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Seekingwhatisnext

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About Seekingwhatisnext

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    I’m in my early 40s and leaving my life of growing up in a Bible Church (and being the pastors wife)

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  1. I’m going to go to church. My husband and mom and In laws have started going to a new church. I don’t usually go, but I went for Christmas Eve and I’ll go again for Easter. I actually enjoy church, the singing and social aspect. I have absolutely no belief at all and I think that’s what makes me ok with church. If I was still in doubt about god then it would be difficult, but being a firm atheist, I separate religious belief from church attendance. Heck I still listen to hymns in my car sometimes. I enjoys parts of “religion” while having absolutely no belief in anything. A friend recently mentioned karma, I don’t even belief in that, if there is no supernatural then there is NO supernatural, everything is random chance. But still I do enjoy standing in the pew singing how great thou art guess it’s nostalgia from my childhood. I’ll also be celebrating Easter with quite a bit of Cadbury chocolates!
  2. This is what I have found among some believers. I think they understand doubting, but they cannot understand rejecting god. If I say I’m struggling with my faith they are so very helpful and loving and kind. If I say I fully understand the god of the Bible and yet I do not believe in him then that is not in line with how they see god and they must defend their god and in the process I become the evil one who rejects such a great gift from a wonderful god. Thankfully that reaction has been limited. I have been met with far more people who do continue to be loving and kind and accept me no matter what, wether Christian and atheist. But I have had the painful experience of basically being discarded because clearly I must be evil since their god is so perfect.
  3. Interesting topic...Growing up I always thought the worst things you could do were drink, smoke, so drugs and the absolute worst of all was have sex before you were married. In my mind premarital sex was up there with murder and armed robbery. Now that seems so ridiculous to me. I wonder at what the hyper focus on sex was about. My family was fairly “normal” I was taught that pre marital sex was wrong and I fully bought into that belief, but I was allowed to date and my family wasn’t super strict on dress or things like that. I look at some of the families where the entire focus is on purity and it absolutely creeps me out! I was also always taught that homosexuality was wrong but never in a hateful way, always in a “love the sinner, hate the sin” way. Since leaving Christianity all of my beliefs about sex have completely changed. I see nothing wrong with any consenting adults doing whatever they want to with whoever they want (other than I do think it’s a pretty crappy thing to cheat on your spouse/significant other). Now I see intolerance as being a much bigger “wrong” thing. Maybe it’s from my years spent in the atheist closet afraid of not being accepted if I came out, but I have a huge soft spot for anyone in any situation where they face rejection by their family and friends for being who they are.
  4. I’m hesitant to write this portion. I’ve lived in the fishbowl of being the pastors wife for so many years and it is ingrained in me to always worry what others will think and to always be a good example. I worry what if someone who knows me, someone from my church were to come to this site and find my story. I’m not sure if I’ll ever be able to get out from under this weight of others opinions. My husband still desires to fill in for pulpit supply at churches and so I can’t run away from Christianity in a blaze of glory with a giant F you. I must watch myself. Also as I said in a response my family and friends are all still Christians and they receive a great deal of comfort and peace and hope from Christianity and I would never never want to take that away from them. I don’t speak negatively of god or the Bible to them. They all know I’m an atheist but I focus on what I described in the first part of my testimony, why I left, the fear I felt over hell and the peace I have found in no longer fearing I’ll go there. What I don’t talk about is how since leaving the faith I now find it all to be utter nonsense. From reading on this site and various other sources I now see Christianity and all other belief systems as a crutch people use because they can’t face the harshness and truth that life is completely random and there is no greater meaning or purpose, and there is nothing else after death. That is a hard thing to take and it’s not surprising that people look for something to believe because they want so desperately for there to be something more. The entire premise of the Bible is so absurd and it’s clear that it was written within the confines of a flawed world. If god were perfect he would have made everything perfect. The writers of the Bible couldn’t sell that story, anyone could see that life isn’t perfect, they had to make up an elaborate plot to explain the reality of the evilness in the world. So they make this bad guy satan, but then again need another elaborate plot as to why the good guy god who made everything to begin with doesn’t seem to be able to control the bad guy. It’s so full of holes it’s ridiculous and laughable if it wasn’t so tragic. When you get down to it god is the ultimate bad guy of his own book, he created his own nemesis and gave him the power to destroy the rest of what he created. Clearly if there had actually been a real god he would have made everything perfect. The only plausible explanation is there never was any god and Bible had to have been written by men in a naturally evil world with a fanciful story to try to explain why there was so much evil. Anyway, all that to say, these are the things I don’t talk to people about. So back 7 or so years ago when I walked away out of plain old fear I had no idea what to do or where to go. I had told no one of my struggles over the past 30 years. I thought I’d just keep quiet and no one would ever need to know. After about 6 months I couldn’t handle it and I told a friend from church (all my friends were from church). Over the next few months I told a total of 3 friends. They encouraged me to continue seeking god. I diligently tried. I felt pressure to believe. They all loved me and were very worried that I was going to hell. I felt awful for putting them through that. I wanted to believe so they wouldn’t be worried about me and I felt it would make us all closer if I could truly share their belief. I felt a bit on the outside and my one friend in particular made me feel like Christians all share this special bond that I was now not part of. I tried very hard to believe again just to be part of the “family of god”. As years went on I eventually told my husband and 3 more friends and my children 2 years ago (they were 17 & 15 by then). I never told my parents although my in laws knew. My daughter took it very well, it really bonded us. She has a lot of issues with stuff in the Bible and doesn’t agree with a lot of things. But she does still believe everything came from somewhere, she believes in some sort of creator. My son struggled in the beginning with fear of me going to hell, but at this point he is now 17 and not sure of things himself. The fallout from the church has given him a very bad taste in his mouth about Christians and Christianity. As happens in churches there was talk, it turns out I trusted and opened up to a few I should not have trusted. I was feeling more and more trapped and caged and wanted to be out but at the same time I loved my church so much and wanted to stay there. In my perfect world what I wanted was to be able to freely and openly tell people that I wasn’t a believer but still attend church and sign the hymns and be part of it. I truly loved going to church. Of course this wasn’t really possible. As a few more people knew there were questions raised over if my husband was qualified to be a pastor if his wife didn’t believe. It was a small minority but small minorities can be vocal and and my husband decided to resign rather than cause any division in the church. He didn’t want anyone to feel that they needed to leave because they weren’t comfortable with him as the pastor. So he decided to leave. Unfortunately this came about very quickly and there was only 2 weeks between us first hearing that there were some people with problems with him staying and the day he stood and announced his resignation and we walked forever out of and away from the church, the home, the family I had been with since I was 3 years old. The vast majority had no idea at all and were made aware that I didn’t believe and that we were leaving all the same day in a matter of about 3 minutes as he read his letter to the congregation. 2 days prior we had met with my parents to tell them I didn’t believe, and that we were leaving. This was especially heartbreaking to my mom who had been attending church there for 40 years and had her entire network of friends there also. I felt incredibly guilty. My mom has been very supportive but I feel terrible for doing this to her. We told our parents not to come to church on Sunday because it would be very sad. I sat with my very best friend who has been my absolute rock and squeezed her hand so hard all through the service and through the end when my husband made his announcement. People were very kind and they cried and hugged me. My husband went straight to his office. I stood with my friend and said goodbye to everyone. The next day we cleaned out his office and turned in our keys. It’s been over 6 months and we’ve never been back and we won’t be back and now that the shock has worn off the reality sets in. If I were to die in a car accident I have no place to have a funeral, I have no people anymore. I do have my core friends (except the betrayer) and they have been very supportive. I feel very much guilt. My husband had to walk away from the church he has been in since he was a teenager and where he had worked as a pastor for 17 years. My father in law walked away from the church he had pastored for over 25 years (in case I didn’t mention it before my father in law became the pastor when I was a teen and that’s how I met my husband, then my husband was the assistant for several years before taking over as senior when his dad retired 4 years ago). I feel like I’ve destroyed both of their legacies and their lifes work. All because my mind just doesn’t work the way most people’s minds work. Anyway that’s my story. I do feel free now, I no longer feel trapped, but I wonder if it was too high a price to pay and I wonder if it was incredibly selfish of me to hurt others so I wouldn’t feel trapped.
  5. It was absolutely terrifying during those 30 years I believed I was going to hell. I would have nightmares where I was about to die (car going over a cliff or someone breaking in my house with a gun pointed at me) in each nightmare my only thought was that this was it, I was about to be in hell and on fire forever. I would wake up terrified. I’ll post a follow up of how things played out, coming out as an atheist, leaving our church and my friends/families reactions.
  6. It has been extremely difficult, I’ll write a follow up about the process of leaving.
  7. Thank you! Yes, over the past few years I’ve come to realize how absurd the entire premise is. Even in his own book god is the ultimate bad guy, the evil puppet master villain. I see the bible completely differently now. I can’t believe how blind I was to it before. The stories, especially in the Old Testament, are so awful, I truly can’t believe we let children read it! I can see now why they only chose certain stories to make flannel graphs about in Sunday school. There is some sick stuff in there. I keep these things to myself though. Even though we have left the church almost my entire circle are believers. I have no desire to take away from them something that brings them comfort. Life is tough and I’m happy for them that they have something that gives them hope and comfort and peace. Who cares if it’s built on something false. The hope and peace they feel is real. I would be a jerk to try to take that away from them. They know I’m an atheist. I tell them my story that I just shared with you all of how I left Christianity. I stop there. I don’t go farther and tell them the all the proofs and reasons I have found to disbelieve since leaving. Christianity was never comforting to me, it only brought me fear, but for my friends they do find comfort in it, I’m happy for them.
  8. Yesterday I made an introduction, so I guess today I’ll share my long walk away from Christianity. I grew up going to a Bible Church, it was all I had ever known. When I was about 5/6 I got “saved” by this I mean it was explained to our children’s church class that those who believe in Jesus will go to a wonderful place with streets of gold and mansions when we die and those who don’t believe will go to a place of eternal fire and pain and suffering. There wasn’t much of a choice involved, what young child would choose the place of pain over being rich? The entire “decision” was based on appealing to our greed I realize now looking back. As a small child I just naturally believed whatever trusted adults told me. I grew up in a safe environment and it was easy to trust and believe the adults in my life, I had no bad experiences to cause me to do anything but trust. I really couldn’t even understand why “believing” in god was even a question. That seemed like a very easy way to go to heaven. Of course I believed in him, the adults in my life told me he was real! Life was good until one day when I was about 8 and I simply realized, while I was coloring in my coloring book and contemplating life, that Santa wasn’t real. I was thinking of how he traveled the entire world in one night and visited every house and I just suddenly knew it was impossible. I asked my dad about this. He denied it and said that of course Santa was real and he was magic and that’s how he could do things that weren’t actually possible. I wanted to believe it so badly because I loved Santa but I just COULDN’T. I KNEW Santa couldn’t possibly exist. I thought my dad was pretty stupid to be an adult and not be able to figure this out when I was a kid and I put it together. A few days later my mom had a talk with me and explained that Santa wasn’t real. She told me that my dad knew this too, which made me feel much better about my dad’s intelligence I said to her “the Easter bunny and tooth fairy aren’t real either are they?” She said no. The question in my mind was gods not real either is he? But I somehow KNEW not to ask this, I knew it would upset her. Now I was terrified. I doubted gods existence, I didn’t fully believe in him, now I was going to hell. I stayed in this place of horror for 30 years. You may wonder why I feared hell if I didn’t believe god existed. The thing is I thought that god and the Bible were probably true, like 99% sure, but I wasn't totally and completely convinced of his existence and so I was sure I was going to burn in hell. I was terrified and I told no one. I was so afraid that anyone would find out. I threw myself into being the perfect Christian. I was always the number one verse memorizer in our Awana program. I stayed out of trouble and always did the right thing as I grew up. I never drank or partied or did anything bad. I thought if god was pleased with me maybe he’d take away my doubt. I begged god to take away my doubt. Nothing ever happened. I was terrified that the rapture would come. I remember watching the thief in the night movies in utter fear that this WAS my future. I always thought the rapture would happen on a Sunday morning at church and I’d suddenly be the only person in the building. I thought through the route I’d take to walk home on side streets since I couldn’t walk on the highway. I made a mental note to get my moms keys out of her purse before I left so I could get in the house. When I was a teen we got a new pastor and his son was about my age. We started dating. I never told him. We married and he went to Bible college to become a pastor too. I still never told him. I kept waiting for that moment when I would finally hear something that would take away all my doubt and I would fully believe. I never planned on ever having anyone know about this period of doubting. I was going to get past it and I would be the only one who ever knew I went through it. We had a couple of kids, my husband ended up being the assistant pastor at the church we grew up in. It was wonderful. We had both sides of our family there and all our friends who had been family all our lives. I loved it there and I was so glad to raise my kids in the big family atmosphere. It was my entire social structure. About 7 years ago (2013) I came to really understand the doctrine of predestination (think along the lines of MacArthur & Piper). I suddenly realized why I had always been plagued with doubts and never been “allowed” to believe. I wasn’t chosen! I would never hear anything that would suddenly take my doubt away because god had purposefully put that doubt there because he hadn’t chosen me. I can’t even explain how dark this was and how hard it hit. For a full month I lived believing that this was the absolute truth. Somehow I managed to be ok. I still lived my life, went to church. If you would have seen me during that month I appeared totally fine, but inside I was screaming. I didn’t know what to do, there was NOTHING I could do, absolutely nothing. This was my fate. I kind of came to terms with it. I decided to enjoy my life as much as possible since I knew my eternity was going to suck. After about a month I think my mind just had to find an escape. A thought started to form. The thought terrified me. It took me several more weeks to even allow myself to think it through fully. The thought was this...what if god really isn’t real? The thought that had terrified me for 30 years was now comforting me. If god wasn’t real then hell wasn’t real and I didn’t have to go there! I felt real comfort and peace for the first time! This was wonderful! God isn’t real, there is no eternal punishment. I can simply live my life and then cease to exist! But now for the first time the life I lived (as a Christian and as a pastors wife) was now at odds with my belief and I now had a whole other problem. How could I be an atheist and a pastors wife? I determined that I would simply never tell anyone and continue to live just as I always had. Obviously that didn’t work out...I’ll come back and fill in more later, but for now I feel like I’ve been typing forever! If you’ve read this far, thank you!!
  9. Thanks for the welcome, I appreciate it! It’s been a rough few years and even tougher last few months but as my name says I’m currently seeking what comes next. I’ve never really made decisions in life, I just always did what came next. I never went through the typical teen/early 20s phase of questioning and figuring out who I am. Because of my fear of my doubts I just doubled down on being a Christian. And given that I married at 20 and my husband was devout in his beliefs it was easy to transition from a kid in my parents Christian home to a wife in my own Christian home. Now I am thinking about who I am and who I want to be and how to get there. Being open with my kids about this has been incredibly positive for both me and them. We are all kind of trying to figure out who we are and what we believe. My honesty has helped them be honest with me about things they are going through. I tell them to think about things and try different things and figure out who they really want to be because it’s far easier at 17 & 19 than it is in your 40s!
  10. I’ve been reading on here on and off for the past 5 years or so. I finally joined so I guess I’ll introduce myself and try to keep it short so it doesn’t turn into my ex testimony. I’m in my early 40s. I grew up going to a Bible Church, which is where I met my husband as a teenager. He went to Bible college, we married and he became the pastor of that same church we grew up in. We had a couple of kids who are in their late teens now. I had always had doubts since childhood, I never told anyone. Instead of following those doubts, I tried to silence them. I knew that doubts equaled hell so I tried to convince myself I didn’t doubt. I threw myself into being a good Christian and lived a very moral life. I was living the pastors wife life, raising my kids as good little Christians. About 7 years ago I started to listen to the doubts, I followed them and they led me to atheism. For the next 5-6 years I lived not knowing what to do and feeling very trapped and conflicted. I truly did love my church itself and the people in it that had been like family to me my entire life. Church was my entire social network. I wasn’t sure if I should just keep my mouth shut and pretend or be honest and lose everything (including my husbands job and our families security) I felt that I couldn’t tell my kids because I didn’t want to confuse them during their early teen years. My husband had no idea. Eventually I told a couple of friends and finally my husband. That caused me to then have pressure from people who loved me and wanted me to be saved and go to heaven. For a few years I went back and forth with trying to believe again just to spare my loved ones that pain. About 2 years ago I came to the decision that I need to be who I am (an atheist) and if my “friends” will only accept me as a Christian that’s on them. Thankfully many of my friends have been supportive as has my husband. I told my kids 2 years ago and it’s actually made us closer as they realize I have struggles too, honesty has made our communication so much better. We did leave the church a few months back and that has been incredibly hard. I miss it so much. It has been my place that felt like home my entire life. I am grieving very much for my church. I feel such guilt because my husband was a good pastor and now he can’t do what he loves anymore. I’m sure I’ll share more in a testimony soon, but for now that’s my intro...
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