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Coming Clean (the Beginning Of The End)


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Hi everyone. This is my first post. I want to thank you all for this group. It's really been a help to me and my husband during a confusing and painful time. I've hesitated to post anything here because it somehow gives things a sense of "finality". But tonight I'm feeling pretty alone and thought maybe it is time to open up.

 

This is a journal entry that I wrote in September. I wrote it as though it was going on my blog (which I recently disabled) but have never shared it with anyone other than my husband. (I knew better than to share it with the believers we know). I thought maybe it would resonate with some people here and give an idea of my personal journey. I've been struggling with my faith for a long time, but at this point I'd just begun to allow myself to deeply question things. I have another entry to follow it up with from October that I will add later. This is really long so I hope I don't overwhelm everyone! wink.png

 

 

September 10, 2011

My whole life, I have been about solutions. When someone tells me something is wrong, I don’t just say “Aw sorry about that.” I would think about it, I’d try to find an answer. I’d hear God for them and show them that He understood and knew them in their place of pain. But I feel like that’s all been drained out of me now. I honestly don’t know if any of it is really real. Does He know us in our pain? Did Jesus suffer to free us from that? Then why is the remedy for our suffering so illusive? Why all the “mystery”? Why the difficult journey to get from here to there? Why all the complication? Is the Christian life really about living in a community of believers where we keep telling each other how things will be better in the future? Do we just keep living these lives, going through struggles and pain that is somewhat lessened by getting together and singing and telling each other God cares and it’ll be better one day? Is life really just this odyssey of going from one spiritual life lesson to another?

 

I’m not encouraged by any of the spiritual rhetoric anymore…I’m just not. I didn’t plan it this way, I didn’t decide to get off the spirit-train. I just got pushed off somehow and now none of it makes sense to me anymore. Is that because I’m not seeing the “true reality”? Am I deceived? Or are they?

 

It’s not like I haven’t had my fair share of “God encounters”. For a long time I felt like that’s all I had to keep me going. And maybe it was – maybe it was all real and I really was feeling God’s presence and hearing His voice. I guess I am just at the point now where hoping for some passing sensation or some person to come along and tell me God talked to them about me just isn’t enough. Sitting and reading a book written by someone who went through hell and feels like God rescued them isn’t enough. Listening to someone teach about the proof of God in science isn’t enough. Listening to preachers teach about God’s goodness isn’t enough. Even reading the Bible isn’t enough. Having “alone time with God” isn’t enough. “Soaking in His presence” isn’t enough. Dancing and worshipping isn’t enough. Being with other Christians, talking about our lives isn’t enough. Hanging out for fun isn’t enough.

 

I know it may seem irreverent and even blasphemous to say some of these things…maybe it is, I don’t know. But it IS honest. And I have to believe I am not the only who feels this way. I guess that is the thing…I know there are SO many Christians out there who’ve been through the same process I have and have ended up the same place. And yet there are others who seem to have won the spiritual lottery ticket to heaven on earth. They are happy and optimistic about their lives, they claim to see miracles and to have “victory”. Is that because they work harder at it than the rest of us? Or did God give them some magical open window into the spirit world?

 

The thing is, I really thought I was one of those people for a period of time. I thought I could see in the spirit in a way others couldn’t. I had people prophesy to me about my life and my ministry – that God would use me to heal people and encourage them. They “saw” me speaking, dancing, travelling, creating works of art, and seeing miracles as a result. That was enough to keep me going for a long time. When I’d get discouraged, I’d go back to those words….I figured if that was in my future then somehow the pain I was experiencing had to end. I believed all that I needed and so desperately longed for was in my future. Future…that was where all the good stuff was. If I could just hold on. For a long time I was pretty patient. The pain of my present circumstance was bearable because I believed my rescuer was going to come through.

 

But over the course of several years I had a series spiritual experiences. Each time I was sure my day of rescue had come. But each time left me more confused and discouraged than the one before. It was like being lost at sea and finally seeing that rescue boat. The captain waves and says, “Don’t worry! I’m here!” You are so relieved, finally you will be saved. But then the captain sails away. What lesson was I supposed to take by these events? Was I supposed to be encouraged simply by the fact that the captain and the rescue boat existed, and maybe he’d come back?

 

Then I started to learn that there were lots of methods for what to do and how to respond when you haven’t yet been rescued. First, it’s all about perception. You’re not really lost at sea. It just feels like you are. So the key is believing you aren’t being engulfed by waves of pain and despair, even though that’s how you feel. See, feelings aren’t real, they’re just an illusion. What’s real is the captain and the rescue boat. And when you can finally believe that, then maybe he’ll come throw you a lifeline. Or maybe what you need to do is just start swimming. Yes, fight for your freedom! Don’t give in to how you feel, just live as though the rescue boat has already arrived! Oh you’re too tired to swim? Well don’t worry – it’s all about rest. Just lay back and float. The captain is there with you, even though you can’t see him and you feel like you will go under. Just relax! You’re still drowning and getting impatient? Well, remember that the captain doesn’t always rescue the way you think he will. He has lots of different ways of saving people, you know. He might send a hot air balloon or maybe a mermaid will come along! Don’t limit the captain!

 

Yeah I know, this sounds so harsh and cynical. I know that people who teach things like this have the best of intentions. Hey, I’ve even been the one telling people this stuff at one time or another. And honestly I can’t even say it’s all untrue. I really don’t even know right now, hence all of this rambling and venting. But what I do know is that most of what Christians call “encouragement” and “inspiration”, are not actually helping those who are in the darkest of places.

By the way I’m writing, it makes it sound as though my spiritual journey has been all about trying to find what “works” – and maybe on some level it has been. But I can honestly say that I have experienced what I felt was a real relationship with God where I felt like I knew who He was, and maybe even who I was. I’ve had times where I felt safe in His arms. But somehow I have misplaced that bit of my connection with Him. And I will say, with utter vulnerability, that at times I wonder if He and His “kingdom” are real at all. How does a person hurt inside and see others hurting and not lose hope and faith? I want to be a person like that, but it appears that I am not. I do lose hope and faith…and at this point of my life I feel they have slipped completely from my grasp. I am not at the point of despairing for my life. But I am in despair. I am disillusioned…that is what I am.

 

The definition for “disillusioned” is: having lost one's ideals, illusions, or false ideas about someone or something; disenchanted

 

Yes, I’d say that description fits.

 

I’m not sure I believe anymore that God rescues people out of pain. I know, “God doesn’t always work the way we think He will”. But what if the way I “think He will” is what the Bible says? Why is it that when I create an expectation of God based on what the Bible says about Him, and then that doesn’t happen, I feel I am somehow wrong for being upset and saddened by it? I heard a minister on tv say recently, “God doesn’t change, so YOU are the only variable.” What he meant by that was that when our prayer doesn’t get answered, it’s not God’s fault – so the problem has to be on our end. So what am I doing wrong? I’ve loved, I’ve trusted, I’ve surrendered, I’ve given, I’ve spoken what I felt were His words to the hurting and broken. And yet I am still broken. I have wounds that won’t heal…no matter how much I ask Him to heal them or try to heal them myself…they do not heal.

 

I was born with the ability (I can’t seem to call it a “gift” at the moment) to see and at times even feel the pain of others. What a cruel joke to play. Why would I have this ability and yet not be able to bring healing to all of those who’s pain I can perceive? For a long time I found hope in the idea that one day that’s what I’d do – that somehow I’d break free of my own pain and sickness and I’d find this “place in God” where I’d bring healing to all of those who are sick. I’d be rescued and then I’d get to be the rescuer for others. “Well…” some would say, “…that’s a pretty lofty goal. Some people do get healed, but no one can claim to be able to heal all who are sick and oppressed.” But see, there goes the Bible again, raising my expectations. It says that Jesus healed ALL and Jesus told His followers to go and do what He did and MORE.

 

And yet this “reality” doesn’t seem to exist. There are people who claim all of these miracles and healings in their ministries. But there’s ALWAYS someone who gets passed over. And many times that someone is the minister or someone in his or her family! That’s what I can’t shake. I can’t shake the fact that even if all this great stuff is really happening (and honestly right now I don’t know if it does), it doesn’t happen for everyone. So what that says to me is that it’s all just a crapshoot – that I might be the one it doesn’t happen for. That is how I feel…like the one who is continually passed over. I know, that sounds so melodramatic. And maybe it is.

 

But, guess what? I’m not the only one who feels this way. I’ve been to enough Christian conferences and “revival meetings” to know that not everyone gets that touch they go there searching for. I’ve seen the desperate, hurting people…the ones with no hair and bandanas covering their bald heads…the ones who’s eyes are filled with sadness…I see them. I am them. They go hopeful and expecting a miracle and they leave worse off than before. At least before they could find a way to cope, at least before they hadn’t visualized what life would be like when they were well. At least before they didn’t let themselves think about being an active and happy person. But then they had to go and hope…they had someone tell them that if they just trusted God He’d heal them, He’d set the captive free. They stood and watched as others “got their miracle”. They waited…maybe they even had some sweet person minister to them…maybe, if they were lucky, they even felt a tingle or some warmth in their body. But they went home sick and feeling foolish, hurt and maybe even bitter.

 

That is me. I am that girl. I’m the one who, time and again, thought “this is it”….I felt the goose bumps, I heard the words that seemed to shoot like a holy dagger right through me, I felt the sensation of a supernatural force ripping things right out of my body, I felt the weight of God’s presence so strong I couldn’t stand. And yet I am still here, still sick, still depressed. And worse than that, I can now add to that confused and disillusioned.

 

If I were still “solid” on what I felt God was saying to me (there was a time not so long ago I felt SO sure when He spoke, but not now), I would think He was leading me to speak for the overlooked ones. I’d think He was giving me His passion for leaving the ninety-nine and going after the “one”. In God’s economy, no one gets left behind….no sick person, no sinful person, no destitute person, no oppressed person. At least according to what the Bible says (full disclosure: I am really grappling with my belief in that right now, gasp!), in God’s world no one misses out. I’m sure if I did a search on the word “all” in the New Testament, the number would be very high. I seem to remember that word being used an awful lot. But in our way of thinking, good things just don’t happen to everyone.

Now, bad things…sure, bad things do happen to everyone…no one has to miss out on that. But good things, well, that’s just not the way the world works. So we develop endless amounts of theologies and belief systems to explain why good things don’t happen to good people. Of course, I’m not saying good things haven’t happened for me, or for all of the others who’s belief in goodness and miracles has been dashed, or at least had a few bullet holes shot in it. My point is that we come up with all of these coping mechanisms to help us feel better about the fact that, when we needed God the most, He seemed absent from us.

 

But maybe somewhere, down in the deepest part of my spirit is a tiny little seed of faith. To be honest, I don’t want to sit here and write. I don’t want to listen to that little seed talk to me. I don’t want to believe.. There I said it. It hurts to believe. It hurts to hope. It just hurts. And it makes me angry. I am angry for myself, for the time I feel I have lost. And I am angry for others who are in pain and have no answers other than to just keep having faith. I’m angry for my mom who’s been in a black hole nearly my entire life and can’t find a way out.

 

If it seems like I am speaking from two different places, well that’s for sure – I am. Yes, I am a double-minded woman, unstable in all my ways – that’s me. I admit it. But tell me, who isn’t? Who doesn’t grapple with these questions? The only person who doesn’t is the person who is either too distracted with their busy life to ever even think, or doesn’t allow themselves to even ask such questions. I think this is the first time in my life I’ve allowed myself to think this honestly and be this real. I mean, I’ve done my share of ranting and raving with my fingers on my keyboard…hashing it out with God and asking some tough questions.

 

But I’ve never reached this crisis-level of faith before. I was afraid to let myself come here. The way to this place is pretty dark and scary, I must say. Letting myself really consider that I could have been wrong about this whole Christian thing my entire life…yeah, scary as hell (no pun intended). But you know what, it is also refreshing, in a weird sort of way. And right now I can honestly say there isn’t much that refreshes or encourages me. So yeah, let me just take that rabbit trail…

 

Christian slogans, buzz phrases, catch words and clichés, oh my! How I have grown tired of them. If I don’t hear another one it will be the first full-blown miracle I’ve ever personally experienced! Maybe I am just cynical and jaded, but I have just developed this utter intolerance to the ideas and words we latch on to in order to pump us up and keep us going. I have such an aversion to it right now. And not all of it is bad or wrong, necessarily. It’s just so…ineffective. That is the word. Like I said, It’s not that all of these things people say is wrong or even cheesy – some of it even seems cool and thought provoking. But, like my husband likes to ask when I buy a new décor item for the house, “What does it DO?”

 

What do these words DO to actually change anything? How do they accomplish actual change or progress in a person’s actual life? I think for all of us who go through an extended time of a struggle in our lives, there’s a period where words are effective and meaningful to us. But after awhile, words just become meaningless. And words and phrases which are formulated to motivate and inspire just become, at best, annoying! Does anyone understand what I mean? Am I the only one to experience this phenomenon? To quote a line of a song from one of my all-time favorite movies, My Fair Lady, “Words, words, words! I’m so sick of words!” And yet, here I sit…writing words…ironic…

 

I guess what I’m getting at is that, I’m so tired of everything feeling like it’s so damned complicated. I can’t get my head around a God who would set a up a system where everything He promises us is so illusive and hard to grasp and actually experience. What would be the point of that? I can’t imagine watching my child suffer for a bunch of other children so they could have his inheritance. Then after he dies I tell the kids they get all he had coming to him now, but, well there’s this catch – it’s invisible. But don’t worry, if you believe it anyway one day you can see it. Oh, I’m so sorry you are hungry and sick right now. But remember – you have this inheritance! Yay! What, you can’t see it? Oh I know, I told you, it’s invisible! Yay!

 

Come on, can’t we be real? I know there must be good Christian people out there who have felt this way. Why can’t we talk about it? Honestly, I’ve struggled even writing about it – alone here in my office. I’m writing as though I’m speaking to people who will read this. But I have absolutely NO intention of ever making this public. I’m too chicken like everyone else. Why would I want to expose myself like that? And what good would it actually do, anyway? Oh, ok. So there’s a bunch of us who feel like this Christian stuff is crap sometimes. We are all miserable! Cool! Ok, now what? And that’s the best case scenario – the worst case is I have a bunch of people I know mad at me and/or who think I am nuts, or even worse I hurt people by the things I have divulged.

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Thanks for sharing 2Honest!

 

My wife is just like you. She feels so damn much. I listen and feel through her a lot. Maybe it is a woman thing. She was the first to be done with Christianity in our home as well. How about the hubby..........on board with you?

 

Anyhows welcome aboard!

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Thanks, Patrick! Yes, hubby is on board, thankfully. Yes I do feel so damn much! haha I think he feels a lot through me, too. We've come to this place at the same time and I consider us very fortunate for that.

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I understand the feeling of not getting your deserved hope and desire of a miracle.

 

the feeling of chasing something you want so bad until that chase leaves you feeling lost

and angry. Thats what it was like for me. The mental hoops i had to jump through on a daily

basis became too much.

 

I know what you mean when others claim to have miracles and god speaking to them. it kinda

left me wondering "well why doesnt that happen to me ever, why doesnt god speak to me"

 

and what i've noticed is that the people who usually claim to hear god and see miracles, are more likely

than not the ones who are getting "more attention from god". or so it seems like. This leads me to believe that

these types of people have a lower standard of proof for something, or they feed into what there emotions can conjure up.

 

as this whole deconversion process started taking place for me, my friend called me and said god was talking to him

about me. and that I was going to have a hard journey, but it will be best for me. when i ask him how he knows this was god, he

could only say "i just know, its hard to explain".

 

obviously this wasn't God talking to him because I wouldnt be here claiming now to be an atheist if god was still looking out for me. lol.

 

when a stressor becomes too much i think we as humans will do whatever necessary to cope with whats wrong in this life. not the next. this life

is already hard enough. why should we be worrying about the next.

 

i guess im just here to say i understand your frustration.

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You have come to the right place. Welcome. smile.png

Your writing is beautiful, and there are many people here who can relate to your words. Im definitely one of them. Reading your entry, even though it comes from a place of sadness, gives me hope. Its just nice to know we are not alone. And although I have only been going through this for a few months, I promise you it does get easier. I am especially glad to know that your husband is right there with you. I think that is beautiful.

Thank you so much for sharing. Keep us updated on how everything is going.

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Wow! It is like you took my thoughts, experiences and emotions and typed them in this post! Thank you so much for your honesty. I am struggling so immensely. You so eloquently described how I feel about the catch phrases and words that are supposed to bring comfort but never do. It is like handing a picture of a meal to someone who is starving and making them feel guilty for not being nourished by it. For three years I have been seeking healing for emotional pain that was triggered by certain painful aspects of my marriage. I prayed, got an accountability partner, listened to radio ministries, did devotionals, tried to make Jesus my husband, did a Christian support group and even did a husband challenge to become like the Proverbs 31 woman that included me only speaking when spoken to! You echoed how I felt when you said that there were times that you felt like you had arrived at victory only to find that you really hadn't. I also was grateful when you acknowledged the genuine people that go to revivals truly believing that they would find healing only to leave worse off than when they arrived. I am worse off than when I started. I believed that I heard God talking to me and strived to obey because I believed that at the end of it would come my victory. Guess what did come? My husband left me for the woman that I asked God point blank to show me if they were having an affair and I believed He told me no! Not to fear, though. I was told that this was all part of God's plan for my husband's salvation and that was more important than the fact that I was a stay at home mom for 14 years of 4 children and had no meaningful way of supporting myself. Afterall, God would take care of us in his own way and for my own good to make me more Christike- even if it meant a homeless shelter. All I had to do was fast, pray, obey and make God my husband. People told me that God told them that my husband would come home saved. I gathered about 100 people in a coordinated effort to at a specific time we would "crash the gates of heaven" in our respective homes for his salvation. I really believed God would answer that prayer. I cried heart wrenching, near screaming prayers of anguish, fear and desperation for God to bring that man home for the sake of me and the children. I prayed for signs and got them that God really was working and was going to bring him home. I told people this! My hope grew so much! I waited and waited to the point of not protecting myself and the children because I really believed that I had nothing to worry about, he was coming home and we would be okay financially. Finally my hope began to give out and I asked the estranged point blank if he was coming back and he told me absolutely never and proceeded to give all the ugly reasons why. His heart wasn't softened one bit by the prayers or my fasting to the point of emaciation. I know that there are those who would tell me that my walk with God is more important than a marriage and I have to say live in my shoes for one day! I know... my faith is in the wrong place, God never promised us a happy life, he answers prayers in his own way and in his own time and sometimes it is "no" and only for our good and christlikeness. I was led to believe with all my heart that God would heal my pain and save my husband. I am so dismayed, burnt out and exhausted. I am sick of the Christians on facebook with their syrupy statuses about how in love with Jesus they are! Why has that been elusive to me when I have been striving for years? I know, I know. Unconfessed sin, Satan, idols on the "throne" of my heart, I haven't fully submitted my life to Christ, there is unforgiveness in my heart. I tried so hard to do all these things and begged the Holy Spirit to take control of me. I did the Beth Moore fruit of the spirit Bible study to help me with this to no avail. I feel such shame, guilt, isolation, anger and bitterness. I contacted Marlene Winell who coined the phrase "Religious Trauma Syndrome". I relate to everything about the diagnosis. I, like you, feel almost a PTSD when I hear the Scripture quotes and even the ministers on the radio. In any other area of life what I experienced would be considered abusive. I have taken control of my life, moved on, found love and am working on a career. I have never felt more whole, alive and well in one regard, but at the same time the dogma is standing over my shoulder telling me that I am so prideful because I am living in my own strength and filling the "Jesus Hole in my Heart" with other things and relationships and that god will lovingly make tragedy befall me to call me back to his protective arms. I look over my should, so to speak, just waiting for his punishment. I constantly fear that the path I am taking is the wrong one and not God's will and will cause me more pain. I know I am going on and on but I need to get this out to someone who might understand and relate personally. I don't want to be disresptful and bash Christianity but you perfectly summed up where I am at - disillusioned. I'm done, only for now. I still have A LOT left inside of me that is festering and has found a place here to process it.

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Thank you for sharing your blog post with us, 2Honest, and welcome. While you still sound like you were torn at the time this was written, it strikes me that you may be much more willing to just let go of your beliefs than to struggle to keep them. I look forward to the update from October.

 

joyless, your post really deserves its own thread. You wrote about waiting for God to "punish" you for improving your situation on your own, but think about this: if God exists, he already "punished" you by taking your husband away from your family, and this was while you were a devoted believer! Why? Where's the justice or fairness in that? How is that part of a loving relationship with God? The answer is that you weren't being punished then, and you won't be punished for your unbelief, either, because bad things can happen to anyone at any time. I know you understand that intellectually, and that it's just your leftover emotional trauma that's trying to convince you otherwise.

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Thank you all for your kind words and encouragement. It feels good to have somewhere that I can be free to share these things.

 

Joyless, I am SO sorry for what you have been through. Thank you for your openness, I know that it took courage to share those things. I agree with Trapped, your post deserves its own thread so that others can read your thoughts. Hey, I heard this song yesterday and it really spoke to me. I thought it might be encouraging to you, too. (The last 3 lines are amazing.) We WILL rise from this.

 

 

 

 

Quicksand

Natalie Walker

 

I must have been so stupid

I must have been so out of touch

 

He must have been so clever

Convincing me that this was really love

 

Desperate for words, lost in a maze,

It fell apart, I lost my place,

It hurt so bad, I cried for days

Time healed all pain, now I'm okay

 

How many times can my heart break,

Disillusioned by the thought of flawless love?

 

Will I ever get there or am I drowning in

Quicksand, waiting on relief to come?

 

Desperate for words, lost in a maze,

It fell apart, I lost my place,

It hurt so bad, I cried for days

Time healed all pain, now I'm okay

 

I'll rise from all my sorrow,

Let the sun shine on my face

 

All alone in comfort,

It's my solitude I will embrace

 

I will rise from the sorrow

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Wow, 2honest! First of all, welcome to Ex-C. (I never thought I’d be here either.) Secondly, your writing is beautiful and articulates a very real struggle you are having, and one to which I can relate. I almost cried reading it.

 

I’d like to comment on a few of your very well-stated thoughts.

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

"I didn’t decide to get off the spirit-train.

I just got pushed off somehow and now none of it makes sense to me anymore."

I didn't decide either; it was kind of decided for me by some sort of neurotheological process. I started to lose not faith itself but the capacity for faith. I would read my Bible and it would be like "blah, blah, blah, blah", despite begging the Holy Spirit to enable understanding.

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

"...some person to come along and tell me God talked to them about me just isn’t enough.

Sitting and reading a book written by someone who went through hell and feels like God rescued them isn’t enough."

I can relate to you here. It all just seemed like either "blah, blah, blah" or even worse, the magic was gone: I could see the man behind the curtain in the puppet show. I saw coincidence and wishful thinking where others saw the hand of God. This was a confusing and even terrifying time. I had all these skeptical thoughts that I couldn't stop and I felt terrible!

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

"I thought I could see in the spirit in a way others couldn’t.

I had people prophesy to me about my life and my ministry – that God would use me to heal people and encourage them.

They “saw” me speaking, dancing, travelling, creating works of art, and seeing miracles as a result."

This part actually hurt to read. This is really a page out of my book, too. Sometimes I "know" things about people. I have/had a prophetic gifting (as it's called in some circles). I have had prophecies, too, and absolutely none of them have come to pass, despite me constantly trying to move in that general direction. This to me is the real crime of religious belief, especially the genre you and I were in--fundamental, pentecostal/charismatic, whatever: that our hopes are lifted, lifted, lifted--and then dashed. And then we blame ourselves and go back for more of the same.

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

"But over the course of several years I had a series spiritual experiences.

Each time I was sure my day of rescue had come.

Was I supposed to be encouraged simply by the fact that the captain and the rescue boat existed, and maybe he’d come back?"

It's like I, too, was in a relationship with myself, ultimately, but thinking that 'other' was just a part of my wishful thinking, or some sort of psychological or emotional golden calf with which I imbued certain (God) qualities. The up and down roller coaster of waiting for God--ultimately, in hindsight, I'd say looking for a feeling of God--left me broken.

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

"But what I do know is that most of what Christians call “encouragement” and “inspiration”,

are not actually helping those who are in the darkest of places."

Christians can't handle this type of information. They have a belief system that encapsulates belief and keeps it safe from critique. "God is good", end of story. Since you can't change your circumstances, Christianity requires that you change your interpretation of the circumstances. If you and I have the same issues, which it sounds like we do, this MO gets old at some point. No matter how hard we try to toe the party line.

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

"...it makes it sound as though my spiritual journey has been all about trying to find what “works”

– and maybe on some level it has been."

You say this like it's a bad thing. I was always felt this way, too: I was a worshiper, and you worship God even though you get nothing back. Like the Shadrach and friends in the fiery furnace: "God is able to save us, and he will, and even if he does not". That's the kind of faith I was looking for. That's the kind of faith I had; 'results' did not matter: only TruthTM mattered. But then, like you, I started realizing that the promises in the Bible don't ever come to pass. I have a terribly ironic health issue right now that has driven me from church. God will not heal me, even though it's his will. This was incredibly confusing for me. Pain? Yup. I, too, am "that girl". This is one big reason my faith died. But I can assure you that it died on the temple floor while I was waiting for healing. And yes, the absence of God is a terrible thing to experience.

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

"Yes, I am a double-minded woman, unstable in all my ways – that’s me."

If I can give you a word of advice? If your experience is anything like mine (and it sounds like it is) you are in the darkest part of the journey right now. It is incredibly tormenting being double minded. Soon, you will need to make some decisions about what, exactly, you believe. I physically feel pained for what you are going through. It is a very lonely place. My husband (like yours) is in a similar place, and this is great cause for rejoicing. The double mindedness is tormenting--keep talking with your husband (it's cheaper than therapy ../..//public/style_emoticons/default/wink.png and keeps you both on the same page). This is what helped me 'land my airplane' of faith.

 

Those of us in this belief system in which God speaks to us and cares for us as individuals have a tough road. If it's too scary becoming an atheist, try agnostic, or if that's not quite right, try becoming a more liberal Christian. Try Einstein's God--God is out there in some form but he certainly doesn't personally 'save' you, etc. Or try Brian MacLaren's writings. They were my first landing point and it definitely helped me in my process of losing faith. It is frightening and you don't know what is happening--except what other Christians say and, well, that's not very helpful. wacko.png

 

But have hope: life is good. Love is good. There are so many good and beautiful things in this world. We don't have to wait for the next world or for secret messages or invisible plans. You are smart, articulate, loving, and kind. Use these things to make the world a better place. If God is real and he loves me, he will come for me. But that's not how things are shaping up, but hey, if that's not faith I don't know what is.

 

Sorry for the long reply. It is good to have you here on Ex-C. Keep us posted!

 

Peace.

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...I know that there are those who would tell me that my walk with God is more important than a marriage and I have to say live in my shoes for one day! I know... my faith is in the wrong place, God never promised us a happy life, he answers prayers in his own way and in his own time and sometimes it is "no" and only for our good and christlikeness. I was led to believe with all my heart that God would heal my pain and save my husband. ...Unconfessed sin, Satan, idols on the "throne" of my heart, I haven't fully submitted my life to Christ, there is unforgiveness in my heart.

joyless, I was quite struck by your response to 2Honest. You did absolutely everything right and then some. And by "right" I mean according to your beliefs. Christians will always have one-dimensional pat-answer swords to run through those of us whose faith does not survive the crucible of reality. I, too, left the faith in a state of wounded disillusionment.

I have taken control of my life, moved on, found love and am working on a career. I have never felt more whole, alive and well in one regard, but at the same time the dogma is standing over my shoulder telling me that I am so prideful because I am living in my own strength and filling the "Jesus Hole in my Heart" with other things and relationships and that god will lovingly make tragedy befall me to call me back to his protective arms. I look over my should, so to speak, just waiting for his punishment. I constantly fear that the path I am taking is the wrong one and not God's will and will cause me more pain.

Good for you for 'getting off your knees' and getting a life! This is difficult and commendable and you have had a brutal journey. I applaud you taking these important steps. I, too, found it scary at first and was always scared God would smite me. However, it gets easier, doesn't it? One thing I still suck at is taking any credit for what I do. Ah well. All things in good time.

 

Thanks for sharing your story. 2Honest really resonated with a lot of us!! See you around Ex-C!

 

Peace.

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Thanks for the response, Positivist. And I don't mind the length at all! I'm a writer myself, so I understand. I know so many people here say this, but it really does help to know I'm not alone. Ya know, for years I've had the hardest time connecting with other Christians, especially women. They seemed to just be in this weird bubble, none of them seemed to be searching or thinking or expecting more (as I always was). I laughingly said to my husband the other day, "Hey, maybe the reason we've had a hard time connecting w/people in church is b/c they are Christians!" haha It helps to keep a sense of humor.

 

I agree with what you said here:

"If I can give you a word of advice? If your experience is anything like mine (and it sounds like it is) you are in the darkest part of the journey right now. It is incredibly tormenting being double minded. Soon, you will need to make some decisions about what, exactly, you believe."

 

I'm still struggling with that. It's like on the surface I know that I don't really believe the Bible anymore...but that is still so hard for me to even write! I told my husband today (yes, free therapy!) that I feel like I can't really say the words "I don't believe in God" or even write that as a statement of myself. I still feel a sense of "reverence" - not really fear, though. We've had a more "liberal" view of God for awhile now. And maybe that's what makes it so difficult. I'd formulated a view of God (and Jesus and the Holy Spirit and how the Christian life works) that I liked pretty well. I was actively working on seeing God as a loving, caring father. I felt like Jesus was my best friend and someone I could talk to about anything. When I was anxious or afraid about something, I'd sit and talk to him and feel better. I had a real love and honor for god in all of his aspects. And I believed in his love for me.

 

But I guess that all changed when I needed something tangible. It seemed the greater my expectation for what I believed (and the Bible said) to actually "manifest", the more I struggled. It turned everything upside down - it made me question who God was. That's how I ended up writing that journal entry. And now I'm realizing all the ignoring of scripture and mental hoops I've had to go through all this time to believe God was really like the one in my head. It's no wonder it all caved in on me.

 

I'm too tired tonight, but tomorrow I will post my entry from October.

 

So I think for now the only term I feel comfortable applying to myself is "free thinker". I've had a craving for true freedom for a long time now, and I like the idea of thinking and believing freely. :)

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Ya know, for years I've had the hardest time connecting with other Christians, especially women. They seemed to just be in this weird bubble, none of them seemed to be searching or thinking or expecting more (as I always was). I laughingly said to my husband the other day, "Hey, maybe the reason we've had a hard time connecting w/people in church is b/c they are Christians!

I felt the same way! I was stuck between the fact that I didnt relate to Christians very well, but I couldnt be close to people who werent christians, because it was "dangerous" and I felt I wouldnt grow around them. So I ended up isolated and depressed. Im still working out this isolation thing, because it has become a habit. But I really love being around people and am very sociable. Its getting better because Im learning how to love and accept all different kinds of people, and Im learning how to be myself, and that people really love me for who I am. :)

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...for years I've had the hardest time connecting with other Christians, especially women. They seemed to just be in this weird bubble, none of them seemed to be searching or thinking or expecting more (as I always was). I laughingly said to my husband the other day, "Hey, maybe the reason we've had a hard time connecting w/people in church is b/c they are Christians!"

Same here! It's like Christians speak one language and I speak another. And I just don't get Christian women. At all. (And I felt guilty about that for a long time.)

...on the surface I know that I don't really believe the Bible anymore...but that is still so hard for me to even write! I told my husband today (yes, free therapy!) that I feel like I can't really say the words "I don't believe in God"...We've had a more "liberal" view of God for awhile now.

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

...So I think for now the only term I feel comfortable applying to myself is "free thinker".

It sounds like you're in a good place, 2Honest. I found it hard to say the words "I am an atheist" and in fact, the first person I told that to was a health care professional. My confession was part of a 'victim impact statement' of sorts for what I was going through. Saying the words "I am now an atheist" was incredibly liberating for me. I realized at that moment that if God truly does not lose any of his children then he can and will come for me. At that moment, saying those words, I realized I could stop hanging onto God; I could stop defending the invisibility and inactivity of God.

 

New information has come to light--or, should I say, old information was discredited--and I now live according to what seems the best information.

 

I'm glad you have found this community on Ex-C!

 

Peace.

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"But over the course of several years I had a series spiritual experiences. Each time I was sure my day of rescue had come. But each time left me more confused and discouraged than the one before. It was like being lost at sea and finally seeing that rescue boat. The captain waves and says, “Don’t worry! I’m here!” You are so relieved, finally you will be saved. But then the captain sails away. What lesson was I supposed to take by these events? Was I supposed to be encouraged simply by the fact that the captain and the rescue boat existed, and maybe he’d come back?"

 

2Honest, that was a perfect example of how I have felt. It seems Christians actually insulate God from all things bad. He's only responsible for the good and you yourself are responsible for anything bad in your life. I always used the boatbuilder analogy: If I built a boat knowing it would leak and kill people who bought it, am I responsible? Yes! If God creates a devil which tricks and leads people to hell is He responsible? No! Go figure.

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2honest, that was painful and encouraging to read. I could have written this myself. I wonder how many Christians out there feel just like we do. My friends don't seem to understand, they only see the goodness of God.

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Welcome to the forums, 2Honest, and keep writing down those thoughts. You write from the bone marrow. Good for you.

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You echoed how I felt when you said that there were times that you felt like you had arrived at victory only to find that you really hadn't. I also was grateful when you acknowledged the genuine people that go to revivals truly believing that they would find healing only to leave worse off than when they arrived. I am worse off than when I started. I believed that I heard God talking to me and strived to obey because I believed that at the end of it would come my victory. Guess what did come? My husband left me for the woman that I asked God point blank to show me if they were having an affair and I believed He told me no! Not to fear, though. I was told that this was all part of God's plan for my husband's salvation and that was more important than the fact that I was a stay at home mom for 14 years of 4 children and had no meaningful way of supporting myself. Afterall, God would take care of us in his own way and for my own good to make me more Christike- even if it meant a homeless shelter. All I had to do was fast, pray, obey and make God my husband. People told me that God told them that my husband would come home saved. I gathered about 100 people in a coordinated effort to at a specific time we would "crash the gates of heaven" in our respective homes for his salvation. I really believed God would answer that prayer. I cried heart wrenching, near screaming prayers of anguish, fear and desperation for God to bring that man home for the sake of me and the children. I prayed for signs and got them that God really was working and was going to bring him home. I told people this! My hope grew so much! I waited and waited to the point of not protecting myself and the children because I really believed that I had nothing to worry about, he was coming home and we would be okay financially. Finally my hope began to give out and I asked the estranged point blank if he was coming back and he told me absolutely never and proceeded to give all the ugly reasons why. His heart wasn't softened one bit by the prayers or my fasting to the point of emaciation. I know that there are those who would tell me that my walk with God is more important than a marriage and I have to say live in my shoes for one day! I know... my faith is in the wrong place, God never promised us a happy life, he answers prayers in his own way and in his own time and sometimes it is "no" and only for our good and christlikeness. I was led to believe with all my heart that God would heal my pain and save my husband. I am so dismayed, burnt out and exhausted. I am sick of the Christians on facebook with their syrupy statuses about how in love with Jesus they are! Why has that been elusive to me when I have been striving for years? I know, I know. Unconfessed sin, Satan, idols on the "throne" of my heart, I haven't fully submitted my life to Christ, there is unforgiveness in my heart. I tried so hard to do all these things and begged the Holy Spirit to take control of me. I did the Beth Moore fruit of the spirit Bible study to help me with this to no avail. I feel such shame, guilt, isolation, anger and bitterness. I contacted Marlene Winell who coined the phrase "Religious Trauma Syndrome". I relate to everything about the diagnosis. I, like you, feel almost a PTSD when I hear the Scripture quotes and even the ministers on the radio. In any other area of life what I experienced would be considered abusive. I have taken control of my life, moved on, found love and am working on a career. I have never felt more whole, alive and well in one regard, but at the same time the dogma is standing over my shoulder telling me that I am so prideful because I am living in my own strength and filling the "Jesus Hole in my Heart" with other things and relationships and that god will lovingly make tragedy befall me to call me back to his protective arms. I look over my should, so to speak, just waiting for his punishment. I constantly fear that the path I am taking is the wrong one and not God's will and will cause me more pain. I know I am going on and on but I need to get this out to someone who might understand and relate personally. I don't want to be disresptful and bash Christianity but you perfectly summed up where I am at - disillusioned. I'm done, only for now. I still have A LOT left inside of me that is festering and has found a place here to process it.

 

If there is one thing I've learned during my time in Christianity, it's that it's DANGEROUS to "wait on God". I've "waited on God" to help me these last three years of my life while I've been going through mess after mess and disappointment after disappointment. Now all the messes in my life have piled up so high that it's impossible to wait anymore. And let me make it clear: it's not like I was just sitting on my ass doing nothing to fix these problems and was expecting God to do all the work - I did EVERYTHING I on my end that I could think of to try to change my situation and I figured if I did my part, God would help me with the things beyond my control. Well, guess what? He never did help. And so basically all the time I spent praying to the wind and reading the greatest piece of fiction ever (the bible) was a complete waste of my time and energy and I could have used that time and energy to try to think even harder of what I might possibly be able to do to help myself.

 

The "God's timing is perfect" shit is a joke. If you wait for "God", you might be waiting for forever.

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"If there is one thing I've learned during my time in Christianity, it's that it's DANGEROUS to "wait on God". I've "waited on God" to help me these last three years of my life while I've been going through mess after mess and disappointment after disappointment."

 

"The "God's timing is perfect" shit is a joke. If you wait for "God", you might be waiting for forever."

 

 

 

Yeah, I hear you. I am in the middle of a health crisis b/c of "waiting on God". When I think about if I had been more proactive, listened to doctors and found the right treatments I'd probably be ok now...I feel like an idiot. And it upsets me how much time I have lost. And I also fear that my "waiting" has actually done serious harm to my body.

 

Just for "grins" (but it didn't make me smile!), I listened to the sermon from our church online yesterday. Hearing it with new ears was kind of alarming. Basically the pastor was saying that it's wrong (or ineffective) to try to find solutions to problems in the "natural" - that all we need is in the "spirit realm". That's what we were taught the 3 years we were in that church. I fully believe in the sincerity and love of our former pastors. But they are so sincerely wrong. They have no idea how much that belief system can harm people.

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Yeah, I hear you. I am in the middle of a health crisis b/c of "waiting on God". When I think about if I had been more proactive, listened to doctors and found the right treatments I'd probably be ok now...I feel like an idiot. And it upsets me how much time I have lost. And I also fear that my "waiting" has actually done serious harm to my body.

 

Just for "grins" (but it didn't make me smile!), I listened to the sermon from our church online yesterday. Hearing it with new ears was kind of alarming. Basically the pastor was saying that it's wrong (or ineffective) to try to find solutions to problems in the "natural" - that all we need is in the "spirit realm". That's what we were taught the 3 years we were in that church. I fully believe in the sincerity and love of our former pastors. But they are so sincerely wrong. They have no idea how much that belief system can harm people.

 

2Honest, I wish you luck with your health (because, lets face it, the good and the bad that happen to us simply come down to luck that can't be explained). I agree that there are some Christians that truly are trying to preach what they think to be true with good intentions, but they have no idea that some of the things they preach can be seriously harmful.

 

I'm glad that when I was a Christian that I never fell for the "modern medicine is wrong" crap that some Christians try to spew. If I'm sick, you better believe I'm going to the doctor and that I'm going to use whatever medicine is out there to help me. I always truly believed that medicine and medical advancements were gifts/blessings and that they were meant to be used. But I can see how you got caught in the guilt trip that Christians used on you, and it's stuff like this that makes me angry. Here I was staying calm these three years when I should have been fighting even harder than I already was. This "waiting for God's perfect timing" shit can really delude people and hurt them in the long run.

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I am in the middle of a health crisis b/c of "waiting on God". When I think about if I had been more proactive, listened to doctors and found the right treatments I'd probably be ok now...I feel like an idiot. And it upsets me how much time I have lost.

 

Just for "grins" (but it didn't make me smile!), I listened to the sermon from our church online yesterday. Hearing it with new ears was kind of alarming. Basically the pastor was saying that it's wrong (or ineffective) to try to find solutions to problems in the "natural" - that all we need is in the "spirit realm".

Oh dear, 2H.... This is happening to so many people I know! This belief is rampant. It makes me very sad.

I hope you can find good medical care to help you through this. Keep us posted.

This "waiting for God's perfect timing" shit can really delude people and hurt them in the long run.

TW, too true. I have a good single friend who is waiting for God to bring her the Right Man. She is entering menopause (TMI, sorry) related to chemotherapy for breast cancer treatment. She's had a mastectomy. She wants children. She's waiting. And waiting. While the best years of her life are frittered away on her knees. She won't initiate any dates, because she is fundy and believes the man must initiate everything from coffee suggestions to marriage proposals.

 

Yes, let's get off our knees and get to work, people! I hope you get these things ironed out, TW, whatever's going on for you.

 

Peace.

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Welcome, 2Honest and joyless! This was a captivating thread. I wish you both the best there is in life--you have a chance to find it now. I haven't been through all that you describe but still found a lot to resonate with, especially with how hard I tried to seek God and with how terrifying it was to say "I am no longer a Christian." Stick around! It's a deeply personal journey so it's hard to imagine anyone having experienced the same thing, but this place is a good mental space to be reminded that you still have a community of shared experience. :-)

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Hi

 

Thanks for sharing. What I can relate to is how hard it is to challenge one's own believes. By the time I decided to give up christianity I was a wreck. All the best for you and your husband.

 

Herman

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I would be fooled by those christian couples who would claim that they had stopped dating as a means of drawing near to God, and at that moment they met their mate, when they weren't looking for one! Praise God!

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I know what you mean when others claim to have miracles and god speaking to them. it kinda

left me wondering "well why doesnt that happen to me ever, why doesnt god speak to me"

 

and what i've noticed is that the people who usually claim to hear god and see miracles, are more likely

than not the ones who are getting "more attention from god". or so it seems like. This leads me to believe that

these types of people have a lower standard of proof for something, or they feed into what there emotions can conjure up.

 

 

 

I wanted very badly to be pentecostal and hear from God etc., but it seemed like it would never happen to me. Eventually, I did start hearing voices in my head, and it was not fun, so I learned to be careful what I wish for.

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TW, too true. I have a good single friend who is waiting for God to bring her the Right Man. She is entering menopause (TMI, sorry) related to chemotherapy for breast cancer treatment. She's had a mastectomy. She wants children. She's waiting. And waiting. While the best years of her life are frittered away on her knees. She won't initiate any dates, because she is fundy and believes the man must initiate everything from coffee suggestions to marriage proposals.

 

Yes, let's get off our knees and get to work, people! I hope you get these things ironed out, TW, whatever's going on for you.

 

Peace.

 

Thank you for your good wishes - I need all I can get!

 

That's very sad about your friend, and even sadder is that she's probably going to miss her chance to have children because she's waiting for the invisible wizard in the sky to send her a husband. I'm SO glad that it only took me until now (I'm 29) to figure out that if I want something, then it's ME who has to fight to get it and that waiting around for "God" is just wasting precious time.

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