as a long haired single Jesus freak... I was wracked with sordid guilty feelings and being a normal adolescent, and single, I had big self image problems related to sexual purity, God's requirements, sin, sex, temptation, masturbation etc etc. This poison followed me for years and years until I was married and even continued after that in a form..
During this time, I was also visiting various churches both through initiatives on the part of the street church itself to spread awareness of our Food Bank, and out of curiousity by myself, so I was exposed to some other "versions" if you will, of the faith. I met Catholics through the L'Arche community that ministered to the handicapped, founded by Jean Vanier, I met Charismatic pentacostals, I met conservative Baptists, VERY conservative brethren, Benny Hinn devotees and many many more. I read voraciously, a lot of CS Lewis and George MacDonald, Francis Schaeffer, John Hunt's polemics against the "New Age movement", Josh MacDowell's Evidence that demands a Verdict, Paul Tillich, Pilgrim's Progress, Hal Lindsay, Foxe's Book of the Martyrs, Watchman Nee, Andrew Murray, AW Tozer, Charles Finney, books on the Holy Spirit, books on Grace, Oswald Chambers, Philip Keller and many many more. I had debates about predestination and freewill, pre or mid trib raptures, Calvinism, Dispensationalism, doctrinal differences of all kinds. The initial joy of encountering God began to fade to be replaced with attempts to rationalize all the differences and attempt to find a solid foundation to build on. I was turning into an intellectual christian, consumed by the search for doctrinal orthodoxy.The first crisis occured within a year. I was teetering on the cusp of apostacy for a little while being unable to reconcile a number of things both biblical and ethical and I entered into my first I guess we'll call it cognitive dissonance. I decided even if there was no God I would continue to believe in Him, choose to believe in Him, as the alternative was too horrifying to comprehend. I thought I needed meaning or suicide would be the only alternative in a meaningless universe full of suffering. I was twenty at this time. I never denied God, and with this safety mechanism firmly in place, I continued on, and I prayed constantly that God would give me his spirit and faith abundant.
At age twenty three or so I began the slow glacial drift into having a silent hidden faith. I began travelling. It was a passion I had deep within me, a wanderlust I couldn't shake, a curiousity to see the world. I thought it natural that a child of God would want to see his father's creation but there were those, among my friends as well, who felt otherwise, and there were some who had always thought I should begin growing up in Christ and leave the long haired hippy lifestyle behind for Jesus sake. Get serious, if you will. I began to have conflicts with a number of my Christian friends who took a dim view of me wasting my life visiting foreign and exotic places with a backpack. My statements about being in church in a primeval rainforest or on a windswept beach seemed a little too pagan for some as well. Finally, I left the country for two years after working on bushcamps to save money. I travelled the world, trying to get to as many remote places as possible. I ended up in Asia living on the cheap, hitchiking and taking second class trains in India, Nepal and Pakistan and visiting the holy sites of the great religions of the east. I met many fascinating people also travelling the world, had intense philosophical debates with them, smoked hashish with Hindu yogis, hiked many a trail and slept with various women, compounding my guilt over sexual matters. I was asking a lot of questions and having many many doubts but the evangelical glue was very strong indeed.
Amazingly enough, my belief in the risen Christ survived but in an altered form. I began to adopt a mental trick around the time I returned to Canada. I started the psychological storage area. I held on, eyes tightly shut, to the idea of the risen saviour who died for my sins and so on, but I began dealing with the issues by adopting the view that because of my mortal finite state and my limited understanding as a creature, when complicated and inconsistent things began to trouble me about God or the Bible, the problem wasn't with God or the Bible but my perception of their meaning. I believed I knew the character of God, that he was loving and caring etc etc, and therefore if he appeared to be a tyrannical monster, it was merely my perception of him that was out of whack. The loving God was real, and therefore if his word didn't make any sense at all, it was my problem. I continued to read,especially George MacDonald, because he was borderline heretic anyways with his universalism, but as time went on I drifted farther and farther away from my Christian friends, seeing them less and less. I had taken up smoking ganja in India again so once a number of my believing friends found this out they were unimpressed. I met a lovely girl who I married in my early thirties and we had a full on Christian wedding in which I sang a song to my bride declaring my joy at dedicating our nuptial journey together to God and asking his mercy and guidance. That wedding was the last time I saw many of my Christian friends for a long while. I had a preternse of being a Christian but I wasn't confessing much at this point and my faith was hidden away for the most part unless Christian friends came to visit, which was as noted previously, rare. My wife is a non observing Catholic who never quite trusted the extremities to which the evangelical/fundie world was wont to go. Her faith is rather childlike and not particularly versed in biblical accuracy, Her mottoe is "I believe in God and Jesus, and that's that, you do what you want but don't try to drag me there". rather sensible for a believer, to be honest. I'm not about to mess with her faith at this point, it poses no threat to me. I was also a stepdad to a lovely son and although we shared with him as a child the rudiments of trusting God and putting ones life in His hands we didn't make a big deal about it.
Like I said at the beginning, I was a lousy Christian.
Even the above last mentioned item filled me with guilt as I was obsessed with the idea that my life was now lukewarm and wishy washy and I had bouts of fear that I was not doing enough to lead my family in righteousness as a man of God should be doing. We no longer attended any church and I felt that of all Christians I was the most false, living, if not in sin because we were after all married, but at least in disobedience to His Plan, one of those who might, maybe if I was really lucky, scrape into heaven but be one of the ones in whom Jesus is ashamed because I wasted the gift of grace and had nothing to show my Lord for all His efforts. I stood condemned, day after day, month after month, year after year. I was filled with self loathing and misery. Occasionally, I took my personal frustrations out on my wife, not physically but definitely psychologically, using guilt trips and playing games to bring her down to my level of poor self esteem. I felt horrible about it after the fact but my behaviour didn't change. We almost lost our marriage on a number of occasions. At times, I grew so frustrated at feeling so very far from being in good standing with the Lord that I thought blasphemously that even though I believed that the gospel was the truth that I wished I had never known about it. I also began to use pornography at home on the computer as a comfort zone, a retreat where I tried to shut out everything but the intensely pleasurable images on the screen. My wife, after a while, was fine with it as she was dealing with menopause and sex was not a hot topic at that time. This whole matter intensified the shame/guilt factor a hundredfold. Here I was, a non fellowshipping, pot smoking, disobedient, rebellious Christian who read books by heretics, unbelievers and pagans, who listened to unedifying music and looked at dirty pictures repeatedly. I was dicing with hellfire surely.
I was deeply troubled by hell and judgement, the resurrection of the dead. I knew so many wonderful human beings from so many walks of life and backgrounds, with myriad beliefs. I knew and cared for buddhists and atheists, homosexuals and fornicators and I couldn't wrap my head around any deity that could condemn them to fire and horror for all eternity. It didn't make a blind bit of sense and all the Christian answers were so very unsatisfying to the human mind. (I was going to say "to the dignity of the human mind" but then I saw instantly the typical Christian response that the human mind being utterly depraved has no dignity and deserves no satisfaction....funny how the mind works...) I almost envied those who had never travelled, who had never seen the world and read those troubling non Christian books, who had remained inside the gated community of the church, but I couldn't think away Hell. Increasingly, the status in my mind of the Bible as the Word of God was coming into question, I rationalized all this by noting to myself that all the peripherals of my faith, the non essentials, were being stripped away maybe, but the essential core was becoming refined like a diamond and I still had my faith. I believed in the bleeding saviour on the cross who died for my sins and rose from the dead etc etc, even though I was rejecting entire passages of the Old Testament wholesale.
This last year serious cracks began to form in my fidelity to the faith. I found myself often participating in conversations both at work and amongst my friends about Christian public figures and the ludicrous excesses of the religious right. The allegiances between evangelicals and Israeli zionism for example began to become a large issue with me and I realized that I was standing on the opposite side of the issue than many if not most evangelicals. I found myself condemning Israeli policies and actions and thinking a lot of the references in scripture to Israel being the chosen people and now I realized that I could no longer accept that concept as being true. The warmongering on the part of allegedly God fearing men in positions of great power gave me pause, but of course there had always been corruption and malevolence in powerful men who claimed to be men of faith throughout history.
About a month ago, I made a collosal choice, which has altered my entire life irrevocably. I decided to unlock the strongbox which holds all the troubling stuff about the faith. I started with hell and eternal punishment and began to research this subject intensely, staying up late at night reading articles about universalism and the early Church fathers like Origen who were universalists, and the supression of this philosophy later.. I found out that the concept of hell was pagan and brought into early Christianity from Egyptian and babylonian mythology. I discovered that eternal punishment was something that was brought in later after some of the second century and third century councils, and that translations had been poorly done to render the idea of annihilation into eternal damnation. I was heartened, actually, initially by my research and began considering myself to be a universalist at that point, which was approximately two weeks ago.
Little did I know at that point what I had unleashed.
The universalist position felt pretty comfortable initially, and I considered doing more research on the early Church Fathers and early Christianity in general. I considered maybe that the message had been polluted very early on and I should concentrate on modelling my approach to a first century purer version of the faith, less defined perhaps but free of later impositions. I then began to look at the concept of the "Red Letter" Christian, the one who follows the words of Jesus only, and also the idea of eliminating the Pauline writings, as he seemed to me to be a big part of the issues I had with the faith. I began exploring a number of areas simultaneously, including the canon, the veracity of the Gospels...
and then last weekend, things began to move very very fast indeed. The Bible's status as the Word of God collapsed in an evening of pretty intense research online about all of these matters and I realized that without the foundations of scripture I was on shaky ground indeed and the "essentials" were in jeopardy for perhaps the first time overtly. I scrambled but things were moving far too swiftly and I felt like I was trying to stop sand from flowing through my fingers. I went into a panic, my faith was ebbing away in what felt like seconds. I started to break down in abject horror, realizing it was all disappearing, evaporating into nothing. I had lost it all, I could save nothing and I broke, sobbing uncontrollably, wracking myself with pure anguish, I was in terror. I was alone, there was no saviour, there was no loving father god who cared about me, the was sweet fuck all and it was all a fantasy, the universe was a meaningless wasteland of purposeless electrobiology and none of the horrifying injustices perpetrated on the innocent would be avenged and the evil men who oppress the poor and helpless get away scot free. I went foetal. I lost it completely, wailing and wracking myself, sobbing out my pain. My wife came into my office and was shocked and worried about me, I couldn't stop crying. She asked me if I needed a doctor. I couldn't speak. I CERTAINLY couldn't tell her what was happening. Well that lasted all of a half hour and I finally told her. She, typically, said well I'd better get it sorted out because I simply had to believe in Jesus if our marriage was going to work and I'd better snap out of it and of course there was a God because after all he had given her son to her. And that was what she had to say about that.
That night was black as lucifers heart. Sunday was worse.
I tried to think about whether I should try to "think my way back" or pray but I knew it was over. At that point I thought if I could have pulled it all back together I would have because this place I was in was unspeakably lonely. I had been a believer in this God who didn't communicate for 29 years. It was all I knew to be true and this faith was what had sustained me through some pretty awful times in my life but now it was tear sodden ashes. I cried myself to sleep.
I awoke on Monday morning having to go to work and broke down inside the shower once more, sobbing uncontrollably like a child. I arrived at work with swollen eyes and wandered around like a lost soul. By Monday night I was all cried out but stunned, dazed and exhausted. I honestly didn't think I was going to make it and suicide crossed my mind but the love for my wife and son brought me through. It was at that point I knew I had a reason to continue.
It is now Friday evening. I feel much better now. I have a certain resignation, to be sure but there's a peace about things beginning to develop. There is, as I'm sure folks who've been here a while have heard before, residual worries about "what if I'm wrong" and also a lot of anger beginning to develop. I'll get through this but I can't believe where I am right now to be honest. I tried to control the process and guide it but the entire thing unravelled before my eyes in no time at all, even though as you can see from my tale the process began years ago. I will walk on and I will try my best to live my life freely now, I will try to wring the best I can find out of the remaining years I have here. I remain hopeful that there is a kindly deity on the other side but I'm not banking on any contact in this life. I don't know why we're here, it is a great mystery to me this life with all its diversitry and wonder. I am a grandfather now, and I look in his eyes and hope for a better world for him, I feel still some sadness that I can't believe that I could ask for help from above to look after him but if it isn't true then it simply isn't true and I won't live a lie any more. I am even coming to terms with annihilation and nothingness beyond the grave, but it's not a comfortable thought and I am still wondering. It all seems so pointless but for simple existence. I guess I'll never figure it out. It's a strange old life this one.
Thanks for reading my story, I hope it might help someone else on this journey.
Posted 17 March 2012 - 03:52 AM
This is the place to unload and get moral support. I agree your wife is no threat. Kids always seem to be of a problem as they too need to learn of gawd and that just sets the scam in motion for another generation.
Posted 17 March 2012 - 04:42 AM
I know christians do it all the time but I am going to do it too.... I WELCOME you, I VALUE you and, what the heck, a HUG too for all that you are going through.
So, you unlocked the "strongbox" ? And all your doubts came flying out with fresh energy, more vibrant than the day they were stuffed in there and the door slammed shut !
I did that myself a few weeks ago. I had dragged my doubts one by one, kicking and screaming, and shoved them into a broom cupboard in my mind with a notice on the door which said "do not disturb".
Over the years that space got crammed and then just recently the bloody sign fell off the door - it burst at the hinges, and my faith got trampled in the stampede !
I know what you are going through. Last weekend was horrendous for you and you were suffering a "bereavement" - a part of you was gone forever - something you had carefully built up and nurtured - even though you had the ways of the world in your nostrils, yet, in the subconscious, your faith was developing and sending signals to your conscious mind... all these years. It is very much like the loss of a parent or a child except that it was never there to start with, nevertheless the wrench is real and it hurts deeply.
Many folk on this site have experienced exactly that.
Expect your feelings to change over the coming days and weeks. Today you may hit upon a very solid feeling of what you need to do and be in the future... and then tomorrow that same idea may seem utterly absurd. I am doing it all the time - I still don't know where I am at - and I run bible classes (god help me....and them !).. and I lead worship ! and etc.. and etc... and etc... so you see it's not easy and you cannot fathom out everything overnight... life is too complicated for instant cures.
Please do come back and let us know how you are and what you are feeling if you can put it into words. Your initial post is most eloquent but if you feel the need to rant and ramble then just post straight from the heart and never mind the spell-checker or the typos.
We are here for you and we share your pain... and if the kind folk on here were NOT here I may well have gone under a train by now because I have no-one else in the whole world to talk to.
Be brave, be strong and be true,
Posted 17 March 2012 - 05:02 AM
Posted 17 March 2012 - 05:47 AM
Your testimony is so close to mine. I didn't realize that I also was a lousy christian until I read yours!!
I made a lousy christian, but I really hung in there for many years trying to get 'right' with the lord.. I tried sooooooo hard to believe and serve god, I really did.I took it VERY seriously when I was invovled and I was taught through the years to take the bible VERY literly. It meant what it said!!
I was in and out of christianity for 30 some odd years. I kept backsliding. Curiosity with the 'world', was always 'killing this cat!!' I questioned the doctrine from day one. I thought I was flawed because everybody else seemed to sit in church, filled with all this faith and I was only 'blessed' with a mustard seed that kept me going in the religion. I kept waiting and waiting for this god to come through. I asked god so many times for 'bigger' faith. I had lots of 'altered' high emotions belonging to the Pentecostal church. I really think the music kept me there for all those years.
I too was scared of hell. I didn't want to go to hell so I thought I better stay in the church, so god would have mercy on my soul when I died.I really wanted to be this perfect christian.I was always 'sitting on the fence'. Many times, I was told that Satan had a 'stronghold' on me. I got prayed over so many god damned times, you wouldn't believe it!! You would have thought at one point, this god would have at least told Satan to take his hands off me, because my heart wanted him more than anything.
When it all came tumbling down for me, I went through exactly what you did. I had a total breakdown and landed here on EX-c with suicidal thoughts. Absolutely nobody in my community knows any of this. Only EX-c. I didn't ever tell my doctor or my loved ones what I went through, right to this day. The people on Ex-c helped me through it. This has become my second home. I am here everyday. I can't leave or I'll feel too alone.
I really am so glad you are here and I hope to hear lots more of your stories. I don't come to Ex-c for a lot of the discussions - I come here to read the christian stories and I loved yours this morning. Thank you so much for your honesty.
Here is one of the first things I posted when I landed here over a year ago...you may want to read it.....I think you will relate................I hope it helps you.
God may not work.....but you could try wishing upon a star!
Posted 17 March 2012 - 07:29 AM
That was just an amazing journey to read about. I'm so filled with emotions right now that I'm not even sure what to say. I know what you mean about the Jesus People thing; my Evil Ex (a fundamentalist preacher-man whose threats and stalking eventually forced me to flee to Canada for a few years) was thick as thieves with Melody Green's group in Texas and with some Jesus People who worked at the Renaissance Festival we worked at. There's a sweet simplicity to their style of interacting that is very seductive to those who lack structure. I know--I got sucked in too, for a bit. I still love the music. But in the end, my questions about what I saw in real life versus what the Bible taught and claimed drove me out. If the Bible were true, there'd be evidence to support it. There is none. I wasn't in church nearly as long as you were, and I've been out for many years. It really does get easier as your footing on truth gets more firm.
Please take it easy on yourself in these early days of your de-conversion. You don't need to make any big decisions right now or do anything you're not ready to do. I can hear your distress crying out over the words on the screen and my heart goes out to you. You might have been a lousy Christian, but you sound like an amazing person and I'm glad you're here. I look forward to hearing more about your stories and travels. Thank you for being here.
Posted 17 March 2012 - 08:05 AM
I look forward to reading more of your posts. We're here for you
"He believed to the end exactly the same things he started with. It seems to me that a man who can think straight along for forty-seven years without changing a single idea ought to be kept in a cabinet as a curiosity."- Jean Webster
Posted 17 March 2012 - 10:31 AM
I have quoted some of your story. These were poignant descriptions of your journey and I can really relate to these!!!
They all are. It's the good ones who admit it!
I was a lousy Christian.
I too experienced a similar trajectory. I stuffed all of my cognitive dissonance and things I didn't understand into a storage area. The cognitive dissonance grew into a roar inside my head. I felt like I was losing my mind!!! Your writing really captures the intense discomfort that losing ones faith causes.
I was teetering on the cusp of apostacy for a little while being unable to reconcile a number of things...
I started the psychological storage area.
...filled me with guilt as I was obsessed with the idea that my life was now lukewarm and wishy washy...
I was deeply troubled by hell and judgement, the resurrection of the dead.
This last year serious cracks began to form in my fidelity to the faith.
I decided to unlock the strongbox which holds all the troubling stuff about the faith.
Little did I know at that point what I had unleashed.
I scrambled but things were moving far too swiftly and I felt like I was trying to stop sand from flowing through my fingers.
That night was black as lucifers heart. Sunday was worse.
I tried to think about whether I should try to "think my way back" or pray but I knew it was over.
It's brutal, isn't it. I actually felt your grief as I read your extimony.
I feel much better now. I have a certain resignation, to be sure but there's a peace about things beginning to develop.
I leared a few days ago that "soteria", the word from what we get "salvation" (soteriology being the study of salvation), can be translated as "peace" and "rest". "Salvation" does not mean four spiritual laws or saved from hell . So, I think you may be finding "salvation" for the first time: peace and rest. I hope you have both in abundance.
A belief system or philosophical orientation that is realist in its ontology, objectivist in its epistemology, and empirical in its methodology.
FOLLOW THE EVIDENCE
Posted 17 March 2012 - 10:42 AM
Posted 17 March 2012 - 01:37 PM
Posted 17 March 2012 - 01:45 PM
Posted 17 March 2012 - 02:56 PM
Posted 17 March 2012 - 02:57 PM
The Bible's status as the Word of God collapsed in an evening of pretty intense research online about all of these matters and I realized that without the foundations of scripture I was on shaky ground indeed and the "essentials" were in jeopardy for perhaps the first time overtly. I scrambled but things were moving far too swiftly and I felt like I was trying to stop sand from flowing through my fingers. I went into a panic, my faith was ebbing away in what felt like seconds. I started to break down in abject horror, realizing it was all disappearing, evaporating into nothing. I had lost it all, I could save nothing and I broke, sobbing uncontrollably, wracking myself with pure anguish, I was in terror. I was alone, there was no saviour, there was no loving father god who cared about me, the was sweet fuck all and it was all a fantasy, the universe was a meaningless wasteland of purposeless electrobiology and none of the horrifying injustices perpetrated on the innocent would be avenged and the evil men who oppress the poor and helpless get away scot free......
.....I tried to think about whether I should try to "think my way back" or pray but I knew it was over. At that point I thought if I could have pulled it all back together I would have because this place I was in was unspeakably lonely. I had been a believer in this God who didn't communicate for 29 years. It was all I knew to be true and this faith was what had sustained me through some pretty awful times in my life but now it was tear sodden ashes. I cried myself to sleep....
.....I tried to control the process and guide it but the entire thing unravelled before my eyes in no time at all, even though as you can see from my tale the process began years ago.....
What you have written here is unbelievably painful and beautiful. I am in tears because of the vulnerability with which you wrote this. I know it was probably not your intention to write so poetically, it is obvious you were simply writing from a deep place of pain and grief. But I have to say that you have an amazing style of writing and a true gift for it. I couldn't stop reading it. Thank you for sharing this.
I could totally relate to your quotes above. Amazing how, once we allow ourselves to really and truly question, that fairy tale image vanishes right in front of us. And then there is no getting it back.
I can tell you that it does get easier. This is all so fresh for you right now, but with a little time it does get better. Your mind and emotions just need some time to heal and make sense of this new information. You are obviously a very strong person and I have no doubt you will get through this and be better for it. Keep writing, even if it is just in a journal. That really does help. You have a very interesting and unique story to tell, so consider sharing more of it as you feel comfortable. I do think it will benefit a lot of people.
I wish you the best of luck. Stick around here - there are lots of people who will help you through the process.
Posted 17 March 2012 - 05:37 PM
There are many who might say, and they may for all I know be right, that I was no true Christian in the first place.
.... norton, welcome to ex-Christian! I am sure you will get great support here!
I have found the above statement to hold NO sway over me any more! In fact I usually agree with christians when they level that at me! It is like saying I never was a true believer in Santa Claus ... a statement of NO consequence! A total meaningless statement! Once the lies and brainwash of christianity are untangled you will truly see what I mean! The god of the bible was made by man in man's image! You will work that out PROVIDING you put in the hard yards! And what's more, when you get to that point, life, the world and all around you will make far more sense! There will be no more forcing square pegs into round holes to make the mythology work!
Good luck with it! I wish you well!
"Change your thoughts and change your world" - Norman Vincent Peale
Posted 17 March 2012 - 07:50 PM
I can relate to the emotional heartache you went through when you reached that point of no return. It's the saddest thing and place to be. It really is. Losing something that we have known for years and years and then to discover it wasn't even real. And reading that part of your story I teared up because it took me back to the time I was there nearly four years ago. I was just so sad for days.
Here's another lousy Christian. I use to say out aloud, "I'm a crap Christian" and my husband would tell me off for being hard on myself. LOL I felt like I was falling short all the time and I became overly analytical over much of I was doing. Confessing my 'sin' and asking for forgiveness was a cycle for me.
I am glad I am away from all of that. It is a nice freeing time. And I am glad that you are here Norton. It's great that your wife is not a hardcore fundy and just someone who believes in God and Jesus in a private kind of way. "Harmless" is how I would describe it. It sounds like that your coming out isn't going to be a problem in your relationship. And that is a huge thing. Some of the stories here are heartbreaking to read because of the strife it causes in a marriage when one spouse still believes and the other one has de-converted.
Posted 17 March 2012 - 09:53 PM
I'll share with you that a year before I left the "church = cult" I cried every single day...then after I left...I cried every single day. I see now that I was grieving, grieving all of the losses of my "faith".
During those times I had such black & dark days, I was told the devil was getting to me so I needed to stop doubting! Was I selfish to have my own desires & wishes of better for my family & myself?
I was told there was something wrong with me, I was a murmurer & a complainer for speaking my truth & my mind...I felt like I was going crazy because the way I saw my world, the way I thought about life was
so different than what the pastor/man-a-gawd was telling me I needed to believe. I was wrong. I was defective...
I just got so damn tired of trying to measure up. It was the only time in my life that I ever considered killing myself...then I thought about my kids & my husband.
I do hope you & your wife give each other time to sort things out. If you feel like you will never feel "normal" please give yourself time, because it really does get better.
The further away you are from the bible religion, the more you allow yourself to be the good person that you are, it will get better.
Again, thank you for sharing your awesome story. You are not alone & I'm glad you found us!
Decided he’d taken enough. And he had. And that plain little lad got a bit mad.
Dr. Seuss - Yertle the Turtle http://tossandripple.blogspot.com/2011/11/yertle-turtle-by-dr-suess.html
Posted 18 March 2012 - 04:52 AM
In terms of fear of Hell - which Hell are we supposed to believe in? The Roman one? The Greek one? The Xian one? The Islamic one? The Zoroastrian one? We have a poor chance of believing in the correct one from the get-go. Best not to believe anything until good evidence is shown. There is none for Hell. Or heaven. Or indeed any afterlife. I could be wrong of course but I don't think I am!
And if Hell as described in the Bible is real, God's a bit of a dick don't you think? Not worthy of my worship. Being in a Biblical heaven, surrounded by moronic obsequious Xians and knowing that many of my friends and family are burning forever - sounds like Hell to me anyway!
Posted 18 March 2012 - 05:56 AM
Many thanks for the welcomes, it is appreciated. My poor wife has trouble relating to me in this intense situation.......since I have calmed down and relaxed a bit we're actually getting along quite well, Our love for each other will survive this stress test I'm sure and I think I must at least for the near future try to avoid putting her worldview to the test by bringing it up. Now that I am through the excrutiating gutwrenching initial phase of this journey and am able to collect myself, I am able to move forward without freaking my wife out too much. It's not as if she is a regular church attendee, so there will be few conflicts on that level. I didn't think she was ever going to actually leave me, I believe she simply wished to give me a little tough love in order to snap me out of the wretched state I was in at the time. Her faith is not something she expounds on and is a rather more private matter for her. I will not be rocking the boat, I am on my journey, she is on hers.
Excellent attitude norton!!
You are an inspiration!!
God may not work.....but you could try wishing upon a star!
Posted 21 March 2012 - 09:38 AM
it's about ten days or so now since I renounced my faith in the fictitious saviour after 29 yesrs, and I have to admit I'm feeling
...Pretty freaking fantastic.
I can hardly express how freed up my mind is right now. I am shedding years of guilt and shame, blowing out all sorts of cobwebs and generally feeling very very much at peace in a way I could not have imagined possible. Anyone want any free Xtian literature? Having a big clearout on the bookshelf here...
I must also confess I do feel rather angry and it's all I can do to stop myself from posting all sorts of extremely vicious anti Christian material on my facebook page. So far I've managed to resist, since I do have believing friends who I do love, but I honestly don't know how long that wil last. So far all I've posted is one pic of a really creepy pope benedict beckoning some poor children to come sit on his creepy lap like a demented santa... I commented on it by referring to him as "Das Panzerkardinal" ... I have to try to calm down and relax, as the rage is like a simmering pot on the burner. I've got almost thirty years of built up bs to get off my chest so to speak. yup, I'm frikkin angry now. Angry not only with Xtianity but also a bit with myself for not being more aware and settling for fantasies rather than truth. I'll get over it but I feel like doing a bit of antievangelizing to be honest.
Anyway, I thought I'd pop in and encourage anyone going through the process. I don't envy those who's life situation demands they stay within the Church framework, I personally couldn't stand it but I do understand the constraints many are under and I am fortunate (almost typed thankful!) that I am free of it all. The more I become free, the better I feel about pretty much everything.
I think my wife is resigned to my new reality, she hasn't said much about it and seems to be relatively unconcerned, although I am sparing her much conversation on the subject.
Best wishes to everyone who is on this journey, hang in there it's worth it to just be free to be.
Posted 21 March 2012 - 10:30 AM
This is great news, Norton! I am so glad this crap and negativity is lifting!!
...I have to admit I'm feeling...Pretty freaking fantastic.
I'm frikkin angry now. Angry not only with Xtianity but also a bit with myself for not being more aware and settling for fantasies rather than truth. I'll get over it but I feel like doing a bit of antievangelizing to be honest.
There are some great articles at Ex-C about the stages of grief, of which one is anger. We move through these stages (not always in order) when we lose our faith. Check it out, if it's helpful.
Speaking of posting things on Facebook (the social network that ruins lives??? lol) I too have been fantasizing about posting something but I am restraining myself because I'd know regret it in one way or another.
A belief system or philosophical orientation that is realist in its ontology, objectivist in its epistemology, and empirical in its methodology.
FOLLOW THE EVIDENCE
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