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My Very Slow Awakening


dona_priscilla
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I don’t have a remarkable story, but I will share it with you as a way of introducing myself in this forum. I’m looking forward to be able to participate more in here.

 

Like many people, I was exposed to Christian fundamentalism since birth. My paternal grandfather was a pastor for many years. My parents took us to church twice every Sunday for several years. In the mornings the kids were separated from the adults for the biblical classes. In the evenings we would go back for the Sunday service. Since my grandparents led this congregation, it felt like a big family reunion every time we went to church, and I loved it. It didn’t feel like a Sunday if for some reason we missed church, but we almost never missed a service. I liked the routine and stability that it brought to our lives. I knew that every Sunday, after Sunday school, my grandparents would invite us to their home for lunch. I enjoyed spending time with them. Then, after the evening service my parents would take my brother and me to Burger King and let us play in the kids’ area. It seemed that we lived in a bubble, and we sort of did, but not completely. For instance, my parents loved to read. We always had encyclopedias, science magazines and newspapers lying around the house. My fascination for science started almost as early as my religious indoctrination. And we attended public school, with non Christian (aka mostly Catholic and some Jehovah’s Witnesses) classmates. All my life my closest friends have been nominal Catholics and I rarely brought up religion into our conversations.

 

There was this one girl from middle school who belonged to an even more fundamentalist sect than me (and we were of the tongue speaking, exorcising, and faith healing type). She had very long, braided hair and always wore skirts. She also happened to be kind of a mean girl sometimes: demanding, controlling, sanctimonious- a “better than thou” type of person. Since I was a very shy girl with few friends, I was under her “spell” for some time. Then one day I did grow a spine, and she didn’t like it, and we had a falling out. We weren’t very nice to each other during that time, I must admit, but being the queen bee, she was able to isolate me from everybody in a couple of weeks. It was surprising to see someone so sanctimonious treating people like peons. I always thought that Christians were usually nicer people. So, one day I called her out on her non-Christian behavior. I looked at her in the eye and said: “You always seem so religious, but you don’t act like a Christian. You’re an atheist. An Atheist!” I was expecting to offend her, of course, but I did not expect that it would make her cry! Being compared to an atheist was like a punch in the stomach: those horrible people who have no respect for God, who don’t believe in ANYTHING and go through life doing evil… Now I smile thinking that I was the one who ended up becoming an atheist.

 

I’m going to fast forward here to avoid being too boring. Basically, I went to church every Sunday until the age of 17 when my father got sick and couldn’t take us anymore. Then I moved out to college and did not attend church for most of those years, but always considered myself a devout Christian. I have much younger siblings to whom I read the bible every weekend; this makes me shudder because now they are heavily indoctrinated and I know I was part of that. I helped pass on the virus.

 

I belonged to a Christian group in college for about a year, but did not make any close friends, only friendly acquaintances. I always felt weird with Christians, like I didn’t belong. Always felt like walking on eggshells, like I was too worldly for them. But then, I wasn’t supposed to belong to “the world”, either. It was a lonely place to be. I did some things I regret while I was in the Christian group. We were encouraged to evangelize in campus, but as a very strong introvert, I would have rather have my teeth pulled. I made the effort because I thought I wasn’t a good enough Christian (we are never good enough, are we? Especially when we are the introverted Christian amongst a bunch of tongue speaking people), and usually tagged along with more experienced and extroverted people. One time, on Valentine’s Day, we gave away flowers and letters, under the guise that they were from a secret admirer. The letter was a typed love letter from Jesus. At least one girl cried and although we were deluded to think she was moved by the love of Jesus, I’m sure she just felt deceived by us. We were convinced we were doing people a favor, but deep inside it felt so wrong to do this. Shortly after that my schoolwork got heavier and I never went back to the group meetings or their evangelistic events. By the end of college I started to buy apologetic books because I had so many questions but so little time- with schoolwork and all- to dedicate to learn more about Christianity. I wanted to have all the resources necessary to defend my faith, particularly to “smart people” and also to “happy (aka oblivious) people”. I always noted that evangelism was mostly based on emotional appeals, and my discovery of apologetic books was exactly what I thought I needed to prove that faith was reasonable. The books were good enough to keep me a Christian for a few more years (they were like a booster shot for my lifelong indoctrination), but not good enough for me to feel confident about sharing my beliefs with anyone. I liked to have debates with myself to practice in case I ever needed to share my beliefs. Unfortunately, my hypothetical skeptic always came up with the most difficult questions.

 

Life again got in the way and work and post graduate school responsibilities kept me from digging deeper into my questions. I went to church almost every Sunday, although it wasn’t as enjoyable as it used to be. Going to church as a single twenty-something is no fun, especially when everybody is so focused in their own families. I still persevered because I thought that it was important to do so.

 

I got married to a nominal Catholic (surprise!) who seemed suspiciously agnostic. He never went to church with me and I didn’t expect it. I wanted him to go, but I didn’t want to appear like he was my personal project or something. I truly loved (and still love) him and decided to not ruin our relationship with religious conflict when I was so conflicted myself with my beliefs. I noticed that I slowly created my own heretic type of Christianity where God was all-loving. I ignored the misogyny and barbarism of the Bible to be able to remain a believer. Christian people’s comments started to not make sense, to sound more like tired platitudes I rolled my eyes every time I heard that god was going to answer our prayers. I never prayed regularly, but when I did, I did so fervently. I asked god to help me believe and nothing else because I figured that God’s plan will prevail no matter what we do. (What’s the point of prayer? Even then I thought it was pointless).

 

Slowly but surely, I started to wake up. A sudden thirst for knowledge led me to look into the origins of the Bible (a question that apologetics books never explained to my satisfaction), and one of the first steps that led me to unbelief was actually looking into the human history timeline for all the main civilizations and seeing where the Bible fits. It was an eye opening experience that led me to more research about so many interesting topics.

 

Then one day about two years ago I saw a link to this website, and decided to visit. After reading it I decided to finally get rid of the Christian label that had been barely clinging from me but had not quite managed to fall off.

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Hi, Priscilla, and welcome to ExC.

 

I enjoyed your story. I probably read many of the same apologetics books you read when someone asked me to give a talk on the evidence for the resurrection. Funny how when I was blinded by faith my talk made sense to me and I thought I spoke the truth, but when it all came tumbling down I could see with fresh eyes that none of it was true.

 

It sounds like yours was in many ways an intellectual journey. Good for you. You'll have a good foundation that way and confidence that your conclusion is the correct one.

 

I especially thought your story about calling that girl an atheist as an invective was humorous since I, probably like many on this forum, used to believe that atheists were people who were revolting against god. Little did I know then, as I do now since I'm an atheist, too, that being an atheist is nothing more than recoginizing there is a lack of evidence for there being a god and so there is no revolution at all.

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Hi, Priscilla, and welcome to ExC.

 

I enjoyed your story. I probably read many of the same apologetics books you read when someone asked me to give a talk on the evidence for the resurrection. Funny how when I was blinded by faith my talk made sense to me and I thought I spoke the truth, but when it all came tumbling down I could see with fresh eyes that none of it was true.

 

It sounds like yours was in many ways an intellectual journey. Good for you. You'll have a good foundation that way and confidence that your conclusion is the correct one.

 

I especially thought your story about calling that girl an atheist as an invective was humorous since I, probably like many on this forum, used to believe that atheists were people who were revolting against god. Little did I know then, as I do now since I'm an atheist, too, that being an atheist is nothing more than recoginizing there is a lack of evidence for there being a god and so there is no revolution at all.

 

Thanks for your welcome. I'm glad you enjoyed my story. And you are right: mine was mostly an intellectual journey. There were some emotional triggers here and there, but those are inevitable since we're human beings. I posted a story in the main page about those emotional triggers, but I can't find the link right now.

 

I chuckle when I remember the story about calling this girl an atheist like it was something bad. She was so offended, and I wondered if I had gone too far calling her such "horrible" name. We were 13 years old, by the way. She found me on Facebook recently and I accepted her friend request. I wonder if she has noticed my profile that clearly says I'm an atheist. But she has never made a comment. I know she is still a Christian, but a more liberal one. At least that's what I can tell by her looks: she now wears pants, makeup and looks very pretty and happy.

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Hi, Priscilla, and welcome to ExC.

 

I enjoyed your story. I probably read many of the same apologetics books you read when someone asked me to give a talk on the evidence for the resurrection. Funny how when I was blinded by faith my talk made sense to me and I thought I spoke the truth, but when it all came tumbling down I could see with fresh eyes that none of it was true.

 

It sounds like yours was in many ways an intellectual journey. Good for you. You'll have a good foundation that way and confidence that your conclusion is the correct one.

 

I especially thought your story about calling that girl an atheist as an invective was humorous since I, probably like many on this forum, used to believe that atheists were people who were revolting against god. Little did I know then, as I do now since I'm an atheist, too, that being an atheist is nothing more than recoginizing there is a lack of evidence for there being a god and so there is no revolution at all.

 

Thanks for your welcome. I'm glad you enjoyed my story. And you are right: mine was mostly an intellectual journey. There were some emotional triggers here and there, but those are inevitable since we're human beings. I posted a story in the main page about those emotional triggers, but I can't find the link right now.

 

I chuckle when I remember the story about calling this girl an atheist like it was something bad. She was so offended, and I wondered if I had gone too far calling her such "horrible" name. We were 13 years old, by the way. She found me on Facebook recently and I accepted her friend request. I wonder if she has noticed my profile that clearly says I'm an atheist. But she has never made a comment. I know she is still a Christian, but a more liberal one. At least that's what I can tell by her looks: she now wears pants, makeup and looks very pretty and happy.

 

What we all will say at 13 years of age. I'm glad that this (now) lady has accepted your offer of friendship over facebook and I'm also glad that she seems happy and has apparently cast away at least some of the trappings of her former beliefs. But most of all, I'm glad that you made it out of Christianity.

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