Jump to content

I'm Terrible With Titles...


Vekke
 Share

Recommended Posts

Hi guys. I've been lurking here for about a week, and have been falling away from my faith for a tiny bit longer. I find I can relate to a lot of your posts and stories, and today I'm really feeling the need to spill some stuff, so I'll post my own. Things tend to change quick in my life, as you might notice, but I'm afraid this post is going to be long-winded. Sorry!

 

I hadn't been a Christian for a very long time, only about a year. It would have been a year exactly today.

 

It started out by reading a friend's blog, a friend who is a very devout Christian, back in early 2009. She often linked to stories, sermons, and teaching on youtube and video links. I was agnostic at the time, but I was passively interested in religion in general and liked to read what she thought, and what some of the things were that caused her to believe as she did, so I looked at them from time to time.

 

Anyone ever hear of Mars Hill church, in Seattle? Well, she linked to a part one of their sermons, and I had a laugh. Not from mocking this guy's belief or craziness, but actually because he is funny, in an overgrown-frat-boy-gone-fundie kind of way (not gonna lie, that is the line my sense of humour falls on). I followed a link to the full sermon on their website, and what he had to say was interesting. The death of one child, and the brain damage of the other child, of some very close friends who went through a tornado (who are also very devoted Christians) had me thinking about what the heck life is all about, and why these things happened to people. It was part of a sermon series about suffering, and after watching a few, I thought it all really interesting, and a viable explanation for why bad things happen.

 

I kept watching, and eventually... anyone see this coming? He got on the topic of election, calvinism, you know the stuff. It seemed, crazy, cruel, capricious, and a collection of other good c-words, and so I dropped it for a while.

 

Music is very influential to me, it can make me feel good and make me feel calm and has even motivated me to learn a language, and by the time November rolled around, I was rolling out the holiday tunes (I will always love the Christmas season, although this year has been a tough one for me so far, for obvious reasons that I am about to make even more obvious). I love the more secular songs, but I also love the songs that sing about Jesus, you know, and Mary, and Joseph, and God, but it had been on a purely musical level for a long time. This time, though, I started wondering once again if this meant anything. There was really no particular motivation for me to do anything about it though, so it was just a fleeting idea.

 

Spanish is my second language, I enjoy it and I like to practice it, so occasionally I would go to this resource center-- they did presentations on latin american culture, and afterwords a language exchange, where english speakers practiced spanish, and spanish speakers practiced english. Anywayyyy, one year ago, there was a presentation on latin-american Christmas traditions-- hey, I like Spanish, I like Christmas, I thought I should go! And so I did, and I listened to these two women talk about how they celebrated Christmas in their previous countries, and also invite everyone to an artsy version of the Mexican Posadas they did in connection with a local theater, which I asked about after. These women were members of a church, a Lutheran (ELCA) church, and they invited me there. Since I had been wondering about Christianity, I decided I would go.

 

I, uh, missed the memo that one of the women was a pastor at said church, and ended up going to the wrong one, figuring, "well, it is a spanish speaking church in the general vicinity, this must be the right one" without bothering to compare the addresses (I should have known, it's an area with tons of 'em haha), and ended up in a pentecostal church, where a woman who didn't recognize me started talking to me and asked me if I wanted to accept Christ, and later had the pastor "lead me to Christ." I figured... why not, I should at least give it a go. Also, I am a pushover and probably wouldn't have said no if I had wanted to, ha.

 

Later I walked a few blocks to where the other church was, saw the woman's name on the sign under PASTORS, laughed at myself, and then went home, knowing where to go the next week. I was a full-fledged Christian now, and upon getting on the internet the next day or something at school, I told my friend, the one whose blog I read, thinking, hey, she'll be really happy to hear this!

 

She was. I went the the church I had intended to go to the next Sunday, I started reading the Bible, and downloading those sermons again, and, okay, I'm a huge nerd and started getting really interested in the theological aspect of all this. Over the weeks and months, I would learn more, read more, invest in more books-- two of which were Lee Strobel's. I thought, from what I already knew, Christianity was making a lot of sense-- God revealing himself to us instead of ourselves speculating and deciding who God might be, "sins" being caused by idolatry, that is; putting anything before God lets something that will hurt you control you. It made sense, but these two books, The Case for Faith and The Case for Christ, cleared any doubt in my mind, or so I thought, that Christianity was real.

 

So, this became really important to me. I believed nonchristians died and went to Hell, that I deserved Hell, but that God had forgiven me and you guys know the rest. I was convinced I needed this to be the center of my identity, that if I trusted God more, his Holy Spirit would start working in me, changing me into a better person that was more like him. I believed all this in my head, but already I was having a hard time with living this out. What did that even mean, to have the holy spirit working in you? Sometimes it seemed like it meant that your innermost desires would conform to God's, sometimes it seemed like it meant that you would just magically do good things but it would also still be Really Hard, for whatever reason. Well, I didn't magically stop eating too much or being lazy (some major vices of mine). Honestly, my efforts to do better just felt like the same old efforts to do better that succeeded sometimes, but failed too often to make a change in my life, and if that was how it was supposed to feel, what was all this Regeneration and Sanctification talk?

 

Doubletalk?

 

But no, I didn't let myself go there, I figured I just wasn't strong enough as a Christian. After all, I had just started.

 

Despite the liberal slant of my church (and the ELCA in general), my listening to Mars Hill and eventually Eagle Brook and later, NewSpring, was confronting me with all these ideas-- the key one being biblical infallibility, which brought up other things like homosexuality, and Mars Hill in particular with election & predesitination. Being pansexual (if you don't know, since some still don't, wiki it ;)), it was a little awkward but the fact that I'm still attracted to men made it tolerable for me. The idea, though, that I'd have to start judging some of my friends, who weren't hurting anyone, didn't appeal to me so I fought with the text up and down to see if there was any way that Romans 1 wasn't talking about gay people in actual relationships. I always felt guilty though, like I was probably in the wrong, due to comments like "people quench the conviction of the Holy Spirit", "if you don't trust God's Word, you have to wonder if you're really a Christian." I tried to fall back on "Love God and he'll forgive EVERYTHING, the essence of the New Testament is love and we don't need to create a new Law of Paul", like the pastors at my church told me-- they really are good people.

 

I continued, happy (sorta) in my "New Life", with new friends, and I was finishing spring semester of community college. Thing was, I had only been taking random classes, mostly art and different languages, and especially now that I had become a Christian, I didn't know what I was supposed to do. Art and languages/lingustics had fascinated me for a long time, but I felt like, if I went into one of these two things, I wouldn't be serving the Kingdom of God-- of course people had said that you can serve God in any job you do-- just work hard, like you're working for him, but I didn't really see how either of those things would help me spread his kingdom. So I started praying, asking God what he wanted me to do with my life. Being poor, not being able to take out private loans, and therefore having to rely on government money--and not wanting that to run out before I got a degree--I didn't want to take any steps until I knew what I was supposed to do, so I waited to apply to any 4 year school.

 

I felt a whole lot of silence

 

But finally, this last summer, after being kind of shaky in my faith and ~*altering my state of consciousness*~ (oh no) during a couple "lol school year is over" parties, and crushing on another (nonchristian!) girl, the women from my church went on a retreat for a week, and later, some kids from a suburb of my city came to do a week-long mission trip, and I helped lead them on a muraling project. I had fun, got back into God, and, wanting so badly for God to ANSWER me, I ignored the fact that I was immature and probably cared too much about being cool and liked by kids (which I never was in junior high, uh oh), and grabbed at the idea that youth ministry MUST be the answer. So I looked at Bible colleges, and ended up applying to this one Pentecostal one, which I thought I might have a chance at affording... and surely God would provide if I wanted to do this, right!

 

Around this time, my mom, inspired by me I guess, started going to church too. She grew up Catholic, sort of culturally catholic I would suppose, let it go for a few decades, tried some other things like universalism, but didn't like the lack of Jesus. She got a postcard from a church that did outdoor services in the summer, and started going, and told me I should go check it out, too, probably figuring, well hey, I liked church so much, maybe I should come with her.

 

The church in question was also trying to reach out to young adults with an evening service. I went and man, it was right up my alley! It was like a smaller scale version of bigger churches I tended to like, like Mars Hill and Eagle Brook. They played rock music, had cool sidescreens, preachers with jokes, and they were crazy about Jesus and wanted to reach young adults for him. I was really into that, and I was starting to get frustrated with my first, spanish speaking church, because they weren't really actively evangelizing, or preaching "The Gospel", and uhhh, I feel ashamed saying how arrogant my thoughts were, even if they were only in my mind. I started going to this later service and continued going to the ELCA church, with some mind to "serve" there. So patronizing, ahhhh! Ironically, I think this last summer was one of the times I was at my least humble, because I, uh, thought I was a Better Christian than a lot of people, for reading the bible on a ~regular basis~ or something, I don't even remember, it was just dumb and embarassing and I'm glad people can't read my thoughts.

 

anyway, fast forward to October. I'd been taking the Truth Project class and had been getting nearly de-convinced of evolution by means of natural selection; brainwashing at its finest. Recalling music I used to listen to back in High School, I hear some stuff in Swedish, and remembering this music was really good, I get the rest of the artist's discography. Loved it, looked up lyrics and translations, and in short got motivated to learn the language (this is all so incredibly nerdy haha). Feeling like some interest had been reawakened that had been dying in favour of systematic theology, I wanted back on the linguistics wagon, and so despite tossing $25 for an application fee at the Bible college I turned around and applied to the state university-- a pricer fee, ironically, but an easier app all around, and I never finished the Bible College app. During this time, I felt really strange. I was basically as excited about this language stuff, a mere interest, as I had so recently been about God, or, well, the Bible. Was I only really interested in the Bible, was I becoming a pharisee? Was I ever really born again in Christ or was I a fake Christian? Did that mean God didn't want me? Because I could have sworn my heart was in this entirely. "You can't lose your salvation", but I started becoming so apathetic that I was doubting I was ever saved at all.

 

So, my emotions weren't in it. I think I forgot to mention that I'm a rather skeptical person anyway-- not a full-blown skeptic, but in order for me to believe something I have to have a good reason. But that need had been quenched by Strobel-- it wasn't hard, scientific proof, but it was pretty darn convincing! So, if God was real, but if I wasn't interested... if my greatest desire (though unrealistic-- hey, it's still a great desire, haha) was to move to secular western europe (for its multitude of languages-- just to explain my randomness), and I really couldn't give a shit about God's disapproval for that... logically, if I didn't snap out of this, I would probably go to hell. I was scared as hell, ranted online at some friends, and then... looked up what some non-christians had to say about the books that had me so convinced.

 

Previously, I hadn't bothered to look at what people might have to say, because I was so desperate to believe this-- maybe it's irrational, but before this whole thing started I was really afraid of dying, and losing other people, because I didn't know whether there was any afterlife and at the time it seemed unlikely to me, but the concept of people just

 

ENDING

 

scared the poop out of me. I was scared mostly of the fear I would feel when I died, because maybe I would feel my consciousness just disappearing. Scary thoughts, and I think too much.

 

So it was a welcome to feel like, when I died, I would go to a place with no more tears and live forever. But I was starting to see holes in even that. Even the people like my art teacher in hich shool-- a gay man who had faith, was really nice and helped me through a lot of my teenage depression, but was maybe a little pluralistic, who died of brain cancer-- whose fate I didn't know... if people like that who I cared about, went to hell after all, somehow... I wouldn't care in heaven?

 

How does that work?

 

I had convinced myself that people "deserved it" because even though anything they might have done wrong was temporary, God was eternal, but now, it was seeming flawed, and unimaginably cruel, especially if election was true.

 

So, like I said, I looked online at what people said about these books, and was actually somewhat relieved at that point to find that they were riddled with intellectual dishonesty and anti-logic. Josephus? His writing was one of my favourite pieces of "evidence" that I loved to tell people about. He was born in 80-something A.D., and the two most important passages were added in by someone else. The claims of these people matched up. The claims of the people Strobel interviewed did not. I felt a little betrayed, but mostly I was just relieved to no longer feel compelled to believe in this God, because he had been looking meaner and meaner to me.

 

In the days to follow, I felt a lot freer. I could learn about things other people believe, and man, it was nice to feel like I wouldn't have to more or less troll other people until they either hated me or converted, out of fear that they'd otherwise spend eternity in some horrible place where God himself actively tortures them. But it's complicated. I've been so plugged in, and made friends with a lot of people at both churches, and while I feel open to spirituality in general and wouldn't mind hanging out at the liberal ELCA church during their activities (which tend to be rather secular-friendly), and occasionally for service-- if I continued to go to the mainline-to-conservative church, I would feel out of place, and kind of... giving them false hope that I'll return to Christianity or something? So I did the, uh, mature thing and stopped attending without a word (except for emailing the people I was co-teaching confirmation small groups with, an email to which they never responded so IDK), and due to my hard-to-crack nocturnal habits (it's really embarassing, but I legitimately think my body preferrs to be awake at night, as tired as I might be and as much as I myself hate it), I haven't been going to the ELCA church either, which only does service at 12:00, which, for a normal person, would allow for plenty of sleeping-in time, but alas :(

 

I draw for fun, and often take commissions for people online (unfortunately this is ALL I have been doing, because thanks to this religion I'm stuck in a year where I'm not going to school). Someone requested a creature with hooves and horns, which I was drawing last night. I probably would have thought nothing of it even if I still considered myself a Christian, because fiction does not a demon make, and the picture of satan with horns and goat's hooves were based on pagan gods anyway and have no biblical support, but apparently this + my lack of church attendance made my mom angry enough to start passive-aggressively criticising anything I did, earlier today (sunday).

 

Now, she's not fundamentalist by any means, she's liberal most of the time and in general pretty far from all that, so I was really confused by this reaction. We ended up in a (dysfunctional) conversation about this and I don't know what she believes, she contradicted herself a ton by alluding to Christians getting saved, but believing you get into heaven by being good and loving people and there is such a thing as hell but it's all about your attitude or something, I don't even, but in short I guess she wants me to keep an open mind and not disrespect (??) Christianity, or something that I was apparently disrespecting. I don't really know, and I had a lot of trouble explaining myself because I was in tears. I told her I wasn't closed down to everything spiritual but I couldn't agree with mainline Christianity anymore.

 

Basically nothing happened in that conversation, except my depression got triggered, I overreacted, I still am overreacting, I cried on and off for a good 7 hours today, I'm tearing up right now, and I have been motivated to do nothing all day. I haven't had a day this bad since high school, and I was convinced my depression manifested badly then because of hormones or something, it's calmed down a lot since then and usually I am more reasonable. I'm hoping that since this is circumstancial (I mean, I am probably overreacting, but some reaction is warranted) it will go away-- it probably will. I'm no danger to myself, but things just seem dark right now, you know? and I don't feel like I can talk to anyone about this-- There is one person who would get it I think, but, lol, she didn't answer my phone call yet.

 

In other words, I'm convinced I got into this because of social pressure, and I'm convinced leaving is going to be really painful also because of social pressure, and I just don't know how to deal with it? My friends, the couple who lost their child, were so happy to hear when I became a Christian and had been trying to get me to convert, not terribly pushy but just, inviting me to church, praying for me etc. I'm positive they'll react more peacefully than my mom did, but for people who believe in hell... this would probably be heartbreaking to them? I know I'm not responsible for people's feelings in cases like this but I can't help but feel guilty? I'm not planning on making a big coming out or anything, but I'm sure they'll ask how I'm doing in my faith or something, and I am not good at or comfortable with lying.

 

And I also feel bad for dropping off the face of the earth at that evening service, but the longer I stay "disappeared" the worse/more embarassed I'd feel coming back, especially since I had just started serving there, and the cycle is just bound to continue. I'm also really just going to miss their company, a lot of people there were fun and IDK, I feel bad going to any of their interest-based groups that are meant to help "reach the lost", because like I said before I feel like I'd just be giving off false hope.

 

So, to anyone who read that, congratulations, you are a champion reader, and thank you so much. I'm just at a loss here; shy though I am, I'm not an introvert and I honestly enjoy the company of people and I can't help but feel like, being out of school and all, I am losing all of my friends. I'll get past it, but it's hard right now.

 

I think the minute I hit post I am going to feel embarassed for letting this all out here, but I have to put it somewhere. Somewhere where people will get it.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Oh, how did this post twice? Oops, sorry about that :<

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hey Vekke, welcome to ex-C.

 

Yeah, social pressure can be a real bitch. I've been leaning more towards telling people who ask me about my faith that it's a private matter. I had a young woman ask me if I believed in God the other day. And I honestly didn't know how to answer her. I felt like saying, "mu". So instead of trying to sort out a great tangle of explanation I could have expressed to her that it is private and probably deflected a lot.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Basically nothing happened in that conversation, except my depression got triggered, I overreacted, I still am overreacting, I cried on and off for a good 7 hours today, I'm tearing up right now, and I have been motivated to do nothing all day. I haven't had a day this bad since high school, and I was convinced my depression manifested badly then because of hormones or something, it's calmed down a lot since then and usually I am more reasonable. I'm hoping that since this is circumstancial (I mean, I am probably overreacting, but some reaction is warranted) it will go away-- it probably will. I'm no danger to myself, but things just seem dark right now, you know? and I don't feel like I can talk to anyone about this-- There is one person who would get it I think, but, lol, she didn't answer my phone call yet.

 

It is very understandable that you feel this way. From what you wrote, it appears that you rushed into Christianity like a whirlwind and within less than a year you were involved in teaching. That's a lot in just a short while. You really haven't had time to absorb it all and come to terms either with becoming a Christian or, as I believe you are now doing, beginning to doubt what you accepted just a short while ago.

 

Try slowing down a bit. There's no rush to do anything. Take your issues one at a time and look into them. Once you feel confident in that issue, then move on to another until your major questions have been answered. Once that happens, then your decision about whether to remain a Christian or leave it for good will be a natural consequence of your issue resolution.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Great points and suggestions OF.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Please don't be embarrassed about sharing that here. I think we've all been through a lot of shit and can relate to the emotional breakdown. It's just damned confusing to have someone mess with your head that way and then find out it's not true so you feel stupid for believing it, and then you have people condemning you for not believing anymore, and people pitying you, etc etc etc...it's a lot to handle. Vent all you want, friend. You're in good company.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hey Vekke, welcome to ex-C.

 

Yeah, social pressure can be a real bitch. I've been leaning more towards telling people who ask me about my faith that it's a private matter. I had a young woman ask me if I believed in God the other day. And I honestly didn't know how to answer her. I felt like saying, "mu". So instead of trying to sort out a great tangle of explanation I could have expressed to her that it is private and probably deflected a lot.

 

Legion if you said that to me I would automatically think "doesn't believe in god but too much of a pussy to tell me". I would imagine though that in a strange nation like yours that admission could cause you some trouble. I am pleased that I am allergic to social pressure :)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Legion if you said that to me I would automatically think "doesn't believe in god but too much of a pussy to tell me".

I've just grown weary of going around in circles with the god types Galien. I was satisfied to tell her that there is so much I do not understand, and in the face of my own ignorance it doesn't make much sense to me to speak of gods.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks very much, everyone, for the words and the welcome. I really do appreciate it :)

 

Basically nothing happened in that conversation, except my depression got triggered, I overreacted, I still am overreacting, I cried on and off for a good 7 hours today, I'm tearing up right now, and I have been motivated to do nothing all day. I haven't had a day this bad since high school, and I was convinced my depression manifested badly then because of hormones or something, it's calmed down a lot since then and usually I am more reasonable. I'm hoping that since this is circumstancial (I mean, I am probably overreacting, but some reaction is warranted) it will go away-- it probably will. I'm no danger to myself, but things just seem dark right now, you know? and I don't feel like I can talk to anyone about this-- There is one person who would get it I think, but, lol, she didn't answer my phone call yet.

 

It is very understandable that you feel this way. From what you wrote, it appears that you rushed into Christianity like a whirlwind and within less than a year you were involved in teaching. That's a lot in just a short while. You really haven't had time to absorb it all and come to terms either with becoming a Christian or, as I believe you are now doing, beginning to doubt what you accepted just a short while ago.

 

Try slowing down a bit. There's no rush to do anything. Take your issues one at a time and look into them. Once you feel confident in that issue, then move on to another until your major questions have been answered. Once that happens, then your decision about whether to remain a Christian or leave it for good will be a natural consequence of your issue resolution.

 

Thanks for the advice, it is really true. I can be pretty talented at making quick decisions... a little too quick. Either that or I'm indecisive like crazy. I'm not sure where that all stems from.

 

As it is, I'm fine with being noncommital in general on spiritual matters for now, but as far as the question of "christianity or no" goes, I don't know... I was completely sold on christianity for a while, but I also really wanted to be, so I didn't allow myself to read or look into anything that might change that? I plan on looking into more topics from both viewpoints when I have more time, but the major arguments that were so convincing that kept me hanging on, I have found out were really just full of bad information, that I never bothered to verify before. In other words I feel like there isn't enough rational information or evidence to keep me in a place where my emotions have been feeling more and more like this religion is about a god who's... well, inconsistent at best, cruel at worst--and that's the worst of it. It wouldn't be as big a deal if the religion in question were something more innocuous, but if I'm going to believe that imperfect, but decent people can (and deserve to) be tortured for eternity, I guess I want some clearer evidence? Because it messes with your mind :C And if I just rejected certain things like that... would there be much point in continuing to call myself/remaining a christian? The story is fascinating on some level, but I'm having trouble believing in it as more than that, I guess.

 

I don't really have much of a point here ajd like I said above I agree I need to slow down, this is mostly just the thoughts/reasoning that are running through my head right now, haha..

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks for the advice, it is really true. I can be pretty talented at making quick decisions... a little too quick. Either that or I'm indecisive like crazy. I'm not sure where that all stems from.

 

As it is, I'm fine with being noncommital in general on spiritual matters for now, but as far as the question of "christianity or no" goes, I don't know... I was completely sold on christianity for a while, but I also really wanted to be, so I didn't allow myself to read or look into anything that might change that? I plan on looking into more topics from both viewpoints when I have more time, but the major arguments that were so convincing that kept me hanging on, I have found out were really just full of bad information, that I never bothered to verify before. In other words I feel like there isn't enough rational information or evidence to keep me in a place where my emotions have been feeling more and more like this religion is about a god who's... well, inconsistent at best, cruel at worst--and that's the worst of it. It wouldn't be as big a deal if the religion in question were something more innocuous, but if I'm going to believe that imperfect, but decent people can (and deserve to) be tortured for eternity, I guess I want some clearer evidence? Because it messes with your mind :C And if I just rejected certain things like that... would there be much point in continuing to call myself/remaining a christian? The story is fascinating on some level, but I'm having trouble believing in it as more than that, I guess.

 

I don't really have much of a point here ajd like I said above I agree I need to slow down, this is mostly just the thoughts/reasoning that are running through my head right now, haha..

 

I like the sound of the above quote. You make some very intelligent observations and ask some equally intelligent questions. I think if you continue on this track at a reasonable pace, you will do just fine.

 

Of course, I'm sure you won't be surprised to read that I agree with your statement that "...there isn't enough rational information or evidence to..." support the religion. But my conclusions are not what you need. You need to come to your own. And something you say is really at the heart of the matter. You say that you "...want some clearer evidence." That's right, the burden is not on you to prove that Christianity is either true or untrue. Rather, the burden is on the ones making the claim that their claim is true. So demand evidence that stands up to rational scrutiny. And you are right, the likes of Strobel, et al., fail miserably in meeting their burden of proof. They write to tickle the ears of other believers, not to present clear and cogent evidence. Strobel loves to point out his credentials as having graduated from law school, but the man never tried a case in court in his life and doesn't come close to understanding the concept of burden of proof.

 

If you have any specific questions that you would like help on, feel free to post them. I'm sure there will be those of us who will do what we can to help you find answers.

 

Best to you.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It makes me glad you were able to get out as fast as you did; it seems your curiosity & rationality more than counteracted the way the church tries to completely absorb believers in its peculiar worldview. I second Overcame Faith's advice.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Guest
This topic is now closed to further replies.
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Guidelines.