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Did You Feel Like You Belonged?


lostman42
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Looking back now I see that the biggest reason I stayed in the cult as long as I did was because it gace me a sense of belonging. I've never felt like I belonged anywhere before I started getting extremely active in the church. Ive always been on the outside looking in, not sure how to be a part of a group. But when I turned to the church at age 14 I finally found a place where I fit in. I made friends that understood my sense of humor and personality. Most of my favorite memories are of hanging out with my friends from the christian camp I worked at, they were like a family to me.

Now that I left Christianity I'm back on my own finding my own way through life.

Did christianity ever provide you guys with a sense of belonging or did you feel like an outcast in the church?

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No, not really. I was raised in it, I spent about 40 years trying to make it seem real, then gave up.

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I was the biggest outsider in church. I know this is the experience with a lot of people, and I'm sure a lot of people still "believe" because they don't want to give up their "friendships."

But that was never me. I was never more outside looking in than when I was in anything to do with church or christianity.

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Yeah, I had a sense of belonging when I was into church. Now I get a similar sense of belonging with some freethinker/nonbeliever/atheist meetings that I go to.

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There was a brief time where I felt like I belonged to something meaningful and had a deep emotional connection to a small group in my church. But it didn't last and ultimately broke apart turning into a petty, holier than thou competition.

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Its funny you mention that. I am best friends with a lot of Christians on my campus. I even go to their events even though I don't really believe in their God. As an agnostic who hangs around Christians I feel more belonging with Christians, than I do when I was believing. Hmm...

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When I was young - in high school and later at college - I felt a sense of fellowship and belonging. But when the issues in my life became "grown up" issues, I felt less and less a sense of "fellowship" or connection with the people in the church.

 

I began to see the church as merely another human institution that talked about invisible creatures they wished were real and based the level of their acceptance of you on 1) how affluent you were 2) how well you could entertain them 3) and how much you believed in the same invisible entities as them.

 

So, once i saw the man behind the curtain, so to speak, the spell was broken and I began the long painful process of decoversion.

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Yes and no. I was always active and involved with lots of friends who were likewise, but at the same time I kinda felt alienated and weird about things. I could go on but I've got to pack for a big trip!

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Many ex-Christians say the best part of it was this sense of belonging. But I never felt I belonged. The friendships I made there were superficial and usually not lasting.

 

No, I never felt I belonged there. In fact, I felt the contrary. I didn't dare to articulate it to myself at the time but now I do: I hated it how all the people behaved, dressed, talked the same! I hated this sheep mentality as if noone has their own personality, just this Jesus robot one. That's why I didn't really make friends either, I think.

 

Having said that, I'm not someone who is easy to make friends anyway. If I do, it has to be profound and you don't find that very often. I'm also someone who likes to spend a lot of time alone, just thinking, reading and often people get on my nerves. I'm not a very sociable type.

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After spending 19 years in the church, the last 10 pastoring, I very often felt like I was on the outside looking in. I think people raised in the church maybe have more a sense of belonging. I must admit though, that I was surprised how cut off I felt after we left. I thought we were so disconnected already that it wouldn't be that big of a deal but it was really tough and still is. I went to the UCC this morning knowing how liberal they are and all and had a really hard time sitting through the service. Don't ya know, it's Pentecost Sunday and I had no idea. If you were Pentecostal, you might remember the big Pentecostal Sunday pushes. Then, they read KJV since it's some KJV anniversary, so I was sitting there listening to the book of Acts, all about the tongues of fire and my shoulders and neck still hurt from the stress. On top of that, the people acted like if THEY had lived in the olden days, they would have never thought the disciples were drunken! Freaked me out because nobody in that church would respond the way they acted like they would. Woah. I've been home 3 hours already and it's been tough.

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Honestly no. At least not in my teen years. Even when i was my most involved i felt a bit alienated because i was a little more "nerdy" and "dark" then the rest of the church. I had to force myself to joke about corny things i didn't really care about and everyone was obsessed with sports. Not to mention most of people in the church were related by marriage and blood. I was also way more emotional than most of them and had mental health issues that none of them had had any experience with so they couldn't relate to me that well. All in all i just couldn't be myself

 

@ freespirit nope i spent my whole life there and i didn't feel welcome, well, when i started to grow up i mean. When i was a little kid and thought the world was scary and evil (like i'd been told) i felt like it was the only "safe" place.

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I never felt like I belonged in my church. Was the geeky kid whom the youth group sometimes skipped over when sometimes going places. When the time came that it clicked I was gay and saw how negative the church saw gay people in general, I kept a distance with getting close or connected with people at the church out of fear of them finding out. Guess that itself has made me be a bit of an introvert in general. Looking back I see that everyone was expected to get along due to the environment. Everyone was just there cause their parents took them to that particular church. I question my relationships with many of the church group at this point in my life cause I wasn't the one who made the real connections. The church environment felt so sterile and devoid of any realness. You were there and had to put on a mask while around everyone. Always be on your toes. At my most religious I was in my deepest depression.

 

The funny thing is, I had a big reputation in the church for being the most mature of all the youth group. Last time I saw some of the members of the old youth group, they were still very socially immature. I wonder if that has to do with them being raised in the church box and not being able to go out and develop?

 

Still don't feel I belong anywhere.

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Yes, I felt included and welcomed for probably the first time in my life in church. It was a good group of people that helped me get out of my shell socially. I think that is probably the factor that was most transformative for me, simple human friendships. I didn't fit in with the high-school group, who were too spaz for my liking. I went right to the college group, and occasionally with the older folks. If the people in the church are turds, then the experience is probably a lot different. I've heard as much from people from other congregations when I was still a believer.

 

At my voice class tonight, my teacher said something similar that reminded me of this. She said that we are forming a community that isn't based on being the best performer, or other exclusive concepts, but on our simple human desire to sing and express real feelings through song. It's the only group I feel I've fit in with since leaving church.

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Yeah in my experience, belonging happened when you kissed the right people's arses. If you didn't, you were an outcast.. Like me.

Of course I'm not bitter or anything lol

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Yes and no. I was always active and involved with lots of friends who were likewise, but at the same time I kinda felt alienated and weird about things. I could go on but I've got to pack for a big trip!

 

I was similar to this. In my teen years at my youth group I very much felt I belonged and was accepted. I created a bond with people there that will never go even though we rarely see each other anymore having gone our separate ways in life (interestingly of the 10 key people at youth group only 2 are still believers!) And when I went to christian camps and festivals there was always this amazing and wonderful sense of being part of something bigger than the here and now, it was easy to mingle and talk with people because I always felt like we had something in common and belonged to this large family/community.

 

But, when I left home and went to University the church that we joined was a very different experience. I never quite felt I belonged or fit into the group. I was wrong somehow, and felt very alienated. I think a lot of the issue was this:

 

Yeah in my experience, belonging happened when you kissed the right people's arses. If you didn't, you were an outcast.. Like me.

Of course I'm not bitter or anything lol

 

And whilst it started out like not really fitting in or feeling like I belonged it turned into feeling proactively alienated and outcast from the group!

 

I went to a couple other churches since then and it was a bit of a mix between the above two extremes. I sometimes think that if it wasn't for that dreadful penty church in my Uni years I'd probably be a happy Christian still..... I really should go back and thank them wicked.gif

 

 

 

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At my voice class tonight, my teacher said something similar that reminded me of this. She said that we are forming a community that isn't based on being the best performer, or other exclusive concepts, but on our simple human desire to sing and express real feelings through song. It's the only group I feel I've fit in with since leaving church.

 

 

Cool! :)

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Not really. I had only one good friend at my church whom I really got along with and many "friends" (read: people whom I talk to at church and may occasionally meet in group settings like a bbq) who I for whatever reason, I never got close with. I was fairly "strict" as a Christian. I didn't listen to "worldly music" or joke about things in a "worldly" way. In that regards, I think they felt "convicted" being around me. I always liked talking about "spiritual" things and all they ever were interested in talking about was meaningless chit-chat bullshit: How's the family? How's work? You catch that game on TV? How about the weather this week? I'm afraid that such conversations annoy me and I'd rather outright ignore/be rude to someone then constantly engage in only these types of conversations.

 

The other people in the church who were "intellectuals" who I thought I would get along with pretty much kept me and arms length because they were elders and couldn't be seen socializing too much with us peasant folk. So yeah, no real sense of belonging for the most part.

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For the church as a whole, I certainly was treated like I belonged, and I bought into their praise/attitude towards me.

 

I didn't notice until much later how superficial it was, though I certainly didn't realize it at the time.

 

I was a part of the youth group and youth worship team.

 

 

 

In the end, it's about finding and socializing with people who are passionate about the same things as you. I play soccer now and feel the exact same sense of pride and ownership I did when I was an active part of the church. Oddly, I've had difficulties connecting with the local atheist group in town. Not sure why...just doesn't feel like a good fit for some reason.

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Oddly, I've had difficulties connecting with the local atheist group in town. Not sure why...just doesn't feel like a good fit for some reason.

 

I went to a skeptic/atheist convention and felt hideously out of place and very much the opposite of accepted and belonging. To be honest I ended up sitting there thinking 'at least the christians do these events well and *try* to talk to people'. I was really quite disappointed with how uncomfortable I felt at having once been a Christian - it was like I was *dirty* or something from being contaminated with religion lol. I'm pretty certain that not all skeptic/atheist groups are like that but it put me off and made me think that I was better finding fellow non-believers in an organically natural way....

 

 

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I sort of did - I was convinced I was a christian and that was where I should be, but I never felt comfortable around most of the people, and never felt "good enough"

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Definitely not. I relate a lot to JadedAtheist's post. I took it all very seriously. Unfortunately, on top of the reasons he states, I was constantly having issues with the fact that I'm female and meant to take a subordinate role, be dumber than I am, submit to authority... I even had a youth pastor tell me I was being to sexual while singing once. If you ever met me, you'd know that I do not exude sex at all. I'm definitely more of a Lucille Ball/Meg Ryan/Sandra Bullock type. Turns out he was attracted to me, and he couldn't very well take responsibility for that could he?

 

That's just one of many examples. But I honestly never fit in anywhere until I found an online community, which resulted in meeting my husband, moving to Australia and suddenly feeling like I went from ugly duckling to swan. :D

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