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heather

Not Sure How To Walk Away

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Ok, this is hard, but I feel like I need to do it. I'll try to keep it brief, since most of my circumstances will probably be similar to many here.

 

I was raised in the methodist church by parents who didn't talk about god much, and that was fine with me. High school was rough, and then my boyfriend invited me to a charismatic church. I was totally sucked in, and I didn't even mind changing who I was because I didn't like myself that much to begin with. We got married young and he went to a bible college to prepare for work in ministry. Along the way we had 2 beautiful children.

 

We worked in a charismatic church for about 10 years, and I was more and more miserable every year. But then something happened that started to change everything. Things started falling apart at church. We couldn't turn a blind eye to the hypocrisy and lies any more. To our horror (at the time), they let us go. Stupidly, we hung around a little while longer, but I was leaving behind all their teachings or at least stripping it back to my original laid back methodist upbringing.

 

I decided I couldn't let anyone tell me what to believe ever again, so I began reading and studying everything I could about god and the church. I think I was hoping I'd find someplace to fit in, some group I could agree with and belong to. We drifted for a while and finally started attending a trendy local church where our kids had friends, because we thought that would be good for them.

 

Meanwhile my reading started showing me the cracks in my theology. I think the biggest turning point for me was when I read several books by Bart Ehrman. When I finally accepted that the bible just wasn't true at all, and that lots of people had known about it for a long time, I was angry for a while. I'm just grateful that my husband agreed to look into it too, and now we agree about it. It's made a huge difference to me to be able to talk to him about it.

 

So now we're just trying to figure out what to do. Our families are christian, all our friends are christian, all our kids' friends are christian. We haven't even been able to explain our loss of faith to our children yet. We've just told them that we need a break from church, but that was a huge step for me.

 

I'm so glad I found this website, and I hope I find the courage to make the next steps I need to make.

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Welcome!

 

I hope I find the courage to make the next steps I need to make.

You will. You'll do it for the kids. After all, you don't want them to end up here at 30 years old and still afraid of Hell!

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Welcome heather. You're in for a long journey but you'll be the better for having made it.

One of your advantages is that no one can read your thoughts, so how much you disclose and when is up to you.

Best wishes.

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Heather, first of all welcome.

 

The ages of your kids suggest to me they may not have had too much indoctrination. The charismatic folk are pretty screwed up in their flexi approach and making shit up as they go along.

 

My kids were much older but the one thing they saw for themselves was the hypocrisy. I never sat them down and told them to disbelieve, that they managed all on their own.

 

Kids are impressionable and I think at their age, a gentle approach and them actually trusting you as parents plays into your benefit. However, seeing all your friends are xian, deconverting them right now will alienate them from their friends who in all likelihood will turn nasty if yours suddenly came out with god is not real etc.

 

I would keep them away from jesus youth camps. As a family you should be able to find stuff to do together on a Sunday. Perhaps going back to a methodist type church where it is more laid back may be an option to consider. Then again I am assuming methodist in the US is similar to that here in SA.

 

It does sound like that they are old enough to take their lead from you and if you are all of a sudden very negative in front of them, that too may come out amongst their friends.

 

If they are not attending church even with friends (that is why find stuff to do on a Sunday) then your influence should be more compelling.

 

Rant all you want here with your spouse and get it out your system. In time they will ask questions and then you can start teaching them.

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I think the biggest turning point for me was when I read several books by Bart Ehrman.

 

Excellent. I took his Intro to New Testament class as a freshman in college. It's hard to stay a Christian after that without shoving your head even farther into the sand. Congrats for making your way out!

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Heather, Welcome! :grin: Your story is very familiar. Read, read, read the posts - hundreds of them - to help you make this transition. You will find the best way. It takes time. We are here for you my friend. We are all in this 'deconverting' together!! Keep posting your concerns. Good to have you here with us!

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Ok, this is hard, but I feel like I need to do it. I'll try to keep it brief, since most of my circumstances will probably be similar to many here.

 

I was raised in the methodist church by parents who didn't talk about god much, and that was fine with me. High school was rough, and then my boyfriend invited me to a charismatic church. I was totally sucked in, and I didn't even mind changing who I was because I didn't like myself that much to begin with. We got married young and he went to a bible college to prepare for work in ministry. Along the way we had 2 beautiful children.

 

We worked in a charismatic church for about 10 years, and I was more and more miserable every year. But then something happened that started to change everything. Things started falling apart at church. We couldn't turn a blind eye to the hypocrisy and lies any more. To our horror (at the time), they let us go. Stupidly, we hung around a little while longer, but I was leaving behind all their teachings or at least stripping it back to my original laid back methodist upbringing.

 

I decided I couldn't let anyone tell me what to believe ever again, so I began reading and studying everything I could about god and the church. I think I was hoping I'd find someplace to fit in, some group I could agree with and belong to. We drifted for a while and finally started attending a trendy local church where our kids had friends, because we thought that would be good for them.

 

Meanwhile my reading started showing me the cracks in my theology. I think the biggest turning point for me was when I read several books by Bart Ehrman. When I finally accepted that the bible just wasn't true at all, and that lots of people had known about it for a long time, I was angry for a while. I'm just grateful that my husband agreed to look into it too, and now we agree about it. It's made a huge difference to me to be able to talk to him about it.

 

So now we're just trying to figure out what to do. Our families are christian, all our friends are christian, all our kids' friends are christian. We haven't even been able to explain our loss of faith to our children yet. We've just told them that we need a break from church, but that was a huge step for me.

 

I'm so glad I found this website, and I hope I find the courage to make the next steps I need to make.

 

 

Hi Heather. We left a conservative fundamentalist group 6 years ago but only about a year ago did I read Bart Ehrman's God's Problem. Blew me away and I haven't been the same since. Wow!

 

Anyway, you and your husband, it sounds, can make this journey slowly together, as my husband and I did. Our kids are both out, angry sometimes, but so are we. Hope things go well for you.

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Welcome! I'm SO glad to hear that you and your husband are together in this. I am married to a fundamentalist xian, and my deconversion has been the biggest struggle ever for us. We are finally, in the last few months, starting to really talk again and learn to respect each other's differences and put them aside for the sake of our marriage. So it's good that you can agree on this.

 

Anyway, it is really difficult to tell family and friends, and sometimes relationships can be permanently damaged. But it is much harder to live a lie. So it depends, I suppose, on how involved your family is. Mine all go to the same church I did, so I felt like I had to tell them right away that I didn't believe anymore, or they would have wondered what was up. Also, my "ripping the band-aid off" all at once allowed me to be in control of the conversations. Basically I called my parents, and my brothers, just to give them the basic facts of my non-belief and my quitting church, and reassure them it was a long time in the making, not a spur of the moment thing. I also told people that I didn't want to argue about it, that I needed time, and for a very few people, I would talk more about it later. Which I did, after 2-3 months. One of those times went well; it was my brother and he just wanted to listen. The other one was my parents, and they cried and yelled, and cussed in my face (nice, huh?), so I calmly excused myself and left. Things have been really strained and awkward with my parents ever since then, and I've pulled away from them quite a bit as a result. But I think it really is important to stay in charge of who you tell, when, how, and how much. I never agreed when "concerned" friends wanted to "meet with me" and so I wasn't subjected to any uncomfortable meetings. You'll figure it out. Best of luck to you!

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Thank you so much to everyone for the welcome! It has been really helpful to read a few posts every day and realize that I'm not alone in this. So far we've just told people that we need a break from church, and it's been awkward, but nothing horrible yet. It is funny that everyone assumes that we're having some kind of marital or family problem and ask if they can help us. "Um...no thanks, you see it's not us, it's you..." :rolleyes: My husband did get one email from a man from our old charismatic church who had heard we were "drifting away" and apologized for not being a better friend. I thought it was a little silly, but I also felt sorry for him. I don't want any old christian friends feeling guilty for failing us. It was the entire religion, not them personally. Anyone dealt with this before?

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My husband did get one email from a man from our old charismatic church who had heard we were "drifting away" and apologized for not being a better friend. I thought it was a little silly, but I also felt sorry for him. I don't want any old christian friends feeling guilty for failing us. It was the entire religion, not them personally. Anyone dealt with this before?

 

This situation is common when anyone tries to break away. Christian guilt goes deep, so they will either feel guilty for their own "failure" to keep you in the fold, or they'll spew forth venomous hatred towards the apostate. Get thee back Satan!!! :ugh: But, in my experience, one or two will remain true friends.

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Welcome heather! Take it at your own pace you are comfortable with. Compromise is fine - to a point. I would hate to live constantly in a state of having to compromise all the time. Nothing drastic need be done, unless someone forces the issue. Maybe a gradual diminishing of church going?

 

You really don't have to explain or justify yourself to anyone. Never mind about the displays of guilt that Christians do. They are brainwashed and trained to put all the blame for everything on themselves.

 

This site has helped me a lot.

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Maybe a gradual diminishing of church going?

That's what I was thinking too. You don't have to make a dramatic statement to everyone, unless you want to. Personally I prefer the path of least conflict if possible. Others here have just politely said we appreciate the concern but we're do ok, thanks. You don't have tell anyone anything if you don't want to, and if they probe you just lie so they'll go away.

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Hi heather

 

You don't have to explain your self to any of these people. In time they will all fade away, and then you wont have to put up with it anymore.Thank you for your post jesse

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Hi Heather, welcome. I left the church slowly over several years. I wanted to make certain in my own mind that what I was doing, leaving the church, was the right choice to make. I had been a fundy from around age 7 until I was in my mid 40s. I have found that by not responding to all the e-mails of criticism was the best thing for me to do. I had some anger issues that still pop up now and then, mostly feeling betrayed by those who told me what I grew up in was true, only to discover when I was much older that it was not true. I did not have to leave my friends behind because most just quit talking to me when I left the church. Christianity ruins the minds of a lot of good people who would have been better off not getting converted in the first place. I do not get much e-mail attacking my beliefs but they have resorted to posting on facebook on my profile page. I just block their posts and if they want a response they can e-mail me. I have always said there is no formula for leaving the church, some leave slowly and others just pack up and leave all at once. Religion is like a narcotic and some of us have withdrawal symptoms and need a fix now and then. Once in a while I have to read some theology or listen a holy-roller and remind myself why I left in the first place. To each his own. I think that however you and your family leave the church is the right way to go about it. The important part is to stand up for yourself and don't let the religious crowd push you around, some may make threats even or say vicious accusations about your moral character usually spouting some crap about how you are destroying the souls of your spouse and children. I usually tell someone like that to bite me. One of the best books I've read about deconversion was written by Charles Templeton, he was the other half of the Billy Graham Crusades who left the ministry and deconverted to agnosticism. He wrote 'Farewell To God.' It was his book that I found to be reassuring that it was more than alright to leave Christianity behind.

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My husband did get one email from a man from our old charismatic church who had heard we were "drifting away" and apologized for not being a better friend. I thought it was a little silly, but I also felt sorry for him. I don't want any old christian friends feeling guilty for failing us. It was the entire religion, not them personally. Anyone dealt with this before?

 

Yes my husband felt very guilty like he didn't "lead" me enough. He has always felt like a poor "spiritual leader" of our family, and I've always told him he's the best leader we could possibly have because he's so very kind and giving and helpful and gentle. But still he has always felt guilty for not living up to the "examples" of some of his more overbearing friends who are kind of controlling and obnoxious. So when I deconverted he felt like he should have talked me through my doubts more instead of brushing them off. I have reassured him many times I do my own thinking, and he did answer questions when I asked him, and if he had tried to tell me what to think or believe, he knows I would never have put up with it. I told him it had absolutely nothing to do with him. I think he's over it now, thinking that he could have changed my mind. People will have all kinds of weird and sad reactions of all kinds, and it is really their own problem.

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I think the biggest turning point for me was when I read several books by Bart Ehrman.

 

Excellent. I took his Intro to New Testament class as a freshman in college. It's hard to stay a Christian after that without shoving your head even farther into the sand. Congrats for making your way out!

 

Bart Ehrman was the main person who influenced me (through his book Jesus, Interrupted - the print and audio versions, and online lectures, radio shows, etc.) to stop viewing the bible as a perfect holy book sent to us straight from the mind of God. He is a personal hero of mine. I also have his Great Courses DVD lecture series on The Historical Jesus and also the one on The New Testament. Amazing information, especially the lecture on Revelation. My dad is a fanatic about the end times and I grew up listening to ALL of his nonsense, but I believed it thoroughly up until my adult years, so the message of this lecture has brought me a lot more peace. :)

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