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I've wasted my life on a lie

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Sent in by Marlene E


I really thought I was going to lose it in the car not so long ago. I mean breakdown and lose my sanity. I cried, although I tried not to, but I just couldn't put forward reasonable arguments in a coherent fashion to my husband to justify my change in beliefs. In fact I could argue his case better than my own. I ended up scared that I'd got it all wrong and wished I could go backwards but I can't. I just can't. My mind won't let me.


It doesn't help that he's an AoG (Assembly of God) minister. We've been married over 30 years. He actually said to me today that I'd better think of leaving him then because now he's unequally yoked. I know he didn't mean it, at least I don't think he did, but he sees what I've done as a betrayal of my faith.


What have I done? Just read and thought for myself for once. I was saved when I was 10 years old, so I missed out completely on the critical thinking stage of adolescence. My parents weren't even churchgoers, so I was always referred to as coming from an unsaved household. I didn't see it then but now understand what a wedge was put between me and my family.


I used to go to social clubs with them. Mum and dad loved to dance. So did I but I felt so guilty. They always had the radio on with pop music. I loved it but again felt guilty for listening to it. "Worldly."


I couldn't go out with non-Christian boys of course, even though they were always the ones I fancied! No make up, no jewelry, no immodest clothes etc etc. I'm sure you get the picture.


Worst of all I got ill and wasn't healed. For many years I felt as if it was my somehow my fault and people made me feel small and my self confidence flew out of the window.


I had many traumatic personal and family situations over which I prayed and prayed and prayed without answer. At the time I never thought to ask why. I just trusted God as I'd been taught to. That was my trouble all along. I did exactly as I was told. And never questioned anything. Why would I?


I really was a good Christian. I followed everything to the letter. I believed with all my heart and tried to live what I heard preached. It was my life.


Fast forward to 2005. I became friends with an atheist -- a questionable thing in itself for a Pentecostal! And yes, I felt guilty about that too. Religion was never an issue between us at all but one day I was asked a question about Jesus and God that I couldn't answer, so I said I'd look into it and get back to my friend later.


So began my journey out of Christianity. Far from wishing it to be so I thought - as all good Christians should -- that this was a God given opportunity to get my friend saved!


I read all sort of books that had been banned before. We were always taught to guard our minds and not read anything that might cause us to doubt. To be honest I was scared stiff. Really scared. But I told God that all I wanted was the truth, so would he please understand that I wasn't trying to be sinful. I read a great quote at the time -- Truth cannot deny truth. I thought, that's all right then, believing at the time that Christianity would be validated. And if there was a God, he'd surely be interested in the truth.


I read Shelby Spong and Marcus Borg and thought at first I could go for their type of Christianity. But as I dug deeper and read everything I could get my hands on it dawned on me that I couldn't do half measures. It was either true or it wasn't.


I lived in a twilight world for a few months, not daring to voice what was going on in my head. My world had been turned upside down and I felt more alone than ever in my entire life. I recall one night when I couldn't sleep and felt very afraid. I opened my mouth to talk to God and was mortified when I realized I couldn't do that anymore. No point. That was one of my lowest moments.


God had always been my friend. That's how I used to think of him. I'd had him as a confidant for 44 years. I miss that side of things dreadfully. I've lost my friend. Occasionally, especially when I'm out walking, I'll forget and start telling God everything just as I used to. I would stop myself but now I let myself do it if it helps. The difference is that now I call it talking to myself and I'm aware that it's a psychological comfort thing.


I'm surrounded on all sides by Christians. My whole network is of churchgoers. I feel like a black sheep. No-one knows about my views except my husband and I've only recently shared the extent of them with him. My 24 year old daughter thinks I'm going through a midlife crisis as I'm doing things now I have never done, like having my ears pierced (something I'd longed to do since I was a teenager) and other "sinful" things.


This is so isolating and I'm not sure what to do from here. My husband is wanting me to go back to church (haven't been for a while because of illness) but I don't really want to. Seems hypocritical. He thinks being in the presence of god will help me.


I thought I was stronger than I feel right now. But after the conversation in the car and how it knocked the stuffing out of me and gave me an unexpected wobble, I'm not sure I'm up to being on the receiving end of all those well meant, trite, Christianese comments that I know will come my way.


I feel very angry at the moment -- actually the anger alternates with sheer devastating sadness -- that I've wasted my life on a lie. All my life decisions were based on something that isn't what it seemed. And I can't go back. The die has been cast. That really makes me want to weep. 44 years of my life lost. That's how I feel.


I've totally appreciated this site. It was like finding water in the desert. From reading the first post I felt as if I was amongst friends and like minded people. I don't know where else to go at the moment to feel as if I'm normal! Of course I'm a backslider now and having been on the other side I know how backsliders are viewed!


BTW I would never expose a child to the religious brainwashing I had as a youngster. I've read many a time that it's regarded by some as child abuse. When I first came across that idea it was abhorrent to me. Now I most decidedly agree with that point of view. I only regret it was too late to save my own children from such an upbringing.


Thank you for listening.


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This is the sort of story that makes my blood boil, makes be glad I gave up religion and glad I do not live in America. I am a bedraggled refugee from the "Holy" Roman Catholic Church and am an Australian. When I became Atheist I suffered none of the terrible discrimination ex-christian Americans suffer. I told all my relatives and friends what I had done, and none of them cared about it. It was my business and nobody else's.


THe problem I see in America is this brainwashing of people to believe there is a "god" and the bible is the "word of god". Well there is no "god" and the bible is a book of bullshit.

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Hi Marlene,


Thanks for sharing your story. With the situation you are in, I am amazed at the courage you had to be honest about your beliefs. Good for you!


I've spent 48 yrs. in the church and have been married for 29 years. It's just been a month since I de-converted. I can identify with a lot of what you are going through. It has to be incredibly hard to be in your position as a minister's wife. I'm having enough stress just having a husband who is a Christian. The first couple of weeks were really tough, but after making a horrible comment to me (he is a great guy who has never said one cross word to me in 29 yrs.) he felt terrible and has been trying to make it up to me ever since. I think at first he had no idea what this would do to me. I think he expected me to start doing drugs and worshipping the devil. Now that he sees I'm still me, he is settling down. Your husband must be under a lot of pressure also to keep you in the faith. When I left the church my husband had to step down as a deacon since he couldn't even keep his wife under control. Are you struggling with guilt at what you have done? There is no way I could choose differently and live with myself, but I do feel bad that suddenly my husband does not have a Christian wife. Our marriage was supposed to be founded on Christ and now it's not. Tell your husband to read I Cor. 7:12-14. According to that, he is supposed to stay married to you and be a good example for you.


It does turn your world upside down. Like you, my whole life revolved around the church. Now my community and support system are gone. This forum has been great for support. When I de-converted (which I didn't even know it was called), I thought I was the only Christian in the world to do such a thing. I never heard about anyone leaving the church for unbelief! It's nice to know that I'm NOT alone. It is a lonely place to be though. To me, it feels very much like my original conversion. I'm voraciously reading books on atheism-6 months ago I wouldn't have even allowed those books in my house. Now when I read something that I've never thought about before, there's no one to tell it to who will be excited with me. I can't believe this, but before last weekend I never compared the different gospel accounts of the resurrection. When I saw all of the inconsistencies, I was ashamed that I had never even looked at that before. I just believed whatever someone told me. When I find something like that, I want to discuss it with someone but there's no one to discuss it with. My husband certainly doesn't want to hear it.


I've thought about it, but I haven't struggled with feeling like I've wasted my life. My friends and my family have made it worthwhile. However, I do feel a bit embarrassed that it took me so long to figure it out. I have a Master's degree; you'd think I'd be smart enough not to be so gullible!


I find myself "praying" too. It's a hard habit to break after a lifetime of doing it. What do you say to people when you are concerned about them? I'm so used to saying "I'll be praying for you." I would say that to you, but instead I will hope that your situation will get easier and will stand behind you as you get through it. I love the internet for support like this, but hate the distance. I'd love to go out for coffee with you.

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