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Forging My Own Path....

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I was raised a Southern Baptist. My parents made sure I was in church every time the doors were open. I was a leader in my youth group, a member of the choir, and attended youth group every summer. I was the girl in high school who brought up church in every conversation I had with every person I knew. When I met someone who was not "saved" I drove them crazy with my constant invitations to youth group and my Christian cliches like, "do you have Jesus in your heart?"

 

I can honestly say that I wanted to believe. However, deep down, I always felt somewhat fake. People saw me as this perfect Christian girl, but no matter how much I tried, I couldn't get rid of this nagging feeling that I was not saved no matter how many times I prayed the prayer. I always felt like this was something that was my fault. My senior year, my youth pastor preached about how most kids who go to college lose their religion while being there. Something told me that I would be one of those kids, and that thought scared me to death. Before I left for college, I made the resolve that I would not lose my religion while in college.

 

I did not realize how lonely college would be. Especially within the church doors......

 

When I started college, I knew absolutely no one there. My room mates were not nice girls. I also do not think that it helped that I constantly shoved my religion down their throats. I know I was obnoxious, but there was no reason for the cruelty. They often left me alone in the room and laughed about me behind my back. I tried to get involved in church groups, but I often found their "niceness" fake. People were always willing to smile and say hello, but no one was willing to get beyond that. For the first time in my life, I felt completely and utterly alone. Despite this, I put on my church face and smiled and pretended that everything was alright as long as I had my faith.

 

Everything was not alright.

 

My loneliness led to depression. I stopped eating. I could not sleep, and my grades quickly plummeted. None of my Christian friends seemed to notice this. The only positive thing that happened freshman year was that I met the love of my life and my soulmate. He was the one bright spot I had. He listened to me when I needed to talk and he never judged me no matter what I said. For the first time, I felt like someone really saw me for who I was and loved me despite it. He was perfect except for one thing. He did not go to church. I was faced with a dilemma. Either let go of this wonderful person who was quickly becoming my best friend to follow a faith that had left me feeling hurt and alone. Or compromise my faith for love. I made the compromise and four years later we got engaged. I am now planning my wedding to this wonderful man.

 

After I entered my "unequally yoked" relationship, I began to notice hypocrisies in the church I had not noticed before. I noticed how many of my church friends ignored the loneliness and hurt of others. I noticed the judgement when I stopped attending church groups. Slowly I lost my faith in organized religion. After that, I began thinking about all of the bad things that happen. I also began asking myself questions like why would a technically good person go to hell? Just as I lost my faith in organized religion, I began to lose my faith in Christianity itself.

 

I am getting ready to graduate college. I don't know what I am spiritually, but I do know that I have a firm belief in love. I genuinely love people, and I try to be the best person I can be. My family does not know about my loss of faith. It would devastate them if they knew I have left the flock. Sunday after Sunday goes by and I force myself to sit through sermons I no longer agree with. I know that eventually I will have to tell them, but I am afraid of what it will do to my relationship with them. I see how they talk about people who are not "saved". It hurts me to listen, because I know that is how they will talk about me. I know that they will pretend to be happy to see me, but on the inside they will be cringing and crying. I am just not ready to set those events into motion. I am also dealing withtrying to figure out who I really am. After 22 years of being told that who I am is defined by my religion, it is time to spend some time defining myself.

 

I know I must not be the only person to go through this, but I am at a place where I have no one to talk to about dealing with this. Despite my fears about creating family rifts, it is nice to finally live my life the way I want to live it; not based on a set of rules that are impossible to follow. It is nice to determine for myself what is right and what is wrong. It is even better to know that I am creating my own path, and that if I fail or succeed, it is my fault and that I am in control of my own life.

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Welcome openbook! Congrats on figuring it out so young!

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Thank You! Do you have any advice for sharing this stuff with my fundamentalist family?

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My advice will differ from most here. I would advise not to share. Unless they are freethinking enough to honestly consider your perspective, no good can come of it. If you are willing to be judged and ostracized, go for it. Otherwise, don't go there. Live your life, and let them think what they will. They might be happier with a hint of hope that you still believe. :)

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My fiance is an atheist and he absolutely refuses to "play church" , So I am at a place where I will eventually have to tell my family how I feel.

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Just don't give them any room to judge. You might write a letter explaining the process that you've gone through. We can help. I would try to plant seeds and drop hints prior to laying it all out.

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Welcome to outside the fold! It's so much better on this side of doubt!

 

You are so lucky you got out young. I almost escaped at your age, but got sucked back in for another decade and a bit except even more hardcore. wacko.png

 

Anyhow, about your family, I wouldn't worry about making some big pronouncement. That might be traumatizing to them. The last thing you want is to become their mission and the substance of every prayer! Just be yourself and they'll figure out that you've toned down your walk with God (dialled it way the hell down, but they probably can't handle that). For example, if asked to pray, just say "I'm not really in that space right now" and when asked why you don't go to church, just say "I'm taking a break".

 

You sound like you know who you are--this is fantastic! Walk forward into peace! Hope to see you around the boards. beer.gif

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It's so nice to hear people coming out so early at least you've got more years to enjoy life as it is rather than living it the religious way.

 

Positivist's idea is nice unless you really are so eager to tell them the truth. When I revealed my atheism to my family, it was through a letter because I'm miles away from them but it didn't receive any positive results. Nevertheless I am happy I got out of this God dogma.

 

Give it time!

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Welcome, Open Book! :)

 

You're kind of between a rock and a hard place here, and I can't believe how similar your situation is to Suzie's, who recently managed to negotiate her way through it successfully. I've texted her, I'm hoping she'll drop in and say hi (we met on here, and then discovered we live four blocks away from each other lol). She's not meant to be on ex-c while she's learning to deal with her anxiety, but I hope she'll drop in on this thread if she feels up to it :) Maybe you guys can email and talk off the site or something :)

 

As far as being open with your family, well, my approach (and I'm not in your situation here) has been to be pretty open about it, EXCEPT with my grandfather or anyone I suspect may tell him out of "concern" for my eternal well-being. Grandpa's 91, and I see no benefit to distressing him at this late stage in his life with my apostasy. So i say "god bless you" back and I listen to the "developments" in Israel and how they fit into end-times prophecies and I keep my big mouth shut around him and anyone I don't trust to keep the news to themselves. I don't believe in upsetting the elderly or people living with a terminal illness unnecessarily. Some people I reckon should just be left alone, I reckon :)

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Welcome, openbook!

 

I agree with those that say to just not mention your loss of faith. After you get settled into your new marriage, if anyone in the family asks about church, you can choose to say that you have your own spiritual arrangements, or you can just flat out tell them that you don't believe anymore. I don't see any reason to make a big announcement to everyone to tell them you're now an apostate, but I tend to want to avoid drama in my life.

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I know this doesn't fit your situation exactly but as a father of 3 adult children I did the following before coming out. I had a personal chat with each where I said that as they grow older no matter what belief path they took or even did not take that I would still love them and it would NOT affect our relationship at all. They were all pretty strong Christians.....thanks to me! Ugh! Little did they know it would be me changing. But I knew it at the time.

 

About a month later, on Easter the crap hit the fan. My oldest daughter has been great, son in seminary great after the first day, and youngest daughter said she has always doubted god, just afraid to say it.

 

Now my wife! That has been a whole different matter! My parents passed away years ago. They would have not taken it well. Dad was a baptist minister.

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Hi Openbook, thank you for sharing and congrats on your engagement! It's funny how Christian leaders blame college for why kids leave the fold, as if upon entering teachers are handing out atheist guides or the "How To's" of leaving the church.

 

Most people are scared to ask if you still believe, usually because they are scared of the answer. I prefer to utilize the "don't ask, don't tell" policy with this subject. Trust yourself to tell who you think you should tell, and just smile and nod to those you don't trust or know won't handle it with maturity.

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I was raised a Southern Baptist. My parents made sure I was in church every time the doors were open. I was a leader in my youth group, a member of the choir, and attended youth group every summer. I was the girl in high school who brought up church in every conversation I had with every person I knew. When I met someone who was not "saved" I drove them crazy with my constant invitations to youth group and my Christian cliches like, "do you have Jesus in your heart?"

 

I can honestly say that I wanted to believe. However, deep down, I always felt somewhat fake. People saw me as this perfect Christian girl, but no matter how much I tried, I couldn't get rid of this nagging feeling that I was not saved no matter how many times I prayed the prayer. I always felt like this was something that was my fault. My senior year, my youth pastor preached about how most kids who go to college lose their religion while being there. Something told me that I would be one of those kids, and that thought scared me to death. Before I left for college, I made the resolve that I would not lose my religion while in college.

 

I did not realize how lonely college would be. Especially within the church doors......

 

When I started college, I knew absolutely no one there. My room mates were not nice girls. I also do not think that it helped that I constantly shoved my religion down their throats. I know I was obnoxious, but there was no reason for the cruelty. They often left me alone in the room and laughed about me behind my back. I tried to get involved in church groups, but I often found their "niceness" fake. People were always willing to smile and say hello, but no one was willing to get beyond that. For the first time in my life, I felt completely and utterly alone. Despite this, I put on my church face and smiled and pretended that everything was alright as long as I had my faith.

 

Everything was not alright.

 

My loneliness led to depression. I stopped eating. I could not sleep, and my grades quickly plummeted. None of my Christian friends seemed to notice this. The only positive thing that happened freshman year was that I met the love of my life and my soulmate. He was the one bright spot I had. He listened to me when I needed to talk and he never judged me no matter what I said. For the first time, I felt like someone really saw me for who I was and loved me despite it. He was perfect except for one thing. He did not go to church. I was faced with a dilemma. Either let go of this wonderful person who was quickly becoming my best friend to follow a faith that had left me feeling hurt and alone. Or compromise my faith for love. I made the compromise and four years later we got engaged. I am now planning my wedding to this wonderful man.

 

After I entered my "unequally yoked" relationship, I began to notice hypocrisies in the church I had not noticed before. I noticed how many of my church friends ignored the loneliness and hurt of others. I noticed the judgement when I stopped attending church groups. Slowly I lost my faith in organized religion. After that, I began thinking about all of the bad things that happen. I also began asking myself questions like why would a technically good person go to hell? Just as I lost my faith in organized religion, I began to lose my faith in Christianity itself.

 

I am getting ready to graduate college. I don't know what I am spiritually, but I do know that I have a firm belief in love. I genuinely love people, and I try to be the best person I can be. My family does not know about my loss of faith. It would devastate them if they knew I have left the flock. Sunday after Sunday goes by and I force myself to sit through sermons I no longer agree with. I know that eventually I will have to tell them, but I am afraid of what it will do to my relationship with them. I see how they talk about people who are not "saved". It hurts me to listen, because I know that is how they will talk about me. I know that they will pretend to be happy to see me, but on the inside they will be cringing and crying. I am just not ready to set those events into motion. I am also dealing withtrying to figure out who I really am. After 22 years of being told that who I am is defined by my religion, it is time to spend some time defining myself.

 

I know I must not be the only person to go through this, but I am at a place where I have no one to talk to about dealing with this. Despite my fears about creating family rifts, it is nice to finally live my life the way I want to live it; not based on a set of rules that are impossible to follow. It is nice to determine for myself what is right and what is wrong. It is even better to know that I am creating my own path, and that if I fail or succeed, it is my fault and that I am in control of my own life.

 

Welcome Openbook :-)

 

I understand what you say. In fact people in churches are not different of those in the world. And when you deconvert you realize that most of time faith was the only point of interest. Once you are out of their beliefs people are like strangers.

I know how we can be so disapointed with christians but for me it means that people in churches are not different of those in the world. They just cover their dark side with religion. And in fact christianity is not realistic because it appears you need to be perfect and washed of all your sins when in fact people have a good and darker side in their life. But in churches we look for spiritual people and at

least there are not. This is probably the most difficult. I know actually more people feel alone in churches when they wouldnt be alone. Perfection is just unralistic.

 

well you have no choice to open your eyes but I know and understand how it can be destabilizing. Looking the reality and the truth are never easy. We know as ex christians how it takes time to accept that life

is going on and we must find a new balance in our life. And it takes time, firstly to accept that christianity is fake and cannot help you at all, that all are lies. We can deny that a long time before accepting and moving on. It is like you must accept the end of a relationship and go through different points like : deny, anger, depression and then you finally accept the reality. And everyone is different, sometimes we stay in deny for a long time. I wish you the best and do not hesitate to come here and speak with us. It is very helpful .

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Hey, openbook! Just wanted to say welcome and glad you found the forum. This is a great place to come and get help through this transition you're facing.

 

Oh also I was wondering, are you doing a church wedding? I imagine the wedding plans are pretty interesting given your atheist fiancee and religious family. ;)

 

2H

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Welcome OpenBook!

 

In general, I say take it slow, don't hide out of fear, and don't react out of anger.

 

Eventually, you will have to fully "come out". It will likely come with a higher cost than you expect, but not as high a cost as living your whole life in hiding.

 

Stick around and make some friends :)

 

Jason

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Guest Babylonian Dream

I wish I met my soulmate. Congrads! Don't let go of that, that's hard to find. What you and your fiance have is worth way more than the emptiness everyone else wants to impose on your life. I remember that emptiness from church, I felt the same way before I deconverted. I went through a superfundy phase even just before giving it up.

 

As for your parents, if you have to, before you decide to cue them in on what he believes, say you guys are going to a different church.

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Good work getting out of the Southern Baptist cult! YAY! (I've been there, I'd never ever go back, BLARG, I'm a "filthy idol-worshipper" anyway :P)

 

I couldn't keep my apostasy to myself, or my move into pagan religions. Everyone knows, and if they don't like it, they can eat a bag of dicks. But that's me, and not everyone is comfortable with that kind of bluntness. I love living my life openly and not pretending to be something I'm not. I find my peace that way, knowing who I am and loving it, no matter what anyone else thinks. Others would rather avoid conflict with the people around them, but when I fake something, I cause ten times the internal conflict in myself. Fuck that noise.

 

Whatever you decide is best for you, good luck with it, and best of luck planning your wedding!

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