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A Long Time Coming


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I am an ex-christian.  I am not sure I am ready to call myself atheist, but I am on a journey of deconversion at the moment. My story is probably similar to others here, but I need to get it out.  

 

I live in TN.  I was born and raised here.  I grew up in the church as well as being educated at a private christian school from kindergarten until 12th grade.  My parents weren't really crazy christians and the only reason we were sent to a christian school was because the public school system was lacking.  Still, church and religion were a big part of our lives.  

 

When I used to give my testimony, I would tell people I got "saved" in the 2nd grade.  During chapel service one day I remember the lady telling a story and telling us children that if we didn't accept Jesus as our savior, we would go to hell when we died.  Well, she got her point across because I was petrified.  I spent the majority of my childhood being scared to death that if I stepped out of line I would be struck down.  The guilt and the fear ruled my life from that point on.

 

The real kicker to this is that from an early age, none of the bible made sense to me.  I would question things and be told that questioning god was blasphemy or it was the devil trying to steal me away from god.  I learned to keep my questions to myself and tried to play the part.  I did very well playing the part.  I knew everything I was supposed to know about the Bible and knew it very well.  I spent my teenage years pretending to be the best christian I could be.  It was terrible because I would cry and pray to god to help me because obviously I wasn't feeling things other people were.  I wanted to be like everyone else so bad.  I wanted that genuine god feeling.  It never came.

 

At 19, I married and moved away.  I lived around the US for 12 years.  During that time I got my college degree and was able to meet many people from different walks of life.  Life wasn't black or white.  Life was a lot of different shades of gray.  Everything I had learned and was made to believe really didn't make much sense.  Especially when it came to having a family.

 

I suffered from infertility.  I had numerous people praying for me and telling me that god would bless me with a baby.  If I would just pray to him, he would answer.  Thanks to the doctors at the Jones Institute in Virginia, my husband and I conceived our first child.  At that time though, we thanked god for allowing us to get pregnant.  I knew god had answered my prayers.  Then, our son was stillborn at 37 weeks.  This child that we had prayed for and wanted for so long, was taken away.  It was at that point I really started to doubt everything.  We went on to have 2 more children but by the time we decided to move back to TN to be near family again, my faith in god and religion was a mess.

 

It was easy to avoid religion in other places I have lived.  Since living back in TN close to family again, it's not.  Everyone goes to church.  Everyone is religious.  Me?  I think it's a crock.  The tough part is not being able to be open about it.  I know I could, but I love my family dearly and I am not sure how they would accept this.  Finding others like me where I live is also difficult. I know they are out there, but I am finding it hard.  I am also shy.  I have only recently started reaching out online to find others like me.  I am new to all of this.  It is overwhelming.  

 

I do know this.  I am slowly shedding the guilt and fear that ruled me most of my life.  When I am not scared of some sky-daddy looking down on me, life is more happy.  I feel more free.  It's a great feeling.  I still stumble.  I struggle with some things.  When I need comfort, I am not sure what to do.  I used to pray.  It felt comforting even if what I prayed for never happened.  It is hard to have faith in myself when I grew up with such low self esteem.

 

That is me in a nutshell.  I tried to keep it short.  I left a lot out.  Bottom line is that I am happy to be here surrounded by others who have similar stories to mine.  It's comforting.

 

~Jess

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Getting rid of the guilt and the fear is really difficult to do, I'm sure you know that just like everyone else on ex-C.net knows it. It will get easier and eventually, any fear of Hell you have will be completely gone.

 

If you have any fears about the end of times, it might be a good idea to check out this thread, if you haven't already: http://www.ex-christian.net/topic/44234-top-ten-reasons-not-to-fear-biblical-end-times-scenarios/

 

I don't know if you have seen this website before, but it helped me quite a bit: http://www.losingmyreligion.com/index.htm

 

I hope that some day soon, you will be able to live a happy and fulfilling life without being worried about making a violent god angry at you just for thinking for yourself and rejecting things that don't make sense to you.

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I do know this.  I am slowly shedding the guilt and fear that ruled me most of my life.  When I am not scared of some sky-daddy looking down on me, life is more happy.  I feel more free.  It's a great feeling.  I still stumble.  I struggle with some things.  When I need comfort, I am not sure what to do.  I used to pray.  It felt comforting even if what I prayed for never happened.  It is hard to have faith in myself when I grew up with such low self esteem.

 

 

Hi, tnheathen, and welcome. There are certainly good days and then not so good days. It is very hard to break the old habits that were a part of our lives for so long. Glad that you are in the process of getting away from it.

 

So sorry for the loss of your child. While my wife and I were fortunate to not have had to deal with it, one of my brothers wasn't, and it was hard for me to watch him and his wife go through it. 

 

Hope you enjoy your time here at Ex-C.

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Hello, Jess, and welcome.

 

My wife and I were watching the "Hatfields and McCoys" miniseries on Netflix recently, and as you can imagine, when there's that type of blood feud between families, there was a lot of violence.

 

The patriarch of the McCoy clan was deeply religious, and at one point prayed for God to protect his loved ones. When things went horribly wrong, his faith was shattered and at one point, when a minister tried to comfort him, McCoy said something like, "Why would anyone want to worship a god like that?" (Ironically, the program shows "Devil" Anse Hatfield as becoming a Christian much later in life, after all the terrible circumstances).

 

Many times, Christians speak about withstanding trials or about how faith brought them through a tragedy, but the truth is, they survived and faith didn't have much to do with it.

 

I think for many people, Christianity is a "default" situation. They were either brought up in the faith, were led to it later by family or friends (rarely by complete strangers, contrary to the proselytizing efforts of many) or grasped onto it because it is so prevalent in our culture.

 

Very few Christians take the time to actually analyze the foundations and root philosophy of the faith.

 

It was actually a very detailed study of the Bible that made me think that it was a falsehood filled with contradictions and that this supposed god was a vicious and brutal homicidal megalomaniac that certainly was not worthy of worship, but of revulsion.

 

Living in the heart of the Bible belt in Texas, I understand what it's like to be surrounded by people who wear their Christianity on their sleeves and expect others to do so, as well.

 

It's nice to be able to enjoy an oasis of free thought here, and to know that many others are enduring or have endured the same struggles as us.

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Hi TNHeathen!  Welcome to the club!  I'm so sorry you're going through this but am curious.  Does your husband share the same discontent with Christianity?  It's definitely difficult to "come out" to relatives of the faith.  I certainly haven't and have barely expressed myself with my wife but I'm sure she has a good idea now. 

 

Christians preach and teach to be accepting of others, but it's amazing how untrue this is when you proclaim your doubts.  Proving that they're no different than anyone else.  It's just another group preaching love and acceptance and not passing judgement but in the end, those attributes are mostly only extended to those of them with like-minds.

 

If I could offer any words of encouragement it's to just be honest with yourself.  Don't let that fear rule your reason anymore. Use the reason to rule the fear.  Laugh at it... You can, because LOL, that shit just does not making any fucking sense!  :D

 

No compassionate God would want to rule his flock through guilt and fear and most definitely wouldn't use threats of hellfire and brimstone to scare children into the faith.  It just screams of lies and desperation. 

 

Again, welcome!  :)

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Welcome to the club! I am only a new member but this site has helped me a lot in realizing how deluded and twisted most Christian doctrine is. I really hope it will be an aid to you too. Hope you stick around!

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Thankyou for posting your story, I'm new here too and have virtually not stopped reading since I arrived! It's such a personal thing we're going through and there is a lot of support here. Hopefully it will be helpful to you too

xxx

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Welcome to reality, Jess!  It's nice to have you here!

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How disgusting that anyone could cast a dark shadow of guilt and fear over a defenseless little child! I've never understood why fundie Christians are "pro-life." What kind of God would allow a child to be brought into the world knowing that the child might be tortured for all eternity because they didn't say the right prayer when they were in SECOND GRADE?

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  • 2 weeks later...

Welcome TNHeathen!  I've been to Nashville and was amazed at the churches on every corner, whew!  As much as hubby and I love Nashville (hubby is a musician), I don't think we'd like the super-religious atmosphere.

 

I come from a very fundy family and have not told them that I deconverted almost 10 years ago, so I know what it's like to have to play the game.
 

Keep on in your journey and process of deconversion.  You will find lots of support here.

 

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Welcome, Jess!

 

Don't worry about labeling yourself.  "Atheist" is such a loaded word and can be hard to get used to.  I grew up hearing stories in church of "horrible atheists" like Madalyn Murray O'Hair who were out to destroy America by destroying religion.  So when I finally realized I was an atheist myself, it was so scary!  Well, it was scary at first.  It's been almost a year now since my deconversion and I am comfortable using that term to describe myself (although sometimes I use 'agnostic atheist'.)

 

But I haven't told my family yet.  Fortunately, it hasn't really come up in conversation at all.  I'm hoping it never does because I know it would make my parents uncomfortable.  I'm just taking things as they come.  The few friends I have discussed this with have not considered it to be a big deal at all.

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Hi Jess,

 

It takes courage, even when it's online, to speak up and share your story - I hope you are finding this site helpful!  I just started last week so I'm getting familiar with the stories too.  It's so disappointing that the lady at chapel thought it was okay to scare children, and I believe, bully them!  You were so young and innocent - it's sooooo unfair.  

 

I'm so sorry for your loss.  I have a colleague who experienced the same thing a few years ago and then last year, finally got pregnant again, but miscarried at 12 weeks.  Fertility and having kids is so delicate - I could see how christians could impose their thoughts and beliefs and really mess things up.  

 

From one wounded soul to another, keep healing, keep growing and keep finding and being your true self :)

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Welcome aboard, Jess. I think we can all see ourselves in some pieces of every "extimony" posted. Where yours resonates with me is where you realized that there was never really anything there, and that you always knew it deep down.
 

Many times, Christians speak about withstanding trials or about how faith brought them through a tragedy, but the truth is, they survived and faith didn't have much to do with it.


This! When tragedy happens, the world continues. That is how we get through tragedy. We are born with the ability to get through it. The sun comes up the next day, and the next, and we get past it because we are still alive and have no choice, and because we're made that way. When someone says that a god helped them through, they never describe how that supposedly happened: They simply assume that they must have had mystical help getting past the pain.

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Hi Jess, and welcome!

 

Its hard to be yourself when you are surrounded by fundy family.  We all know that. This place is our refuge.

 

Also, it doesn't matter if you are an atheist or not, it just means you are now on your own path.

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The thing that prevented me from deconverting years earlier is that I did not trust myself to come to the right decision.  But

that's precisely what I finally did. Thank gawd. And I've gotten confirmation by people whose opinion I respect ever since, not the other way around   bill.

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