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RaisedPB
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Hi. I'm sure you guys have seen a thousand of these posts started, but I'm new to the site and am not sure how to get started. I'm also just at the point of trying to leave my church (the church I grew up in and my parents still attend). I'm dealing with a lot of conflicting emotions of anger, fear, and guilt. This is complicated by the fact that I have kids, and I guess I know the tension and conflict it will create with my parents if I decide to no longer attend church or bring my kids. They will still try very hard to get the kids to church whenever they can. You know how it is. This is a very fundamental, evangelical church (Plymouth Brethren).

 

Any advice on how to use or navigate through this resource would be great. Also, hearing opinions on how to deal with parents, leaving your church, and residual fears from a lifetime of being taught to fear Hell, Satan, and grieving the Holy Spirit would be great.

 

Thanks,

Steve

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Welcome Steve,

 

Well, since this is a forum, there's not much order to where things are. If you click on the "Ex-Christan Forums" on the top-left, you will get different sections for different main categories of discussions, and that's pretty much it. There are certain rules of conduct in a few of the categories, and you would find the link to the document which describes them on the top left as well in each category. Other than that, most newcomers just start some topic asking for a particular thing, or they just start participate in some other interesting topic. Oh, to view the latest and updated posts, click on "View New Posts" on the top-right.

 

Hans

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This is a fine way to start, Steve.

 

Grief and learned fear...tough. There is a lot of struggle around that here.

 

In my experience, grief and fear can be stuffed down or processed and healed/alleviated, but the latter takes intentional effort.

 

Some keys I have identified in doing good, healing work:

 

_Support_

 

It sounds like in your parents you also have a lack of support. Consider carefully the level of exposure to them that is beneficial for your personal growth. Setting limits and boundaries is strong, and it's smart.

 

Find like-minded folks to encourage you in the path that feels good to you. Coming here is great. Where else are you supported? For complicated reasons (not doctrinal), my former communities of support were not as available to me during my recent struggles, so I sought out new like-minded communities, including this one. Searching was lonely at first, but I found some good fits. These new communities have served as islands of love and support during a difficult time of growth.

 

_Distraction_

 

Moving on takes work, but we also need some down time. Be kind to yourself whenever an opportunity arises. If something takes your mind off of your fear for a while, enjoy it!

 

_Relaxation_

 

People do all sorts of things to relax. It is my belief that prayer, meditation, self-talk and many more techniques are all related in their soothing way of deep inner relaxation. As a non-believer, I sometimes take up a prayerful position and feel peace, but many forgo past prayer practices altogether. Meditation can be helpful, though there are many different techniques of meditation that have purposes other than deep relaxation (something to keep in mind). My favorite method of relaxation right now is self-hypnosis. I've tried so many deep relaxation techniques, and this is the one that suits me best. Other relaxation methods I can think of are exercise, reading, hobbies. I discovered by accident that coloring (of all things!) is a great relaxation activity for me.

 

That brings me to my final bit of advice, in the form of an ancient Japanese proverb: Fall down seven, Get up eight.

 

Try things out. Others here will share their own experiences with you and give you new ideas. Try everything that feels interesting; brush yourself off from your failures; keep what is good.

 

Welcome!

 

Phanta

 

Thanks for the reply. I appreciate the advice; it makes a lot of sense. Finding a new support community is something I'm struggling with, having grown up in church. I think this site will help.

 

Deep down, I know what I need to do, but I think it is going to take time to gain the courage to take that final step. I know I need to live my life, and how my parents feel or respond is their responsibility, but that doesn't make the likely outcome any more pleasant to contemplate.

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My advice, though I do not think it should be taken as applying to all people in all situations, is to take things slowly with the Christians in your life. My experience has been that it takes time for them to adjust to my new beliefs, and in the beginning things were *very* emotional. And when emotional, it makes it very hard to work through things in a constructive way. So to the extent that I have been able to take things slowly, I have been able to work through things in the relationships in my life, and they have been able to come to grips and adjust themselves.

 

Now the Christians in my life are always trying to press things (just like Christians try to press for a "decision for the Lord" when evangelizing). Belief to Christians is obviously more important than for someone leaving the faith. So there can be a lot of pressure applied that way.

 

Have fun with your freedom to think and be yourself, it is a great adventure.

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Steve,

 

I'll advise you to start your day with "Fuckitall", the new pill that removes...

 

Err.. Umm.. Ahh..

 

Don't sweat the "noobie" questioning, that is the smartest thing folks do when they wash up here is ask for cold beer, key to bathroom, and where the goodies are stashed.

 

I'd suggest by hitting the forum that has the most interest to you. I'm a political critter, most of my posts are News or Off Topic Op-Eds re-popped for folks to read and discuss. Science Forum has a ton of frackin' smart folks talking about god(s) and science, not a necessary contra situation.

 

Extimonies, folks who have gotten out, have something to say, and do so are in a Forum protected by we of Dave's little helpers and trash haulers. Your posts there are safe from the average evangelist and the resulting "come back to the flock little lost dumbass" posts..

 

Dig in man, take some time, and see what is flowing the way you care to go. Lots of folks are not *exactly* what and where you are now, but many have been on your path, and are fellow travelers that are willing to help you find something.

 

Welcome to ExC

 

kevinL, Trash Hauler, Bottle Washer, Labelmaker, user of word fuck in every possible mis-usable way

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Any advice on how to use or navigate through this resource would be great. Also, hearing opinions on how to deal with parents, leaving your church, and residual fears from a lifetime of being taught to fear Hell, Satan, and grieving the Holy Spirit would be great.

 

Thanks,

Steve

 

First of all welcome to ExC !!

 

I have found that really looking "under the hood" at Christianity is a good start. My wife and I started reading up on the origins of the bible which lead us out of religion. Plus Paul Johnson's A History of Christianity helped us better understand the historical roots of Christianity and quell the "fires of hell" types of fears.

 

Once again welcome.

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My advice, though I do not think it should be taken as applying to all people in all situations, is to take things slowly with the Christians in your life. My experience has been that it takes time for them to adjust to my new beliefs, and in the beginning things were *very* emotional. And when emotional, it makes it very hard to work through things in a constructive way. So to the extent that I have been able to take things slowly, I have been able to work through things in the relationships in my life, and they have been able to come to grips and adjust themselves.

 

Now the Christians in my life are always trying to press things (just like Christians try to press for a "decision for the Lord" when evangelizing). Belief to Christians is obviously more important than for someone leaving the faith. So there can be a lot of pressure applied that way.

 

Have fun with your freedom to think and be yourself, it is a great adventure.

That was excellent advice atimetorend :grin: I need that for myself in my own life. I am getting all worked up because next week I am seeing an old christian friend for coffee and she is so far the only one I have told. I am very wary of the emotional pressure xtianity puts on you, so I am bracing myself for it. I know after I see her I will be confused emotionally and will need to come in here straight away to clean myself off so to speak and get some rational thoughts flowing through my brain. Anyway, thanks for your post!

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Welcome Steve. You are in good company here.

 

As stated before, I recommend the Ex-Christian Life section. I find it the best place for support. Testimonies is a great section to read stories like your own. I steer clear of the Lion's Den and the other debate sections because I don't have the deep knowledge or the inclination to debate the Christians on here.

 

But my day is usually spent clicking the "view ne posts" button.

 

Now here is my own bit of advice... As you reach the decision to deconvert (maybe you already have) you will have a lot of anger and frustration toward xians and their agenda that is seen everywhere. I have days where I get so frustrated and angry that I lose sight of the important things...1. they no longer have control over me 2. it is my life to live 3. life is much better without superstition 4. it is a waste of my time to let them make me angry

 

Good luck, glad to have ya here

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I can totally understand your apprehensions re your family being upset over not comng to meetings with your children, and the huge shock it will be to all of the community you belong to. I used to belong to Christian Brethren, and was quite intrigued with the Plymouth Brethren who had a meeting hall at the top of my street. I shared many of the same beliefs with them, but never got involved. I used to read the literature of their founders, too, still have some. I liked the people, from a distance, and even got mistaken for being one of them, as I wore a headcovering. I know the bad side of the organization, too.

 

Anyway, welcome to this forum, and hope you can steer your way through the coming weeks and months with your self respect and integrity intact.

 

Its a HUGE thing, this transition period. You might sometimes feel things are not real. It's a real shock to the system to go through a questioning of long held beliefs. Surrounded by believers, it'll be hard not to wonder if you're wrong and foolish, even wicked.

 

I don't know the background as to whats led you to the step of leaving your organization. Are you leaving the Plymouth Brethren, or leaving Christianity, or unsure at this stage?

 

I know there are some websites for former members os the Plymouth Brethren. They might be very helpful for you. All the best.

 

pippa

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Thanks everyone for the welcoming comments and advice.

 

pippa, the church I grew up in (and currently still attend) is PB, but it is not an "exclusive" assembly that you may have read about. The people are mostly very kind and do genuinely believe what they say. In fact, it probably wouldn't even be considered Plymouth Brethren by the very conservative PB churches. But they still keep many of the same traditions, and would still be considered pretty conservative on the spectrum of christian churches.

 

I think I have already made the break inside - I just don't believe the Bible is the inerrant, actual Word of God. Hell, I can't get past Genesis 1-4. If I have to accept that as literally true for any of it to be true, then it all must be out. Besides, for Jesus' death to be necessary, then Adam's fall had to take place, right? If that's not true, the whole thing unravels. That's why fundies are so resistant to evolution, in my opinion. I've discussed it with my wife; and both my younger brothers left years ago, so I have talked with them about it as well. That's another part of the pressure I put on myself. I know what my parents will do to themselves emotionally if their oldest child leaves the faith, too. Again, I know their response is their responsibility, but the parent-child relationship is always complicated, even as adults.

 

So, I'm still "in the closet" with my christian friends and family. I've been seeing a therapist for about a year now for depression and anxiety, and she has definitely helped me see that the root of it is trying to live a split life - an inauthentic life. Tough choices ahead to be sure. Thank you again to the ones who have already been down this path and can offer support to us fellow sojourners a little further back on the path.

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1. they no longer have control over me 2. it is my life to live 3. life is much better without superstition 4. it is a waste of my time to let them make me angry

 

I agree with all of these statements, yet the anger rises (about many things in my life) out of control. Why? How long does this last? How do you address it, if at all?

 

Phanta

 

Don't ask me. I still go through it on a daily basis. My little quote above just helps me keep my sanity when I want to just grab someone and shake them and say "WAKE THE FUCK UP" :lol:

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Welcome to the club!

 

I "came out" over a period of years. Basically, I came out as different family members asked me about it. I let them take the lead. Having had various levels of success with different tactics, I would offer a few ideas:

 

1. Semantics matters. People have a strong reaction to the word "Atheist." You might consider an alternative "label" such as agnostic, humanist, non-religious, etc.

 

2. Remind them that you respect them and love them. Especially parents can't hear that too much. Remind your parents that you still have the same morality that they've always known you to have.

 

3. Remind them that as you respect them, you expect THEM to respect YOU. (They may need a reminder about that. When they start to be intolerant or act our of emotion, remind them that they have always respected differences, even if you have to fib a little.

 

4. If things turn loud or emotional, say "I love you too much to have this conversation in anger" and then physically get up and remove yourself from the room.

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