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More About Me

Still have any Gods? If so, who or what?

Found 8 results

  1. Having a friend make headline news by becoming the embodiment of everything wrong in the world was not how I imagined my evening would begin. Scott Smith, one of the hosts of the Recovering From Religion podcast, top dog activist for Military Association of Atheists and Freethinkers (MAAF ), father of three, and all around good guy, turned a very dark corner earlier today. He shot and killed his wife and then took his own life just as police arrived. Three school age girls are going home to relatives instead of their own bedrooms and welcoming arms of their parents. The footsteps of mom and dad in the hall to tuck them in are now permanently relegated to memory and dreams. The loving smile of dad is now a porcelain veneer of menace boiling beneath. Some might take offense to all this imagery, but the reality is whether mental illness was the primary cause or not (many say it was his losing to ptsd), he murdered his wife. He committed domestic violence. I feel that the constant woe of his ptsd being the cause removes some accountability from Scott's plate, and I am not going to have that. We can discuss this reality without eviscerating him. This was a man who was keenly aware of how ptsd affected him. His years in the military and then learning to live as a civilian activist out there to protect vets and bring further understanding to ptsd is important. He is not without his own weaknesses, and maybe the news of his wife's divorce pushed him to an edge he had never traversed before. This does not lessen or change the fact he committed domestic violence. He murdered his wife. He took an opportunity to control his life how he saw fit, and forced his soon to be ex-wife to follow. He even called the police and told them what he was doing. Once again, someone burned it all down because it wasn't going their way and they had to have absolute control. Does it really need to be said for the millionth time that mental health is a huge issue that is still taking baby steps to become a mature discussion in this country? And right now is the time in our community of freethinkers to seriously evaluate this issue in our own ranks. We cannot always see or know what is going on behind closed doors in our friends' lives, but we can consistently promote a very personal avenue of communication to find these dark moments in our impulses and try to diffuse them before they become tragedy. We can be active participants in our local communities to demand better crisis services without stigma. We can educate our communities that staying in the hospital for mental health reasons is not a thing to be embarrassed or ashamed of. Self-care must happen or we cannot take care of those we love. We will hurt them as we hurt ourselves. I have personally been to that dark edge and back, and luckily my family and I walked away intact. I didn't hide, but embraced help for once. But that was only after barely waking up from an intentional overdose because I couldn't process my guilt. Some might look back and say Scott was a good man who had his own demons that got the better of him. Some might look back and say he was a bad man, letting this murder define his legacy. What we should be looking back on is how we can help prevent more of these types of violent episodes from occurring due to any number of reasons, simply by being present and demanding we all take care of ourselves through proper programs and resources instead of the way Scott did it in the end. PTSD didn't kill his wife. He did. Let's prevent this from happening again.
  2. It was a timing much like other realized moments of accounting in my life. I sat at the red light. Chest tight, my eyes wet and slippery, the church on the opposite corner rang its bells. Its enormous clock had struck 7p while I was waiting at the intersection. Like a reverberant pang of regret, the tolling of the bells echoed the hollow sentiments that had gripped a of hold me. The deep pangs of grief I had begun wrestling with physically pulsed in my ears as every dark note rang out from that church tower. The red light seemed to last forever. Seconds like minutes. My thoughts becoming a monsoon of physical discomfort. And that red halo cast down onto the sliver hood of my car, also colored me with a shade of self loathing I hadn't experienced in years. A cold reality I had doggedly avoided for almost two years now, crept into my future planning quite painfully just a few minutes before I had reached that light. I sat there, seething with a raging disbelief that I had once again shown my penchant for using shitty enabling patterns for coping in life. I once again ripped my own heart to shreds. I knew I had willfully ignored the flags for months. I once again ignored the lack of results when expressing my own needs. I had straight up given away three years of dedication under a personally enforced blind eye - and now was being asked for potentially fifteen years more of the same. To continue a perpetual state of unsatisfying relationship roles. I sat at that red light and blistered with incredulous laughter, tears, and white-knuckled fingers on a steering wheel. Could I really be so angry at him for what I so plainly continued to enable? A friend in public, but spoken for in private. His holding back on communicating relationship issues with me under the guise of "looking out for my feelings". His absence in my everyday life. No. I wasn't going to lay all of this at his feet. He didn't make this the norm. I allowed it. I did this. My fear of demanding for myself that which makes my life enjoyable. My fear of admitting it isn't okay and it needs to change immediately. My lack of belief that I do deserve the good things with someone I care about. With every bell that tolled, I was mentally going through the checklist of what I needed, and not one box was marked off. A voice that was not just acknowledged, but respected and adhered to. Equal control of the relationship. Self-respect to demand and enforce what I need to be happy too. A fucking picture together. A good hump at least once a week. Yeah, three years - no pictures together. What was I thinking? The light turned green, the bells were silent. My mascara shown all over the back of my hands in that emerald hued spotlight as I made my turn. No goddamn picture. Still invisible to the public. So many flags and no check marks. This is the devastation many feel in life. Especially when you have all the dreams in place at the other's behest, but not a single step has been taken to make it a reality. It's devastating because you realize that you compromised yourself for a shiny, dangling piece of fancy that you eventually knew wouldn't take off - but you chased it anyway. Now three more years of my life are gone, and it isn't even a new lesson learned.
  3. ‘I’m not sad, I’m depressed,’ I said. ‘What’s the difference?’ she asked. ‘I thought they were the same.’ ‘I have been both at different times,’ I replied. ‘If you let me I’ll explain: When you are sad you want to be happy. When you are depressed you want to live, but life is on pause. When you are sad you want to feel loved. When you are depressed you just want to feel. When you are sad you want to talk to a friend. When you are depressed you don't want to talk to anyone. When you are sad you want to eat something yummy. When you are depressed the thought of making a meal is as terrifying as an oncoming train. When you are sad you can be persuaded to cheer up. When you are depressed the concept of cheer is nonsensical. When you are sad you might start to cry. When you are depressed you wish you could cry, but instead you stare. When you are sad you might listen to music. When you are depressed your favourite music sounds like white noise. When you are sad you might watch TV. When you are depressed you can’t switch it on, because you can’t move. When you are sad you want to be happy. When you are depressed you want to live, but you are dead.’ ‘Oh,’ she said. ‘Yes,’ I said. ‘So what can I do to help?’ she asked. ‘Not much,’ I replied. ‘Just don’t tell me I’m sad.’
  4. Hi, I'm an ex-christian and here is a snapshot of my journey: I'm a French-Canadian guy, 48 years old, married with 4 kids. I was born into the Catholic faith, my parents were devout church goers and believed in a loving God. When I was about 13, I started being active in the church, helping out in the youth group, in the choir and sometimes reading scriptures during mass. Religion was an important part of my life, but the emphasis was on being a good person, nothing scary like hell and stuff. For me, the youth group was a place to meet my cousins and make new friends, it was completely voluntary. Our purpose was to participate actively in church and organize religious social activities. Catholicism was not about reading the Bible, it was about being obedient to the church which is run by priests, nuns, bishops, under the supervision of the Pope. Jesus was basically just an historical role model, with no real presence. The Virgin Mary, on the other hand, was more visible because she appeared every once in a while to tell you to pray and recite the rosary. The religion was centered around mass, statues, saints, sacraments, the sign of the cross, kneeling, being good, sacrifices, suffering, learning prayers by heart, and avoiding anything sexual. I didn't even know that God had a Word. It's not until my late teenage years that I started hearing about the heavy fundamentalist televangelist teaching from the US. I remember my father watching Jimmy Swaggart on TV and buying his books. I thought Jimmy was interesting because he was so emotional about Jesus, you could just feel the love he had for God by watching him. Unlike the catholic priests who would preach with no emotions whatsoever, this guy was alive. Filled with... the holy ghost. For a Catholic, it was quite a revelation to watch and listen to him. I think that's when I realized that God had a Word and that he was actually talking to people today, through the Bible. The only thing resembling this where I lived was the Charismatic Movement. I wanted to know what Jimmy Swaggart was so excited about. I knew that the Holy Spirit had something to do with it and my dad kept saying that the most important thing in life was to have a personal relationship with God. This meant that it was possible to communicate with God on a personal level. I could just imagine being able to ask God questions and then hear him answer. I was totally interested, although I had doubts. When I turned 19 I decided to spend the whole summer at a Catholic Charismatic School of Faith in Quebec. It was called the Paul VI Center. The place had been built by the most popular French-Canadian Charismatic Leader in Canada, under the direct supervision of the Holy Spirit. It was a building with 80 bedrooms, conference room, cafeteria, etc. Summer sessions lasted 6-weeks long. Once accepted, you attended all the teachings, slept there, ate there, no TV, no PC, no radio, very limited access to the outside world, it was all about meeting Jesus personally. I was curious and decided to go there, but I had no idea what was about to happen to me. When I got there, I was completely overwhelmed by the spirit of love that was in that place. Oh my god! I had never seen anything like this! Today we have the Internet, YouTube, and all this Charismatic/Pentecostal stuff is on video for everyone to see, but back then in 1982, those things were going on behind closed doors and the only way to see it was to go right in and experience it for yourself. So for the next 6 weeks, I was right in the action, along with 80 or so other young adults, experiencing first hand everything the Holy Spirit had to offer: being slain in the Spirit, speaking in tongues, the gift of prophecy, faith, healing, reading the Bible, accepting Jesus as a personal saviour, giving your life to God, miracles, sins being forgiven, demons being cast out, crying, laughing, singing in ecstasy with hands in the air, going out to public parks and prisons to preach the gospel, everything. This experience completely changed my perception of myself, the world, and God. When I got out of there, I was transformed. I was a Child of God, filled with the Holy Spirit. The thing that touched me the most deeply was being slain in the spirit. Besides being head over heels in love with God, Jesus and the Bible, I had the ability to rest in the Spirit at will. All I had to do was lie down in a quiet place, close my eyes, abandon myself to the love of God while speaking in tongues, and then I would gently fall into an altered state of consciousness, where I would feel the presence of God in a way that is difficult to describe, often accompanied by visions and emotional euphoria. This could last from 20 minutes to several hours. When I would "wake up", I would feel completely rejuvenated, alive, happy, loving, with an expanded mental and spiritual awareness. The feeling of well-being could last from several hours to several days, depending on the circumstances of the day. I didn't know there was a term for this, but I did a Google search recently and found on Wikipedia that it is called "religious ecstasy". This was what I called my personal relationship with God. It was God's way of telling me how much he loved me. The experience of resting in the spirit was so wonderful, I would do it every day, sometimes twice a day. It was like a drug. I had found heaven. At that time I started writing everything that was happening to me in a journal, including words of wisdom, what I thought God was saying to me. I knew He had a purpose for me, a mission: something special he wanted me to do. The feeling of euphoria can be compared to being in love. I was deeply in love with God and I acted like I was in love when I was in that state. I shared my experience with anyone who cared to hear about it, but to my surprise and disappointment, no one could relate to it. They would say: "Wow, you are so lucky, I wish God would do the same for me." Then I told them how I did it, but they would try and they wouldn't have the same experience. I knew it was a gift from God but didn't know why God was not bestowing this gift onto others, no matter how much I talked about it. Eventually I stopped talking about it because it would make people feel inferior, jealous and sad. I told them about the Paul VI Center, and that if they wanted to experience the same thing, that maybe they should go there. The next summer, I went back for another 6-week session, this time with my brother, three of my cousins and a friend. I couldn't wait to see the Holy Spirit touch their lives. The weeks went by and nothing happened. The teachers were not the same as the year before. The teachings were different too, not centered around the gifts of the Spirit. The session ended and not one of them had experienced the baptism of the Holy Spirit. I was quite disappointed. Oh well, that's life, I thought. Speaking of life, what was I supposed to do with mine now? I had no control over what God did. I couldn't force people into receiving Him, no matter what I did and not matter how much I prayed. Being spiritual and such a nice person was somewhat of a problem too, because people would fall in love with me, and I wanted them to fall in love with God. After this second session at the Paul VI Center, I didn't really want to go back into the world because I knew that God had a mission for me and I had to find out what it was. So I decided to stay for the 10-month session which ran from September to June. This was an ultra-intense session. People came out of there with some kind of ministry. I just had to do it and find out what my ministry was. The Center was supervised by a 60-year-old charismatic nun named Jacqueline. Sister Jacky ran the Center like the Army. There were strict rules to follow and all activities were organized in a schedule. There was not much personal freedom. When it was time to pray, you prayed; when it was time to eat, you ate; when it was time to sleep, you slept. Our purpose was to do the Will of God, and Sister Jacky made sure we understood what that will was. I wanted to do God's will more than anything, but after 2 or 3 months in that Center, I realized that I was not exactly following Jesus, I was following Sister Jacky. I had a problem with her authority because I was spending a lot of time reading the Bible and sometimes it was clear to me that the teachings we were receiving were not always in line with the Word of God. For Catholics, the Word of God is not only the Bible. Church tradition and doctrine is also the Word of God. So there were some contradictions I had to deal with, because I was more of a Bible reader than the others. As time went by, it got more and more difficult for me to obey the rules. Finally, after long prayer sessions and discussions with the people in charge, I was told that it was the will of God that I should leave this place. I was happy to leave, but where was I to go? I felt like Abraham to whom God said: "Go to a place that I will show you." I left the Center at Christmas time and went to my parents' place for the holidays. While I was there, I received an invitation from my cousin who had joined a "religious community". I felt this was a call from God, so I accepted and went there. It was great at the beginning, but after a while, the same problem arose once again. All the members were lead by the Holy Spirit, but when it came to doing God's will, there was not always agreement. No matter how much we prayed and meditated, when it came to making important decisions, it was never clear what God's will was. I think I was there 3 months, then I was kicked out because I was not catholic enough, I was too much evangelical according to them. So I left. But soon after, everybody left also because no one could agree on what God's will was. After that I decided to go into the real world, find a job and follow Jesus without being subject to any religious authority. To me, doing God's will was about love, my motto was: "Love, and do whatever you want." I was a very liberal christian, I could feel God's love whenever I meditated. I didn't think I had to join any church, although I did try to join different churches, but it was always the same problem. God's will was not clear, everyone seemed to have his own version of what the will of God was, so any religious group would almost always end in conflict. The only church that seemed to stand strong was the Catholic Church, and we all know that this church is probably the most morally corrupt of all, so I continued attending mass but not regularly. I moved to the city, rented an apartment and was hired to work for the government. I spent most of my free time praying, writing to God and asking him to show me what to do. At the age of 24, I concluded that His will was to find a Christian girl and get married, and learn about love by loving her. I dated many girls and finally I found the one that was right for me. Convinced that I was doing God's will, I married her at the age of 25. That's when my descent into hell started. My wife's version of Christianity was more materialistic than I ever could have imagined. I was all spiritual, loving and willing to do anything to make her happy. She was all damaged psychologically and willing to do anything to control me, so it was a very bad combination. Still, I toughed it out, by the grace of God, and we had two kids. Our marriage lasted 8 years, but I was not happy with her. During all this time I pleaded God to help me and to show me what to do, what to say. Do I stay with her one more day, can I divorce her? No matter how much I meditated, God would not answer me. After 8 years of pure hell I started hating her so much I wanted to kill her. That's when I decided I should leave. So I left her. The year after, we were officially divorced with joint custody of our two young ones. So there I was, 33 years old and nothing to show for except an ex-wife who hated me, two kids to raise and a God who didn't want to talk to me, or show me what to do or protect me from evil. Financially, I was ruined. That's when I really started to question God and his motives. What was the purpose of all this? Was it all my fault? All I wanted was to love my wife and learn how to love more. Why did this happen? What lesson did I learn? Why didn't God give me some kind of vision or sign before I got myself into this? What's the use having a personal relationship with God if He won't guide you? What was I supposed to do now? One thing was for sure, I would never get married again (and so I thought). I was more determined than ever to find out what God's will was. I knew how important communication was in a relationship. If I was to have a real, good, effective relationship with God, I had to learn how to communicate better with him. I had to learn how to hear him clearly. I insist on the word "clearly". I had to find a way to hear God's voice CLEARLY. No more guessing games. I started reading everything I could find on the subject. I read "Conversations with God" by Neale Donald Walsch. I read the "True Life in God" series by Vassula Ryden. I read many other books and most of all, I practised writing God's words clearly. I wrote everything I thought was clear messages from God. More than anything else, I wanted to dialogue with God in a very simple and loving way with written words. I was determined to succeed, this was the most important thing in my life. And then, something very unusual happened: I met my soul mate, my Twin Soul. I didn't even believe there was such a thing as a Twin Soul, but there she was. She could understand me like no one else did. She would listen to me like I thought only God could. She would talk to me like I thought only God could. She loved me like I thought only God could. In her presence, I felt exactly like I did when I received the baptism in the Holy Spirit. I felt ecstatic. When I kissed her it was euphoric, I would experience rushes of pleasure that were so intense, it was almost like an out-of-body experience. I remembered I had seen this women in my dreams when I was a child. She was the person God had made to show me how much he loved me. I had found what it was to communicate clearly with another being. The relationship I so long dreamed of having with God, I had with her. It was incredible. I had to marry her, no question about it, I felt we were already married: she was my Twin Soul. This woman had a gift, I don't know what it was, but each time we would go to the casino together, she would win! It was miraculous. Sometimes we would win $20, sometimes $100, sometimes $500, sometimes thousands. Our biggest win was on our wedding day. It was awesome. So going to the local casino was our favourite outing. Most of the time, after a big win, we would go back the next day and spend it all, but nevertheless, we ended up winning again. This went on for months. Then one day I found her credit card statements. She was $17,000 in debt. She was crying and unable to pay back the monthly minimum amount. She had been lying to me all this time about our casino winnings. She would put money in slot machines from her credit card until hitting the jackpot, but by that time, she had put more in the machine than it ended up paying out. When I would ask her how much she put into the machine, she would say "Oh, just $20" when in fact she had put $600. She kept on lying to me month after month, letting me believe that she had this gift from God of being able to beat the odds and win repeatedly. I was devastated. How could she lie to me like this continuously. How can my Twin Soul lie to me? How could she sleep at night? How was this possible? My whole Twin Soul belief came crashing down. My faith in a loving God came crashing down. My belief in human trust came crashing down. This was the year the Twin Towers came crashing down. Those two towers were the symbol of our Twin Souls. We even went to New York to see them "in person" the year before the tragic events. 9/11 2001 was so relevant to me, it was so symbolic, and all the government bullshit that followed was also so relevant of the bullshit that exists in the spiritual world: God, faith, honesty, love. It's just crap, all crap, I thought: a big deception to fool you, to make people who are more intelligent than you take advantage of you. I was so disappointed. What was I supposed to do now? Who had to pay back the credit card debt? Who had to live with a dishonest wife? This event was accompanied by another shocking event: at work, everyone got a promotion except me. Then a business venture I had invested in with my brother went bad, my brother didn't fulfil his part of the contract and I lost thousands of dollars in property damage. There is just so much bullshit a guy can take: I fell into a severe depression and ended up in a psychiatric hospital. The doctor had to prescribe the highest dosage of antidepressants allowed by law. I lost my job and my interest in life. I was sent home, heavily medicated, regularly having to meet with my psychiatrist. Unable to think properly, dizzy most of time, negative, I had lost interest in almost everything. Nothing mattered to me anymore. I decided to stay with my "twin soul" wife and forgive her. The major depressive disorder lasted six years. I am OK now, I think. I have come to terms with my life and my past. I don't take any medication any more. I have found reasons to live. I can laugh again, but I have to learn to live without faith. I don't know where to start. I don't believe in Bible-God. I'm not sure what love is all about, and what's the purpose of life. Probably just to enjoy it and have fun while it lasts. Have babies. Follow your instincts like animals, trust in life and don't worry about anything. Death is natural. If there's an after-life then we'll see when we get there. Now I know that when someone says he has a personal relationship with God he is lying or suffering from delusion. It's impossible to have a real relationship with God without clear communication, and there is no such thing as clear communication with God, if there was, the world would not be what it is today. A dog communicates more clearly than God does. So either God exists and cannot (will not) communicate, or he simply does not exist. Either way, the result is the same. Now I know what causes the ecstasy when you're in love with God or with a human, it's a hormone called dopamine. The body releases it at the right moment. It has the same effect as taking cocaine. It's purpose is to make you want to be closer to that person, so that eventually you will have sex and reproduce. Survival of the species, that's all. It's not the Holy Spirit. I think many Pentecostal leaders have been duped by this hormone. They should teach about this in school. I think it's important. They teach us so many useless things and withhold information about the important stuff. It's all about controlling society. So much bullshit going on, it's unbelievable. I think Christianity is a big lie to make people submissive and ignorant. It's toxic and it's everywhere. It can also be proven that it was fabricated. Ex-Christians have to speak out. Our testimonies are important. We always hear about how much God loves us, but hardly anything about how much damage it can do to believe in a loving God. There is more I need to write about, this is just the beginning but it's good therapy. I think joining this site is a step in the right direction. At home I'm surrounded by Christians like most of you probably. When I talk about this, they will always say that it is my fault, that God cannot do anything wrong. God is always right and humans are always sinning. I have heard it all. Hopefully I will meet intelligent people here who can relate to what I'm saying and what I had to go through to learn the truth. The story of Adam and Eve makes a little more sense now. The Creator of the universe tells Adam he can eat from any tree in the garden, including the Tree of Life, but not eat from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. Our knowledge of good and evil comes from the Bible, the church, Christianity, religion, and from our own insecure and guilty consciences. Our Creator tells us right at the beginning not to touch that tree. He says to eat from the tree of life! In other words: “Enjoy life and don't worry about good and evil, you'll be OK.” The rest of the Bible is the story of what happens to those who choose to eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. They have to go through all this redemption absurdity to end up at the same place they were in the beginning. So this is it then: Welcome to the Garden of Eden!
  5. Exactly one month today since I posted my extimony. Have I made some progress? I don't know... My deconversion was brutal and caused me to fall into a severe depression: No God = no hope. Heavy medication did the trick for four years, it numbed my mind and allowed me to function, but as time went by, I felt that it was doing nothing to solve the problem. So I decided it was time to face reality like a man. I decreased the meds gradually down to zero and joined this site. My goal was to learn to live happy again without any drugs and without any false gods. It's hard. This week is particularly difficult. I want my drugs back. I want gods in my life. What's wrong with me. Why can't I find anything as interesting and satisfying as gods and drugs? Is it just me? Yesterday I was reading some of lunaticheathen's posts. I started asking myself if consciously maintaining beliefs in gods, spirits, aliens, anything irrational is an illness, or the best thing humans can do? Sure, many people will think I'm crazy, but what if it makes me the happiest I can be in this life? It's a drug, but what's the alternative? Drugs. I'm depressed. This is how I define depression: I'm bored to death. I really am. I miss my gods and my drugs. So today I'm asking myself: what do I do? I mentioned it to my wife and she said: "You should not have stopped taking your medication." But between taking up drugs and taking up gods, I prefer gods. But right now I'm doing nothing. Well, yeah, I'm writing about it, first checking with you guys to see what you all think. If there is hope in this life without gods and without drugs, please show me where this hope is, I can't see it. In the last month I watched some very interesting documentaries about evolution, science, humans, astronomy, history. Quite depressing stuff. The human race is bound for disaster if not outright extinction. Nothing I've seen gives me any hope. Fantasies give me hope. Imaginary friends give me hope. Things that don't exist give me hope. I need hope otherwise I just want to die. I'm desperately looking for hope this morning. Hopefully it will pass. Most of the time I don't care about it, I'm not afraid of death. But today I cannot function. I look at my "To Do" list and I can't find ANY motivation to do anything because I have no hope. Fuck I'm fucked. Please give me hope. Something from Fantasy Land because this land offers none. Lunatic Heathen #2
  6. Ok, so here's my journal entry from October, as promised. To give it context - for a few months leading up to this, I had been going back through my old journals and looking over my life as a believer. I was becoming more and more disillusioned as I read through all the things I'd written. Looking objectively at all of my experiences and beliefs caused a lot of turmoil. At first it made me feel even more abandoned by God. I dealt with depression a lot, but this led me (for the 2nd time in the past 3 years) to a very deep depression. For days I would feel like I was in a fog, unable to process things, and just so confused. So that's kind of where I was when I wrote this entry. I hope this isn't just making people depressed! I'm not even sure why I'm sharing it. I guess it just helps to know people are reading this and aren't freaking out. I can't speak of this to anyone other than my husband right now (who is amazing btw!). I guess we all share a deep need for community and just need to be heard and "known". For awhile I thought people at church really knew me and I was finding out who I was there. But the more I paid attention to the real me and the questions and doubts I had, the more I realized I haven't been able to know myself for a very long time. If ever. So yeah, I guess that's why I'm sharing this. And my biggest hope is that someone will read it and see themselves in my words and know they aren't alone. And I can say, thankfully, that it does get better. I am a lot better than I was when I wrote this just a month ago. It can only go up from here! October 12, 2011 Over the past week and a half, I’ve just really allowed myself to deeply question my beliefs and look at things objectively…even to the point of questioning the existence of God, the reality of the Kingdom, and the accuracy/validity of the Bible. I am beginning to wonder if most of what I have suffered emotionally (and maybe physically) has been the result of this belief system. I am having trouble reconciling the God I’ve been told about and the God of the Bible with my experience and the experience of those around me. This is not the result of bitterness or anger at God for not "doing things the way I expected", it is simply the result of not being afraid to ask some tough questions. I desperately WANT my faith to be true. But I don’t know if I can continue to go through the spiritual, mental and emotional gymnastics I must perform to hold on to it. Of course, my first thought in response to that is, “but it isn’t about performance, He gives us faith as a gift, all we do is abide in Him…” Those answers just don’t do it for me anymore. How do I “abide” in something that seems to produce more turmoil inside me than anything else? Maybe this is a phase and I will move past it. What I keep coming back to is that if God is real and is good and is “in love with me”, He will chase me…He will do real and tangible things to show me that He is indeed real and concerned and an active part of my life. But at the same time, I am not simply running so he will come after me. I'm honestly seeking what is real. I'm realizing that a few years ago when I began really looking for "experiences with God" it was because I needed proof of his love for me and activity in my life. And also it was simply a normal response to loving someone - when you love someone you want to experience their love for you. But when I look back over this time, I just see a desperate hurting girl who needs God to show her that He loves her. I see a girl who was hurt by her belief in God from an early age but who continued to love Him, to surrender to Him in spite of the lack of evidence of His intervention. I see a girl who believed that without God she was a mess – just a girl curled up in her bed crying and too depressed to be motivated to do the simplest of tasks. I see a girl with a "big destiny" if only she could "see things the way God does" and "trust God to do it”. I lived my entire adult life believing that without God I can’t function…and yet in 20 years I’ve never been able to attain the level of relationship with Him that has caused me to be consistently and fully functional. I’ve cried out, hungered after Him, worshipped when I was too sick to even stand with my eyes closed (and not b/c I had to but b/c I wanted to!), asked for more revelation, studied, gone to church, meetings, and conferences. I’ve prophesied and prayed for the sick, I’ve been prophesied to and prayed for. I’ve given up, surrendered, trusted Him and His "finished work", and "rested in Him". But no matter what, I kept coming back to the same place: Where is He? Where’s the evidence of Him in my life? If He doesn’t do miracles in my life then how is my life better than that of an unbeliever? I can hear all the arguments and answers to my questions – the same ones I’ve told myself and even told others who were questioning. “The evidence of His love is everywhere!” “He intervenes all the time, you just might not know it!” “He does miracles all the time!” Really? Is it? Does He? This really isn’t about me being bitter or mad at God. I think for the first time in a very long time, I actually DON’T feel those emotions. In a strange way, the thought that my belief system has been wrong all my life is actually comforting. Why is that? If my belief in God has actually been great for me, caused me to grow and thrive and live a full life, then why in the world does the thought of letting it go give me a strange sense of peace? Does that mean that I am deceived? Or does it in fact mean that I am on the verge of waking up? Over the past week I’ve gone back over 7 years worth of journals. In them, there are countless entries where I am crying out to God, asking questions, wondering why I’m not seeing results or answers to prayer, etc. Then sandwiched in between are entries where I am trusting, surrendering, and thanking Him for what I believe He’s doing. But when I look back, the times I’ve laid in bed crying haven’t really been about the circumstances of my life. The circumstances of my life haven’t been that bad! In fact I’ve had a pretty good life! The truth is, those times of desperation were because of my belief in God. I felt abandoned. Any painful memory from childhood I had was magnified by the feeling that God didn’t rescue me. And all my present painful circumstances (sickness, financial problems, relationship issues, etc) were magnified by the feeling that He wasn’t intervening. So what happens if I remove God from the equation? Poof! Suddenly the tough circumstances of the past and present all become just hurtful things that happened as a result of interaction with fallible human beings, or poor personal choices, or just part of living in this world. There's no more agonizing over why this all-powerful person who loves me isn't acting like he loves me. Another thing I've been thinking about is our kids. We've felt guilty for years because we haven't been good at sharing “the gospel” with them on a regular basis. But the thing is, anytime I thought of saying something "spiritual" to one of them, I just couldn’t figure out how to do it. How could I convince them that they needed God? When we did ever talk about that w/them I would feel uncomfortable and could tell they did, too. Why? It wasn’t that we were trying to teach them "law" either – it was all "grace". But in order to get them to trust God and interact with Him, we would have to convince them that they were depraved without him. Yesterday at church (the pastor) said something that just really startled me – and it’s something I’ve believed my whole life (but have avoided the thought of!). He said in the OT that God had to give people the law so they’d behave in a righteous way. It was the only way that He could get near enough to them to interact with them without having to kill them (because of His holiness and their unrighteousness). It sounded shocking to me. I wrote in my notes, “So if I stop believing in God and don’t follow the law to the letter, He will have to kill me?” Suddenly I couldn't reconcile that with the God I'd created in my mind...the one who was my best friend. Based on his word and on what I believed, the pastor's statement was the truth...God would have to kill me if I stopped believing, even though we were friends. And yet He is good and He is love? I don’t want to be here. I don’t want to have these thoughts and feelings. I have so many questions. But what’s interesting is that I don’t feel that deep sense of loss and pain anymore. So has something actually changed inside me? J and I have realized that in order to find truth, we can’t just limit our search to one room. We have to be willing to objectively look at what we believe, and actually look at the findings of others who don’t agree w/what we’ve always been taught. Really, we are on a spiritual quest. And we believe that if the God of the Bible is real, we will determine that for ourselves. It is the only way for there to be no more doubt about and for our spiritual life to be fulfilling. But we have to be open to the idea that what we have believed is actually wrong.
  7. I don't want my family's pity or for them to coddle me. I don't want to use depression as an excuse for my behavior. But I don't think it's wrong to ask for some understanding. When I get mad I'm teased relentlessy or just critisized. The thing is though, just because I stopped taking the anti-depressants I still have my bad days. I wish my family could understand that. When they get on my case it only makes things worse. I just want them to back off.
  8. Here are the things I can't say to my family, or anyone I know in person. So, this blog will serve as a confession I guess. I get the irony of calling it that but as I've never been Catholic of gone to confession I hope you'll excuse me. And without further ado, Confession 1: Today my sister asked me why I've been so grouchy. She preceded that question by telling me not to take the question the wrong way; something I so often do (really, who doesn't?). My lie was that I wasn't feeling well. The truth? I'm still pissed with my dad. I can't tell her that because she doesn't understand. "You didn't want to talk to him anyway so why do you care that he didn't call back?" It's the principal of the situation (I picked up that phrase from my mom and have used/heard it so many times it's a wonder I'm not sick of it yet). He said he would call. He didn't. To make matters worse I have a history of depression which hangs on me like...insert proper simile here. I still have bad days and get a lot of crap from my family about it because they think I'm just being bitchy (honestly, I'd rather be a bitch than a crier). But they don't get it so they nag me or tease me(because it gets me worked up and they think it's funny) and that just makes it worse. Now this new crap with my dad is escalating and as I also have a history of self-harm (something at least one person in my family knows but has apparently chosen to ignore) I really want to cut even though I know I shouldn't. And as much as it kills me to ask a stranger for help, I'm thinking about getting an appointment with a counselor when I get back to school and trying to get back on anti-depressants. Hopefully mild ones, like last time. I'm not suicidal but I do need help. I'm the screw up in the family. Or that's how I feel. And now I can't even hide my depression properly because my mom noticed too and said something to my sister. I'm a grouch. A bitch. PMSing. So many adjectives. I wish someone could just understand for once and cut me some slack. Honestly, the "grouchiness" is probably from trying to keep everything inside. I tell my family a lot of things about myself(some more than others) but there are a few things that I keep hidden and they eat away at me or I don't tell them how I really feel. Then the bitch comes out. For now, all I have to do is get through the next two weeks without saying anything too mean or hurtful. Easier said than done.
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