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Think I’Ve Wasted Another Six Years…


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The last time I posted on here was six years ago when I ‘left’ my church. Except that I didn’t leave, I went back, because I got so lonely that I convinced myself it was all OK again.

 

Now my angst has started all over again, and I can trace it to a particular series of events. It kicked off again due to a prayer group that I’ve been attending, which contains a number of eastern European hardline Catholics. I’m English, living in England, by the way. One of these guys goes on and on about gays and Muslims; well, a week or two back he actually declared ‘I hate queers’. A week or so further on another one asked me outright ‘Don’t you care that your relatives will go to hell?’ - this is because my daughter-in-law is a British Pakistani, i.e. Muslim background – and told me I should ‘force’ them to become Christians.

 

Then recently our African priest practically shouted his homily at us for 20 minutes, finishing by railing against ‘the decadence of the West’ and its ‘wholesale slaughter’ (i.e. abortion). Well, I’m a typically liberal, tolerant English person, and I just can’t cope with this.

 

Next thing was the Corpus Christi procession through our city centre. (I should have said, I’m a Catholic – a convert actually, of which more below.) In between traditional hymns, the aforesaid African priest took every opportunity to whoop everyone up, punch the air and shout for ‘Jesus’. I realised how embarrassed I felt to be a part of this. The priest was raising the monstrance containing the blessed sacrament and blessing us with it, when I suddenly thought, ‘What am I doing? I’m kneeling down to a piece of bread’.

 

The same week an English couple starved and tortured their four year old boy to death. How could a good God allow even one child to die like this? I started yet again to question the very basis of my faith, from the ‘virgin’ birth, to the resurrection, to the existence of God. It’s not as if I was even brought up to believe these things: coming from a non-religious home I was an atheist up to my early 30s, coming into faith via radical ‘non-realist’ theology (God as a human construct, 'the sum total of all our values') and gradually convincing myself more and more of the orthodox Christian position.  Looking back I think a lot of it was about a search for meaning, security and a wish for a place to belong. I attended a liberal Anglican (Episcopalian) church for years, but got fed up of living with questions the whole time and never getting any answers. As a solution to this I became a Roman Catholic – how crazy! – it was an attempt to resolve psychological discomfort, but of course it didn’t work. I got the ‘certainty’ all right, but at the price of taking on board a whole load more improbable things. Interestingly, despite trying really hard, I never did get much of a sense that God loved me, or that I had a close personal relationship with Jesus.

 

In the middle of these various occurrences I happened to spend an overnight at my sister’s who had a couple of friends staying, none of them Christians - unlike the U.S. it’s the norm in England not to be Christian. One of these was a really pleasant, interesting, thoughtful guy, what I’d call a typical Guardian-reader (the Guardian being the UK left-of-centre newspaper). I just thought, I want to be like this again – these are good people, who don’t force themselves to believe or do strange things but just get on and manage to live their life with good values.

 

Well, I hope you don’t mind me getting a lot of negative things off my chest. Having said all this, my real fear on past experience is that I simply won’t make it with disengaging myself, as this will be my third attempt. I can already feel a part of my mind telling me that I can carry on going to church for cultural and friendship reasons, even though I don’t believe in the religion part. This is probably not a good idea: I recognise that it is a form of ‘bargaining’, which is said to be one of the stages of grief or loss. However, this time I do plan to slip away from church a bit more gradually and surreptitiously, rather than making bold leaving announcements as in my two previous failed attempts. The hard thing is that I’m 61 years old, the church has been the centre of my life for over 25 years, and all my friends are there. Socially I will be starting all over again from scratch, though since I’m retiring from work in about six months time, I’m hoping that will give me a better chance to cultivate some new interests and friendships.

 

Thank you for reading my story, and please wish me luck!

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wow that was quite the story. It never is easy deconverting sort of like it is never easy quitting cigarettes sometimes its easier for others and sometimes its harder for others.  Your past years in Christianity is not a waste this is just how long it is taking you to sort through these questions. The fact that you are clinging for so long is a testament for your commitment to things that are important in your life. That is something you cannot lose. we all start over at different stages in our life this is just part of it and its nothing to be afraid of. I am sure the people that are most important to you will have no problem accepting you for who you are not what you believe. Good luck and do what is right for yourself don't worry about what other people think if you need church stick with it  if church is a rain on your welfare and happiness dump it.  Just do whats right for you and good luck at your third try =D my mom is in her mid 50's and she has started her career all over from scratch and has gone back to school to boot so its never to late to start over =D

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Picking up the pieces and rebuilding your life after spending it engrossed in ancient legends and superstitions is hard, whether it's 3 months, 3 years or 3 decades, but it is doable, and you'll get there in time. Like you, i wasn't born into any religion. Fear, vulnerability and manipulation is how churches suck people in, and that's exactly what got you back in their clutches. You gave church your best shot, you got nowhere and you got nothing but empty promises in return for all you've invested in it.

 

Although i was never formally involved, i decided it was best for me to quietly slip away. No grand announcements or anything like that. Less drama that way, and less of an opportunity for people to try to guilt trip and manipulate me into staying. This is probably the route you need to go, as the last thing you need is someone trying to get you to stay or come back. And if someone does try to get you to come back, don't fall for it. Don't let them win an argument with guilt trips and scare tactics. Keep your boundaries and stick to your guns. Church is not the end-all be-all for friendships and cultural stuff, no matter how much they insist otherwise.

 

Is there an atheists and freethinkers group that regularly meets up in your area? I see you live in the UK, so you may be in luck. That might be an avenue worth exploring for new friends. Chances are you'll probably be an outlier like me, as you weren't raised religious. Don't let that scare you off. They've been there, done that, so there's some common ground. If the friends you made in church are really your friends, they'll be there for you regardless of what you do or don't value in life.

 

You'll get through this. You'll be fine. And we're here for you. :)

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Welcome back, Cliff Dweller!  What a great time to try something new!  I hope that you find something fulfilling to do an meet some new friends soon.

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Wow. What a story, indeed! You sound like a thoughtful guy, and I'm sure you'll meet some decent people worthy of your friendship.

 

I hate to be the bearer of bad news (and you probably already experienced this the first or second time around), but don't be surprised when your "friends" at church abruptly fade away. I spent a lot of time trying to figure out why the people who "love me deeply" simply turned their backs on me when the going got tough and I finally got going. After all I had invested in those people and in that place... they were content to just ignore me after I left. I have read a lot about this, trying to ease my pain, and as it turns out -- that's just the way it is. It's not me. It's not really even them. It's just the way the system is set up to work.

 

They were friends with me because we had conveniently prearranged activities to attend together, and I had talents and resources to offer (for free, of course). Looking back, I realize that any time there was an illness or death or whatever, I was the only one who ever said I will arrange to send flowers from all of us, or I will drive if anyone wants to come along, or here is a card for all of us to sign. They were pretty lazy, and not really friends. A lot of those people were looking for convenience in their relationships. Getting out of there just doesn't fit their mold, so they are not willing to continue the friendship. Too much trouble, I guess. Plus, I had questioned some things in the organization, which upsets their little social boat. Best to stay away from me. Their loss!  :)

 

You've been on quite a journey. I'm glad the road has brought you back here. You are in good company. Peace!

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RW - it's fairly easy to ascertain why those xtian friends abruptly left you - they were a bunch of phonies to begin with! I've only been publicly involved in atheism since the beginning of this year but the things I've seen and heard and how I've been regarding by the so-called children of god has been enough to fill 3 books should I decide to ever get back to writing. However, the atheist friends, many of whom I consider my cyber family, both here and on YouTube have been astoundly supportive, loving, and crazy/funny at times, especially the YouTubers or, as we're called, the YouTube Atheists. I can't begin to share the crazy stuff we've been doing and talking about together. Ironically, I know the other side 'watches' us and reads our comments to each other and I'm glad. You know why? Because WE'RE the ones showing, each and every day, a bible verse that they DO NOT follow but we do - where it says by having love for one another the world will see...etc.  I'm not being sentimental here, just stating the facts.

 

And what I just shared with RW goes double for CD (originator of this thread). You do NOT need that shit in your life! Life is hard enough with those 'loving' xtians doing a psychological mind game on you.

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You should definitely get back into writing, Raoul. I like to write as well, and i find it really cathartic. CD, maybe it wouldn't hurt for you to give writing a go if you haven't already. This way, you can see the crap that led you back into xtianity, and it can be a reminder that no matter how bad it gets, nothing is worth giving those phony hypocrites the time of day.

 

Like i told someone else here, hope for the best, but prepare for the worst. If your friends decide to abandon you, it will hurt. In time that will lessen as you find new friends and let the right ones into your life. Like RW said, if they're willing to throw an amazing friendship away over their superstitions, then they were never true friends to begin with, and that's their loss, not yours. True friendship doesn't come with strings attached, nor is it conditional.

 

In addition to what RW said about the likelihood of your friends ditching you, don't be surprised if some people from the church call you a couple months later if they have your number, and they will probably claim it's out of "concern." More than likely, it will be either a fishing expedition for new gossip fodder, or it will be an attempt to guilt trip you into coming back. Don't buy into their act. It is not their business. Keep it short and simple. Cheerfully hang up on them if you feel you need to, and let it go to the answering machine. It happened with me, and i wrote about this here before. I really hope this won't happen with you, but like i said, be prepared for the worst.

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Wow, that sucks.  Well it's good to have you back.  All we can do is wipe the dust off and move forward.  Vent any time you need to.

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Milesaway, part of your comment after saying I should get back into writing was - This way, you can see the crap that led you back into xtianity

 

I think you combined addressees of your comments because that would be relevant to CliffDweller wrote regarding drifting back into the cult.

 

With me there was NEVER any attempt to go back in. Once I made up my mind, that was it because it wasn't something done in a flash. It took years of studying, thinking, observing, et.al. before making my escape. And I've never looked back or had any doubts. In fact, the MORE I debate 'them' and read atheist books, the MORE convinced I am that my views are reasonable and correct.

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Yeah, i did address that to Cliff Dweller, though it could apply to anyone who recently left that horrid cult, but is at the point where they're still susceptible to xtianity's manipulation tactics. I probably shoulda been a bit clearer.

 

Anyways, i agree. Each day that passes is one step further away from this shit. There was no going back with me either, nor do i regret my decision. I can go to bed at night knowing i chose my integrity and my family over them, and i am at peace. Of course, the more time that passes, the more i wonder why i ever bothered with them in the first place, or how i could be in a bad enough place to think all that crap was even remotely acceptable.

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the more time that passes, the more i wonder why i ever bothered with them in the first place, or how i could be in a bad enough place to think all that crap was even remotely acceptable.(milesaway)...

 

ROFL.. Why? Because word for word that is almost exactly what I told my wife during lunch today... All of us say that but as time goes on, you, like the rest of us will stop asking that and starting asking 'are they as batshit crazy as they seem to be?' And I'll save you the thinking about it - the answer is 'YES'... LOL

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Seeing how batshit crazy they are is part of why i've asked myself those questions, and they sink to all new lows the more i hear about it.

 

To think there was a time when i thought i wanted to marry and raise kids in that mess. Nope. Not gonna happen. When i have kids, they will have nothing to do with xtianity whatsoever.

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wow that was quite the story. It never is easy deconverting sort of like it is never easy quitting cigarettes sometimes its easier for others and sometimes its harder for others.  Your past years in Christianity is not a waste this is just how long it is taking you to sort through these questions. The fact that you are clinging for so long is a testament for your commitment to things that are important in your life. That is something you cannot lose. we all start over at different stages in our life this is just part of it and its nothing to be afraid of. I am sure the people that are most important to you will have no problem accepting you for who you are not what you believe. Good luck and do what is right for yourself don't worry about what other people think if you need church stick with it  if church is a rain on your welfare and happiness dump it.  Just do whats right for you and good luck at your third try =D my mom is in her mid 50's and she has started her career all over from scratch and has gone back to school to boot so its never to late to start over =D

Thank you very much for your encouraging words - much appreciated.

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Picking up the pieces and rebuilding your life after spending it engrossed in ancient legends and superstitions is hard, whether it's 3 months, 3 years or 3 decades, but it is doable, and you'll get there in time. Like you, i wasn't born into any religion. Fear, vulnerability and manipulation is how churches suck people in, and that's exactly what got you back in their clutches. You gave church your best shot, you got nowhere and you got nothing but empty promises in return for all you've invested in it.

 

Although i was never formally involved, i decided it was best for me to quietly slip away. No grand announcements or anything like that. Less drama that way, and less of an opportunity for people to try to guilt trip and manipulate me into staying. This is probably the route you need to go, as the last thing you need is someone trying to get you to stay or come back. And if someone does try to get you to come back, don't fall for it. Don't let them win an argument with guilt trips and scare tactics. Keep your boundaries and stick to your guns. Church is not the end-all be-all for friendships and cultural stuff, no matter how much they insist otherwise.

 

Is there an atheists and freethinkers group that regularly meets up in your area? I see you live in the UK, so you may be in luck. That might be an avenue worth exploring for new friends. Chances are you'll probably be an outlier like me, as you weren't raised religious. Don't let that scare you off. They've been there, done that, so there's some common ground. If the friends you made in church are really your friends, they'll be there for you regardless of what you do or don't value in life.

 

You'll get through this. You'll be fine. And we're here for you. smile.png

Thank you - it was interesting to learn that slipping away worked for you.

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Wow. What a story, indeed! You sound like a thoughtful guy, and I'm sure you'll meet some decent people worthy of your friendship.

 

I hate to be the bearer of bad news (and you probably already experienced this the first or second time around), but don't be surprised when your "friends" at church abruptly fade away. I spent a lot of time trying to figure out why the people who "love me deeply" simply turned their backs on me when the going got tough and I finally got going. After all I had invested in those people and in that place... they were content to just ignore me after I left. I have read a lot about this, trying to ease my pain, and as it turns out -- that's just the way it is. It's not me. It's not really even them. It's just the way the system is set up to work.

 

They were friends with me because we had conveniently prearranged activities to attend together, and I had talents and resources to offer (for free, of course). Looking back, I realize that any time there was an illness or death or whatever, I was the only one who ever said I will arrange to send flowers from all of us, or I will drive if anyone wants to come along, or here is a card for all of us to sign. They were pretty lazy, and not really friends. A lot of those people were looking for convenience in their relationships. Getting out of there just doesn't fit their mold, so they are not willing to continue the friendship. Too much trouble, I guess. Plus, I had questioned some things in the organization, which upsets their little social boat. Best to stay away from me. Their loss!  smile.png

 

You've been on quite a journey. I'm glad the road has brought you back here. You are in good company. Peace!

Thanks for the warning about 'friends' - I will not be too surprised that they won't last once there is no life in common.

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How's it going, CliffDweller? Just checking in on you!

 

I don't know if this exists for you in the UK, but I was able to find some atheist groups in my area on meetups.com. Search for freethinkers, critical thinkers, atheists, and the like. I live on the county line between two medium-sized cities, and both cities have such a group. Every week there are 5 or 6 different people (out of a few hundred "members") who get together for games night, a baseball game, craft night, dinner out, science discussions at someone's house, and even a Sunday Bible study from an atheist perspective. There are no dues or commitments, just getting together with like-minded people. Men and women, various ages.

 

I did have to ask permission from the group administrators to "join" the online group and be able to see their activity schedule online and receive email invitations to the events. We need privacy here in the bible belt from condemning Christians.

 

I certainly hope you can find something similar. Keep us posted. Your journey is interesting, and your perspective is valuable. Cheers!

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