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Goodbye Jesus

There And Back Again


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This is going to be loooong, because 1) I talk a lot, and 2) I don't know how to talk about my loss of faith without explaining how I got there in the first place.


I was basically brought up an atheist. My parents are both atheists, and I don't remember ever taking the idea of God seriously. Even in primary school, I was outspokenly against the prayers and hymns we had every day, and when we were given a Bible at the age of 10, planned ways to get rid of it. This continued into secondary school, because I was still pissed off with having religion forced down my throat by institutions, even though it obviously wasn't an issue in my family. I was a member of the local Guide group (girl scouts, basically), and they tried to get me to go to church with them. I eventually quit over it. By the time I got to college (that's the last 2 years of high school for most of you), I'd mellowed a lot. College was a lot more secular, there were no assemblies, no-one trying to force Christianity on me in any way. I had a couple of Christian friends, but it just wasn't an issue for us.


Everything changed when I moved to university. In my flat of 12 people, there was one Christian. And he was very very serious about his faith. He pretty much only listened to Christian music, and had lyrics and prayers and Bible verses all over the walls of his room. For the first few months, we had a lot of arguments in the flat. His extreme views (such as creationism, homosexuality being wrong, and non-Christians going to hell) obviously provoked a lot of debate. But no-one took him very seriously at first.


After a while, another of my flatmates started to listen to him more, and got interested in his beliefs. The Christian Union had their mission week on campus - a week of lunchtime talks with free food, as well as other events. She went to all the lunchbars, and discussed them with our Christian flatmate afterwards. At the end of the week, she signed up for a six week course of reading through John's gospel and discussing it with some of the CU leaders. Towards the end of those weeks she also started going to church.


Naturally, I was pretty freaked out by this. I could understand the guy being a Christian but not my friend; a physics student whose parents are atheists. I felt she was being brainwashed and wanted to stop it happening. So I went along to a CU meeting with her. Once again, I was overwhelmed by there being so many Christians in my university. I'd always thought Christians were idiots, and yet there I was, at a good university, yet surrounded by people who believed in God. I got chatting to one of my flatmate's friends, and asked why they took the Bible - just some old book - so seriously. And this was the turning point for me. She gave me all these reasons why she trusted the Bible, like the apostles dying for their belief that Jesus had risen from the dead, that they'd seen Him. She lent me books on the subject, and I read a lot of stuff online, desperately trying to prove it wrong so I could continue with my life. But I couldn't. So just over 2 years ago, I gave in and started to pray. It felt ridiculous, like I was just talking to myself. But after a while, it began to feel more real.


For the next 18 months or so, things continued pretty smoothly. I had a lot of doubts which never completely left me, I often had the impression that I was just fooling myself, but it always got brushed aside by church, small group, worship music, and so on. I continued to argue for Christianity with my boyfriend, but I lost every argument. Even though I lost, somehow I just felt that he wasn't seeing something I was. For me, the evidence worked, and Christianity made a lot of sense to me. For him, it wasn't enough. But whilst my belief stayed the same, the basis of it was gradually being eroded. Through a mixture of debating with atheists, and talking to theology students online, I realised that the arguments that had convinced me in the first place just weren't that good. I'd been practically lied to by the CU and their apologetics books. But I still believed.


Until one day, my boyfriend asked me again why I still believed. And this time, I struggled to find an answer. Every one of my reasons - from the Bible, to answered prayers, to healings - had been dismissed before. I had nothing left. All I could say was "I just do." That was about 7 months ago.


The few months after that were just horrible. I desperately wanted God to be real. Although I'd only been a Christian for about 18 months, it had become my life. I prayed every day, read the Bible, went to church, was in a small group of students from church, got involved in evangelistic events, met up with an accountability partner regularly, etc. So it was still really hard, despite my non-religious background. I kept praying for God to do something in my life, to reveal Himself to me. I couldn't believe that He really wasn't real, so I felt abandoned, like He'd just chosen to take away my faith. I went through phases where I stopped praying, but I basically felt like I was just ignoring God, and it also meant I stopped thinking about stuff, and was just going through the motions of living. I got thrown back into prayer even more, when something bad happened to a friend back home. I was living in France at the time, and the only way I could think of to help was to pray for him. So I lived in this confused state for a while, where I knew God probably wasn't real, but I couldn't let go.


It was about 2 months ago that I came to terms with my loss of faith. It happened really suddenly, and I felt a lot better at once. I was chatting online to a friend from the atheist society of my university (which I'd initially joined hoping to bring some of them to faith!), and was saying I was bored, and had no plans for the weekend. He asked me if I'd found a church to go to inFrance, and I finally dared to tell him that I wasn't really a Christian anymore. I'd been hiding this for so long, because I didn't want them to gloat and say "I told you so", and it was an amazing relief to get it out in the open.


Since then, I've been able to tell a lot more people the truth. Yesterday, I went to church for the last time, and told the vicar that I wouldn't be coming back. Most of my Christian friends now know I'm not a Christian anymore.


Where does this leave me now, then?


- I'm happier, because I can be honest with myself. Whilst I didn't always realise it, before, I was always involved in some kind of mental acrobatics, trying to make everything make sense. I had to twist the way I looked at the world, to make it fit with what I believed.

- It is still hard to accept that there are situations where I can't do anything; that however hard I hope and pray, it won't make a difference.

- I haven't lost any Christian friends yet, everyone has been great. I imagine some of us will gradually drift apart though.

- I've been able to get closer to the friends I already had in the atheist society. I always got on with them really well, but now there are no ulterior motives to our friendship.

- I no longer have the issue of my faith hanging over my relationship with my boyfriend. I'm sure we'll have our ups and downs, but not that one anymore.

- I don't have to worry that most people I know are going to hell.

- The more time goes by, the less I want to be a Christian. At first, I was upset that Jesus wasn't real, but now I'm not. I can see the bad side of faith a lot more, as I get further away from it. And I can see more clearly how ridiculous it is.


Overall, I feel freer and happier. It's hard in some ways, because imaginary or not, my belief in God did help me through a lot. Being able to pray to figure out how I felt about stuff, and to try and help situations, was really important to me. And the Christian community around me was also great, mostly. But I care more about what's true.


A friend of mine sent me this link (you've probably already seen it...), when I told him I'd lost my faith, and it really sums up a lot of the mixed feelings I have too. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LCUYiflkXHc

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Thanks for sharing your testimony with us, TYY.


But I care more about what's true.


This is the bedrock, isn't it? Once you know you can't turn fiction into truth, no matter how good it feels (and much fiction does), you just are where you are with the reality at hand. And mostly it's good.


May life get better and better and better for you.

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Hi, TheYoYo, and welcome. I enjoyed your extimony. Seeking the truth is a dangerous activity because it does not always fit our preconceived notion of what the truth ought to be. As you pointed out so well, Christian faith requires those trapped in it to mold their thinking around a set of supposed "truths" rather than allowing them to search for truth in an objective fashion. Glad you were able to free yourself from the "faith."

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Welcome! Hang onto those feelings of being more free and happy--that is what gets me through when I start having doubts. I simply stop and ask myself, "Yes, but are you happier now that you know the truth--the REAL truth?" The answer is always yes.

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Great post, TheYoYo.


I feel/felt a lot of the things you shared.


I'm working on being more free and happy. It's really an uphill battle. But you are right, I'd rather go with what I think is true, then work on the rest.



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