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What To Do With The Fear


RunawayBride
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I feel like a kid on my first day of school.

 

Hi Everyone...this is my first post here and I'm a little nervous to finally admit it: I'm NOT a Christian.

 

Hm. That felt good. I'll say it again: I'm NOT a Christian.

 

I was "saved" at 14, went to a private Christian college with very fundamentalist/charismatic views, studied Theology and planned, for a while, to become a missionary. However the longer I studied the Bible, I realized it made NO SENSE and I felt more and more uncomfortable reading it. And quoting it. And praying it. My TRUE deconstruction started with prayer, though. I brought my concerns to God and then backed away, telling God he would have to fix it. He'd have to speak to me. Do something...ANYTHING...to let me know He was there. And I got silence.

 

Silence.

 

Not only silence, but peace. The moment I said "I'm finished" and put my Bible on the shelf, and didn't force myself to perform daily prayer, I felt SO FREE! Free of guilt, free of religious pressure, free from the desperate search to receive something from Jesus and free from the paralyzing fear of making decisions without divine guidance. I felt like an abused wife who just left her husband to start a new life.

 

But I still struggle with fear and "what if".

 

WHAT IF I'm sending myself to hell. WHAT IF the silence from God was a test, and I've failed. WHAT IF this change in my beliefs comes from the devil. WHAT IF I had eternal life in the palm of my hand and I've simply not worked hard enough to keep it. It's like a lingering residue from my many years in church that I can't shake off.

 

How have you dealt with the lingering "what if's" that comes from walking away from Christianity?

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But I still struggle with fear and "what if".

 

WHAT IF I'm sending myself to hell. WHAT IF the silence from God was a test, and I've failed. WHAT IF this change in my beliefs comes from the devil. WHAT IF I had eternal life in the palm of my hand and I've simply not worked hard enough to keep it. It's like a lingering residue from my many years in church that I can't shake off.

 

How have you dealt with the lingering "what if's" that comes from walking away from Christianity?

 

On a rational level it seems you have "disowned" your Myth. On an emotional level you seem to still "own" your Myth.

 

Working with how I own my particular truth (the myth/myths that animate my felt self). that is, for what reasons do I trust the sources of "truth" for myself and how well does any "truth" satisfy my longing to be fully who I am without reservation or repression, has been and is essential for my sanity.

 

Dropping the "What If," the "If Only" and "I Should" games might be a starting point. That action was for me a baby step in emotionally disowning the toxic myth/s that were frustrating my emotional and psychological growth.

 

It was only after giving myself the permission to live out my "ultimate concern" that was I able or capable of substituting the "what if's" of my life with "next time" thinking. Replacing "what if'" and "if only'" thinking with "next time I'll do..." thinking offered me new and challenging beginnings at every human experience. Equipped with a beginners mind I was catapulted into deeper and more induing "truth!"

 

The "key" to the toxic prison of "what if" is clutched tightly by the prison inmate afraid of freedom and sanity!

 

Open the "slammer" and breathe the fresh dangerous air of living out your "ultimate concern." Any thing less will not do and ultimately will kill you!

 

saner

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Welcome, Angie.

 

WHAT IF you're wrong about Muhammed?

 

WHAT IF you're wrong about Zeus?

 

WHAT IF you're wrong about L. Ron Hubbard?

 

 

 

What if the Bible and Christian doctrines made no sense and you prayed for God Himself to clarify things and He wasn't there? Oh wait, that really DID happen!

 

Try not to let the old programming and brainwashing keep you from moving on within a framework of rationality and reality. You'll get past these baseless worries.

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If there is a cruel and vengeful god who wants to send you to Hell for not believing something, is he really worthy of your love?

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"On a rational level it seems you have "disowned" your Myth. On an emotional level you seem to still "own" your Myth."

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

Reading this was like a breath of fresh air and brought a luscious moment of clarity. It's such an odd position to find myself in, once being a spiritual leader and now feeling very childlike and uncertain. My logic isn't fully reconciled with my emotions, and yet I can say with certainty that I simply CAN'T believe Christian rhetoric.

 

My emotions always guided me through Christian beliefs. We "feel" god, "sense" a presence, "discern" what he's trying to say in prayer. It's all goosebump-y emotions that are frighteningly easy to conjure up. The worst part, for me, was the Christian Answer to every emotional misfiring:

 

"Well, you didn't pray HARD enough..."

"Well, God had another plan..."

"Well, our ways are not His ways, just trust him..."

"Well, if God's not answering, maybe you need to seek more. Then you'll find."

 

All supposed to address that lingering, nagging certainty that was growing in my logical mind: what I've believed and defended for SO many years is simply a lie.

 

Slowly, step by step, I'm giving myself permission to let go of the "what ifs" that I'll somehow end up in hell for my current "Falling Away" status. But so far, this is the hardest part of my deconstruction.

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Hi, Angie, welcome to ExC. If you read a lot of posts, you will very quickly learn that your concerns are not unique. Many people have the same questions you have for a period of time after they leave the religion. I'll address a few of your "what ifs," but I'll only do so briefly. What you must do now is to claim and develop your human ability to think logically and rationally, which Christianity suppresses when it comes to religious issues (but, interestingly, not with other issues).

 

WHAT IF I'm sending myself to hell.

 

I, too, had this thought when I began my deconversion. I thought about it carefully because my thinking was that if I wrongly concluded the Christian religion is false and I left the religion, then I would be destined for hell. It was in thinking this through that I came to realize what the doctrine of hell really is. It's a control mechanism designed to use our deeply engrained human emotion of fear to stop us from questioning whether the religion is true or not. That was an important insight for me. Having come to understand that, I felt free to continue my questioning.

 

Think about this. If, as the New Testament teaches, it is only through belief in Jesus that we can escape hell, then what happens to babies who die? They are incapable of belief in Jesus so there is but one conclusion. And that conclusion is that babies who die MUST go to hell. But I'm sure you have heard the apologetics concerning this issue. But all of that is just a way to work around the injustice that the apologists know their Christian doctrine presents. No, if one is truthful, the Christian religion REQUIRES that babies who die go to hell. And the fact that they could not have committed a personal sin has no bearing on the issue because every baby allegedly inherited original sin. So according to the doctrine of original sin,babies are just as sinful as are adults and are thus just as in need of a savior as is everyone else. But the only way to take advantage of this savior is by belief, and, as I already pointed out, babies are incapable of belief.

 

Now think about the ramifications of this doctrine that requires babies who die to go to hell. One of the attributes of the god of the bible is that he is just. But how can a god who sends babies to hell be just? This leads us to one of two conclusions. First, that the god of the bible is not just. Second, there is no hell. If the god of the bible is not just, then he does not exist because without justice, that god, one of whose attributes from the bible is that he is just, does not exist by one of the very definitions of him from the bible. And if the god of the bible does not exist, then there can be no hell, anyway, because that god is the one who allegedly created hell.

 

You are not sending yourself to hell because neither the god of the bible nor hell exist.

 

WHAT IF the silence from God was a test, and I've failed.

 

If the god of the bible did that, then he loses another one of the attributes ascribed to him in the bible. He would not be a god of love. I'm not sure if you have children, but even if you don't, I think you'll still understand this. Would you as a mother purposefully hide yourself from your children as a test of their faith in and love for you? Would you, no matter how much they cried, no matter how much they needed you to feed and clothe them, no matter how much they needed you to hold and reassure them that you are there for them continue to hide yourself from them? I am sure your answer would be no that you would never do that to your children. And the reason you wouldn't do that to your children is because to do so would demonstrate your selfishness and your lack of love for them. So how can it be that your love for you children is superior to god's love for you when this god is supposedly the very embodiment of love? It can't be and it proves that the god of the bible does not exist because another one of his defining characteristics is totally absent.

 

WHAT IF this change in my beliefs comes from the devil.

 

I suppose by this you mean, what if the devil has somehow deceived you into thinking that the Christian religion is false. It would really be something if the god of the bible withheld himself from you as you fear in the first "what if" I quoted but the devil did not withhold himself from you but somehow actively worked on you for the purpose of deceiving you. In that case, then it would not be your fault you were deceived, but it would be god's fault for not showing you the "truth" as a counter to what the devil is allegedly doing.

 

Go back to my parenting example. If you knew that someone was deceiving your young children into believing that they could jump off a bridge and not be harmed, what would you as a loving parent do? Again, I know your answer. You would put a stop to this person's web of lies and you would immediately set your children straight to the truth that jumping off a bridge will in all probability result in their deaths. Again, why is it that you as a frail human parent are superior to god in this matter? I think you know the answer to this.

 

 

WHAT IF I had eternal life in the palm of my hand and I've simply not worked hard enough to keep it.

 

The doctrine of eternal life through belief in Jesus is the other side of the doctrine of hell. The promise of eternal life is another control mechanism designed to keep you in the religion and to quell any serious questioning of the religion. Because not only will you be sent to hell, but you will lose eternal life if you dare to question the religion in a serious fashion. But think about my last sentence and see if you can spot the inconsistency which is necessitated by a full reading of the new Testament and then read on.

 

Now think about this. The New Testament goes back and forth on the issue of eternal life. If you read John 3:16, then whoever believes in Jesus "... shall not perish but have eternal life." So, according to John 3:16, the opposite of eternal life is to perish. So a logical reading of that verse tells us that if one fails to believe in Jesus one shall perish.

 

What does the word perish mean? Putting it into the context of John 3:16, to perish must be the opposite of attaining eternal life. It means to die, to cease to exist. But if you accept the doctrine of hell, then Jesus was wrong in John 3:16 because every human being ever born is naturally endowed by god with eternal life. It's just a question of where they will spend eternity, in heaven or in hell. So which is it? I think the logical answer, considering the inconsistencies and contradictions in the New Testament teachings on eternal life vs. hell vs. perishing, must be that belief in Jesus offers you nothing at all, neither eternal life nor the means to escape hell. It's another false promise designed to keep you in line......

 

It's like a lingering residue from my many years in church that I can't shake off.

 

Your "what ifs" are exactly that: lingering residue from your many years in church. But, fortunately, you are wrong about not being able to shake it off. I don't know how long it's been since you began your new Christian-free life, but in time you will be able to shake it off. You really will. I have done it and so have many people on this forum. And if we did it, so can you. Cheer up, friend, and give yourself time.

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I don't know of any kind of a fatherly-figure or motherly-figure for a god that would destroy its own children, or part of its creation, just to throw a tantrum over people who did not believe in the god. I cannot imagine a god who would tolerate its followers killing off others of creation because they thought they did the will of their god. Religion cannot keep its various doctrines friendly between churches and claims they are all one body possessed by Casper the friendly holy ghost. The violence alone proves they are not the family of a friendly and loving god. Religion is so outdated. As are its beliefs including any belief of hell.

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All those "what if" questions is part of the brain washing/conditioning that religion perpetrates on people. It's designed to keep you bound to the religion and coming back to satisfy the need for self justification. How many times will such what if questions keep people crawling back, like an abused spouse crawling back to their abusive mate?

 

Deal with the rational response to those "what if's" (some pretty good, point by point responses were given above). Then, deal with the emotional part by acknowledging, "yep! There goes my old religion fucking with me again!

 

There is little or no reason to believe that Christianity is possibly right in terms of magic la-la lands like heaven or hell. There's no reason to believe that an invisible demonic entity has his fingers embedded into your neural processes causing you to reject Christianity. There's no rational way to justify a belief in some future state of being known as eternal life.

 

You are right. It is a stinky, nasty residue that can only be scraped away through reason and recognition that you have been mind-fucked by people who thought what they were doing to you was the right thing to do.

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Welcome, Angie! It's great to hear of another person breaking away from the myth.

 

I would like to echo the comments that others have offered so far, and especially applaud OvercameFaith's more detailed reply.

 

I also went through similar "what if" questioning when I was in my doubting stage. Once I was firmly convinced that Christianity is a lie, though, my "what if" questions died off. The death-blow to Christianity for me was taking a really close look at several of the NT claims of fulfilled OT prophecy, only to find out that over and over and over again the NT authors took OT texts completely out of context (sometimes rewording them for their own purposes) in order to fabricate prophetic fulfillments. Nobody with a true story to tell would need to stoop to such underhanded tricks. The whole thing is a sham. Another helpful thing to realize is that "Hell" is merely a concept that evolved over time and is not something that a fair and just God would utilize.

 

As others have said, I also suspect that you'll come out of the "what if" stage. You're somewhat free from religious bondage already, but you will eventually be completely freed from it.

 

Perhaps it's not tactful for me to plug one of my own threads, but it could be helpful, so I'll mention that I have posted a long and detailed letter I sent my parents just this week. If you click the link below, drop down to post #13 and you can download the "Letter to Parents" document. The Bible argumentation starts on page 2, but on page 10 a section called "Fabricated Prophetic Fulfillments" begins, and then starting on page 28 I also deal with "The Lake of Fire." If you think that this sort of thing could be of use to you, feel free to check it out.

 

http://www.ex-christian.net/topic/47622-letter-to-my-christian-parents/page__p__682889__fromsearch__1#entry682889

 

At any rate, good luck to you. Enjoy the journey ahead of you....

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I thought I should also put a plug in for OvercameFaith's thread dealing with end-times scenarios, since that subject is interlocked with Hell. It's also a long read, but if you're interested in it, here it is:

 

http://www.ex-christian.net/topic/44234-top-ten-reasons-not-to-fear-biblical-end-times-scenarios/

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Christian beliefs and lies already sent me to hell, and I spent too many years there. Realising that and telling myself the truth about it got me out.

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How have you dealt with the lingering "what if's" that comes from walking away from Christianity?

 

I made up new rules about god that allow me to forget about him. Have you wondered where these Christians' advice come's from? From their imagination or stolen from someone elses imagination. But they say, "God told me this or that." So I did the same thing. I made up what God said to me. They go something like this: God told me that I can create any spiritual/religious rules I want. God told me to ignore the bible and ignore Christians. God told me not to fear him nor is he insecure and in need of worship. God told me his perfect plan for my life was supporting me in whatever I want to do in life. God told me a personal relationship with him does not include anyone else, nor holy books. Just me and him. He also recently told me that I do not need to think about him anymore as I can take care of myself and he can take care of himself. He also said there is no hell. He told me to use critical thinking, logic and reason, but that it was also ok to follow whatever spiritual path I wanted as long as it gave me some fulfillment and did not involve fear, guilt and control.

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