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Feelings Of Supreme Inadequcy < Deconversion


Guest Summersong
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Guest Summersong

I've been reading testimonies and deconversion stories for months now, and I'm finally ready to say it out loud (type it out loud?): I'm an atheist.

 

Unlike many of you, I did not grow up in a religious home. My parents were married by a JP because my mom told the preacher at my dad's Baptist church to kiss her ass because she would not agree to "love, honor, and obey" and the preacher wouldn't agree to say "love, honor, and cherish."

 

As a child, I went to church with my grandparents occasionally, a really weird Assembly of God church. Watching people speak in tongues made me uncomfortable, but it also made me giggle, which always got me a spanking in church. But at home, we didn't talk about Jesus. My mom was a Christmas and Easter Christian. I stopped going to church with my grandparents when I was 10. I told my mom that the calls to go to the altar where you confess all the bad stuff you've done and everyone puts their hands on you and you can't get up until you shed some tears made me uncomfortable. She never made me go back.

 

My upbringing was very liberal. We focused less on religion, more on human rights and social justice issues. My two best friends in middle school were both religious, one was Catholic and the other went to a Methodist church. I hopped back and forth between the two churches... even went to the confirmation classes with my Catholic friend just to learn.

 

When I decided I wanted to become a Christian at 14, I already knew there wasn't a real home for me there because I've always been pro-choice and supportive of LGBT issues. I learned really quickly that 1) it's not okay for teenagers to ask questions in church 2) it's not okay for a teenaged girl to ask questions in church and 3) my doubts and issues were a sign that I didn't have enough faith. The fact that I couldn't reconcile my liberal upbringing with what "the bible said" made me feel extremely inadequate.

 

I wanted desperately to believe in Christ, but it all started going terribly, terribly wrong. One day, I asked my Catholic friend's mother how she could believe that the pope was infallible. In my house, it was always okay to ask big questions to my parents. We debated and talked it out and I was never scolded for being curious. My friend's mother told me that if I didn't believe the pope was infallible, I was destined for an eternity in hell, and even if I could believe that he was infallible, I deserved to go to hell anyway for having a smart mouth. You can't say things like that to teenagers. To this day, I don't think that woman has any idea how her acid tongue helped cripple my faith.

 

By this time, I was 15 and "dating" a boy who's father was the minister of a Church of Christ. The boy was a typical pastor's kid -- he knew his dad was full of shit -- but we went to every bible study and every service anyway. One day after church, we were eating lunch in his home, and his dad slapped his mother right across the face for some comment she had made earlier that morning in church. I cried when I got home and prayed, and prayed, and prayed, and prayed. How could God let someone that cold be in charge of other people's salvation? The fact that this man felt so close to God -- the fact that he could slap around his wife, who I knew he was supposed to love just as Christ loved the church -- it made me wonder if I had any idea of who God was at all.

 

I quit going to church. That boy and I eventually broke up, and a while later, I started dating the boy who would eventually become my husband. His dad was an atheist, but his mother and his siblings all went to a Christian (Disciples of Christ) Church. It was a wonderful place. Extremely inclusive. We did a lot of volunteering, we actually did things for the community instead of just praying about it. But I always felt like I was faking.

 

I never felt the presence of God. I never felt that my prayers were heard, much less answered. I did not know how to reconcile the violence of the OT with the version of God I so much wanted to believe in. I was never able to wrap my mind around hell. I stopped trying to understand. I figured that God must not want me to believe in him, because I had been pleading and aching and begging him to show himself to me. That's what I don't understand about Christians who think atheists are too stubborn to "see". I desperately wanted to "see". I spent many nights alone, crying and wailing and beating myself up over the fact that I couldn't.

 

Fast forward several years, and I was 22 and planning my wedding. The minister of that church had passed away, and now we had no church home. We found a great Presbyterian church that was fairly liberal -- they had a female associate pastor -- and welcomed gay parishioners. She ended up marrying us, much to the disdain of my grandmother, who believes that my marriage isn't sealed in heaven, because a woman shouldn't have authority over a man. After we got married, my husband continued to go to church, and I quit. I felt like there was a huge sign on my forehead that said "FAKER". It felt wrong to me to be in a spot that is intimate and meaningful to others, when it had no meaning to me. I always felt kind of spiritual, though, and I spent the time between then and now trying to find a religion that would suit me. I thought about Buddhism, paganism, the Quakers, Ba'hai, Judaism, Hinduism, you name it.

 

My husband has always been a kind of 'Whatever' Christian. He doesn't give a crap about doctrine or apologetics or any of that stuff. I think I can count on one hand the times I've seen him read the bible. I think he went to church for the live music more than anything else. When I told him that I was pretty sure I was an atheist, he just shrugged. I learned that he doesn't believe the bible is inerrant or inspired, he's not sure that Jesus was really the son of God, but he believes in something, he knows that much. He just went to church because that's how he was raised. I think he's kind of on the same journey I was... eventually he'll get to where I am.

 

At first, when I finally was able to figure out that Christianity is bullshit, I was heart-broken. Kind of sad. I wanted to believe in heaven (but not hell) -- who doesn't want to spend forever with the people they love? But you know what? I had an imaginary friend as a child named Mitzi, and I was heart-broken when she left me, too. I don't need God or Mitzi anymore. Existence is still meaningful for me. Life is full of wonder and beauty and I finally feel like my mind is open enough to enjoy it.

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Welcome Lindsay!

"Life is full of wonder and beauty and I finally feel like my mind is open enough to enjoy it." Right on! The world opened up to me when I deconverted 5 months ago. Things that used to freak me out (other religions, Harry Potter, gays, democrats...) now seem perfectly normal. Life without the blinders of religion is pretty darn nice. My hope is that more and more people will get fed-up with Christianity and control-freaks, and humanity will begin to mature. It is a bit shocking to think that I was caught for 30 years in the same superstition that motivated people to burn other humans alive. Even your friend's mother alluded to this in saying that you were worth burning alive in hell.

 

Again, welcome to freedom and truth!

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Wow. This is EXACTLY what I'm going through right now:

 

"I never felt the presence of God. I never felt that my prayers were heard, much less answered. I did not know how to reconcile the violence of the OT with the version of God I so much wanted to believe in. I was never able to wrap my mind around hell. I stopped trying to understand. I figured that God must not want me to believe in him, because I had been pleading and aching and begging him to show himself to me. That's what I don't understand about Christians who think atheists are too stubborn to "see". I desperately wanted to "see". I spent many nights alone, crying and wailing and beating myself up over the fact that I couldn't."

 

Welcome to the forums.

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I never felt the presence of God. I never felt that my prayers were heard, much less answered.

I wonder if you're the type who can never be hypnotized. I must be at least partially hypnotizable. I feel like I always knew that when I raved about how God answered prayer with other Christians that I was making much too much of it. I might have gotten excited about the interpretation of some scripture, or get glassy eyed and sentimental over a pretty worship song, but I always knew that other people didn't experience it that way and that, for me, it wasn't that special. I have never encountered the supernatural either, yet many times I would convince myself that I had. I took part in the perpetuation of a delusion.

 

I say all this to congratulate you for being able to see and perceive honestly. That is a rare gift, though it may seem like a curse.

 

I figured that God must not want me to believe in him, because I had been pleading and aching and begging him to show himself to me. That's what I don't understand about Christians who think atheists are too stubborn to "see". I desperately wanted to "see". I spent many nights alone, crying and wailing and beating myself up over the fact that I couldn't.

 

I can totally identify. For years before my deconversion I ached and ached for an indication of God's presence. It was not to be. Towards the end of my faith, I developed the crazy notion that some form of Calvinism was true and that I must be part of the pre-destined damned. No matter how badly I wanted to believe, I could not. It felt like a sick joke perpetrated by some serial killer on one of those Saw movies.

 

I'm sorry for the lonely nights. There are few things that feel worse. Even when there are wonderful people in your life who love you, the lonliness is a killer and a heart breaker.

 

I hope that you have a long life of enjoying the wonder and uniqueness of your existence.

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I know what you mean about the whole 'FAKER' sign stamped on the forehead, that's exactly how I felt eventually, when I realized I didn't agree with the hymns I was singing. I would only go to church for the music and to mollify my parents. Eventually I tired of my own hypocrisy, and moving away from home helped a lot too.

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Guest QuidEstCaritas?
At first, when I finally was able to figure out that Christianity is bullshit, I was heart-broken. Kind of sad. I wanted to believe in heaven (but not hell) -- who doesn't want to spend forever with the people they love? But you know what? I had an imaginary friend as a child named Mitzi, and I was heart-broken when she left me, too. I don't need God or Mitzi anymore. Existence is still meaningful for me. Life is full of wonder and beauty and I finally feel like my mind is open enough to enjoy it.

 

Congratulations.

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Guest mentallyfree

I too am glad for you. I am still in the "Faker" mode due to some difficult circumstances I cannot resolve for a while, but will eventually be totally free. For now I find solace in the stories of those who are able to rid themselves of the burden of something that should be voluntary but is forced on others by parents, friends, etc.

 

I was talking to my wife, more or less really listening a day or so ago, when she was speaking about a request by one of the members of the church we attend to have an ongoing prayer list published in the weekly program (bulletin). The discussion centered around how to keep up with those who were placed on this list and how to remove them in time, etc. She (my wife) made a remarkable statement, that at the appropriate time I will remind her of when I share my deconversion with her. She said, "Well you know there are those who will have to be on there for a long time, you know those with cancer." I thought immediately that if god answered these prayers there would not be those who were on the "list" for a long time. It just struck me quite ironic and in a deeply sad way.

 

BTW, I am aching myself, but not to hear from god any longer, those days have passed, I am aching due the fact that I am trapped in a religious employment and cannot escape without harming my family financially. I don't feel bad about taking the money of the dupes who believe that I am a "Man of God." That in and of itself is a proof that they have no real ability to "Discern the spirits", I feel bad because I am not being true to who I am and what I believe. The day wll indeed come I know.

 

I ordered two books by Dan Barker the day before yesterday and am looking forward to reading his journey out of faith. I have not made a formal posting of my deconversion as of yet, I think I will make that post when I am able to shrug off the mantle of "fake." I hope the best for you and your new life free of false guilt and pressures!

 

MentallyFree though not completely free for now.

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Welcome to you, too, mentallyfree.

 

I look forward to hearing more from you, and I'm sorry you're in such an untenable situation.

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