skysoar15

Made A Pretty Unwise Choice Today.

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skysoar15    116

I told one of my old small group guys about my deconversion.

He now lives in a different city, but I called him to make plans for his upcoming birthday.

 

The words slipped out my mouth. 

(At least, it felt like they did).

 

It's hard to not be fully honest with some of the closer people I have been with.

Now I've got this guy trying to win me back to 'Christ.'

 

He respects me enough to let me pursue the matter on my own,

but if I hang out with him, he "won't hesitate to remind me about God."

 

My friend is one of the more simplistic Christians who believes that if someone is truly able to walk away from God,

they weren't truly saved to begin with. (He's one of those Christians who can't get enough of the 'God's Not Dead,' type of films).


He told me there's a world of difference between doubting/being in a storm versus completely abandoning the faith.

(He doesn't believe I fully have).

 

(My mind doesn't either, actually). Cognitive dissonance.

 

Questions:

1.) Have you guys ever spoken more than you felt you've needed to about your deconversion?

2.) How do you deal with friends who are trying to 'win' you back?

3.) Have you ever lost close friendships as an ex-believer because you made the choice to end it? 

4.) How did you deal with the pain, if you felt any?

 

I've asked these questions in some form of way before, but fresh perspective always helps. 

You guys are great.

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disillusioned    719

1. No. I waited a long time before I told anyone other than my wife, precisely because I knew that I would be shattering people's lives. In that time I disentangled myself from the church.

 

2. I have not discussed my deconversion with any of my Christian friends. What I found when I stopped participating in the Church was that those friendships all basically ended. What I took from this was that they were never really all that interested in me; we were just co-believers.

 

3. Indirectly, yes. I'm still on speaking terms with everyone, and I see some people a couple times a year, but functionally I'm not really friends with any true believers anymore. My relationships with my family members have changed drastically though. I haven't lost any relationships there, but they are definitely more strained than before (I have explicitly told my family, by the way).

 

4. I got over it. I'm not a very social person to begin with, and I've got other friends now, so whatever.

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I have yet to have the "conversation" with any church folks about my complete unbelief, so it's hard for me to tell you exactly what to do. But I don't think you should blame yourself for making an unwise choice.

 

For me, I'm probably getting close to where it is eventually going to come out to someone. If they haven't been informed by the one pastor I texted about it last week (why I can't hang out with him anymore, because I can't handle talking about God anymore) already.

 

The believers are going to eventually figure it, whether through you outright telling them or by you ignoring them. Frankly, I want them to find out on my terms and why. Even if they don't understand. I'm honestly waiting for someone to confront me about it and that will be the day I cut out of there.

 

Again, I stray. But really, you cannot blame yourself for explaining yourself and them not excepting it. That is their problem. Not yours.

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knightcore    132

1) Yeah I have. When I first told my dad I blurted it out on the way to school when he was driving me. I was under so much stress at the time and had been rambling about other problems and burst out that I hated church and didn't want to go anymore. Also I tend to talk a lot about stuff that is important to me, so I have probably overshared about my deconversion before.

 

2) Honestly? I don't really. I avoid theological discussions with them. It helps that I had been distancing myself already because of depression. It's funny how people don't keep up with you in a lot of Christian friendships, or any friendships. Very few people will reach out to you like you reach out to them. When Christians try to debate with me, usually about my gender, I close the discussion and change the subject until they get the hint that I don't want to have it.

 

3) Yeah. There's people I just stopped talking to who were in the church. And what I mentioned in point 2 followed. If they continued to reach out to me I would ignore their messages.

 

4) Pray ;) But in all seriousness, you just have to push through it. Remember that for a lot of Christians your friendship isn't really what they're trying to win back, it's the glory and euphoria of having reconverted you. Some people are more sincere than others, but for most, non-believers are just a project. That's very pessimistic, I'm sorry. It does hurt and it is hard.

 

I miss a lot of my Christian friends. But at the end of the day, my heathen friends have been the ones who have been the ones who have been there for me and supported me. 

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4 minutes ago, knightcore said:

Remember that for a lot of Christians your friendship isn't really what they're trying to win back, it's the glory and euphoria of having reconverted you. Some people are more sincere than others, but for most, non-believers are just a project. That's very pessimistic, I'm sorry. It does hurt and it is hard.

 

I miss a lot of my Christian friends. But at the end of the day, my heathen friends have been the ones who have been the ones who have been there for me and supported me. 

^^Pretty much this. As sincere as they come across, they are trained to win people to Jesus. They may actually care, but that tactic is ahead of any care they may have for you. This is probably a bad generalization, but I've seen people in my church trained this way. It's hard to tell whether they care because they do, or because their God/church/preacher compels them to seek the lost.

 

And same, my old heathen friends are way more considerate and genuine than my church folk. Unfortunately, not everyone here has non-Christian friends.

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54 minutes ago, skysoar15 said:

Questions:

1.) Have you guys ever spoken more than you felt you've needed to about your deconversion?

2.) How do you deal with friends who are trying to 'win' you back?

3.) Have you ever lost close friendships as an ex-believer because you made the choice to end it? 

4.) How did you deal with the pain, if you felt any?

I have many times. It's part of who I am, and not just a casual occurrence of not wanting to play a particular sport anymore. It's a life changing event. Period.

 

I make it clear that trying to "win me back" will get them a ban.   From my LIFE.

 

Yes. When every time I want to discuss a problem, and I am told it's my fault because I am not right with Christ? Bye, Felicia.

 

I deal with more than just pain, but more akin to being enraged. Enraged at a doctrine that causes such unnecessarily emotional stress on family members. Knowing some will cry and imagine me being tortured and they love me so much and don't want that to happen to me. Enraged at a doctrine that will always create a necessity for the lesser in order to be superior. Enraged that being a fuck up for Christ enables so much harmful escapist behavior. 

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Lilith666    1,369

This person should respect your decision to leave Christianity. No matter how he feels about it, your choice is your choice, just as his is his own. Have you asked him not to try to de-convert you? Has he said that he will talk to you about it as a condition of your friendship? If it makes you uncomfortable, ask him to stop. If he refuses, he's not someone whose company you want. I've never lost friends over quitting the cult, but even though I don't know what that is like specifically, giving up your dignity in this relationship to keep him as a friend isn't worth it.

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Burnedout    3,606

Just walk away and only tell them if they ask you.  It makes for MUCH less drama. 

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1.) Have you guys ever spoken more than you felt you've needed to about your deconversion?

I try to keep my beliefs to my self, Australia is not a very religious country so the few times it's been a topic of conversation people didn't really get where I am coming from. It's frustrating, so I just keep it to myself.

 

2.) How do you deal with friends who are trying to 'win' you back?

A few, but they'll either stick around or move on so it's not going to be a thorn in your side forever.

 

3.) Have you ever lost close friendships as an ex-believer because you made the choice to end it? 

Unfortunately we're often friends with people only because of a few shared interests. Once those go, so do the relationships. I lost a lot early on, and I've lost more as time went on. Those were probably the ones that it was harder for me to accept the truth of it.

 

4.) How did you deal with the pain, if you felt any?

Time heals all wounds. The first year or so it was very raw for me. It's been like 7 or 8 now and it doesn't even feel like it was ever a part of my life now.

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Spaceman    6

1.) Have you guys ever spoken more than you felt you've needed to about your deconversion?

Yes, but I'm an open person and I like to live authentically and not hide who I really am too much, especially from close friends. So sometimes things just slip out like you said. 

 

2.) How do you deal with friends who are trying to 'win' you back?

I'm still dealing with it. I've got 2 close friends who I'm in conversations with who are very bright and very pushy people. So far I've held my own with their arguments but I've discovered that those conversations are like discussing politics on Facebook. No one's mind is going to be changed and the only thing that will happen is people will get upset that no one's mind is being changed!  We have 2 totally different world views now and those don't change easily. 

 

3.) Have you ever lost close friendships as an ex-believer because you made the choice to end it? 

I may be getting close. My next conversation with one friend is coming up and it could go either way. I may have to give them an ultimatum - either they stop pushing the 'evangelizing', or we can't talk anymore except in passing. But I don't want to give up on them either so I'm considering presenting them with a whole series of questions to make them think, in the hopes that a seed might be planted in their minds. I have low expectations for that however.

 

4.) How did you deal with the pain, if you felt any?

I may find out soon!  I have already been experiencing sadness at the possibility of losing one of these friends who was one of my closest friends for 30+ years. 

 

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skysoar15    116

I was best man to one of my closer friends' wedding last summer.

The marriage didn't harm the friendship we had, but it probably helped push me on the path to eventually questioning the religion.

I doubt if he and I continued to talk everyday that it would happen.

 

It's going to be extremely hard telling him one day. 

Our whole friendship was about the two of us growing in Christ together. 

 

They all say they'll stay my friends (the people I've told), but when my lifestyle begins to visibly diverge from their standards built from Christ,

these friendships are doomed to fail. 

----------

 

The friend I mentioned in my original post can't believe that ex-Christians were really followers to begin with.

He literally has that simplistic of a mindset about it. 

Like I said earlier, he lives for those faith-based films like 'God's Not Dead' where all of the atheists are miserable, angry people who just need God to have peace.

 

Worst part about it is that right now, I am indeed angry and miserable.

As time goes on, these feelings will subside.

But the more I think about the guy I once was...it just enrages me.

I feel like I wasted the last four years of college following a maze that went to utter emptiness.

 

I really hope that I can rise above these angry feelings and not become a stereotypical atheist.

Obviously time heals, but for now...the thought of Christianity (and any religion) just angers me.

 

I hate how these people are trapped in it.

I hate how many of these people are shackled by marriages defined by it.

I hate how many friendships are going to dissipate over time.

I hate looking into many of these people's faces and seeing the disappointment.

I hate feeling like an outsider to these people who I was once so close to.

I hate how angry that I have become.

I hate part of myself for being desperate enough to be suckered into this cult-like mindset.

I hate that my friend is going to try to win me by using the oldest arguments in the book and have his mind made up about me when they don't work.

I hate that I can't listen to worship music without wanting to flip over a table. (Not that I would). 

I hate that the majority of the world believes in something higher than themselves.

I hate that atheists or even agnostics are treated unfairly by a good deal of brainwashed Americans, most of whom don't know why they believe in the first place.

I hate how people give up on ambition because they suddenly 'discover' an abusive Christ who shows up after their whole life has been a mess.

I hate the argument that 'we just have to trust God.'

 

So I hope as time goes by, my anger will cool. 

It's becoming increasingly hard not to become sarcastic toward Christianity or religion as well.

I keep it in check out of respect for other people's beliefs, but it's definitely something I need to work on.

There is definitely a way to become a peaceful free-thinker without the baggage of hate and ill will toward people.

 

Forgiving myself for being brainwashed for so long is a start.

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Ellinas    760

Skysoar, might I suggest you need to start cutting ties?

 

1.) Have you guys ever spoken more than you felt you've needed to about your deconversion?

Yes, but only to non-believers.

 

2.) How do you deal with friends who are trying to 'win' you back?

Anyone who would do this is not my friend.  I would deal with them accordingly.

 

3.) Have you ever lost close friendships as an ex-believer because you made the choice to end it? 

I've lost numerous contacts over the years simply because I'm always ready to walk away.  This is my life, and I do not tolerate interference (the only "special case" being my wife, as I take the view that we gave each other permission to interfere in each others' lives).

 

4.) How did you deal with the pain, if you felt any?

Not an issue.  I don't do regrets, don't have a rewind button and only move forward.  Those I've left behind I have done so for a reason - generally that I can find no benefit in continuing the contact.  Why should I be concerned about it?

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skysoar15    116
1 hour ago, Ellinas said:

Skysoar, might I suggest you need to start cutting ties?

 

1.) Have you guys ever spoken more than you felt you've needed to about your deconversion?

Yes, but only to non-believers.

 

2.) How do you deal with friends who are trying to 'win' you back?

Anyone who would do this is not my friend.  I would deal with them accordingly.

 

3.) Have you ever lost close friendships as an ex-believer because you made the choice to end it? 

I've lost numerous contacts over the years simply because I'm always ready to walk away.  This is my life, and I do not tolerate interference (the only "special case" being my wife, as I take the view that we gave each other permission to interfere in each others' lives).

 

4.) How did you deal with the pain, if you felt any?

Not an issue.  I don't do regrets, don't have a rewind button and only move forward.  Those I've left behind I have done so for a reason - generally that I can find no benefit in continuing the contact.  Why should I be concerned about it?

Kudos to your toughness.

I can't imagine cutting ties completely with the people I've been close to.

It pains me to think about it.

 

It'll help once I am able to leave this college town, which should be by this summer's end.

(Hard to be mobile when you don't have a car).

 

Sounds like you cut ties pretty abruptly. 

I can't assume anything about your friendships, but were they super deep when you were in the faith?

 

Cutting some of these friendships are like removing an arm. It sucks.

(Then again...if I was able to let go of Christianity... I suppose anything's possible).

Maybe it just sucks emotionally. 

Practically, I might just need to develop a thicker skin.

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I am personally at the point where if my Christian friends (if I can still even call them that anymore) can't respect my ability to make my own choice regarding the evidence for/against Christianity, then they can't be my friend because they can't respect that I am a person with my own thoughts and feelings.

 

I think I've said this, but it says something that my closest friend from high school (who is not Christian and I still see every couple months) understands why people put their faith in Jesus, but thinks it crosses a line when those people try to control lives that are not their own. My "heathen" friend knows me better than these "brothers and sisters" ever did because I can speak my mind around him. I hope you can find people like this, skysoar, whenever you are able to break out of the clutches of this insidious group.

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skysoar15    116

Update:

So my friend and I hung out tonight, ate dinner, and caught a movie.

I prepared myself for any possible manipulations for him to try to win me back.

 

The car ride was fine at first. We were just talking as normal adults getting adjusted to adulthood. 

He told me about his marriage and job situation while I told him about my struggle to craft a successful grad portfolio.

 

As we were about to get tickets to watch Fast and Furious 8 (because why not), he lovingly begs and pleads for us to see 'The Case For Christ' instead.

This being a cheap college town theater, tickets were not expensive...but I froze.

Here I was...celebrating having my old friend back in town to spend time with him before his birthday.

 

Like a child, he pleaded for us to see 'Case For Christ.'

I froze for about four minutes...with the newly bought Fast 8 tickets right in my hand.

He even asked the ticket booth people what they suggested we see. Most of them suggested 'Case For Christ.'

 

Now I'm not saying Fast 8 was going to be a masterpiece. Those movies are trash and they know it.

But it was just going to be a good time. 

 

For the good of my friend, I reluctantly traded those tickets for 'Case For Christ' instead.

He bought me dinner as a way of showing gratitude, and in a lovingly 'Christ' like way knew that I hated him for it.

However, he basically stated that uncomfortability was a good thing to push us toward the truth.

 

I was pissed for most of the meal, trying to keep my conversation to a minimum. 

I felt manipulated.

 

We sit down and watch the movie.

To my surprise, it is actually a well-crafted (especially for a faith-based film) movie.

It was a period piece about how author Lee Strobel searched obsessively for answers disproving the resurrection of Christ.

His wife had just become a Christian and he was working hard to save his marriage, feeling increasingly alienated from her new way of life.

I related to Strobel through the entire journey as he wrestled with anger toward losing his marriage, his drunken fight with his wife over the fact that she 'loved' Jesus more than him, and the general attitude he held throughout the whole film.

 

Every person that he questions leads him between a rock and a hard place.

He spends the entire film trying to disprove it.

Eventually, he learns to accept that the resurrection did occur and that he can't find anything to disprove it.

 

The film was moving. 

But I was angry. 

I spoke little as my friend dropped me back as my place and headed back to his hometown.

My first thought was to post on here.

 

I know I should have stood my ground...

but I chose to see what he wanted to see.

 

I'm still not sure about anything anymore.

The movie wasn't perfect, but watching this guy slowly turn from a hardcase atheist to a new believer was surprisingly convincing.

This wasn't one of those preachy "God's Not Dead" type films where very atheist is an evil person out to ruin a Christian's life.

Here, we see this man (an atheist) as a loving husband and father who sees his entire world fall apart as his wife becomes a Christian and 

someone who researches desperately to debunk her beliefs to save their marriage.

 

After the movie, I knew that I couldn't latch onto feelings.

But I am even more confused than ever.

I am perfectly willing to cut ties with my friend now. Perfectly willing.

I once found the idea of it hard...but now I see that my sanity is at stake. 

 

Holy shit.

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disillusioned    719

Your friend coerced you into a situation that you did not want to be in. I think it might be time to move on.

 

With respect to the Case for Christ, I haven't seen it and I have no plans to see it. It would be a waste of time. The thing is, it doesn't matter at all if we can't find anything to disprove the resurrection. The claim is absurd on the face of it. Such a claim requires very strong evidence indeed in order to be accepted. The evidence that is available simply does not suffice. End of story.

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Before you cut ties, you should tell him why that upset you. If he is truly a friend, he MIGHT be sympathetic and back off. If not, you'll know that he doesn't care about YOU, just about adding to his "salvation score."

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skysoar15    116

With all due respect, nutrichuckles, don't you get it?

I've been in the game before.

We both have.

 

When it comes to stuff like what he pulled, there are no feelings to be considered. 

Even as a Christian, pulling that type of manipulation wasn't my style. Ironically, although he enjoyed the movie...he claimed it was super long. I believe it was because it was actually trying to be a real movie and worked damn harder than other faith films to avoid seeming like a propaganda piece.

 

But what he did was what being a 'brother in Christ' is all about.

He aimed to "strike at my heart."

He asked repeatedly in a joking way if I wanted to punch him in the face. He even said: "Go ahead, feel free" in a non-ironic way. 

This guy is serious about trying to win me back...and as long as he remains in my life, he will continue to pull crap like that.

 

He IS more pushy about it than some of the Christian people I know...which is becoming a problem.

 

He expected a 'come to Jesus' moment. Had I been weaker, I would have fallen for it. I armed myself with hundreds of read posts on here before I spent time with him yesterday. 

 

All his move did was make me angry. 

He stated with his actions that he cared more about Jesus than my feelings.

Ironically,  he did right by 'the Gospel.'

Hooray. 

But he just lost ME.

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Ugh. What a manipulative "friend" he is!!! He has no sense of your personhood or boundaries; he has run roughshod all over both and this blatant violation should make you angry!

 

He has ONE goal for his "relationship" with you, and it's not to understand or love you--it's to make you see things his way. Who needs a friend like that? If you can't live without the guy, order a "no fly zone" where he never discusses religion or faith with you. EVER. 

 

The movie was "moving" because of cinematic prowess not because it's truth. You can be moved by a lot of things--false claims should not be one of them. 

 

I feel for you! I hope you sort this out soon... for the sake of your mental health. Keep us posted. 

 

Hugs!!

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skysoar15    116

Thank you! I will check those out.

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1 hour ago, skysoar15 said:

With all due respect, nutrichuckles, don't you get it?

I've been in the game before.

We both have.

 

When it comes to stuff like what he pulled, there are no feelings to be considered. 

Even as a Christian, pulling that type of manipulation wasn't my style.

 

But what he did was what being a 'brother in Christ' is all about.

He aimed to "strike at my heart."

He asked repeatedly in a joking way if I wanted to punch him in the face. He even said: "Go ahead, feel free" in a non-ironic way. 

Hey, no problem man. If you already know how he's going to be and that it was on purpose, your feelings are perfectly merited. Didn't mean to make it seem like I was unsympathetic to your situation.

 

I would also add, what a dick. The intentional fuckwadness of your "friend" didn't come across in the post about last night. So I apologize if I seemed to make light of it. I did not mean to.

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sdelsolray    1,693
20 hours ago, skysoar15 said:

...

The friend I mentioned in my original post can't believe that ex-Christians were really followers to begin with.

He literally has that simplistic of a mindset about it. 

Like I said earlier, he lives for those faith-based films like 'God's Not Dead' where all of the atheists are miserable, angry people who just need God to have peace.

 

Worst part about it is that right now, I am indeed angry and miserable.

As time goes on, these feelings will subside.

But the more I think about the guy I once was...it just enrages me.

I feel like I wasted the last four years of college following a maze that went to utter emptiness.

 

I really hope that I can rise above these angry feelings and not become a stereotypical atheist.

Obviously time heals, but for now...the thought of Christianity (and any religion) just angers me.

...

 

I suspect your anger will change into grief and sadness for your friend as time passes.  Remember, it is his dysfunction that forms his thinking and emotions.  Don't take ownership of his problem, as that will only delay your own healing.

 

Quote

...

Forgiving myself for being brainwashed for so long is a start.

 

Perhaps you will get more resolution by forgiving those that indoctrinated you.  You have no fault for your childhood indoctrination by trusted adults, or in the continual peer pressure you were exposed to in subsequent years.  To the extent you are complicit in it, go easy on yourself.

 

I'm just finishing up a book I've wanted to read for several years:

 

  • Mills, David (2008). Atheist universe : the thinking person's answer to Christian fundamentalism. Berkeley, CA: Ulysses Press. ISBN 978-1569755679.

 

It's quite accessible, i.e., an easy read, yet it is quite full of well researched information and excellent rational analysis.  Reading it, or something like it, may take your mind away from the emotional and psychological issues you are processing, at least for a while, and will also provide you with more intellectual exercise in the subject.

 

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Ellinas    760
22 hours ago, skysoar15 said:

...

Sounds like you cut ties pretty abruptly. 

I can't assume anything about your friendships, but were they super deep when you were in the faith?

...

Practically, I might just need to develop a thicker skin.

 

If need be, yes, I can cut ties abruptly - I've engineered arguments in order to light the blue touchpaper and watch them explode on a few occasions where I've judged someone is seeking too great an influence.  But, in reality, I usually just walk away from what is already withering.

 

I'm not sure that I understand the idea of a super deep friendship.

 

I remain in contact with Christians simply on account of my wife.  As I say, the one special case.  The only person, practically, I allow to influence my behaviour and away from whom I would not be prepared to walk.

 

The thicker skin sounds a good idea.

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