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How To Tell Your Friends You Don't Believe Any More


deconverted
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I am just starting down my de-conversion path. It's been awhile coming, but the "god glasses" didn't fully come off until about a month ago. It's been great reading all the information on this site and knowing others have gone through the difficulties that I am currently wrapped up in. My wife is still a Christian, and while it could be A LOT worse, we are getting through this change in a fairly calm and understanding fashion. I have a ton of questions I would love to ask this forum, but I wanted to start with one particular question about how to tell my friends about my de-conversion. I told my first set of close friends last week, and it didn't go so well. After a week now, things have calmed down a little with them, but of course the news is going to be coming out to the rest of my friends, mainly be me telling them directly one on one. They will be so saddened at the apparent "loss", and it just makes me feel like such an outsider now. In all reality, I feel SO free in my thinking now..free of guilt and shame...free of the massive confusion that Christianity creates, etc. Basically, I feel like I can live my life and be excited about it now. I never knew the bondage that Christianity had! However, I cannot possibly explain to my friends this new "joy" I feel. I actually feel "born again" in a sense! But, to them, they have no idea what this new freedom and thinking is like. They are so programmed to think that Satan has won out in my life, and the first friend I told even felt a twinge of responsibility that he maybe wasn't there for me enough to help me keep my faith. They are, and will be convinced this is the worst possible thing for me. The worst part about it is, there really isn't anything I can do to convince them of my new found freedom and happiness. It's so frustrating! It also dampens my new feelings knowing my friends are so sad and cannot be happy for me. I have never experienced anything like this before where I feel like such and outsider, yet I look at them and I can't believe how seemingly rational, logical, smart people can have faith in such a controlling and irrational faith.

 

I so want them to know how I feel now...to somehow communicate how I see things now. But I was just like them just a short time ago, and I know they just won't get it. This has got to be the most mixed up feeling thing I have ever done.

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Congratulations to you on the new-found brain. I know how you are feeling, but the truth is - Coming out ain't no party. The best thing you will ever do for yourself is to find some new friends. Allow the old ones to be as close as they would like to be, but chances are, things will never be the same.

 

Good luck,

Pappy

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Hi deconverted! Welcome home! Thanks so much for sharing some of your story. I can really relate to it. This is such a hard place to be in because you are right...........these friends of yours will probably not be happy with you. They will think that Satan has you blinded! Especially if they are 'good' Christians.

 

I have been deconverting for some time now. Not many know about this.That's why this site is so important to me.

 

I did try with a few people, but the reaction was too negative for me and I am not ready for that yet. For instance today - I tried to tell a good friend that I don't believe as strong as I once did. I told her I was questioning a lot of things. She knows that I have not been to church for 2 years. Now, she seems to be OK with this part of it, but today she made it quite clear that god would approve of just about anything including the 'doubt' - but she also threw in that the worst thing that god would disapprove of was if I left the 'fold' entirely.

 

I already have, but I just could not break her heart. I know that she is brainwashed and that her best interests are in me.

 

I am taking this ever so slow with my friends. They do look at you different. Right now - I feel as if I am leading a bit of a double life with my friends. I just can't seem to 'come out' yet. I need to get strong.

 

Maybe you are a lot stronger than me and if you are - then go ahead and tell them. But from reading the post here for the last 4 months - I suspect there will be repercussions for you, so you must prepare yourself.

 

Keep us posted on how it goes. I need to hear your story to help me along. Thanks again and good luck!

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What matters is that you are happy. I think (hope) a true friend will understand that and not let your beliefs come between your friendship.

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I found that "hey, y'all remember that god I used to believe in" wasn't the best way to approach it.

Welcome to the forum Decon.

Live your newfound freedom and let them see that it's still you just without so much the religion.

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I actually feel "born again" in a sense!

haha yeah I told one of my friends the same thing (this is a friend who I knew could handle it - not one of my hardcore fundie friends). And that's essentially what I narrowed down the born again experience to: a change in your worldview and perspectives in life.

 

I haven't 'come out' to any of my other friends. For the last few months I've just been gathering additional evidence and reasons why the bible can't be trusted, and why I can't believe in its god. If it comes down to me revealing my beliefs to my friends, then I want to clearly show them why. I don't want to sit there like a dumbass and go: "duhhh....I dunno...I jus don't believe it no more....."

Of course, some will block their ears, but if I can drop a few seeds that causes them to have a think, then it's worth it.

 

I'm also trying to go to church 'undercover' for a while, to look at the whole circus from a new perspective.

 

 

btw, can I ask which church group you were a part of?

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I cannot give any advice to you since in my environment there are only two people to whom it would be difficult to break (the rest of my family and friends are atheists or agnostics anyway - Europe is a bit different in this than the US) and I didn't break it to them and right now I think I probably never will. It's my father and his wife and my father is sick, tied to bed and his only hope that he would be healthy and walk again is God. So I don't have the heart to go there and tell him it will never happen, plus upset him that his "little daughter" will burn in hell for eternity. Since we don't live together and we meet about once a month or less on average, it's not to difficult to pretend for those couple of hours we see each other.

 

OK, I just wanted to say I can very much relate to this "born again atheist" feeling and the joy of it. I feel the same since my deconversion. Mentally I'm a lot more healthy and I feel free and happy. It's odd when you see Xtians think that atheists are these bitter, sad, miserable people. I feel a LOT happier since my deconversion. It's so great to be free!

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I am a fairly recent convert and it probably took me three years to admit it to myself! I quit going to church so I haven't run into many that I knew, I wasn't all that orthodox to begin with and found most church goers painful to be around. But the few I've told look at me like I said I had cancer. I personally never associated with someone based on their beliefs but I knew all along I was in the minority.

 

One puzzling thing is that I see is that ex-Christian seems to mean atheist to many Christians and ex-Christians. I don't buy the "I'm just not convinced" argument. The proper term for that is agnostic, although I would be more of a deist since I am still convinced that the universe isn't a happy accident.

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All I can tell you is what I did. I didn't tell anyone but my husband for a LONG time. Of course, my circumstances were that we were pastoring when I first started not believing in the very conservative way in which we lived. Outwardly, I changed very little However, I was able to minister much better to the people around me. I understand your new feeling. You want to tell everyone, but I did not. I lived four years this way. My husband was open but it was hard leaving the pastorate and everything we worked for. I had to respect that. We resigned and left quietly, eventually, telling no one what we thought. In time, people found out we left. We have not had a lengthy discussion with any of them and I don't care to. They won't understand anyway. We went to a less conservative church for a while before we quit attending altogether. We were not doing anything at this church and didn't really connect with many. The one friend I made there abandoned me when I quit attending.

 

I am much happier out here although I will say it was about 4 years of very hard emotions.

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Thanks for all the support and information. This new life feels so isolated, but it's amazing just having this website and how it makes me feel better knowing that I am not alone (or crazy). I did tell my one of my closest friend and his wife last week. To make it worse, he is a pastor. He actually took it pretty well, and still wants to be my friend and support me...although he will keep praying for me. His wife on the other hand was pretty tough with me. She wants to pull away and keep her distance for awhile. I have told a few other friends who are more acquaintances really, and they look at me really sad for the most part and are confident that I will come back to the church soon...that God is just taking me through a journey to be closer to him. I admit that there is a very very slight part of me the supposes that could be a possibility, but the more I read and see the world with my new perspective, to more comfortable I feel. I wish I could pin point exactly how this deconversion happened to me, but I can't really pin point it. It is a bunch of things that all just came together and finally opened my eyes. Of course, I have always battled certain doctrine or biblical questions, or just general questions about God, and have never been totally comfortable with what I was supposed to feel and think with what I really felt and thought.

 

One of you asked what church I left, and it was a non-denominational "community" church. Originally as a VERY young kid, I was raised Seventh Day Adventist (and boy are they out there!). This put a lot of early "programming" into my head that was pretty heavy stuff. But, by 5 years old, my parents had already been divorces for a few years, and we moved on to other Sunday morning churches...all kinds of them...even though my grandparents and other distant family members still have Seventh Day Adventist beliefs.

 

I keep thinking that maybe I can still go to church, at least for awhile, and "play along", but I went this past Sunday for the first time in weeks, and it was really tough. I can probably handle it fine, but I just don't want to. I would rather enjoy my freedom now, and not even have to think about ever going again. I think it would mean alot to my wife however, but I know she was sitting there last week with me and probably feeling pretty awkward knowing that I don't believe any more. I so want to try and deconvert my wife...show her things that make no sense, but now is not the time. She is having a difficult enough time coming to the reality that I know longer believe, but every day it gets better, and I hope she is seeing that I am still the same person, and in fact, I would say I have a lot more compassion now for humans than I ever did before! I actually feel more "Christ-like" than ever before! I know that sounds pretty weird, but I have a totally new appreciation for life now.

 

Thanks again for all the support!

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By the way, somehow this thread got posted in the wrong forum section I think. Sorry about that. Is there a forum moderator that can move this thread to the appropriate forum?

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  • 2 weeks later...

Congratulations to you on the new-found brain. I know how you are feeling, but the truth is - Coming out ain't no party. The best thing you will ever do for yourself is to find some new friends. Allow the old ones to be as close as they would like to be, but chances are, things will never be the same.

 

Good luck,

Pappy

 

 

I agree with Pappy.

 

You will find that people who have things in common with you other than religion will still want to be your friends (such as your pastor friend) while the ones you only associate with because you attend the same church will go away. It will be tough, but at least you will be able to distinguish the true friends from the acquaintances.

 

In a way, finding a new religious path is like going thru a divorce. I't painful, but it's also the right thing to do if your mind is in a different place.

 

All the best.

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Sorry you're having a hard time with this, deconverted. I haven't told anyone (family or friends) about my de-conversion. A couple of people close to me know that I've been having doubts, but that is the most that I've told anyone. I don't want to hide this forever; I want to talk about it with people and I want to be honest about my beliefs, especially with those people I care about. Even if they might not understand it, I want to be real about things. I feel like I cannot do this right now, however, because my grandmother is VERY religious and it would absolutely break her heart if she knew. I don't want to hurt her. So, I feel like I'm stuck with keeping it to myself for now.

 

I'm also thankful for this site, it has helped me so much through this. I hope things work out for you!

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in fact, I would say I have a lot more compassion now for humans than I ever did before! I actually feel more "Christ-like" than ever before!

 

I said to my wife, I am in a position now where I am better able to look after our child than when I was a christian. Instead of me wasting time and energy praying to God for healing if something happens, in addition to trusting in God, finding the will of God, blah blah.......instead of all that, I'm gonna get off my butt and get my child treated right away, seek out help right away, and basically acknowledge that the onus is on me to do something. For me to waste my time praying and waiting for some supernatural intervention is neglect.

I feel like I'm more in touch with reality and more responsible for the way my life turns out - rather than "waiting on the Lord" and "direction from God" every step I take.

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I feel like I cannot do this right now, however, because my grandmother is VERY religious and it would absolutely break her heart if she knew. I don't want to hurt her. So, I feel like I'm stuck with keeping it to myself for now.

 

 

I hope at least that the people you are holding this from (like your grandmother)are not too strident and vocal about their religious views. I know that I feel very frustrated when my relatives proclaim their faith openly, but look uncomfortable when I openly state my religious position. I don't feel a requirement to humor people just because someone they are old. If they are diplomatic and discrete about their beliefs then I am also. If not, I do not insult them, but I am forthright about my own views.

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I hope at least that the people you are holding this from (like your grandmother)are not too strident and vocal about their religious views. I know that I feel very frustrated when my relatives proclaim their faith openly, but look uncomfortable when I openly state my religious position. I don't feel a requirement to humor people just because someone they are old. If they are diplomatic and discrete about their beliefs then I am also. If not, I do not insult them, but I am forthright about my own views.

 

 

 

They (my grandparents) are very vocal about their views. And I don't see them for one moment considering what I now believe to be accurate. If I were to tell her, I know that she would try to get me "back to Jesus", and that's just not going to happen for me. I cannot believe the things I used to. So, she would then be tormented with thoughts of my soul burning in hell for eternity. That's just not something I want her to go through.

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I'm kinda grateful I didn't have any deeply fundie friends when I realized I wasn't christian at all. In fact, before they even knew I wasn't christian anymore, the "friends" I had at the private fundie school turned their noses up at me when I left for a magnet boarding school. Just because I left. So I walked off for good, figuring they didn't deserve to know the real me. Screw them.

I now have friends that like the real me. The crazy heathen me that believes in all kinds of weird shit, but is down to earth enough to call others out on their idiotic bullshit they try to sell others. Some are atheist, one is very liberal christian (from Trinidad, and likes to visit botanicas with me for supplies like she used back with the "Shango Baptists"), some practice Vodou with me, some are "Catholic" (here in NOLA, that's what you are if you have a family plot in one of the Catholic cemeteries), most are completely apathetic.

You will find out who your real friends are this way. I was luckier than many here, in that I didn't have very strong friendships with any fundies. I didn't have much to lose.

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I wouldn't want to tell my grandmother either, unless it came to a point where I couldn't hide it anymore. She takes a lot of comfort in her beliefs, and the last thing she probably needs at her age is knowing her adored grandson is going to hell.

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Beth: "They (my grandparents) are very vocal about their views. And I don't see them for one moment considering what I now believe to be accurate. If I were to tell her, I know that she would try to get me "back to Jesus", and that's just not going to happen for me. I cannot believe the things I used to. So, she would then be tormented with thoughts of my soul burning in hell for eternity. That's just not something I want her to go through."

 

You are a kind person Beth. However, remember, it would not be you putting your grandmother through torment, she would be doing it to herself, and trying to pass the quilt of it (whether consciously or unconsciously) onto you. If I were in your place, I would not hide my feelings to humor someone, but that's just me. I am tired of humoring fundamentalists (both religious and political) so they don't get upset.

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Beth: "They (my grandparents) are very vocal about their views. And I don't see them for one moment considering what I now believe to be accurate. If I were to tell her, I know that she would try to get me "back to Jesus", and that's just not going to happen for me. I cannot believe the things I used to. So, she would then be tormented with thoughts of my soul burning in hell for eternity. That's just not something I want her to go through."

 

You are a kind person Beth. However, remember, it would not be you putting your grandmother through torment, she would be doing it to herself, and trying to pass the quilt of it (whether consciously or unconsciously) onto you. If I were in your place, I would not hide my feelings to humor someone, but that's just me. I am tired of humoring fundamentalists (both religious and political) so they don't get upset.

 

I know it wouldn't be me doing that to her. I also know that she would love me no matter what, but that doesn't change the fact that her heart will be broken. We are very close. It's hard because if I told anyone in my family, it would eventually make its way to her, without me having to personally tell her. So I feel like I'm in a position where I can't tell anyone. I tend to put others feelings before my own, or at least I try to consider other people's feelings before my own. That's just how I am. If I have to carry this around for a while, then so be it. It's just hard hiding, when you long to be honest with people.

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