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This Is Agony!


Recovering
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I don't know if I can yet call myself an ex-Christian, but I'm pretty sure that's what I am. I do believe in a Supreme Being. What I don't believe in is the validity of the Bible. I live smack dab in the middle of one of the most conservative, Bible-thumping areas of the country and the very culture I live in has beaten me over the head with the infallibility of Christianity all of my life. But my brain still works and as many times as I've read, studied, gone to church, taught Bible classes, etc., it doesn't really make sense to me. So, I don't really believe it. I'm not sure I believed it even when I made the decision to be "saved." I was desperately seeking comfort and peace, and was somehow convinced I would find it in Christianity. But I haven't.

 

These are thoughts I cannot share with my family or friends because even those who are not active Christians believe they should be. But I'm soooo sick of never telling the truth about what I believe. It would be a scandal, seriously. But I do want the freedom that comes with being open and free to live my life according to my own beliefs and standards without fear of rejection by my whole circle of family/friends/community.

 

Perhaps I should say I'm not a young person grasping every which way for truth. I'm a 59 year old grandmother, married to the same man for 41 years. Just from observing my lifestyle (except for the going to church part), people assume I am a Christian and treat me accordingly. Sometimes I would just love to say - "NO! Don't put that on me!" But the hassle of being open is just too much for me to bear thinking about. I've had enough drama in my life, I'm sick of it. If I could "come out" as a non-Christian without having my whole family and all my friends engulf me in their efforts to "reconvert" me, I'd do it in a heartbeat. But that's not going to happen.

 

My husband tells me I think too much, and that I should just have childlike faith. But truthfully, he's never read the Bible. I have, several times over. It's easy, I suppose, for some people to simply accept a fairy tale they've been told their whole lives, presented as truth, especially if you never investigate. That's a lot easier than to question and study and finally admit to yourself that you've been lied to, deliberately or not.

 

During my young adult years, I just thought, "I believe in God, I'm just not sure what his name is," meaning I didn't believe any religion was correct. I don't think we used term "spiritual" in a more generic way in those days. But as I got older, it seemed I "should" have some sort of belief system and after my husband had cancer, I think I latched on to Christianity for comfort and peace. I did feel better so I stifled the doubts I had. It was when my pastor starting teaching Calvinism and predestination that I started truly researching and I could see that a case could be made for both. But that God was a God I couldn't bring myself to worship...because I thought he was mean and unloving.

 

Sorry, I've run out of words, and this has been way too long a ramble anyway. Hopefully, I can come back later and express myself more clearly.

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I don't know if I can yet call myself an ex-Christian, but I'm pretty sure that's what I am. I do believe in a Supreme Being. What I don't believe in is the validity of the Bible. I live smack dab in the middle of one of the most conservative, Bible-thumping areas of the country and the very culture I live in has beaten me over the head with the infallibility of Christianity all of my life. But my brain still works and as many times as I've read, studied, gone to church, taught Bible classes, etc., it doesn't really make sense to me. So, I don't really believe it. I'm not sure I believed it even when I made the decision to be "saved." I was desperately seeking comfort and peace, and was somehow convinced I would find it in Christianity. But I haven't.

 

These are thoughts I cannot share with my family or friends because even those who are not active Christians believe they should be. But I'm soooo sick of never telling the truth about what I believe. It would be a scandal, seriously. But I do want the freedom that comes with being open and free to live my life according to my own beliefs and standards without fear of rejection by my whole circle of family/friends/community.

 

Perhaps I should say I'm not a young person grasping every which way for truth. I'm a 59 year old grandmother, married to the same man for 41 years. Just from observing my lifestyle (except for the going to church part), people assume I am a Christian and treat me accordingly. Sometimes I would just love to say - "NO! Don't put that on me!" But the hassle of being open is just too much for me to bear thinking about. I've had enough drama in my life, I'm sick of it. If I could "come out" as a non-Christian without having my whole family and all my friends engulf me in their efforts to "reconvert" me, I'd do it in a heartbeat. But that's not going to happen.

 

My husband tells me I think too much, and that I should just have childlike faith. But truthfully, he's never read the Bible. I have, several times over. It's easy, I suppose, for some people to simply accept a fairy tale they've been told their whole lives, presented as truth, especially if you never investigate. That's a lot easier than to question and study and finally admit to yourself that you've been lied to, deliberately or not.

 

During my young adult years, I just thought, "I believe in God, I'm just not sure what his name is," meaning I didn't believe any religion was correct. I don't think we used term "spiritual" in a more generic way in those days. But as I got older, it seemed I "should" have some sort of belief system and after my husband had cancer, I think I latched on to Christianity for comfort and peace. I did feel better so I stifled the doubts I had. It was when my pastor starting teaching Calvinism and predestination that I started truly researching and I could see that a case could be made for both. But that God was a God I couldn't bring myself to worship...because I thought he was mean and unloving.

 

Sorry, I've run out of words, and this has been way too long a ramble anyway. Hopefully, I can come back later and express myself more clearly.

 

 

Having child like faith is for idiots. If you don't even know whats in the bible, and yet you say its true? Thats one of the dumbest things I've ever heard. People who KNOW what is in the bible are also either idiots, or non-christians.

 

 

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My friend, you have come to the right place to voice all this. Doesn't it feel good to get it all out? I suggest that you read all the ex-christians testimonies and you will find out that you are not alone.

And, you will be very happy to know that we have some 'oldies' on board! :grin: I too, am a grandmother who gave up believing 2 years ago after a very long, 30 year battle, with questioning the christian church, bible and god.

Just breathe and take your time. Read as many posts as you can.They are full of good instruction on how to live as an ex christian. Most will advise you to take your time.

 

I am so glad you decided to join the gang here! There are many good friends to make. Best wishes in this journey! :grin:

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If I could "come out" as a non-Christian without having my whole family and all my friends engulf me in their efforts to "reconvert" me, I'd do it in a heartbeat. But that's not going to happen.

 

My husband tells me I think too much, and that I should just have childlike faith. But truthfully, he's never read the Bible. I have, several times over. It's easy, I suppose, for some people to simply accept a fairy tale they've been told their whole lives, presented as truth, especially if you never investigate. That's a lot easier than to question and study and finally admit to yourself that you've been lied to, deliberately or not.

 

 

I can relate to this, but I don't want to hide my beliefs forever. It's hard, because I'm surrounded by people who are extremely religious and not ashamed to proclaim their thoughts and beliefs when they feel the need to. I just hold my tongue and try to hold back as much as I can. However, just as they are passionate in their beliefs, I am becoming passionate about my non-belief.

 

My husband says the same thing to me, that I think too much and analyze everything - but that is an attribute of who I am that I have become proud of.

 

Welcome to the site Recovering, hope to hear more from you.

 

 

 

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Welcome to the site...I guess I'm lucky in that 7 years ago I moved to an area where it is far more "okay" to not be religious, and also far away from family other than my DH - who, thankfully, is another intellectual and deconverted from christianity as well...although we have different views on the supernatural, at least we are in the same boat about religion.

 

You should find a lot of support and a great place to vent here!

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Thank you all. I read the phases of deconversion thread last night and I guess I'm stuck between phase 3 and 4. I'm not angry at anybody in particular...those who encouraged me to become christian weren't trying to deceive me any more than they were deceiving themselves - and they continue to do so. I guess I'm angry at myself...I've "known" since I was very young that it wasn't true, it couldn't be true. And in those days, I wasn't hesitant to voice those thoughts. I didn't say anything unless someone asked or tried to convert me, but if that did happen I'd tell them I refused to base my life on something I couldn't believe.

 

Then my husband had cancer. I so wanted to believe, and I convinced myself that I was put where I was - in a Christian culture - for a reason. And that because that was the religion of the land so to speak, I would accept it despite my doubts. Then I threw myself into deep study and going to church and listening to christian tapes, music, sermons, whatever - trying to be christian, trying to please god. It worked for a while, but finally my brain kicked back into gear.

 

Someone said that believing with childlike faith is idiotic. I agree. My husband is a Vietnam Vet with PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) and in fact knows very little about Christianity. I think it's just all he knows so he clings to the myth for comfort. If it helps him, I don't have a problem with it. And at the risk of sounding conceited, I will say that I am more inquisitive, more analytical, and more intelligent than he is. He would agree with this, but does sometimes get frustrated with me because I have a total inability to accept anything at face value. I am a cynic, and not only about religion.

 

My biggest problem is not being able to be myself. I'm not young anymore, don't have my whole life ahead of me. How freeing it would be to just announce to the world that christianity is nothing but man's attempt to explain the unexplainable and that I just don't believe it. I feel like a hypocrite when someone asks me to pray for someone who's sick or whatever. I always say of course I will, and the truth is I won't. I do commune with my image of the Higher Power, but I understand that it's my own image and may very well just be a holdover from a lifetime of wanting desperately to believe there is one. At this point, I still choose to believe that. I may change my mind later, but I'm not yet an atheist and may never be.

 

I guess I'm just in limbo. I'm stuck between allowing people's perception of me to remain unquestioned, and feeling stifled because I can't express myself without offending people. AND having them try to bring me back into the fold. I don't want to be in the fold!!! I wish there were other like-minded people near me to talk to, to enjoy life with without hypocrasy. Maybe this board is as close as I'll ever find. People need people, and I turn enough people off with the fact that I'm a smoker...I don't want to offend the whole freaking world!

 

Thanks for listening. I want to read further here, but I'll check back on this thread often. It feels so good to speak without censoring every thought before expressing it.

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I can't express myself without offending people.

If those people choose to be offended at a difference of opinion, it's not your doing.

 

Personally, I'd rather have one friend, or no friends, than pretend to be someone I am not. If someone accepts me only on the condition that I share their beliefs, what value is that relationship?

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Childlike faith is exactly what the pastors, ministers, and priests would love for all their flock to have. It's another way of telling people to stifle their minds and do and believe exactly as they are told. It's what's needed to keep the offering plates full each Sunday morning. I think of faith like this: if the Bible contains the truth, then faith is not necessary. Rather, truth would be the great guide. The very requirement for faith is your first evidence that the religion is a false one.

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Hi and welcome! I was like you, too...I never really "got it". I never really believed...though I tried like heck! I always had my own mind. :) So great to meet you.

 

However, I am in a very secular part of the country where the uber-religious are the weirdos, so I'm usually pretty comfortable and don't have much practical advice. I'm glad you found a place to share your true self. :)

 

Phanta

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You may not have your entire life ahead of you. But at 51 you got a good 20 years or more left. I suggest you live it free. You'll probably be happier because of it.

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Personally, I'd rather have one friend, or no friends, than pretend to be someone I am not. If someone accepts me only on the condition that I share their beliefs, what value is that relationship?

 

Of course, you're right. But my whole family and circle of friends at least pretend to believe. I suspect some of them have deep doubts, but they don't express it for the same reason I don't...fear of becoming an outcast. It would be like being anti-Mormon in Utah. I believe my son feels the same as I do, but we don't discuss it. And even though I don't believe it, I really don't want to take away from someone else something (their christianity) that means so much to them. We all have our little fantasies that help us make sense of the world around us. At the same time, I don't choose to live totally apart from society. I am somewhat of a hermit, but my family means everything to me.

 

I can relate to this, but I don't want to hide my beliefs forever. It's hard, because I'm surrounded by people who are extremely religious and not ashamed to proclaim their thoughts and beliefs when they feel the need to. I just hold my tongue and try to hold back as much as I can. However, just as they are passionate in their beliefs, I am becoming passionate about my non-belief.

 

This. I am not yet what I'd call passionate about my non-belief...it's just a part of me I'd like to be open about. I'm tired of biting my tongue. OTOH, I truly have had enough drama in my life, I don't want to add to it. I also don't want to pretend to believe something I don't believe. It's indeed a conundrum.

 

But at 51 you got a good 20 years or more left. I suggest you live it free. You'll probably be happier because of it.

 

I'm 59, not 51, and probably don't have 20 years left, though my mom is 83 so who knows. I want to live my life free, I think everybody does. I wish I lived in an area where free thinking was more accepted. I love my family very much and I know they love me, but coming out might very well cause them to think I've lost my mind (seriously!) or completely alienate them. Living what amounts to a double life is exhausting. The stronger my disbelief becomes, the more I can relate to gay couples who want to come out. What a life-changing step that could be...maybe for the better but maybe not. Depends on the price you have to pay, I suppose.

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Of course, you're right. But my whole family and circle of friends at least pretend to believe. I suspect some of them have deep doubts, but they don't express it for the same reason I don't...fear of becoming an outcast. It would be like being anti-Mormon in Utah. I believe my son feels the same as I do, but we don't discuss it. And even though I don't believe it, I really don't want to take away from someone else something (their christianity) that means so much to them. We all have our little fantasies that help us make sense of the world around us. At the same time, I don't choose to live totally apart from society. I am somewhat of a hermit, but my family means everything to me.

I don't know what you want to hear. You called your current situation "agony." Apparently your social group is just pretending to believe, as are you. You have no communication with your son about important issues - a situation where you should be a role model of honesty and integrity. Why don't you all just quit pretending? It seems from what you said that few, if any, would be shocked and hate you for it. In fact, you could be the inspiration for others to speak openly and honestly about their true beliefs. Don't think that people will lose their faith (assuming they have any to begin with) just because you say that you don't believe it anymore. They won't.

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I'm 59, not 51, and probably don't have 20 years left, though my mom is 83 so who knows. I want to live my life free, I think everybody does. I wish I lived in an area where free thinking was more accepted. I love my family very much and I know they love me, but coming out might very well cause them to think I've lost my mind (seriously!) or completely alienate them. Living what amounts to a double life is exhausting. The stronger my disbelief becomes, the more I can relate to gay couples who want to come out. What a life-changing step that could be...maybe for the better but maybe not. Depends on the price you have to pay, I suppose.

People don't change until the pain of changing is less than the pain of not changing. It sounds to me like this has happened to you. You're at the tipping point. It hurts to change (although, less than you would think) and it hurts not to.

 

You are in a good place for coming out relative to alot of us. From the sound of it, coming out won't destroy your marriage. It will challenge a few people for awhile but given your age it will also probably be a profound influence for good on many, too.

 

The hardest part is just making the decision and pulling the trigger, but honestly? It's not nearly as bad as you are fearing it will be.

 

Just. Do. It. Your present situation is unsustainable and, increasingly, intolerable. I am 54 and I can tell you, part of what is going on for you is that at our age you just don't give two shits anymore about playing games. Life is too short -- literally. It's now or never, if you're ever going to be yourself.

 

"When I am old, I shall wear purple, and do inappropriate things". So hop to it, already.

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I don't know what you want to hear. You called your current situation "agony." Apparently your social group is just pretending to believe, as are you. You have no communication with your son about important issues - a situation where you should be a role model of honesty and integrity. Why don't you all just quit pretending? It seems from what you said that few, if any, would be shocked and hate you for it. In fact, you could be the inspiration for others to speak openly and honestly about their true beliefs. Don't think that people will lose their faith (assuming they have any to begin with) just because you say that you don't believe it anymore. They won't.

 

With all due respect, you assume a lot. I do have communication with my son about important issues, just not about this one. He rejected any kind of faith for most of his life, but is now going through a very rough patch in his marriage. He needs to believe in something even if it's a myth. He has enough on his plate without being concerned with my disbelief. I don't *know* my friends are pretending, it's just something I suspect - in fact I suspect that 99.9% of christians have moments of disbelief. Their business, not mine. And I don't care to be the inspiration for anyone's beliefs, I certainly don't know the "truth" anymore than anyone else does. I'm sure I will come out in time, but it will be in my time. I'm just not ready yet. When I do, it won't be in the middle of some other family crisis.

 

Just. Do. It. Your present situation is unsustainable and, increasingly, intolerable. I am 54 and I can tell you, part of what is going on for you is that at our age you just don't give two shits anymore about playing games. Life is too short -- literally. It's now or never, if you're ever going to be yourself...."When I am old, I shall wear purple, and do inappropriate things". So hop to it, already.]

 

You are right and I'm looking forward to that day. I am not a spontaneous person, so it will be when I've had time to prepare myself for the fallout, whatever that might be. I'm hopping as fast as I can. :)

 

Thanks to all of you who have responded. Maybe I just need some time to meditate, to get more in touch with myself, before I'm comfortable with coming out. At any rate, it's a relief to have this one place I can come and share what's truly on my mind.

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With all due respect, you assume a lot.

Sorry. I was attempting to work with the information provided. I guess "agony" might have misled me into thinking something needed to change.

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I like Margee's advice, and I'm taking it:

 

 

Just breathe and take your time. Read as many posts as you can.They are full of good instruction on how to live as an ex christian. Most will advise you to take your time.
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It appears you've already gotten a bunch of good advice here, but I guess I'll chip in with one more thing...

 

First off, there is a contegency within all "Non-belief" groups that I've been in that will always favor the bold, unyielding and brash way of "coming out" as the best way and will withhold no airs of superiority about it. Sure that might be the more "open" and "honest" - both very good things in my mind. However, they are not necessarily "all superior" to values of family and friendship. So the struggle is natural and not superfluous as some would have you believe.

 

It's taken me along time to come out to friends, my family for whatever reason was a little easier. One of the first people I shared with never spoke to me again... so this made it more difficult.

 

In the end, however your own consistency of thought is paramount and you shouldn't feel selfish for wanting to have someone IRL to confide in. For me, I found outside organizations or made new friends and that really helped a lot.

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Recovering, I'm an Alabamian too, and I can definitely relate to how you feel. I've come out to some of my more open minded friends, but I haven't told my folks. There's just now way I can because Mom's 83 and she'd be worried sick, afraid I was going to hell. So I can definitely relate to how tough it is being an Ex-C in The Bible Belt.

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My husband tells me I think too much, and that I should just have childlike faith.

 

Child-like faith is what parents use to condition kids to their own ideology. E.g. raising children to be suicide bombers. How about you tell your hubs that you'd rather use your logic and critical thinking. You've got one life, why throw it away falling for lies?

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Recovering, I'm an Alabamian too, and I can definitely relate to how you feel. I've come out to some of my more open minded friends, but I haven't told my folks. There's just now way I can because Mom's 83 and she'd be worried sick, afraid I was going to hell. So I can definitely relate to how tough it is being an Ex-C in The Bible Belt.

 

Alabama here too, Marshall County. You can't get more Baptist than here.

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Recovering, I'm glad you joined the board!

I also live in the deep south and family is very important to me, which is why I've been careful about covering my tracks where my grandparents are concerned. There's just no reason for me to tell my grandparents I no longer believe. It would greatly upset them and they are very important to me.

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