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Where to begin? When I was five the preacher at my small Southern Baptist Church said that if you love Jesus you will walk the aisle so people will know. I looked at my Mama and said "I believe." I walked the aisle and after counseling with the pastor it was determined I knew what I was talking about and I was baptized. I would go on to be rebaptized 2 more times just "in case" I was too young to have REALLY made a committment to Christ. Whenever I would hear that your life needed to do a 360 when you were "saved", I would think back to that little girl walking down the aisle who didn't need a 360 and begin to wonder if I were REALLy saved. I would beg God to assure me of my salvation because the fear of HELL was so great. I grew up in the Bible Belt where "Hell and Damnation" was used to scare the beejeebies out of you and get you to witnessing. This fear of friends and loved ones burning in hell would plague me for the next 44 years and be the center of much conversation,prayer, "lifestyle evangelism" and angst!

 

Fast forward 44 years, one husband and four children later. For about 5 years I've seriously been wondering why prayers don't seem to get answered in my or my friends lives. They won't admit...they talk about answered prayer all the time. However, it's almoste exclusively answers that don't require supernatural intervention. One finds their car keys after prayer, one is nicer to their spouse, one stays on a diet for 3 weeks, one recovers from wisdom teeth surgery. Almost always you could just as easily attribute the success to determination, luck and natural results. What I did see was all of us struggling with the same big stuff we had struggled with for years. No mountains moving. No "ask and you will receive" occurrences. This is what starting my questioning but I was still a Christian...just one with "little faith" or one with "Doubts". I just needed to get into the scriptures and prayer to increase my faith. Pray without ceasing. I was a prayer "warrior" and an "intercessor" and I grieved over this lack of spiritual power in my life and the lives of my friends. I grieved over the good people of other faiths that were going to hell. I anguished over those that had not heard the "good news" and were doomed to hell. I didn't want to go to church anymore. I didn't leave feeling refreshed, rather weighed down. I would walk into church and see people laughing and joking---as if they would in the grocery store---sit down and listen to a sermon and then walk out "unchanged" or so it seemed to me. So, we stopped going to church about a year ago. Then I felt guilty because I didn't have my children in church but I just couldn't stomach it anymore and my kids were happy to truly have a "day of rest". My husband complained a bit but he certainly didn't take himself to church. He would only go if the whole family went and I was the spiritual force behind that happening. Somehow my spiritual force had run out.

 

Fast forward to last November. I took a 24 hour silent retreat at a nearby Catholic Retreat Center. I walked into my room, laid down on the floor and wept. I begged Jesus and God to help me overcome the "burned out" feeling regarding my Christianity. I"ve always been "spiritual"--longing to know about the spirit life, the ONE who created us, how to live a good life but I felt like (after 40 long years) that the ONE had abandoned me. I walked through the beautiful grounds, browsed some of the Catholic books(not heavy ones), sat in a silent chapel and was quiet. I left there refreshed and feeling I should look more into Catholicism. I read a bunch of books, attended a couple of Masses and though I didn't become Catholic this experience helped me to open up to considering the claims of other faiths. Everything is "Other" to a Southern Baptist. There is a "liberal" sect of Catholicism and that's what I drifted toward. This drift opened the door to reading about "Feminine Divine", "Hinduism", "Reiki", Unitarian teachings and lots of stuff. Of course, I kept this all quiet....but my little Southern Baptist world had exploded. Little did I know I was about to experience a HUGE explosion.

 

Our 18dd was away at her first year of college....Christian college. In her Old Testament class she began to see how scripture didn't add up. Everything from conflicting scriptures to conflicting world faiths to lack of answered prayer. Lots of chinks. She had been raised to question, so I shouldn't have been surprised BUT I WAS. This was our most "spiritual" child. She had wanted to be a missionary at one time. She wrote worship songs all the time. When she shared her falling away, I freaked. I cried. I worried she was going to hell. Mind you, I had been looking into things outside my box already but I was just "looking". She wasn't even sure there was a God anymore. I hadn't even considered that YET. I told her I was going to read some sites that addressed her questions. She said "No, I don't want you to lose your faith." I said "If this will cause me to lose my faith, then there isn't any truth in it. Besides, I won't." Famous last words.

 

So, I started reading here trying to "understand" what had happened to my daughter. I read many other sites too. I lost my faith. It's not y'alls fault. LOL I had been questioning for years and to hear of other believers who had the same questions was such a relief! I am now searching for spiritual practices and beliefs that I don't have to lie about, that I don't have to tweak to make them work....I am searching for spiritual practices that bring peace and not condemnation. I'm not sure where I'll end up but at this point in the journey I'm thinking less and less of hell. I still slip back at times but I just can't believe in a loving God that damns most of the population to Hell. I don't know if there is a loving God up there but I do believe there is "Something"...not sure what to call it...at work in this world. I do believe there is something spiritual that our soul connects with....not sure what to call it.

 

Guess I'll stop there. Who knows where this journey will end? Hopefully freedom, peace and the ability to enjoy life will continue to increase.

 

WakingUP

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Guest indy107

I'm right there with you in the same boat. I'm still 'waking up' myself. I remember my first "now wait just a minute" moment. It's all a lie? I just couldn't believe it.

 

And like you, I think there is 'something' out there. Just not what the corner preacher is jamming down peoples throats. It's not his fault either, he just believes the way he was taught. That what totally amazes me, blind, silly, faith, no questioning allowed.

 

I remember a story I read somewhere about a little girl watching her mom prepare some dish...and asking mom why she always cut the ends off (whatever it was). Mom said I don't know, thats the way my mom did it, so the little girl asked grandma why she cut the ends off (meatlof or something), and grandma said thats the way her mom taught her, so they asked great grandma who replied, "i never had a pan big enuff so i had to cut the ends off to make it fit." Silly what gets passed down generation after generation and is just accepted 'as is' without questioning.

 

I'm also glad I found this group. I like to come here often and read the older stuff.

Everybody here so far has been very welcoming towards me.

Welcome to the group!

 

Indy

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Yeah, great telling. Nice to hear from you too Indy107.

Think about it, though (WakingUp)...when a boy or girl just looses their love (first love, love of their life), one of their most likely errors will be in quickly...immediately falling for someone-else...on "the rebound". I know you feel that there is a yawning chasm in the middle of your soul, right now...but be good to yourself, and don't accept the pressure that asks "Well, what do you believe, then?".

I really think that if "God" would hold you or I responsible for a religious preference (or even a religious choice), it would be incumbent upon "God" to present that "correct path" to us personally. If "God" would require that we take someone-else's word for it, there is no fairness or justice in "God", and I think I will just accept my reservations at the Ramada Hell.

Sorry for rambling...but, I've just got a preaching spirit on me, and I can't stop!

Have fun... Post more...I like reading good stuff.

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I remember a story I read somewhere about a little girl watching her mom prepare some dish...and asking mom why she always cut the ends off (whatever it was). Mom said I don't know, thats the way my mom did it, so the little girl asked grandma why she cut the ends off (meatlof or something), and grandma said thats the way her mom taught her, so they asked great grandma who replied, "i never had a pan big enuff so i had to cut the ends off to make it fit." Silly what gets passed down generation after generation and is just accepted 'as is' without questioning.

 

That's a bit like the rule of not having your elbows on the table. Even my parents don't know why it was bad manners to have your elbows on the table, it was just something they were always taught so they taught it to us. I don't have that rule for my kids because I just can't see any good reason for it.

 

Wakingup, I can identify with some of your pains. I have two kids. Still young. One is ten and the other 12. The Ten your old is a real keen Christian and part of me doesn't want to crush his beliefs by telling him about my doubts. The 12 year old on the other hand doesn't know whether she believes in God or not and my first reaction was "Oh no!". So I'm in two minds about how to deal with them on these topics. :HaHa:

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Thanks everyone! I appreciate your encouragement. I had lunch with four friends today. They don't know ANYTHING about where I am spiritually, other than I haven't been going to church. I hadn't been with these friends for about 3 months. They are fundamentalist women. The talk turned to evangelizing the nations and those here in the USA. I felt like I was in a time warp or a surreal place. It's hard to describe. As they spoke of hell and the knashing of teeth and eternal torment, I looked at their faces. They took on an anguished look. I heard snippets of conversation: "Some think they are good enough to stay out of hell without believing in Jesus", "Some think they are special and don't deserve God's anger". They were talking about how people respond when you ask them why they think they will go to Heaven. They were angry at these people for presuming that they could pass go and not go to Hell. There were comments about Episcopalians changing lingo from "Father, Son and the Holy Ghost" to "Mother, Daughter and the Womb". People were saying "That's blasphemy." Even something as benign as Native American flute music being played during a massage was touted as "New Age". I just listened and was so shocked at how foreign this all sounded to me. A year ago I would have understood where they were coming from but now, it just seems so judgemental and so narrow. I felt out of place. I don't think anyone knew I felt out of place because I didnt "cast my pearls before swine". If I had told them I practice Reiki and have read several books on the Feminine Divine and I don't believe in Hell, well that would have circled the wagons and began "witnessing" and setting me straight. The only reason I didn't say anything is because 1)it wouldn't have made a bit of difference in their thinking and 2) two of my daughters are friends with some of these women's daughters and I knew they wouldn't allow our daughters to see their daughters anymore. I know it's pitiful..but it's true!

So, for the sake of the children I get together with these women once every 2-3 months and try to steer the conversation away from religion when I can. When I can't, I just nod or look thoughtful and don't say anything. They are so busy talking, it doesn't seem to matter that I'm really quiet.

 

AS we left the restaurant, one of the women commented on how wonderful it was that we were all on the same page about the spiritual stuff that was discussed. She said that was evidence of the truth of our position...because we were all on the same page. *sigh*

 

 

WakingUp

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I must admit, I haven't really had a lot to do with my Christian friends in the last two years. Except for one, who doesn't normally talk about Christian stuff anyway. But I went to church a few times this year after not having been for well over a year and it just didn't seem right. All I could think was "here we go again with all this crap". The last time I went was a few weeks ago and the pastor was talking about how he and a group of people had spent the weekend going from one site to the next praying for things. And they were talking about how God had shown them this and that. He even mentioned he saw a solitary thistle in an area, which was supposed to be cursed and it was God pointing out that the curse needed to be broken. So one of them got over there and uprooted the thistle as if it was some kind of symbolic act and that it needed to be done to break the curse. I was thinking. "God, this is bullshit." They were trying so hard to get revelations and words of wisdom from God, they were manufacturing things in their own mind, believing they were on some kind of Godly mission, being led by God himself, breaking the holds of Satan over the area. And then I thought to myself, heck if it had been three years earlier I would have bought it all and If I'd been on that trip, I would have been coming up with similar crap!

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...I was thinking. "God, this is bullshit." They were trying so hard to get revelations and words of wisdom from God, they were manufacturing things in their own mind, believing they were on some kind of Godly mission, being led by God himself, breaking the holds of Satan over the area.

Wouldn't you think that, if they were so discerning, and God was really the way they see him...pointing out symbolic thistles, etc...that some sword-bearing angel would have appeared right behind you, and the pastor would have immediately known that you were the thistle that needed to be uprooted?

God, I've sat through sessions where they will get up, one after another...to tell the glorious visions and insights...about where the demons who control "this city" are posted...and how god showed them that there were actually thirteen "gates" to this city...and they would drive out to each of these locations, and hold prayer vigils with their various sacred implements, and do intercessory warfare...and............nothing ever changed...except, sometimes, the demons won, and these people would get the flu (small price to pay when doing the lord's work).

Makes me want to pull out my nose hairs to think I used to be numbered with them (didn't really buy into most of that, but...)

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:Wendywhatever: Yeah. And what about all those great Christian warriors who have gone before and achieved nothing? lol. In the case of the guys in my story, they were declaring spiritual warfare against Taniwhas (pronounced Tunny Fahs) - Maori demons who had a foot hold over the area.
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Guest zarathustra

 

 

Wakingup, I can identify with some of your pains. I have two kids. Still young. One is ten and the other 12. The Ten your old is a real keen Christian and part of me doesn't want to crush his beliefs by telling him about my doubts. The 12 year old on the other hand doesn't know whether she believes in God or not and my first reaction was "Oh no!". So I'm in two minds about how to deal with them on these topics. :HaHa:

 

OnceConvinced,

You owe it to yourself and your children to tell them your doubts or at least encourage their questioning. Questioning authority can be good in and of itself. You will teach your children to think for themselves and not be lambs who will be led by priests or politicians. Your children will respect you for it. If your son eventully discovers that xianty is B.S. and you knew all along, he will loose repsect for you and your opinions. Recently, I read an excellent book called a Mass for the Dead by William Gibson. In it Gibson recalls that when he lost faith in his divine father, he also lost faith in his earthly father and he became angry that his father (who was a nominal believer) would have deliberately misled him.

Also, do you want your son to become indoctrinated into a delusion evangelical worldview. It seems cruel. The dificult question is how do you approach the subject with him. I have young children and know that it is sometimes difficult to speak of some things, for example, death with having to fall back on some notion of paradise, but I think if you can find the right approach for you own son, in the end he will respect you more for it.

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Guest droskey

Hello WakingUp,

 

It was great to read your story! Though I am sure that we are very different people at different stages in our lives, I felt a strange sense of deja vu as I read your story. Even the story about you with your Christian friends mirrors similar encounters that I have had since leaving. Maybe I'll detail them someday. Your struggles with the idea of Hell and your study of liberal Christian thought is also very similar to my own experiences. I'm very glad that you shared.

 

Cheers,

Dan

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....I had lunch with four friends today. They don't know ANYTHING about where I am spiritually, other than I haven't been going to church. .... They were angry at these people for presuming that they could pass go and not go to Hell. .... I just listened and was so shocked at how foreign this all sounded to me. ....it just seems so judgemental and so narrow. I felt out of place. I don't think anyone knew I felt out of place because I didnt "cast my pearls before swine". ....

 

Hi WakingUp,

 

Fellow exbaptist (Conservative) here, and I really have enjoyed your posts on this thread. The quotes above just say so much. Once you have opened your mind up, particularly on the subject of hell, there simply is no ethical way of going back. The concept of hell obliterates the concept of a loving god. It becomes sadism.

 

And welcome to the site. Sounds like we've helped expand your horizons a bit.

 

:)

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Welcome, WakingUp! Your story about getting together with those women reminds me of times I am with my family. They don't know I'm an Ex-C. Yup, I just nod my head, look thoughtful, make a vague remark about attending church on Sunday and leave it at that. They are all fundies except for one brother and they are at war with him and I want no part of that.

 

My husband and friends know of my de-conversion and are very supportive.

 

This site is so great! We can come here and be with others who are from all kinds of backgrounds and who, indeed, are waking up!

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Waking Up,

 

Thank you for posting your testimony, and welcome to ex-c.

 

When you hear the fundies jabbering all that nonsense about hell and damnation, and debating over who'll get the door to heaven and the path to hell, isn't it gratifying to be free of that nonsense? It's like a bunch of debutantes ruminating with each other over who will be "prettiest" on judgement day.

 

I would second the remarks from other posters about being honest with the kids. As an ex-christian for nearly forty years, I will be forever grateful to my "nominal" christian mother and agnostic father who gently pointed out the errancies of the bible and the absurdities of the doctrine to me when I was a newly "evangelized" little baptist, and let me do my own thinking. The result was I was gone from the flock before I was an adult.

 

Best wishes...

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Guest Starlace

I know exactly what you mean by being afraid of hell and the way Southern Baptists go on about fire and brimstone in church. Your story reminds me a lot of my life.

About prayers never being answered, that was a big thing with me too.

My great-grandmother (incredibly wise and lovely old woman who to this day makes my skin crawl when she talks about how women shouldn't be allowed to speak in church) always told me to just give my problems to god and he would take care of them, well, he never did. Not once can I HONESTLY say a prayer of mine got answered. Not all of them were selfish either. I use to pray every night out of fear that if I didn't, God would stop listening to me.

I had the friends/family members who would claim their prayers had been miraculously answered but they would never say what their prayers were about and how they were answered, they said it was personal between them and God, so I never really bought that either.

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Wakingup,

 

How would you go about preventing yourself from happening if you could go back in time? I have a friend who is 23 and pretty deep into the church of christ, and she wants to have lots of kids (more then 3!!) I can only imagine the kind of harm she is going to do to herself and what kind of life she will have she wants to get married to another 'godly man' like her, I can only see danger ahead for her.

 

She was the one in her family that had to be the adult early and I personally think inside it's eating away at her and she's compensating with religion. She has done alright for herself but she does have a stressful life it seems.

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Hello Waking Up,

 

Welcome!

 

I stopped being around my Christian friends because it just irritated me to no end. It's difficult to hear them talk about their superstitions.

 

Now, I think your beliefs or lack there of is no one's business. It's a private thing and you don't have to tell anyone unless you choose to do so.

 

Taph

 

***************

Sawu,

 

On a side note, in the case of your friend, lots of people from dysfunctional homes look to god as being the perfect parent they never had. They embrace Christianity because they need a band-aid to help them cope with their emotional issues, but the issues get swept under the rug and all they learn to do is put on the perfect Christian face and hide their pain.

I know that you want to help your friend, but if you didn't break it, you can't fix it.

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