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My "fruit" Of The Spirit Was Guilt, Shame And Turmoil!


joyless
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I can't believe that I am doing this. I feel like I am betraying an intimate friend or lover, but the isolation is getting to be too much. I have posted responses here and there but I feel so ready to pour out the tornado of emotions that I live with everyday due to my experiences with Christianity. As I have already mentioned in many posts, my first introduction to church was being told that I was going to burn in hell over innocent child play. This led me to such a horror of God and dying as well as inner shame, sadness and isolation. I carried that for years and it profoundly affected how I interacted with the world and those around me, as well as my own lowered self esteem. So in my twenties when I heard the "Good News" it really did free me from that fear of burning in hell. I couldn't get enough of reading Christian books and watching church services and preachers on t.v. It really was one of the happiest times of my life. My relationship with Jesus was innocent. I felt accepted and loved and genuinely wanted others to have in Him what I had. I was born again and so proud! Then the yoke of slavery began when I branched out and started "fellowshipping" with my brothers and sisters. The do's and don'ts were replaced by the living and breathing relationship that I had with Christ. More Bible study and earlier in the morning -"Christ died for you so the least you can do is wake up early and start your day living for Him!". "You own nothing at all- it all belongs to Him so give it all back". "Don't associate with the bad people of the world, unless it is to tell them about Jesus and drag them to church." How sad that the love is so conditional. It seemed to me that there was NO area of my life that I was living up to God's standard and my natural propensity to shame and guilt was triggered massively. When I stared having marital problems I truly sought God and other Christian women. The more I learned the more into despair I fell. The contradictory statements were so profound. I was making my husband an idol and needed to make Jesus my husband, but I should become like the Proverbs 31 woman who was a perfect submissive wife. I even signed up for a husband encouragement challenge where I was to speak only when spoken to by my husband! I desperately tried to make God my husband and get my identity only from Him. I read books, did workbooks, poured through countless websites of ministries devoted to women and marriage. I joined a Christian support group, cried on the altar during a healing service and went to a Christian therapist. Finding love for Christ as a replacement for the pain that I felt in my marriage was elusive. I thought I heard God's voice in my head countless times and obeyed with all my heart, but He never did heal my heart. What did happen is that my husband left. I was told that this was all part of the salvation plan for my husband and that I had to pray and fast and not have any anger in heart or else God wouldn't answer my prayers and my husband's soul was held in the balance. I fasted until I was bone thin, but my husband kept crashing on toward divorce. He got fired from his job and this was seen as a "sign" that God was "breaking" him. I believed it and had so much hope! Non-believers were so scared for me because I was a stay at home mom of four kids and had no meaningful way of supporting us but I didn't seemed phased because this was all part of the plan. I was supposed to be reflecting Christ to a hurting world thru my situation and make people want to flock to him because of the way I was handling myself. People just thought I was nuts and delusional!!! Other believers told me that God told them stuff about my situation and that my husband was going to come home saved. I looked for signs under every rock. They all kept me believing that if I just had enough faith that God would do this. Someone famous in the Christian world suggested that I organize a time of prayer where we all prayed for his salvation in our homes at a specific time. I exhaustively emailed what amounted to a hundred connections and we "crashed the gates of heaven" for that man's salvation. My pastor basically slapped me in the face during his Valentine's Day sermon when it was all about how wonderful marriage is and how bad divorce is. I started shaking and ran out sobbing "it isn't my fault". Then he gave me the Love Dare- as if it was my fault that man left and I needed to become something more palatable for him to return! I become so tired and disillusioned. I went out to dinner with my best friend's male buddy that she knew for 25 years and we had a blast. I never felt more alive and happy. But of course, I was sinning. I was filling the "Jesus Hole" in my heart with a man and I wasn't working on my relationship with God. My relationship with God and his friggin kids did nothing but suck the life out of me, give me false hope, kept me in a constant state of helplessness, guilt and shame. I was told that if this relationship continued that bad things would happen to me. I lived in such constant fear. Whenver anything happened- like a flat tire or something broken around the house, I viewed it as God's punishment. I feared that He wasn't going to take care of me and the kids but I just couldn't give up this intimate relationship that was slowly becoming so precious to me. I feel very abused. I feel like I am living in two different worlds right now. The fruit of the spirit includes joy, peace, patience and love. I BEGGED for these qualities and all I got was condemnation, guilt, shame, fear and frustration. Why doesn't it work for me? Why am I so different than all those people who truly find their identity in Christ? The old tapes keep playing in my head and I don't know what to believe. My experiences just don't match up. But the circular reasoning is that God simply said "no", I didn't have enough faith, He has something better planned but I am trying to take control of my life instead, I cherish my sin... on and on! Can anybody relate to this turmoil? I am having trouble enjoying my new wonderful life because it is so sinful but I don't want to go back to my Christian life because I am so burnt out and miserable. I swear that Scripture quotes give me PTSD! I could ramble on and but the point is that I feel abused, I'm fearful and guilty yet exhilerated, free and so embracing my new life as many of dreams are coming true! My head is spinning- please someone relate!

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Hi joyless,

 

Welcome to ex-C! There are people here who have been through similar kinds of things. It gets better. If you don't like reading the Bible then it's okay to stop for a while. I went through a phase where it was painful to read the Bible because every time I did I felt betrayed. If you want to remain Christian then I'm not going to step on your religion. However many people like me found that their lives improved after leaving Christianity, after the fear stage passed of course. There is this big fear you experience when you leave but it doesn't last. It's a complicated subject so ask around and read input from all sorts of people. We have many members from many perspectives. Rant any time you need someone to listen. We are here for ya. You are not alone and many people have experienced the same frustration with Christianity. It's up to you to choose the path that is right for you.

 

MM

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Wow, it is really sad that your church people treated you the terrible way they did. My sister told me God would forgive me when I got divorced. I wasn't really looking for his forgiveness but really just glad to be DONE with that mess. I did what needed to be done for my own peace of mind and it appears your life is headed in a better direction as well. You say your new life is exhilarating and free yet you feel fearful and guilty. Freedom from the oppression of organized religion is exhilarating and freeing. Fear and guilt is what the church people have given you. The fundamentalist fools I went to church with considered just about everything that sounded like fun to be 'sinful' if it didn't include praising Jesus every 5 minutes. Anything and everything can be construed as sin if one twists scripture around enough. But as you remove the jesus glasses from your eyes ask yourself, "Is this thing I'm doing really bad for me?" The answer needs to come from YOUR heart, not from God, not from Jesus, not from your pastor or church members or friends or relatives. This is YOUR life and no one elses.

 

 

The collective imaginations of a variety of people have created what you think of as God. Do your churchmates want you to have an enjoyable life or a miserable one? Maybe it is time to redefine God for yourself and redefine sin. And if these church people start to balk at your new-found freedom of thought by quoting scripture, extend the middle finger. Avoid religious people and the fear and guilt will diminish. Put your bible in a drawer ... or the garbage.

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Joyless, I'm assuming you picked that user name because that's how the churchin' you had left you....joyless. Of course it does. They use guilt and shame and the prospect of shunning you as a weapon. They are control freaks using religion as a cover. When all is going well notice the cat-ate-the-canary look on alot of the people who attend. I liken it to a smerk.

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Joyless Wecome. I want to thank you for taking the time to write your story. Every story helps me. Your's made my blood boil this morning...........I wanted to 'throw up' as I read it because I was indoctrined with the exact same thing for 8 years. I practically lived at their church...... Just young enough in my early 20's to fuck my head up for the rest of my life. It has only been in the last 2 years that I have tried to investigate every god-damned avenue that I could, to convince myself that christianity was a big, fat lie !! This web-site saved my life and I mean that.

 

My heart bleeds for you today. But I am so glad you found us!! Now, you can let out all the shit that you are holding inside...... with us - people that understand!!

 

Your letter really helped me so much this morn. Thank you

 

I sincerely hope you can change your 'on-line' name, very soon hon!!

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Welcome to ex-c joyless. As others have said, the guilt is from the programming, not from god. Think of what a wonderful, honest, and peaceful society we have today. Is thought crime something we support or abhor? Then why would any loving god worthy of worship support it? You know the answer.

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I read your rant and I can't help but think that your marriage woes were due in part to naive religionists around you giving bad advice. Conservative religion can hold up lofty ideals of how life should be but often times they don't have the tools or experience to help you live that out. The blind leading the blind indeed. And to top it off, there's the condemnation, guilt, and shame when you don't measure up. I did not come from a conservative Protestant background so I cannot fully relate to that but I still saw some of that in the Orthodox church (my issue with Eastern Orthodoxy was more about authoritarianism than the kind of naivite Evangelicals can have), but I encountered it tangentially just being somebody with a Christian identity.

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