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Autumn girl

The Loss In The Midst Of The Hope

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It's only been about a month that I've been pondering the idea that Christianity seems to be, based on research, a religion founded on the created fables and myths of an ancient people. Instead of the shock and then anger that I first felt, I'm feeling sad, so very, very sad the past few days. I think I'm grieving the loss of my identity as a Christian, and it feels like an amputation is being performed on me. It's that disorienting.

 

No more looking forward to heaven? That's something I'm having difficulty grasping. I know that there are plenty of ex-christians who still believe in heaven, but there are many who don't and have good reason not to.

 

I foresee eventually not attending church anymore - that was my main way of having social contact, and for my children too.

 

No more worshiping? I loved worship. It was a high for me actually. Now I see worship as a weird thing to take part in because we are all getting worked up about someone who is seemingly not even there.

 

And then I still have thoughts of "are you really, truly sure? Do you want to bank your eternal life on this new "research" you've found? Things were so normal and accepted before. Do you really want to face the ramifications of your new findings? And what if you change your mind in the future? What a mess all of this would have caused."

 

This is only a fraction of what's going on in my head. It's all so exhausting.

 

And yet there is also this new sense of hope and excitement because I might actually, finally become free of all the shame and guilt I've felt my whole life. Feeling like I never measured up. Trying to "be perfect, just like my father in heaven is perfect", which is impossible and a clearly bad message for a child to be exposed to. And maybe I can finally find out who I am without all my religious baggage, what I want in my life, to listen to myself, trust myself, learn about the world, accept the here and now, and relish it.

 

But the road to get there is fraught with pain and heartache. No wonder so many people, when faced with doubt about their beliefs, decide not to look into it because it would be too much of a bother. I'm not like that though. I can't turn a blind eye any longer.

 

Anyone else out there who has gone through this? Obviously there must be. That's one thing I know more now than ever - I'm not alone in this.

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It's only been about a month that I've been pondering the idea that Christianity seems to be, based on research, a religion founded on the created fables and myths of an ancient people. Instead of the shock and then anger that I first felt, I'm feeling sad, so very, very sad the past few days. I think I'm grieving the loss of my identity as a Christian, and it feels like an amputation is being performed on me. It's that disorienting.

 

No more looking forward to heaven? That's something I'm having difficulty grasping. I know that there are plenty of ex-christians who still believe in heaven, but there are many who don't and have good reason not to.

 

I foresee eventually not attending church anymore - that was my main way of having social contact, and for my children too.

 

No more worshiping? I loved worship. It was a high for me actually. Now I see worship as a weird thing to take part in because we are all getting worked up about someone who is seemingly not even there.

 

And then I still have thoughts of "are you really, truly sure? Do you want to bank your eternal life on this new "research" you've found? Things were so normal and accepted before. Do you really want to face the ramifications of your new findings? And what if you change your mind in the future? What a mess all of this would have caused."

 

This is only a fraction of what's going on in my head. It's all so exhausting.

 

And yet there is also this new sense of hope and excitement because I might actually, finally become free of all the shame and guilt I've felt my whole life. Feeling like I never measured up. Trying to "be perfect, just like my father in heaven is perfect", which is impossible and a clearly bad message for a child to be exposed to. And maybe I can finally find out who I am without all my religious baggage, what I want in my life, to listen to myself, trust myself, learn about the world, accept the here and now, and relish it.

 

But the road to get there is fraught with pain and heartache. No wonder so many people, when faced with doubt about their beliefs, decide not to look into it because it would be too much of a bother. I'm not like that though. I can't turn a blind eye any longer.

 

Anyone else out there who has gone through this? Obviously there must be. That's one thing I know more now than ever - I'm not alone in this.

 

I feel EXACTLY like that, apart from me not having children.

I will subscribe to this topic.

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Hi, Sarah. The truth can be a terribly difficult and lonely thing. But it is still the truth. I remember when I first began my journey, I was in search of the truth wherever that led me. The thing is, though, that not then knowing the truth I wasn't ready for what I discovered. It was shattering, heartbreaking, traumatic, terrible, an emotional upheaval. To learn that Christianity was a lie (or if one wants to be nice about it, mythology) that was perpetrated on all of us made me angry on top of every other feeling I was having. I felt stupid for falling for it, for teaching it, for insisting that my daughter be plunged into it from birth. I had to rethink my whole life to put it into perspective. I wouldn't wish all that turmoil on my worst enemy - but I would and do wish the freedom that comes with knowing the truth on every person. Because finally living in truth is truly a glorious thing to behold. Just knowing that you were able to pull yourself out of the lie and deception is a tremendous reward all its own. Hang in there because you, too, will experience the rewards of living life to its fullest unhindered by the deception that is Christianity. It's right there, just around the corner of turmoil, reaching out waiting to embrace you. And when you hold it, you will never want to let go.

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Sarah, my heart goes out to you. It sounds like you are really grieving.

 

It is ok to stick with practices that still feel good to you, or explore new ways to feel a similar or new "high". It's also ok to cry. Sometimes, we simply move on from an old way of thinking or coping or being, and there is a loss that needs attending to. The human needs to honor loss in order to process and release it. All of these things are normal and right to be doing and feeling and we are here for you on this forum insofar as we are helpful to you coping with this difficult time.

 

The questioning is your mind trying to hold on to those old mental and behavioral pathways, comfortable in their familiarity. If you find a way to hook back into them, so be it. If you find you need to move on, there are new, safe, healing ways of acting and thinking and being to learn and make habit in your life.

 

Do something nice for yourself today that does not conflict with your former beliefs and aggravate your hurt...maybe even something new.

 

Hang in there.

 

Phanta

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Hi Sarah,

You are right, many of us have felt the void of worship and the loss of perspective that you are feeling. I followed for 34 years (from age 11), so my whole view of reality had to change. I loved to sing to Jesus and have wonderful memories of church friends, and candlelit Christmas services. In the couple of years that I've been out of Christianity, I've started taking singing lessons with other people, just to be around people having fun and learning to speak and sing "authentically". I've adopted other traditions, linked more to the seasons than to religion. I can participate with spiritual groups, trying new paths without having to commit to anything. I've met friends this way, and some of them are ex-believers also. A website that is often recommended is "meetup.com" (not a dating site) to find what kind of activities are in your area. I've been to a few open mic sessions and sang songs to a live audience, and been to hear talks by people of different spiritual paths.

 

I'm writing a book to help express my thoughts and feelings more fully, and to hopefully help bring some change to people's lives. I do a lot of thinking, talking to the air, wondering out loud, venting, trying not to spend all my time alone. I echo Phanta's posting, try something new. There are some really great people who would enjoy knowing you, but you'll have to find them.

 

We are here to help as much as we are able. Don't be a stranger.

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I think I'm grieving the loss of my identity as a Christian, and it feels like an amputation is being performed on me. It's that disorienting.

Sarah,

 

I know how you feel - how can everything you once held so dear be so wrong, and how can you live without the comfort of it? How can you ever replace some of the things that have brought you peace in turmoil and etc ...

 

I am not an Atheist, but I hold no religious beliefs that one could fit into a bottle either. I have reformulated the things which I accept to be true or "probably true". I no longer find it necessary to say that "I KNOW for certain" anything at all. I am okay with the unknown. Being this way works for me, because I have not closed the door to an afterlife. I have not shut out the possibility of further enlightenment. I watch science closely as - particularly in the areas of quantum physics. We might all still get a huge surprise some day soon there.

 

My best advice is to not amputate any part of your physical or emotional anatomy in great haste. Take your time. Relax and be okay in the unknowingness of things. Study, read everything, think, meditate, hell even pray to "whatever is out there". I did that one for a long time - still do. Allow yourself time to adjust and accept the new things you are learning. You will find that in time, the new shoe feels good - much better than the old one ever felt. When that time comes, you may feel better about getting up and walking away in your new pair of shoes.

 

Allow yourself luxuries as you go along too - just like on a diet - once in a while, we all have to eat an entire bowl of ice cream or we loose our minds. So ... listen to the music you have loved all your life - I still do - and I still cry listening to it. It is good for me. You will be oddly surprised when those songs begin to take on a new meaning to you and you respond to them for different reasons. I wish you the very best. If I can ever be of help, I am here.

 

Pappy

 

 

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Sarah,

 

SO many of us felt those same feelings when we discovered what we did about Christianity. I think everyone has their own unique experience when it comes to how the doubts set in. You are not alone my friend. I know some of us, myself included are the lone unbeliever in families and marriages with people who still believe. Some of us are keeping our new found freedom a secret, and some of us are coming out of the closet. The process and transition are like I said, unique for each of us. But the one thing we ALL have in common is the fact that we went through these emotions and feelings, dare I say, a grieving process? Some of us moved through that phase quickly and some take a long time to leave that phase behind. But the bottom line is this... once your mind has been exposed to the truth about christianity, there is really no turning back... you can't re-believe something you stopped believing... well, I guess you can, but I haven't met anyone who has been able to sincerely. All I can say to you is, don't sell yourself short or deprive yourself of what you're about to experience. I can promise you one thing.. when you have embraced it, it is the most INCREDIBLE, FREEING, AMAZING feeling you will have ever felt! I so wish I had it in me to be like the christians who try to prostelyze me back into the fold except only to convince people to leave it... I'd do it if I thought it was right, but deconverting is a personal decision and experience. Everyone needs to experience the full spectrum of feelings and emotions, etc. to be totally free from the bondage that is christianty. Sorry to ramble... I just wanted to let you know that you are not alone... if you ever need a friend, please, don't hesitate to message me :) I'm happy to help you through any of the tough spots and the people here at Ex-Christian.net are SECOND to NONE!!! Never, in all my years in church even, have I EVER met a better group of people than I have right here.... please, keep coming back... we'll help you through it all! {{{hug}}}

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Thank you for your support everyone. :) I appreciate your kindness and your willingness to help me work through these tough times.

 

My husband is planning on going to our church's men's retreat in a couple of weeks. He has been meeting off and on for the past month and a half with the men's ministries pastor, trying to grow his faith, but now, with everything going on with me he's unsure about Christianity as well (less so than me, but still very concerned). His men's pastor/friend strongly encouraged him to come to the men's retreat and bring all his questions/concerns about Christianity. He said that if the retreat isn't a good place to bring up issues like my husband is going through then he doesn't know where a good place would be to do that. And he said to my husband that if he finds out that they are doing things wrong at the church or believing in something that isn't right, then my husband would need to leave the church because that would only make sense. He's trying to be open and support my husband through this process. He has him reading Josh MacDowell's book, you know the one. Man, every Christian seems to bring up that book when faced with doubt!

 

I hope my husband doesn't come home "on fire for God". I told him that would be a big problem, considering where I'm at. He said that is unlikely, especially since he's not the type of man to get all hyped up about Christianity. He's more laid back, even tempered.

 

Still, this could turn out poorly. I hope it doesn't. I hope going on that retreat will only help him see how feeble the "answers" are to his (our) concerns about Christianity.

 

Now I have to formulate a list of all the concerns I've brought to him. How do I do that without making it a book!? A lot of the men at this retreat might not even know about some of the things my husband will be bringing up.

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Guest I Love Dog

 

And yet there is also this new sense of hope and excitement because I might actually, finally become free of all the shame and guilt I've felt my whole life. Feeling like I never measured up. Trying to "be perfect, just like my father in heaven is perfect", which is impossible and a clearly bad message for a child to be exposed to. And maybe I can finally find out who I am without all my religious baggage, what I want in my life, to listen to myself, trust myself, learn about the world, accept the here and now, and relish it.

 

It's certainly a new milestone in someone's life when they choose to research why they believe. As you say, many don't bother.

 

I found an excellent resource to reasearch Christianity and its beginnings is http://www.jesusneverexisted.com The Web site is great and very extensive, but I also purchased the book and am now reading it for the third time!

 

If you have any doubts about your doubts, visit the site!

 

Good luck with the future of your non-belief!

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Hi, Sarah. I've been to those men's retreats many times during my Christian years. I want to first address the following quote:

 

My husband is planning on going to our church's men's retreat in a couple of weeks. He has been meeting off and on for the past month and a half with the men's ministries pastor, trying to grow his faith, but now, with everything going on with me he's unsure about Christianity as well (less so than me, but still very concerned). His men's pastor/friend strongly encouraged him to come to the men's retreat and bring all his questions/concerns about Christianity. He said that if the retreat isn't a good place to bring up issues like my husband is going through then he doesn't know where a good place would be to do that.

 

If the men's retreat your husband is going to is typical (and I'd bet it will be), every minute will be planned for maximum effect. There will be "fellowship" together, there will be talk about how the husband has a god given duty to be the head of his household, there will be talk about loving your family (this actually is pretty good), but the clincher will be that they will repeatedly emphasize that no man is capable of truly heading a household without guidance from the Holy Spirit (or god or Jesus, whichever they choose). And with that theme, there will be music that men like with lyrics that sometimes subtly and sometimes quite overtly will emphasize the same theme, testimonials, raising of hands, encouragement for the men to fulfill their godly duties towards their families, and hard core preaching with well thought out attention paid to the men's duty to be to his wife and family like Jesus is to the church. And the other side of the message is that if the men can't or won't be the leaders that god expects of them then they will be failures and their families will pay the price for their failure. It can be a real mind numbing experience, particularly when group think creeps in and the atmosphere is just so (as it will be).

 

I related my experiences at men's retreats, of which I attended quite a few, to refute what your husband's pastor said about "...if the retreat isn't a good place to bring up issues [of doubt about Christianity].... then he doesn't know where a good place would be to do that." It is not a good place for that. It is a place with an agenda and the psychological know-how to get men to surrender themselves to the religion. They are not about truly answering the tough questions, but about getting men to commit their lives (and their families and money) to the religion, though at least some of the leaders probably really believe they are doing god's will.

 

I hope my husband doesn't come home "on fire for God". I told him that would be a big problem, considering where I'm at. He said that is unlikely, especially since he's not the type of man to get all hyped up about Christianity. He's more laid back, even tempered.

 

This is what I hope for your husband as well. Maybe he will be able to see through what will be happening there and how it is all designed to get men deeper and deeper into the religion. If he can keep that kind of detached perspective, he should be safe.

 

Now I have to formulate a list of all the concerns I've brought to him. How do I do that without making it a book!? A lot of the men at this retreat might not even know about some of the things my husband will be bringing up.

 

If I were you, I'd remember that these people at the retreat are not going to be scholars fully prepared to answer his questions. There are going to be some preachers with some education, I'm sure, but there will mostly be other Christian men just like him. I'd keep it down to ten or less issues for him to ask about. From your perspective, the main purpose is for him to see the questions and to hear the answers and then for him to come home and talk to you about the answers he received. That should help him to see that the answers are inadequate (as they will be, no doubt).

 

Perhaps you could commend him for going to Christians for answers to questions, but suggest that he also go to some non-Christians who have really gone through agony trying to answer these questions and have come out with the understanding that the questions are not answerable from the Christian perspective. If you feel comfortable with it and don't mind him knowing that you post here, you could invite him to read some things on this forum or even post his own questions. That way he could have two perspectives, the perspective of Christians at his retreat and the perspective of former Christians here.

 

If you aren't comfortable suggesting that he post here, you could recommend some good books for him to read.

 

I hope this all turns out well for you and your family.

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Hi, Sarah. I've been to those men's retreats many times during my Christian years. I want to first address the following quote:

 

My husband is planning on going to our church's men's retreat in a couple of weeks. He has been meeting off and on for the past month and a half with the men's ministries pastor, trying to grow his faith, but now, with everything going on with me he's unsure about Christianity as well (less so than me, but still very concerned). His men's pastor/friend strongly encouraged him to come to the men's retreat and bring all his questions/concerns about Christianity. He said that if the retreat isn't a good place to bring up issues like my husband is going through then he doesn't know where a good place would be to do that.

 

If the men's retreat your husband is going to is typical (and I'd bet it will be), every minute will be planned for maximum effect. There will be "fellowship" together, there will be talk about how the husband has a god given duty to be the head of his household, there will be talk about loving your family (this actually is pretty good), but the clincher will be that they will repeatedly emphasize that no man is capable of truly heading a household without guidance from the Holy Spirit (or god or Jesus, whichever they choose). And with that theme, there will be music that men like with lyrics that sometimes subtly and sometimes quite overtly will emphasize the same theme, testimonials, raising of hands, encouragement for the men to fulfill their godly duties towards their families, and hard core preaching with well thought out attention paid to the men's duty to be to his wife and family like Jesus is to the church. And the other side of the message is that if the men can't or won't be the leaders that god expects of them then they will be failures and their families will pay the price for their failure. It can be a real mind numbing experience, particularly when group think creeps in and the atmosphere is just so (as it will be).

 

I related my experiences at men's retreats, of which I attended quite a few, to refute what your husband's pastor said about "...if the retreat isn't a good place to bring up issues [of doubt about Christianity].... then he doesn't know where a good place would be to do that." It is not a good place for that. It is a place with an agenda and the psychological know-how to get men to surrender themselves to the religion. They are not about truly answering the tough questions, but about getting men to commit their lives (and their families and money) to the religion, though at least some of the leaders probably really believe they are doing god's will.

 

I hope my husband doesn't come home "on fire for God". I told him that would be a big problem, considering where I'm at. He said that is unlikely, especially since he's not the type of man to get all hyped up about Christianity. He's more laid back, even tempered.

 

This is what I hope for your husband as well. Maybe he will be able to see through what will be happening there and how it is all designed to get men deeper and deeper into the religion. If he can keep that kind of detached perspective, he should be safe.

 

Now I have to formulate a list of all the concerns I've brought to him. How do I do that without making it a book!? A lot of the men at this retreat might not even know about some of the things my husband will be bringing up.

 

If I were you, I'd remember that these people at the retreat are not going to be scholars fully prepared to answer his questions. There are going to be some preachers with some education, I'm sure, but there will mostly be other Christian men just like him. I'd keep it down to ten or less issues for him to ask about. From your perspective, the main purpose is for him to see the questions and to hear the answers and then for him to come home and talk to you about the answers he received. That should help him to see that the answers are inadequate (as they will be, no doubt).

 

Perhaps you could commend him for going to Christians for answers to questions, but suggest that he also go to some non-Christians who have really gone through agony trying to answer these questions and have come out with the understanding that the questions are not answerable from the Christian perspective. If you feel comfortable with it and don't mind him knowing that you post here, you could invite him to read some things on this forum or even post his own questions. That way he could have two perspectives, the perspective of Christians at his retreat and the perspective of former Christians here.

 

If you aren't comfortable suggesting that he post here, you could recommend some good books for him to read.

 

I hope this all turns out well for you and your family.

 

 

OvercameFaith: I feel you speak as if the retreat-organizers are on the outside of the system, manipulating her husband into the whole thing, knowing it's a psychological scam. Like they are bad guys, in a way. Remember that they are just normal people influenced by christianity. They genuinely believe it for themselves, and are not some asswaffles bent on fooling people. Hostility never a good way to solve major differences. With the right questions, her husband might even sow a few seeds (doubts) that will evolve into the men actually seeing the flaws here and there. Just my two cents.

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retreats are places where emotional and psychological and peer pressure may be enforced.

.

what do you expect men's retreat to encompass? the bible teaches

 

1. Man is always the head of the family (unless he is non-christian or yet to have a family)

2. wife is to be submissive to the husband

3. the family must be jesus-centric

 

no really exciting isn't it?

 

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OvercameFaith: I feel you speak as if the retreat-organizers are on the outside of the system, manipulating her husband into the whole thing, knowing it's a psychological scam. Like they are bad guys, in a way. Remember that they are just normal people influenced by christianity. They genuinely believe it for themselves, and are not some asswaffles bent on fooling people. Hostility never a good way to solve major differences. With the right questions, her husband might even sow a few seeds (doubts) that will evolve into the men actually seeing the flaws here and there. Just my two cents.

 

Hi, Leinad89:

 

These retreats are full of manipulation and psychological ploys. Their purpose is to emerse the attendees into the religion and then to have the men to ensure their wives and children are likewise emersed into the religion. The remaining question is the motivation of the event organizers. I acknowledged that at least some of the organizers genuinely feel they are doing god's work, but the reality of organized christianity is that for the top dogs in the organization it is about money, power, and control the same way it is in big business and in politics.

 

As for whether Sarah's husband's questions can influence other men, that is possible, of course, and that is one of the (minor) reasons I recommended that Sarah help her husband come up with ten or so questions. But the truth is that these retreats are one way events. They are designed to get a message to the men and not to hear the men's messages back. They have an agenda and they will not allow their agenda to be derailed.

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OvercameFaith: I feel you speak as if the retreat-organizers are on the outside of the system, manipulating her husband into the whole thing, knowing it's a psychological scam. Like they are bad guys, in a way. Remember that they are just normal people influenced by christianity. They genuinely believe it for themselves, and are not some asswaffles bent on fooling people. Hostility never a good way to solve major differences. With the right questions, her husband might even sow a few seeds (doubts) that will evolve into the men actually seeing the flaws here and there. Just my two cents.

 

Hi, Leinad89:

 

These retreats are full of manipulation and psychological ploys. Their purpose is to emerse the attendees into the religion and then to have the men to ensure their wives and children are likewise emersed into the religion. The remaining question is the motivation of the event organizers. I acknowledged that at least some of the organizers genuinely feel they are doing god's work, but the reality of organized christianity is that for the top dogs in the organization it is about money, power, and control the same way it is in big business and in politics.

 

As for whether Sarah's husband's questions can influence other men, that is possible, of course, and that is one of the (minor) reasons I recommended that Sarah help her husband come up with ten or so questions. But the truth is that these retreats are one way events. They are designed to get a message to the men and not to hear the men's messages back. They have an agenda and they will not allow their agenda to be derailed.

 

These testimony-comments are derailing, I see, but essentially you are saying that the "top dogs", who undoubtedly started as "normal" christians, at some point realized that christianity was fake psychology, like all of us, and went from there (life without a sense of meaning and a heartbreaking break with their christian lives) to the point where they said "Hey! Let's lure tons of people into the system we just got out of! I wouldn't wish my past experience on anyone, but I'd sure lure them in for a buck!" Of course this seems ridiculous.

The retreats are designed to "bring people closer to God", but not with malicious intent, as it would seem by reading your post.

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These testimony-comments are derailing, I see, but essentially you are saying that the "top dogs", who undoubtedly started as "normal" christians, at some point realized that christianity was fake psychology, like all of us, and went from there (life without a sense of meaning and a heartbreaking break with their christian lives) to the point where they said "Hey! Let's lure tons of people into the system we just got out of! I wouldn't wish my past experience on anyone, but I'd sure lure them in for a buck!" Of course this seems ridiculous.

The retreats are designed to "bring people closer to God", but not with malicious intent, as it would seem by reading your post.

 

Yes, these comments are derailing the OP and, therefore, I will not continue on this thread. However, if you would like to start your own thread, I'd be glad to comment.

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