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An Introduction, Not A Testimony


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I don't really have anything encouraging to say, so it feels a little awkward to be posting in the Testimonial subforum, but I can't really find anywhere else that is more appropriate, and it does seem like introductions often end up here as well.

 

I am 35 years old, married for eleven and a half years to a beautiful Korean woman with whom I have three children and am expecting another on the way. My loss of faith was a rather long and drawn out process, and I spent considerable time and effort fighting it. I suppose this is because I had been a very committed Christian, very active in church and dedicated to nearly every aspect of Christianity. I had spent years studying the bible, theology, and church history. I was even seriously considering seminary. But all of this began to fall apart with the collapse of my theological beliefs in the Spring of 2005. I did not realize the trouble I was in immediately, as I struggled for another three and a half years before coming to grips with the utter failure of my faith.

 

Of course, coming to grips with it myself was only the beginning of my problems, not the solution. My wife had a very difficult time accepting it, and frankly speaking still does even now with an additional three years after coming out to her. My current solution is normally to simply avoid the subject with my wife. I have found that raising it with her results in nothing but arguments and painful strains in our relationship. Of course, I still love her, there is no way I would be in this relationship otherwise, but it has been quite a constraint upon me. I have found that it is simply not possible to have an open discussion with her on the matter. My fear of the consequences of such a discussion remains largely the same as it was three years ago when I first came out to her.

 

As a result, I have yet to miss a day of church, my children and many acquaintances at my church still do not know I am no longer Christian, and in a rather surreal fashion, even the people who do know typically act otherwise. I still occasionally find myself in circumstances where I am forced to pray, even by people who know I am not a Christian, although I try very hard to avoid this as it seems incredibly hypocritical of me.

 

I regret to say that there are times I wish I could believe again. It would make things so much easier for me and those around me. At other times, I am filled with despair about it, like today when I tried to test the waters again with my wife, in the hopes that I might be able to talk to her, to try and help her see how much my continued attendance at church bothers me. Alas, such a conversation was not possible when even my most careful inquiries produced results like her expressed disappointment that I did not pray over my meals. How can I pray when I don't even believe in God? And how could I push the matter further when even this tiny act of self consistency is viewed so negatively.

 

I know that pushing it any further would have only resulted in an argument and alienation, exasperating my already depressed state of mind. I apologize for my weakness, but for the moment, the pain of my inconsistency is still less than the rejection from my wife if I were to press the matter. And I am not trying to blame her for this. I understand how painful it must be from her perspective too, how difficult it surely must be for her to accept the matter and its implications for her and our children. I cannot have joy over my loss of faith when I see the pain and devastation that has resulted from it. But since I cannot undue this loss either, all I can do is to take these measures in order to minimize it, no matter that they continue to slowly eat away at me. I wonder how long I can keep it up. I wonder how long my wife will put up with it and fear that she will find her limit after our children are grown and decide it is no longer worth it to her.

 

That is why I am so grateful for a place like this, a place to speak my mind and release some of these tensions. Unfortunately, I am lacking such a safe place in real life. I don't know how much this will help me, but at least I am able to put these thoughts down in words and know that I am safe with the people who will read them and respond to them. I also wanted to thank foolish girl for her posts here. It was her and how she was dealing with her circumstances that really inspired me to register here and try talking about these things.

 

I would ask that one thing though, and that is that you spare any negative comments about my wife. I know that I have complained, but with the exception of this one situation, I really am very happy with her and have no wish to be with anyone else. I only regret that I have failed to come up with a way to communicate these matters to her in a manner that will not cause harm to our relationship.

 

If anyone is interested, I have gone into greater detail about my deconversion on my blog. I do not wish to force all of that on to you, however, as it seems rather esoteric even to me, and it is my testimony. If you are interested, I would read them in this order. Feel free to read as much or as little as you like. I have no expectations regarding the matter:

 

First: http://lindenbranch.weblogs.us/archives/12

Second: http://lindenbranch.weblogs.us/archives/2123

Third: http://lindenbranch.weblogs.us/archives/2130

Fourth: http://lindenbranch.weblogs.us/archives/2275

 

A fifth post discusses my perspective on faith now: http://lindenbranch.weblogs.us/archives/4422

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I failed to find any means of editing my initial post. I would caution against reading the first blog post if you have any aversion to Christian theology. It delves rather heavily into it and church history.

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Hey, Sadclown. Definitely can relate in some of the areas you wrote about. I wish that I'd written down somewhere what year it was that I read the Bible clear through (that was the beginning of the end), but seems that it was around 3 years before I was finally able to decide that come hell or high water, a decision was going to have to be made about the problems I found. Luckily, my wife isn't deep into theology stuff at all - she doesn't know why she believes what she believes, it's just more a matter of doing what she's always done, I think. I did take 3 months off from church to deal with one of the left-over demons of Christianity, but go now just to keep the peace, as you said. Plus my boys are getting older and won't have all the time in the world before they start getting out on their own. The ride to church is about 30 minutes, so it's time spent with them. But, church? Yeah, you definitely need some place to go in your mind. Sorry, but I don't have any answers for you - just know that you aren't the only one out here in this predicament. Welcome to Ex-C! BTW, I think the "edit" button comes after 20 posts.

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Sadclown, I welcome you to EX-c. I also wanted you to know that you are not alone in this. Read, read, read all the posts. There are many on this particular topic of being married to a 'believer'.

 

You are not 'different' (I read your letters) - your 'rational' brain 'kicked in' and your eyes were opened like ours were.

 

I was devastated when I started to learn the truth about Christianity. I was a Pentecostal for many years. You may read all my posts to see the agony I went through in the past few years. My letter,''Please Forgive Me?" was just written in February of this year. It was like a final goodbye to the Christian god. http://www.ex-christian.net/topic/44259-please-forgive-me/page__fromsearch__1

 

I really think I would have died without this site in the last year. It has become my second home. There is no one

(besides a couple of people here in my community) that I can talk to.

 

I come here everyday to get comfort and advise. There are many, very intelligent people involved on the forum and I look to them every week for some kind of advise.

 

Hang around, Sadclown and we will all try to help you in this 'deconvertion'.

 

Sincerely, Margee

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Three years is a long time, friend. My deconversion took about that long.

 

Then I sat in a pew for a year and a few months "for my husband" and "for my kids"; and for me, it was bad business.

 

The scariest moment of my marriage was when I told him that I would no longer be attending church. It was bad for my health to go. I bet you know about that. The pounding heart, the high blood pressure, the bitten tongue, the bitterness. That is a very unhealthy stress.

 

Every Sunday morning now, there is a quiet resentment between us. HOWEVER, barring the occasional discussion on the matter, he is adapting and we are doing ok. Since you mention that you and your wife love each other, that gives me hope that the two of you have more than jesus holding you together.

 

So I am not trying to push you off a cliff or anything, everyone has their own time-table; but I do want to encourage you to know that it CAN be ok. Even if you have a difficult day/month/week/ every Sunday morning...It really feels so good to be authentic. And you do not have to be hateful. Just honest.

 

However your story plays out, you have found a good thing in Ex-C. These people listened to me cry and yell- and they helped me think critically. I hope you will find it to be a sanctuary too.

 

Also, you should find a user named "Overcame Faith".....I think he could help you, at very least, he is an excellent listener.

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Hello thesadclown

 

I have read all four of your blog posts linked from the above post and all I can say is, "Wow."

 

Your writing (which is excellent) clearly expresses the war you waged against reason, for the preservation of your faith. The letter to your pastor captures your intense struggle to remain in the faith. I, too, have ended my faith journey on a similar note as you describe:

"I’ve said this before, that I believe that if God wants me, he knows where I am and how to bring me back, as the parable of the lost sheep illustrates. This is as much faith as I can muster at this time. I don’t think there is a God, but I hold out the hope that if he is there and I am wrong, that he is more than capable of reviving the faith I once held and bring me back to himself."

 

I relate to your journey a great deal:

"...but it was only when a supposed friend of Orthodoxy, ecclesial history, turned on it and stabbed it in the back did I find myself without an anchor and drifting dangerously towards the rocks of unbelief. So here I am, bottomed out on the shoals of agnosticism with the shoreline of atheism clearly in sight."

 

It is somewhat disturbing to me still, that my search for truth (Truth) and God has ended were it has. You capture this sentiment beautifully:

"It seems counter-intuitive, to say that my pursuit of faithfulness would lead me to faithlessness..."

 

It's as though our faith died of 'natural causes'--that if an autopsy were to be done one would find a shriveled knob that was once the doorway to God.

 

I am glad you have joined us here on ex-C. I, like you, built my life around God, Jesus and the church (Church). My identity was entirely wrapped in my faith. In fact, my faith was my identity. My marriage was built upon it, too. Everything. I am thankful that my husband is struggling in a similar way--due to the odd circumstances that sent us headlong into a frantic grasping for God--so I don't have to do this alone or with shame. While he identifies as a disappointed Christian bordering on agnostic (our Pentecostal bubble has burst, that's for sure), I have certainly slid into home plate as an atheist. This is where the evidence has led me completely against my wishes. For years I was smearing the frosting of faith on the cracked cake of evidence. Glossing over obvious evidence can only be done so much before one caves into the reality of the evidence.

 

I hope your wife can realize that your relationship is built on love and who you are as people. My advice is just to keep being you and loving your wife and family. I wonder if once she sees that you are still you, she may come around. I know of many couples of whom this is true.

 

I hope to see more of you and your writing here on Ex-C.

 

Peace.

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Welcome to the forum, thesadclown. I am one of those here that can identify very closely with your situation, possibly even more so than most. I am close to you in age, with two kids, and with a wife who is the daughter and sister of Assemblies of God pastors.

 

Like others here, I built my life on what I thought were all of the right things: going to the right church, finding the right Christian wife, having Christian friends who all thought and said the right things. I never tried to leave Christianity, at least not at first. Like Positivist wrote in her post, my faith just died of natural causes, or withered away so slowly that it wasn't until later that i realized it was gone. It was such a gradual transition that my wife and her Pentecostal family still don't realize that I don't believe any of the things they do anymore.

 

Having built my life entirely around my faith, which was the one thing I thought would be eternal, I now find myself utterly alone in the world. My only communication with others in similar situations is through the internet.

 

Like you, I still love my wife dearly, and I don't want to do anything that would harm her or our family. I still don't know how to go about revealing what I've become to her.

 

I haven't read your blog entries yet, but before I do I just want to let you know that you are not alone, as much as it may feel that you are at times.

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thesadclown, this part of your "My life - The Hegelian Dialectic" really struck me:

 

So far, it seems as though the advice has been to stop thinking. And I think this cuts to the root of my problem. I don’t know if I want to give up thinking. It is such a part of me, of who I am and who I see myself as, that to stop thinking is something akin to stop being me.

 

It seems like so many Christians I know are able to just switch off their brains and go through their lives by faith alone. I can't do that. I have never been able to do that.

 

I have to admit that my internal dialog has been a bit different than yours. I remember that when I believed, I was always anxious. Was I following God's will? Would he punish me for this thought or that action, or for inaction regarding another matter? Should I be preaching my faith to people in an effort to try to convert them? Should I tell that random person about Jesus? Should I be giving my money to the homeless people on the street? Is heaven really as boring as it sounds? Why hadn't I seen anyone in my life get saved? Why didn't I want to pray or read the Bible more? Why was I ashamed of my church and my faith? Was I disobeying the Great Commission by not talking about Jesus to everyone I knew?

 

And on. And on. And on.

 

Now, I find that my mind is finally quiet. Which isn't to say there's nothing going on in my head, but I can finally achieve a state of peace and clarity that I never experienced before. Apart from occasionally wondering about how my marriage will survive my deconversion, my conscience has become wonderfully clear. I can hear my own voice in my head again, instead of always trying to listen for the voice of an imaginary God to say something to me.

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hey thesadclown,

 

Enjoyed the read here.......did not read the blog.

 

Unlike you, my wife pushed me toward deconversion............She lost faith before I. I chose her, over some sort of allegiance to God.

 

I served almost two years in South Korea. I enjoyed the time there.

 

I have not read the same books that you have and don't know if you you can even understand what I am about to say. I still have faith in God thought am not a Christian. There is a faith, in Christianity, that goes beyond the doctrine.

 

Anyhows, thanks for the read.........i'm interested in keeping up with your Journey.

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I have to admit that my internal dialog has been a bit different than yours. I remember that when I believed, I was always anxious. Was I following God's will? Would he punish me for this thought or that action, or for inaction regarding another matter? Should I be preaching my faith to people in an effort to try to convert them? Should I tell that random person about Jesus? Should I be giving my money to the homeless people on the street? Is heaven really as boring as it sounds? Why hadn't I seen anyone in my life get saved? Why didn't I want to pray or read the Bible more? Why was I ashamed of my church and my faith? Was I disobeying the Great Commission by not talking about Jesus to everyone I knew?

 

...

 

Now, I find that my mind is finally quiet.

 

I too had major anxious thoughts when I was a believer. I was always obsessively concerned about secret divine appointments and messages from God about what to wear, say or do, and all the things you listed.

 

I wonder if the American Psychiatric Association will add religious belief to their Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) of Mental Disorders. Goodness knows it made me crazy!

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I also wanted to thank foolish girl for her posts here. It was her and how she was dealing with her circumstances that really inspired me to register here and try talking about these things.

 

Oh WOW.

 

I am such a dope! I read, I missed this bit somehow. Isn't that perfect? I felt compelled to respond to you though! Kismet!

 

Thank you so much (and you're welcome? smile.png ) You really made my day. I mean, I have accomplished damn little in life (it seems sometimes.) I am glad to have been your unwitting friend.

smile.png

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Sadclown, I read your blogs and as someone stated before you write very well. You can really put into words your feelings in a way that paints a picture thats easy to understand. I don't seem to have that ability, I actually have to paint the picture with paint. I read your blogs and a couple of points I wanted to comment on. The first was the comment left on your third blog. The woman said how scary a life with no faith seems. Your next blog explains that everyone has some faith whether its in a light bulb or a deity,( I assume that was one reason you wrote it.) My comment is that I have lived a life of no faith for many years now. It was scary at first, but I had my anger that pushed me through it. Now I see how free I truly have become and its actually quite wonderful. I know I am probably not the norm, as I seem not to hold onto anything that has to do with religion now. (I put my head down at the dinner table during prayer at x-mas because it makes my mom happy.) Most of the people around me know my feelings, my wife shares them. That makes it easier too. She was a 7-day eventist and I kind of helped her give it up, although she had already started losing faith. I do have friends who go to church every Sunday and Wed. night and I can sit and talk with them about other things other than religion. The idea is not that you don't have faith in life, you just don't have faith in god. I have faith that I can work hard, pay my bills, provide for my family and do the things I need to do to make life comfortable. I don't need god to do any of that. It's actually quite liberating knowing that you are in control, not some idea of a god or higher power. It does take some getting used to.

 

I would not say anything bad about your wife, most people have to deal with these types of issues after marriage and it can be scary and taxing on a relationship. Arm yourself with knowledge and communicate, that is key. I know avioding issues won't make them go away. I feel sad for those who cannot be themselves, or who they want to be because of religion. It is so oppressive.

 

I am glad you joined and wish you luck. I look forward to reading your progress and hope you find the support you need.

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Hey sadclown! Good to "meet" you. I'm in a marriage with a Christian man whom I love very much, so I know where you're coming from. I wish you luck in figuring out how to balance your own needs with your desire to keep peace in your family. I came very close to divorce since my deconversion, and we are slowly inching toward being able to talk more about religion, but it may never happen. I have made several close friends here who I can really talk to though; that helps immensely. Best of luck to you :)

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Sad Clown,

 

Please know this.....very few on here will judge you. You are going through something that many have before. You are dealing with issues many have before.

 

Some have gone back. Some have become a revolving door with leaving and going. You need to do what you need to do to stay sane.

 

If that means coming here and venting, raging, crying, etc. then do it. There is a regular pool of very supportive people willing to help.

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Thanks to everyone for the kind responses, I felt encouraged reading your responses. Hopefully I will be able to participate more as time allows.

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Hi Sad Clown, thanks for sharing. I hope you find this site supportive and helpful. Fortunately for me, I got my Christian experience over and done with in under a year! Two months full-blown born again nutter then the next 4-5 months deconverting. I didn't have too many friends or family who went with me on my strange journey so there were few conflicts there after the event.

 

Don't be sad. This is the only life we're going to get (in my opinion). This makes your life infinitely more valuable than it was. When I fully deconverted I was relieved that I no longer had to believe that friends and family would burn in Hell forever and that they deserved to. I no longer had to believe in stuff that didn't make sense or stuff that contradicted other stuff. I no longer had to believe that a perfectly just God was sexist homophobic and was supportive of genocide and slavery. I no longer had to believe miracles and other daft things that violate the known laws of science. I found full deconversion totally liberating.

 

Also when I have sex with my partner, neither I nor she have to do it in the missionary, with our eyes closed, thinking of Jesus! That's not the kind of threesome I usually have in mind! Just kidding.

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