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What Was Your Final Hurdle?


claireann
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...and how did you overcome it? By this I mean the hurdle that kept you hanging on to Christianity?

 

For me there were two, once one fell the other couldn't hold on to me on its own. The main one was my fear that if I allowed myself to think for even a second that it might all be untrue that I would be damned and that was, for many years, too scary for me to allow to happen. The smaller one was my relationship with other Christians and how disappointed they would be in me and whether I would lose my friendships.

 

I overcame the fear of damnation while watching a YouTube video by TheoreticalBullshit when I realised that a just God would forgive someone who honestly searched and couldn't believe. It was like a stepping stone that allowed me to step past the fear and once I was past it I didn't even need that reassurance because I didn't believe anymore. 

 

As for my relationships, it didn't matter once I didn't believe, I was just going to have to face the music and I kind of welcome it.

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For me the #1 rule was "Once you become Christian, don't ever stop being Christian."  So I did everything possible to distance myself from anything that might cause me to stop being Christian. But I felt God wasn't meeting me halfway, nor did it seem that Christians in my life were meeting me halfway. Eventually I felt like I had done enough, I had met my quota of sweat for God and Christianity. I started going more easy on myself, not going to church, not praying. This had the effect of reducing the amount of programming I was being fed. But it still took some more years for the built-up programming that accumulated over my life to degrade and be excreted.

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The last two issues I had with Christianity were free will (not in the bible) and hell - also not clearly in the bible.  After finding out two significant pillars of the Christian faith aren't at all true it gave me confidence to question the rest.  Jesus, the bible, God.  I could just no longer believe any of it without feeling like a fool.

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I did not question the notion that we are all sinners for most of my life. I was raised with it and I believed it. 

 

 It was only when I encountered other views as to human nature and gave some really serious thought to them that I slowly came around to the fact that our true nature is not totally depraved.  After I realized that, then Christianity really all fell apart.  If there is no sin, then there is no need for salvation.

 

I found Buddhism a great help in this respect.

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The Null Hypothesis. Intellectually, I realized I believed in the christian god because I'd been told to. But I was bothered by all the circular reasoning support the whole thing. I was sure that Truth could stand on its own. But I just couldn't comprehend thinking any other way. So one day, I decided to start from a more reasonable idea of not assuming god, and rebuild my faith from there. I started reading some atheist stuff online to figure out what in the world that would feel like. And I pulled it off, finally - I imagined the world without god. Somewhat to my surprise, I then felt a strong sense of peace and rightness, and never bothered to rebuild a christian concept of god. Turns out that without the circular reasoning, reality doesn't actually force you into christianity.

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My final hurdle is (and has been) being open and honest about faithlessness... only a few close people know. The time is coming when everyone will know that I'm an atheist, and that thought, at the present moment, is scarier than the idea of Hell. I don't want to cause internal strife and worry in my family's hearts, and I don't want to listen to emotional pleas trying to "win me back" to the faith.

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Respecting god's rules even though they caused me anguish was the bottom line. The decision to disrespect or ignore god's rules was what set me free.  It was the breaking of this final thin thread that allowed me to drop Christianity.

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Blake, that's where I am atm. I'm happy in myself and my neighbour and one sympathetic spiritual friend know about this - it is sort of hanging over me how my church network will respond when the time comes to let them know :/

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It finally dawned on me that my fear of seriously considering the arguments against Xtianity was in fact cowardly and no good god would want to be believed only by the ignorant. God would welcome, not oppose, an unrestricted search for the real truth.

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No answers from god after praying and fasting. Real answers, not bible verses. It started with an emotional slap when I caught a trusted missionary pastor lying about miracles (I had promoted him world-wide for almost a decade). This snowballed into several questions resurfacing from where I had buried them in my mind. I wanted actual information this time, and got ambient room noise. Then I came here and found more questions I hadn't thought of, and in short order it was over for me.

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My final hurdle was the paranoia of being deceived by false prophets. I couldn't trust anything or anyone but the Bible. But the Bible, in the end, is what de-converted me. Rather, reading the Bible without a Bible study companion book directing me where to read and what to think.

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My final hurdle in both Catholicism and as a guest of Evangelism was the bible, read through and through alone. They say it's a book of wisdom, they say it's a book that'll give you the knowledge to be a bona-fide christian. All I read in the long run was how to be an ignorant, colorless, bland slave, open to the lunatic thoughts and suggestions of zealots mild and harsh and closed to the violence and subtle chauvinism of the faithful. I knew then and there what they wanted me to be and I have rejected their desire to turn me into a brainless robot for their religion.

 

A hater of homosexuals, women, culture, environment, non-believers, believers of other religions?? A sacrificial lamb for those holier than thou in religious and government organizations?? This is not my calling. 

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Religious beliefs, commonly expressed as faith, rest on something. I believe for most people that “something” is the Bible. If the Bible is proven not to be true then the essence of their faith has been compromised and they are essentially left with nothing to support their beliefs. At that point there are few choices left. Many enter the early stages of de-conversion but some turn to some liberal form of Christianity in an apparent desperate attempt to hang on. A few seek other forms of spirituality that isn’t dependent on a sacred text.  

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Religious beliefs, commonly expressed as faith, rest on something. I believe for most people that “something” is the Bible. If the Bible is proven not to be true then the essence of their faith has been compromised and they are essentially left with nothing to support their beliefs. At that point there are few choices left. Many enter the early stages of de-conversion but some turn to some liberal form of Christianity in an apparent desperate attempt to hang on. A few seek other forms of spirituality that isn’t dependent on a sacred text.  

 

That was me. I think being raised in a fundamentalist religion made it fall apart very quickly. There was no long journey, just a very sudden realization that it wasn't real. That's not to say I didn't always have a problem with parts of the literal interpretations, but I found ways around the problems -- until the day I didn't!

 

On the other hand, you might say I haven't faced the final hurdle, as I'm still mostly in the closet. So, as far as the actual living, I have plenty of hurdles to jump, but when it comes to my own certainty, I didn't know I was jumping hurdles until I jumped the last one. Genesis 3: It's just a snake. I didn't jump the hurdle, it just kicked me right out!

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There was no hurdle for me to not believe anymore. When I was fairly young, I just didn't believe. But the final hurdle keeping me in the church and lying about being a Christian was being afraid that my parents would regret adopting me if they knew I wasn't a Christian. I didn't think I could take being abandoned twice by two sets of parents, even if one was only emotionally.

 

I didn't overcome it. Even though I left and came out, it hurts me a lot.

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What did it for me was I realized how intolerant I was as a Christian towards other people that were not Christians. As a Christian I was taught to believe that everyone who did not believe as I did was wrong and evil. This is a really ignorant and arrogant way to think, and it was great to start thinking of humanity in much broader terms.

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There was no hurdle for me to not believe anymore. When I was fairly young, I just didn't believe. But the final hurdle keeping me in the church and lying about being a Christian was being afraid that my parents would regret adopting me if they knew I wasn't a Christian. I didn't think I could take being abandoned twice by two sets of parents, even if one was only emotionally.

 

I didn't overcome it. Even though I left and came out, it hurts me a lot.

I find it interesting that a lot of individuals who leave Christianity are worried about hurting their parents or other family members. It shows empathy. This wasn't a big hurdle for me, but I was fearful of their rejection.

 

So why did you name your dog and cat Sam?

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There was no hurdle for me to not believe anymore. When I was fairly young, I just didn't believe. But the final hurdle keeping me in the church and lying about being a Christian was being afraid that my parents would regret adopting me if they knew I wasn't a Christian. I didn't think I could take being abandoned twice by two sets of parents, even if one was only emotionally.

 

I didn't overcome it. Even though I left and came out, it hurts me a lot.

I find it interesting that a lot of individuals who leave Christianity are worried about hurting their parents or other family members. It shows empathy. This wasn't a big hurdle for me, but I was fearful of their rejection.

 

So why did you name your dog and cat Sam?

 

 

I think a big part of it is the literal hell thing. My parents believe that when I die, I am going to be burning alive for all eternity. My mother cries at the thought, and while it is somewhat manipulative for her to act emotional like that, it's not an act - she really truly believes it. If I thought even the most evil person was going to suffer like that for all eternity with no way to ever have the punishment be over, I'd try to save that person. (This also makes me think that a lot of Christians either don't really believe in hell all that much, are total cowards who will go to great mental contortions to avoid thinking about other people's pain, or are criminally self-involved to the point that they don't really care about the prospect of someone else's eternal torture).

 

I need to change that part of the profile - an ex-boyfriend thought I should name my cat the same as his dog, but when he left, the dog went with him.

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So one day, I decided to start from a more reasonable idea of not assuming god, and rebuild my faith from there. I started reading some atheist stuff online to figure out what in the world that would feel like. And I pulled it off, finally - I imagined the world without god. Somewhat to my surprise, I then felt a strong sense of peace and rightness, and never bothered to rebuild a christian concept of god. Turns out that without the circular reasoning, reality doesn't actually force you into christianity.

This exactly. I heard a college group leader preach a sermon where she walked us through a time when she imagined there was no god and how the world was so cold and hopeless. I was confused, because I was imagining it along with her and thought it was freeing and beautiful, which I had never considered possible before thanks to brainwashing. I preferred this world to a world with god. I didn't have to cram the square peg of reality into the round hole of Christianity anymore. I wasn't bound by some archaic rule book I wasn't even sure of anymore. The world was free, and self-sufficient. It didn't take me long from this point from imagining myself an atheist to actually being one.

 

My biggest hurdle was that I so desperately didn't want Christianity to be wrong. It was my everything. I could not begin to picture life without a relationship with Jesus. That is, until I heard that one sermon in college. That changed everything.

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Blake, that's where I am atm. I'm happy in myself and my neighbour and one sympathetic spiritual friend know about this - it is sort of hanging over me how my church network will respond when the time comes to let them know :/

 

I understand. It hangs over me as well. My family calls on me to pray for a blessing of meals on holidays, and I still haven't had the heart not to entertain them. Don't believe a lick of what I'm saying. In fact, it makes me feel counterfeit and false, but it makes my family happy. As for my church network, I absolutely don't have one anymore. Don't know what's more sad, how Christians so easily shake your dust from their sandals, or how genuinely uninterested they are in your salvation. Don't get me wrong, I'm glad I didn't have people coming in droves trying to win me back to church, but it was still a revelation to me that even the most religious among people won't take it upon themselves to investigate your removal from faith and the congregation. Or even worse, that evil blanket statement, "I'll pray for you."

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Blake, that's where I am atm. I'm happy in myself and my neighbour and one sympathetic spiritual friend know about this - it is sort of hanging over me how my church network will respond when the time comes to let them know :/

 

I understand. It hangs over me as well. My family calls on me to pray for a blessing of meals on holidays, and I still haven't had the heart not to entertain them. Don't believe a lick of what I'm saying. In fact, it makes me feel counterfeit and false, but it makes my family happy. As for my church network, I absolutely don't have one anymore. Don't know what's more sad, how Christians so easily shake your dust from their sandals, or how genuinely uninterested they are in your salvation. Don't get me wrong, I'm glad I didn't have people coming in droves trying to win me back to church, but it was still a revelation to me that even the most religious among people won't take it upon themselves to investigate your removal from faith and the congregation. Or even worse, that evil blanket statement, "I'll pray for you."

 

I keep my lack of faith to myself. But I have two nieces and I'm concerned that they might go through the same long painful deconversion that I experienced. It might help them be skeptical if their uncle was an obvious ex-Christian. On the other hand, I don't want to disturb my mother's faith, because it is so important to her. It's easier to let them all think I'm just a little doubtful.

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My biggest hurdle was that I so desperately didn't want Christianity to be wrong. It was my everything. I could not begin to picture life without a relationship with Jesus. That is, until I heard that one sermon in college. That changed everything.

 

 

I felt this too, it seemed too terrible to imagine that Christianity was wrong, but once I stepped through to the other side it was fine, in fact a million times better than fine.

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Prayers that had been answered in the past. Not parking lot prayers, but very specific prayers. I had been to a Sunday school class where they said you boosted your chances of having answered prayers if you laid out specific outlines. So I prayed for several weeks for a teaching program that was easy to get into to become available to me. One that was in the area but not at the nearby university because it intimidated me; one where I'd be with a small class and learn stuff and preferably one without an essay to enter, but it'd be okay if there was one.  Then, after praying the prayer every night for over a month, I was on my community campus and saw a sign for students pursuing degrees in Education to stop in that evening around 6 or so. It didn't say anything really specific except you needed to be around your two year mark, which I was. That night I showed up and they had 12 fully funded government scholarships so long as you would agree to lock yourself into teaching a high needs school for two years once you completed the program. Less than 12 people showed up so they didn't require essays. It was like my dream come true. I'd wanted to teach since I was 12 and do missionary work in the summers since 9 and this was perfect. It was at a different university, too. 

 

Unfortunately, my father decided to retire from the military around that same time and both my parents wanted to move to another state. I knew that meant I'd have to pass up on this opportunity.  A co-worker and several other people told me I'd regret it for the rest of my life and grow to resent my parents, especially my mother since she was the one kind of aggressively trying to dismiss the opportunity I'd been given. I went to mom to talk about it, asking about credit transfers and stuff before we moved.  But she insisted I was listening to a woman who'd been divorced twice and wasn't being loyal to her, she implied I'd be emotionally traumatizing my 8 and 9 year old sisters at the time because they needed their big sister, she made me promise not to look any further into it. My mother is aggressive and I'm very passive. I tried to be assertive but I simply couldn't be. I wanted to "Honor thy father and mother."  This all happened three days before the final day for me to lock myself into the contract and obviously I gave up that golden opportunity. 

 

I lost more than 40 credits in my move and was basically told I'd have to start over again. Financial aid fell through in the new state and I fell into severe depression for several years and remained with my parents and their attitudes towards the depression was very sad; I was choosing it, why didn't I trust God more, why couldn't I go back to being the person I used to be, why wasn't I enthusiastic about stuff anymore. 

 

I couldn't understand why God would answer that prayer but not give me parents that supported me. I didn't understand but I really felt like it had been an answered prayer and I had failed some major test by listening to my parents, like I chose my family over God and was being punished for it for years!!   Then after losing my virginity to some asshole Christian guy, falling deeper into depression to the point of planning suicide and reaching out to my parents just for them to complain about me distracting them at work, I realized--- what the hell? Were my parents-- was my MOM actually Satan? Was she just some tool of Satan in MY life? Because I realize that NO other person had impeded me SO much in life. Even my atheist best friend totally supported my desire to be happy; she didn't agree with it, but was always of the mind, "I just want you to be HAPPY with your life."  So, either my mom was secretly worshiping Satan, Satan himself (obviously not), or just a selfish human being.  And God sure was cruel to have your parents be the tools of Satan in your life.  Most people wish they would have listened to their parents; I really wished I wouldn't have. I'll take a twice divorced woman's over a married 21 years Christian couple any day.

 

 

It's ironic that prayer kept me so rooted in the religion but also was the catalyst to my de-conversion. I was really confused by it, though, because I had really, really believed it to be an answered prayer and never really understood why my parents didn't understand that. Maybe  I wasn't clear enough. At any rate, I'd probably still be a Christian and doing missionary work right now if things hadn't turned out how they had, so I guess it worked out for the best in the long run. (except financially, LOL) 

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My last hurdle was handling family members who took my deconversion personal. I had been in the church for over 45 years, since I was very young, and influenced by family and peer pressure. It was difficult to get to where my family lost influence in forcing me, or badgering me, into going to church or reconvert. The pressure to conform is enormous.

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