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Sunflower

Christianity And Anxiety

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Hi everyone,

 

Have deliberated about posting this for a while, as there are quite a surplus of testimonies on here...but what the hell...this is my story!

 

Growing up surrounded by Christianity, to me it was the only way. A life without God made no sense.

 

My entire pre-teen and teenage life was a cycle of the following steps repeated:

 

1. Knowing I should be close to God but not really feeling like I was

2. Going to the Bible to find scriptures to bring me closer to God, stumbling upon scriptures of an angry God, feeling confused, and then turning to the familiar comfort of Psalms, which with it's passion-filled writings of a loving God, I knew was sure to make me feel like I could worship this loving creator I had had described to me my whole life…but still not really feeling the passion I had seen the adults around me displaying.

3. Trying to overcome my insecurities of what people thought of me and putting my whole heart into worshiping on a Sunday- feeling so great through the emotion of the music and having moments of clarity and making private promises to God to be closer to him and follow him with my whole heart

4. The next day losing this feeling completely-burning out and feeling guilty and unworthy

 

Sometimes step 3 would last longer than a day…and when that happened it was amazing. I felt so confident in myself and felt I knew that I was closer to the person I wanted to be and the life I wanted to live. But it was only a matter of time before the clarity disappeared and I was back where I started.

 

I fell in love when I was 19 with a boy who had the same issues as me. We were both confused about God's relevance in our lives and concerned with finding the truth. For the first time, I started considering looking outside the Bible.

 

My boyfriend's de-conversion seemed to happen quite quickly. He devoted a lot of his time reading all sorts of sources from both sides and began to seriously doubt the God that he thought he knew.

 

He told me that he was looking for the truth. That he wished that God was real because without him the world suddenly became so much more complicated, but that he would keep looking. We both continued to attend church every week despite our lack of faith.

 

My boyfriend's de-conversion was emotionally painful for him, but as he came along, everything became gradually clearer and easier.

 

Seeing him walk away so quickly and being so sure of where he was at was hard for me. My mind was less rational than his and while I couldn't really feel God's presence in my life any longer it was still almost impossible to imagine that He wasn't real. All my beliefs and my understanding of the world was based around him…if he wasn't real than everything I was certain about would fall out of place.

 

I struggled with extreme anxiety about death and hell. I was caught in between two worlds. My whole life was controlled around this horrible, crippling fear of my boyfriend going to hell. No matter how happy I felt or no matter how many good things were happening around me, he was still going to go to hell. It was constantly at the back of my mind. This is what I was taught my whole life. I would have panic attacks and horrible visions of him being tortured and felt so extremely helpless.

 

I would pray numerous times a day begging God to something, anything at all to make him believe again. I fasted a handful of times, but nothing would ever happen. There was no change. He was happy. Everything made sense to him and he wasn't going to leave his newfound clarity.

 

Even though I could see that he was happy where he was I couldn't shake my fears and anxiety. It turned me into a manipulative controlling person. While I didn't really have a relationship with God myself, this fear that I had ingrained into me my whole life was the only thing keeping me attached to 'God.' I thought if I prayed enough, had enough faith, that I could convince God to save him from an eternity of torture. I knew I was only using God in an attempt to soothe my fears but it was an addiction. If I forgot to pray one day and he died in a car accident, he would go to hell and it would be all my fault. I was confused because so many horrible things were happening in the world all around me constantly; it was like the world was a death trap. Surely, the girl who I saw on the news who had been raped and murdered had had somebody pray for her safety at least once, so why did God allow it? Was it like a game, like a lucky dip? Or did he give mercy and immunity to those who prayed the hardest?

 

The responsibility weighed me down for a year. It was beginning to tear us apart. Our beliefs were the only thing we disagreed about. My only reason for holding onto God was as a drug to soothe my anxiety and I knew this, but it was so hard to let go of. I was so angry with God for putting the weight on my shoulders. I felt like God was telling me I had to break up with him because he wasn't a believer. I couldn't do it- I was far too in love with him. I felt like God was telling me it was either I stayed happily in love with him and he went to hell or I broke up with him and he would have a chance. Christians who I confided in told me it was the only way to save him.

 

After a while it all became too much. I began to do my own researching. I had avoided this previously because it would make me feel guilty and fearful that if I looked outside of the Bible and the church, that God wouldn't protect my boyfriend or me. Looking back now, it reminds me of a blackmail situation. After looking at both sides evenly, I started to really begin to question if God was seriously real. I figured that if he was, the unhealthy relationship revolving around my anxiety that I had with him was not what he would want.

 

I found so much evidence on the other side and not much to support what I had always believed. I began to test the waters by letting go of my obsessive praying slowly…and nothing changed. Nobody died. Gradually, I became so much more at peace mentally. I just let go. Previously, my way of controlling the situation had been to pray all the time, which put the responsibility on me. But after I just began to let it go and stopped always praying, there was no more control. There was nothing to control. There was no more responsibility. There was nothing I could do. And that was so comforting. Whatever would be, would be and I didn't have to feel responsible any more. There was no hell, no God. Everything was so much simpler.

 

Some people have asked me how I can not believe in a creator, why I would want to believe in nothing, how I find can meaning and purpose? My response has been that I would rather believe that nothing was created, that there is no higher being and no God-ordained meaning in life than believe that there is a creator who creates beings consciously knowing that one day, he will send them to place unfathomably horrible. Who knows as he creates a human being that while they are on earth they will have unspeakable things done to them. How can this make any sense?

 

I am now 21 years old. It’s been a couple months since I deconverted and I feel like a different person. While I still have very occasional pangs of anxiety, I feel like my life is completely in my hands. Ironically, it’s like being ‘born again.’ I feel like a newborn. My future is mine to create and this makes me smile.

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Ugh, the guilt that can result from religion is just unbearable.

 

I'm glad that you're breaking free of it. It truly feels wonderful to abandon all the unnecessary baggage and get on with life. It's good you came to the realization while you are still young. Some people don't escape until a much older age, and end up feeling like they wasted a lot of their life. You still have most of your life to go, and it should be a wonderful time!

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Welcome, Sunflower!

 

Thanks for sharing your story. I, too have found that life just seems to make more sense without Christianity. Even better, I no longer need to try to rationalize around all of the things that don't make sense about Christianity.

 

I find the comments about 'why you would want to believe in nothing' to be so weird. I mean, why would you want to believe in gravity when you can believe that with every step you can float around like a soap bubble? You believe the way you do because that's what you think is real.

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Welcome, Sunflower!

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While I still have very occasional pangs of anxiety, I feel like my life is completely in my hands. Ironically, it’s like being ‘born again.’ I feel like a newborn. My future is mine to create and this makes me smile.

 

Welcome to ex-C! Leaving Christianity sets you free.

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So glad you faced the fear and looked into the evidence to see what christianity really is -- christinsanity! You're right about the blackmail too! Welcome to Ex-C, Sunflower, and to real freedom! Keep smiling! It makes people wonder what you're up to! GONZ9729CustomImage1539775.gif

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I am soooooo glad you 'got it' so young sweetheart!! Now you can live a normal life!! woohoo.gif

Welcome to EX-c Miss Sunflower!! yellow.gif

 

We are here for you!! thanks for taking the time to share that story with us!!

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Welcome! I was so happy to read about how at the end you felt so liberated to realize you were free. I'm glad you're here :)

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I'm happy that you are free from Christianity now. I'll bet losing your faith has helped to strengthen your relationship with your boyfriend.

 

 

My entire pre-teen and teenage life was a cycle of the following steps repeated:

 

1. Knowing I should be close to God but not really feeling like I was

2. Going to the Bible to find scriptures to bring me closer to God, stumbling upon scriptures of an angry God, feeling confused, and then turning to the familiar comfort of Psalms, which with it's passion-filled writings of a loving God, I knew was sure to make me feel like I could worship this loving creator I had had described to me my whole life…but still not really feeling the passion I had seen the adults around me displaying.

3. Trying to overcome my insecurities of what people thought of me and putting my whole heart into worshiping on a Sunday- feeling so great through the emotion of the music and having moments of clarity and making private promises to God to be closer to him and follow him with my whole heart

4. The next day losing this feeling completely-burning out and feeling guilty and unworthy

 

I also know this experience. It sure is nice not having to deal with that cycle anymore, isn't it?

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You are so incredibly fortunate that you had a partner that could understand and help you through this, even if you had your rough patches. I went through that whole hell thing, although I didn't really know any atheists and I was just freaking out about myself. What you said about things just happening and that there's nothing you can do about it is a great way to describe how I feel now. It just feels like there is an enormous burden lifted when you realize that bad things that happen aren't you or anyone else's fault.

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Welcome sunflower. Anxiety sucks and all christianity does it make it worse. So happy for you that you have escaped. Life with constant anxiety and doubt is a hell all its own. woohoo.gif

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Good for you, Sunflower! I wish that I had figured it out when I was so young! It's amazing what you can learn once you are willing seriously consider a different perspective, isn't it? Here's your newfound peace and freedom!

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Welcome to ExC, Sunflower.

 

It's terrible that for so long you carried the weight of your perceived responsibility to save your boyfriend from hell. That must have been unbearable. I am so glad that you came to realize that there is no hell to save him from and no hell of which you must fear. For many, the fear of hell is the ultimate trap in Christianity. It's so insidious and cruel to subject people to such teachings.

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Welcome, sunflower, thanks for sharing!.I can relate to your story. I had major anxiety during my deconversion. I too was plagued with that fear of hell instilled into us at a young age, but as it turned out this doctrine made me eventually leave my faith. And that cycle you described, bam. Right on the money.

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Guest wester

Some people have asked me how I can not believe in a creator,

_______________________________________________________________

easy -> Sometimes I believe I am Brad Pitt. How can I not believe I am Brad Pitt? C'mon.

A romp through the current state of cosmology and Quantum Mechanics often makes the idea of a creator seem like some kind of a heavy drug trip. These people need to get out more.

 

 

why I would want to believe in nothing,

_______________________________________

 

False Dichotomy, Black and White Thinking (this often leads to clinical depression)

 

Non Belief in a Creator does not = Belief in Nothing.

Try this mental exercise suggested long ago by Parmenides:

"Try to think of nothing." - Gotcha!

 

 

how I find can meaning and purpose?

___________________________________

 

In the library. Not in the church.

 

 

I envy you.

Cheers and Good Luck.

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I was re-reading a diary I was keeping from around 2004, there are about 30 entries. The same pattern recurred over and over - guilt, prayer, frustration, apathy, rededication, repeat. I was going in circles. And, this had been going on for several years by that time; but I can see that I was beginning to get bolder in my questioning, and thinking about what if there really is no God. At that time, I wrote that the very thought of there not being a God made me feel horribly sad, so I was torn between the endless frustration of being a Christian on the one hand, and on the other hand the fear of there being no God and no afterlife. Now that I'm not a Christian anymore, I see that there was really nothing to be afraid of.

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Thanks everybody :)

Its funny, I've been reading the forums on here for months and feel like I kinda know a lot of you already!

 

I'm very glad that this has all happened to me at a young age...now comes the problem of my family and my church family. I love them all a lot and don't want this difference in belief to separate us, however if they knew the truth they would lose their sh*t, worry about me night and day and start a bloody prayer group for me. I am torn because I have all this new wisdom and clarity and desperately want to share it, but this would out me and lead to pretty crappy consequences.

 

The cycle I spoke about is pretty common by the sounds of things... I have spoken to a lot of Christians and ex-Christians alike who also experienced/ are still experiencing it.

 

Yes, my relationship with my boyfriend has strengthened so much now that theres not a wall between us. It scares me how close I was to letting him go! I would have lost my soulmate in exchange for an imaginary God and a life full of guilt and never feeling good enough. HALLELUJAH for clarity and sites like this that guide us to the real truth.

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Hi Sunflower, welcome to the forums! I love your picture by the way-- IT makes me smile :)

I echo everyone else when I say that I'm really happy that you found your freedom at a young age. It IS exciting that you have it off your shoulders and you're feeling the freedom. The deconversion part was the tough part for me and dealing with family and fundy friends... but time heals those things... other relationships have improved and I"m free of mental anguish. It's awesome!

So glad that you shared and I hope you can find friendship, freedom and support here!

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