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I Just Want To Breathe


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I found out about this forum this afternoon, and after reading all of your heart-warming stories, I decided to share mine too. In the end, I hope my story will help others like all of your stories helped me. Before I even start writing something I want to tell you that it is a huge honour to join you.

 

I grew up in a very close Christian community in the Netherlands. My mother and father were raised Christian, as were my grandparents, my aunts, uncles and nieces. I have been praying and reading the bible from the start. Nobody told me why. All I knew was that God lived in heaven, he loved me, and I loved him. I went to church on Sundays; I went to a Christian preschool, middle school and high school. All of my friends could pick their own high school, but my high school was decided for me. It was a Christian high school after all, and my parents didn’t really open it up for discussion. Not that I wanted them to. We had just moved to a new city, and at the time the last thing I wanted to do was figuring things out for myself. I was glad that I finally had a chance of some peace of known, Christian ground. I was glad with the tranquillity of repetition.

 

I was a shy kid who couldn’t really get along with the others. Most of the time I was on my own, and I learned to live with that. For the first three years of high school I was just sitting in my room, avoiding my parents (I have never really had a strong family bond), or I was wandering the halls of the school without anyone noticing me. I was honestly comfortable with that. I saw how the others treated each other. It taught me things I would have never learned in a group. I grew into what I now like to call a “watcher.” I observed, yet remained silent.

 

After the third year of high school I started to question things not only about other people, but about myself, my way of life, the meaning of life in general and the influence I had on it. It started with simple questions like: would I have been a Christian if my parents would not have been? Why wasn’t I a Muslim, or a Buddhist, or an atheist?

 

I looked into the world wondering why everybody believed they had life figured out. Did anybody have the answers? My parents would of course have told me that we were just the chosen ones, and they would have told me to pray to God asking if he would take the doubt out of me. I say would have, because I didn’t. All my friends talked about their doubts, just to be convinced of certainties that had been spoon fed to them all of their lives. I wanted answers.

 

At first I thought it was the devil who was trying to take hold of me, who tried to lure me into his trap. After all, these were the thoughts that I was warned about. But more and more the realisation grew that the devil was just a “watch out for the dog” sign that was cleverly placed there to keep people from leaving the church. The bible unfolded into a clever web of rules and warnings that connected way to well with each other.

 

I stopped praying, I stopped reading the bible, and I stopped introducing myself as a Christian to new people. I was done with the traditions, and challenged God to convince me otherwise in person. He never did though. I lost my faith in the God I always knew, and I lost my trust in the church. It never grew back.

 

Ever since, I have been going to church and all the other church related activities just to avoid a family dram. I did not want to wake sleeping dogs. Religion was never really open for discussion, and I was scared of what I might unleash if I would confess my own opinion on Christianity.

 

Last week I was home alone for a week, and decided not to go to church on Sunday. Finally I could take of my mask and, if only for that week, live my life the way I saw fit. One week later my parents, brothers and sisters came back home. Of course they asked me who had spoken in church the Sunday they were gone. That was a turning point. Do you know those moments where you feel the whole universe shifting beneath your feet because you are going to make a life choice? That was it.

 

“I don’t know, I didn’t go.”

 

My mother was utterly surprised. With what reason did her young Christian son not go to church? Perhaps it was because I had a sleepover and I didn’t feel like going to church. And again, I felt the universe shifting.

 

“I did not have a sleepover, I wasn’t feeling tired. In fact, I did not have any reason not to go other then that I don’t want to go to church in general.”

 

My dad said that he didn’t want a conversation like that in front of the others, which I fully understand. My mom started crying. She couldn’t bear the thought of me as a non-believer.

 

I had been waiting for the confrontation all this week. It didn’t come. But I didn’t want to give up now. I had started something because I didn’t want to believe out of tradition anymore. I wanted to drop my mask. I wanted to be free and explore the world. So today I made the confrontation myself.

 

My mom was at work, and my dad was working on his laptop in the living room. For half an hour I sat there, gathering the courage to tell him. I pinched myself in the knee, and used a kind of alter ego telling me that I could stop pinching once I had my dad’s attention. So I did. With mist in my head and blubber for muscles.

 

“Dad?”

 

“Hm?”

 

“I don’t want to go to church anymore. I’m done.”

 

He closed his laptop, and looked at me with a kind of panic in his eyes that I had never seen before. But he’s a rational thinker, luckily, so he had a conversation with me instead of yelling at me. He told me he had doubts too, asked me why I hadn’t told him before, and why I was so convinced of this all of a sudden. He told me to tell my mom too. She came home an hour later. By then I had already packed my bags to stay the night at a friend after my final confrontation with her, just too grand myself some peace of mind.

 

She walked in, and as always, she asked how things were going. My dad said things could be better. “Your son has something to tell you.”

 

“I don’t want to go to church anymore.”

 

My mom was more emotional. A first she tried to have the same conversation she had with my dad, but more and more she started to break. She cried. A lot. She asked the same questions my dad had asked me, but like I said, less rational, more emotional.

 

“Where have we gone wrong? I read you the bible since you were born, I held you when you were baptized, I gave birth to you, and I love you. I can’t bear the thought of it, but you’re going to hell when you die.”

 

I hugged them both, confessed my love for them again and left for my friend’s house. He was standing outside the garden gate, and kind of dragged me to the car. I was so tired.

 

Where things will go from now is uncertain. Perhaps they want me to go to church with them anyways just for the sake of my siblings. All I know is that they are now in bed, still wide awake just like me, and praying for my lost soul, even though the east is already glowing red with the dawn.

 

I just feel so tired, even though I know I made the right choice. 

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Wow, Mycroft - it was very brave of you to step out and be real with your parents.  It sounds like you handled this conversation very well.  Stepping out for the night to allow them to deal with their own feelings was probably a very wise decision.  You may be in for a bit of a bumpy ride over the next few weeks, but hopefully things will improve after the shock wears off.

 

Welcome to the forum!  There are lots of us here to help.

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Mycroft: Welcome to exchristian, Here on the east coast of the US it's 11:10 PM,

so I'm sure you will get a lot of replies tomorrow. You have taken a courageous

step as almost all of us have done at Exchristian. There are a lot of good people here on this site and a lot of good discussions and articles to read. There are

books listed on the Home page that are recommended. No one will try to bully you

into believing any particular religion or philosophy. We advocate free thinking

and self education about religion and any other subjects you choose.Education

about religious history written by real historians, not Xtian apologists who have an ulterior motive. Our goal is to get to the truth of matters, or if that is

impossible, to get as close to the truth as possible. You will be a new person,

free to think for yourself and select your own goals in life. I wish i had

discovered that Xtianity is a myth when I was as young you are. Your brain has

been released from captivity. Keep coming back. bill

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Wow! Good for you!! To thine own self (and thine own thoughts) be true!

 

Great to have you here!

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Wow. Mycroft. Congratulations for coming right out with it even though that must have been terribly difficult. Many people on these forums keep their real selves secret for years before telling those close to them. You're off to a great start at being true to yourself.

 

I also saw this in your profile: "I tend to think too much..." LOL, that's something I've heard all my life and I suspect a lot of others here have, as well.

 

Keep on thinking! Wherever it leads you, it's the right path.

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Welcome, Mycroft. That was a moving read. As you will quickly learn here, many of us who were the most indoctrinated and the most "into" it reached a point where we realized it was all a farce. The more you think about it and try to make it work, the more you realize it can't work because it's simply not real. I don't know how some people can seem to be so into it, and still stick with it. Are they just not really thinking? You, dear one, are thinking. Lucky for you, you have thought your way to this conclusion much earlier than most of us did, and you will avoid many of the traps we fell into.

 

Is there a chance your parents will think it's just a phase, and cut you some slack for a while? Wow, I can't imagine how you are feeling at this moment. I don't know what to say! Just please know that you are not the only one, and when you come here, you are not alone.

 

Peace to you on this exciting new journey.

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Wow you are so brave.  Please do keep us posted if more things develop.  Be on the look out for the cavalry in the form of a teacher, pastor or relative who comes to give you "that talk".  It's a rather common play.  I hope your folks come to understand.

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You're very brave, my friend. I still haven't found the courage to tell my family. Welcome to Ex-C.

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Welcome, Mycroft! I wish you patience and courage for the long road ahead. I know how scary it can be to come out as "different" or a "them". Please keep us updated about how your family handles the news. Feel free to come here any time to vent, ask questions, cry, or whatever you need. We'll all be here to support you. 

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Welcome my friend. Thank you for sharing your story. We sure understand here at EX-c. We can relate to you on many, many levels. You hang out with us and we'll help you in this new journey. I would have died without Ex-c. I mean that. These people have made me comfortable knowing that I was not the only person in the world to question the whole Christian message. You're going to make it. I can tell. You are like me in the way that once your mind is made up, there is no turning back. Get on the roller-coaster with us. Some of the ride will be a blast - you'll laugh till you cry and some of it can be very scary. You're whole world view is about to change. We will be here for you to make the ride a little smoother for you. Welcome again my friend.

 

Sincerely, Margee

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  • 2 months later...

 

Is there a chance your parents will think it's just a phase, and cut you some slack for a while? 

 

 

First of all, thank you for your comment. All of the comments helped me find some inner strength to get back on my feet after the night I wrote this topic. 

 

As for thinking it's a phase and cutting me some slack, yes and no. They think it's a phase, and they kind of give me space in my opinions, mainly because they think I'm just chasing windmills. I have been so busy resisting what I don't believe that I never got to figure out what I do believe. So every time I have "the talk" with my dad, he throws at me how I can't come up with good arguments and how my life is an empty shell without christian purpose.

 

I don't tell them about my meditation practise or the documentaries on christian mythology I watch. When I ask my parents if we can watch national geographic they immediatly cycnicly respond with something like: "Oh, he wants to be convinced of atheism again..."

 

They don't force me to do anything, but there is a constant subtle undertone of stress, because of these "talks" and random mean punches under the belt about my life. That can not really be called cutting me some slack in my opinion... 

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 Be on the look out for the cavalry in the form of a teacher, pastor or relative who comes to give you "that talk".  It's a rather common play. 

 

At least a dozen people from my (and other) church(es) is now trying to get personally involved in my struggle. I'm about to have one of the talks you mentioned in about an hour. They suck. Any advise on handeling or avoiding "the talk?"

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 Be on the look out for the cavalry in the form of a teacher, pastor or relative who comes to give you "that talk".  It's a rather common play. 

 

At least a dozen people from my (and other) church(es) is now trying to get personally involved in my struggle. I'm about to have one of the talks you mentioned in about an hour. They suck. Any advise on handeling or avoiding "the talk?"

 

 

Yes.  You don't have to give them information.  If you are positive and listen you can get it over with quicker.  You can say stuff like "I will think about that, thank you". 

 

When I left my church I got three talks.  One was from my bible study leader, one from a friend and one from the assistant pastor.  The only thing I told any of them was that I was not mad at anybody.  They kept asking who I was angry at and I wanted them to know it wasn't angry.  Aside from that I kept my mouth shut and the guy having the talk eventually ran out of things to say.  If you let them think they were a positive influence on you then maybe you will get less talks in the future.

 

I wish you luck.

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Tell anyone that tries to have that talk with you that the burden of proof for the existence of their god is on them. The onus is not on you to disprove their assertion that their deity exists.

 

Of course, to avoid "the talk," you can just tell anyone who wants to have that conversation that you don't wish to discuss it.

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I'm not sure what to tell you but as your meeting is taking place soon I will try.  Remember you do not have to have all the answers. You can say "I'm not sure or I'll get back to you on that". You can say " I don't know the answer to your questions but I can write them down and do my own research on them". You can tell them "I've been a christian for many years, I've only recently been researching what I have believed and ask for some space and time. That's only fair." Then just keep reading and learning and the answers will slowly come.

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Yes, that's good advice, SFAFML.

 

Don't feel pressured to be the expert in every subject relating to the Bible. With the kinds of questions that will be asked, you would need to be a scholar in ancient languages, anthropology, archaeology, history, geology, and a host of other things in order to give complete answers. Just because you don't know the answer to a particular question does not make their god any more real. Remind them that the logical conclusion is never, "I don't know the answer, therefore the Christian god."

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Mycroft - I am in tears from reading your story. I'm so sorry for what you are going through. Christians have no idea how hard this process is.

 

I challenged God to convince me otherwise in person.

 

The very best thing you can do is to reiterate this to your parents. Be honest with them.

 

The fact that they are afraid for you says an awful lot about the god they believe in. If they believed he is a loving god, they wouldn't worry. Truth is, your parents are better than their god. They would never send you to prison just for disagreeing with them, would they? It may be helpful to point this out.

 

Remind them repeatedly that you love them. This will help, I think.

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I'm about to have one of the talks you mentioned in about an hour. They suck. Any advise on handling or avoiding "the talk?"

 

Yes. Simply tell them that you need to walk your own path and use "the intellect that god gave you." I'd also throw Proverbs 18:17 at them:

 

The first to plead his case seems right,

Until another comes and examines him.

 

If they keep after you, simply ask, "What are you so afraid of?" Then ask them, "If I leave the faith, will you still be my friend?"

 

In answering those two questions, you will reveal much to them and give them reason to question what they truly believe. 

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Hey Mycroft, I'm new here too. Also very much your senoir, I think. Anyway, I don't know how much comfort this thought might bring but,,, don't let anyone bully you into thinking you owe them an explanation. Good luck man

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 Be on the look out for the cavalry in the form of a teacher, pastor or relative who comes to give you "that talk".  It's a rather common play. 

 

At least a dozen people from my (and other) church(es) is now trying to get personally involved in my struggle. I'm about to have one of the talks you mentioned in about an hour. They suck. Any advise on handeling or avoiding "the talk?"

 

 

I can somewhat relate to that. Kind of a creepy feeling, isn't it? I had a couple people from the last church try to get themselves involved in my own struggle. I wouldn't let them. By then it was too little, too late. That ship had sunk, the camel's back was broken for good. One of them was a guy I mentioned on here before, and he just wouldn't take no for an answer no matter how many times I put it, no matter how nicely I tried to say no thanks, you have enough shit to deal with, so on and so forth. I cut the conversation short and changed my number not long after that.

 

If they ask why you left, what happened, etc, I would tell them that it doesn't matter anymore, and that this is something I ultimately need to sort out for myself. This will send them the strong message that they need to stay out of it. Tell them outright if they refuse to take the hint. And if they decide to get really nosy (and I'm suspecting they will, if my own experience is anything to go by), you can say that that isn't up for discussion, and end the conversation right then and there if you need to. Funny how they couldn't seem to be bothered while you were there, and now they're jumping at the chance to help. They never care until it's too late. They had their chance. Don't fall for it. And let us know how it goes. smile.png

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Well, since you still live with your parents and want to be respectful of them, remind them you aren't trying to change anyone else's mind. They can still believe what they believe, and you aren't going to make fun of them, put them down, try to de-convert them, etc. 

 

Just keep saying, "I respect your beliefs and that they mean a lot to you. I hope you can respect mine." 

 

My oldest sister fretted when I said, "I'm going on a spiritual quest, and I just have to go on it alone." She said, "I worry you'll never find the answers you're looking for, and you'll be stuck in the questing phase forever." I didn't know if she was right or not, so I said, "I'm willing to take that quest on anyway. But life is a journey. Maybe I'll find the answers I want, maybe it will take a lifetime."

 

It didn't. I DID find the answers I was looking for. I found them in history and science. And now I don't just believe something that I hope is right, that my family BELIEVES is right... I KNOW the truth based on evidence, and I feel peaceful in that knowledge. 

 

I don't ever stop in my quest to understand the world better, to understand psychology and humanity, and I'm not afraid of delving into anything anymore. Politics, religion, science, history... none of the knowledge scares me anymore. 

 

Christians are very good at scaring you with the idea of hell and the devil to keep you from questioning, but that isn't healthy. And they are not correct. They are wrong about the Bible and God and humans and our origin. 

 

Even so, knowing you are right because facts are on your side doesn't mean it's easy to have a conversation with people you care about who believe something very strongly (without facts) because their emotions are involved. 

 

I will just say... the majority of your life, you won't be living with them. You'll be an independent adult, and it will get a lot easier when you aren't living under their roof anymore. 

 

It isn't their fault. Science wasn't as advanced when they were kids. They couldn't even do forensic science in murder cases for DNA yet. They didn't understand carbon dating methods fully. They didn't have the same access to information that you do when they were forming their beliefs and their foundation for knowledge. 

 

We do. We have no excuse to keep going along with Christian mythology when we know better. You have to find the strength in yourself to stand firm, even against the beliefs and false ideas and pressure from people you deeply care about. 

 

Appealing to their logic probably isn't going to work. Appealing to their emotions might not work either, but I just tell my parents (if I get backed into a corner in the rare times it happens now) that I cannot believe in a God that would send so many innocent people to hell. Sure, they'll say we're all born in sin and so that's how it's got to be, and I'll remind them that their God is the one who makes the rules, and sending a 9 year old who dies of cancer in a 3rd world country to hell is just sick, and my brain won't buy it. Period. I don't buy it. I CAN'T buy it. It's absurd. I tell them I'm too compassionate to be a Christian, because I love people more than God does because I wouldn't do that. And that shouldn't be possible. 

 

Let them mull over that mind puzzle with their hearts. 

 

My parents try to fall back on: "His ways are not our ways." And I say, "We're made in God's image, aren't we? And didn't God command us to love God and love our neighbor as ourselves?" Then how can a God love humans and the world so much he sends the majority to hell? That's sick. I keep saying that over and over. And I say, If your God exists and he's like that, I'm fine with any consequences of not believing in that God. That God is a false God. The Bible says, "By their fruits, you shall know them." And God's fruits are vengeful, jealous, and evil. Even humans have decided that we should not have torture or "cruel and unusual punishment" for even the most vile murderers. At least that is the standard we strive to hold ourselves to. And God should be held to that same high standard. 

 

The more you read the OT, the more you realize it was written in a war-torn age of barbaric practices, where it didn't seem all that weird or unusual for a God to punish people for eternity in flames... because "those people" were the enemy. It was very tribal. 

 

Today, we aren't so barbaric. God should not be either. Yet, this God, frozen in time by the Bible written in the bronze age, is pretty reprehensible. 

 

You are wise to see through it. You also seem compassionate to be careful and delicate in the conversation with your parents and considerate of your siblings. 

 

As a Christian, growing up in a home like yours, you have probably not yet learned how to create your own personal boundaries. You have a right to be who you are, a right to believe what you believe. Your brain and your thoughts belong to you and no one else. Just because your mother gave birth to you does not give her a right to own you, control you, or dictate your thoughts to you. You can be respectful and loving without allowing them to control you. If you don't want to participate in a grilling, or an intervention, or even an uncomfortable conversation, you don't have to. You don't have to stomp off to your room or scream and shout, but you DO have a right to protect your own boundaries. (Just as they don't have a right to sexually or physically abuse you, they don't have a right to mentally abuse you... even if they don't think they are being mentally abusive. Telling someone they don't have a right to their own mind or thoughts is abusive and manipulative and controlling.)

 

You can thank them for caring, and thank the people they invite over to talk to you for caring, but respectfully decline to discuss it. YOU CAN. I know if you grow up in a Christian home that this seems SUPER disrespectful... but it isn't. It's disrespectful of them to try to manipulate your mind. Just because they are authority figures and there are more of them than you doesn't make it right. It is NEVER rude to say you don't wish to talk about a certain subject just because someone else wants to. 

 

I didn't learn that I had that right to privacy until I was in my 20s. So I'm just going to say it again: You have the right to your own thoughts, your own beliefs, your own mind. You DON'T have to discuss anything with anyone that you don't want to. They don't have the right to know anything personal. You don't have to tell them. 

 

IF you're feeling super charitable, you can let them talk at you, but if they ask you anything, you can always say, I don't feel like talking about this. It's personal. 

 

If the questions get strident or abusive or demanding, you can say that: I think this is getting aggressive / too personal, and I don't want to talk about it, and then say that you're going to have to leave the conversation, and then go to your room. 

 

If your parents want to discuss this with you, you can say that while you're living under their roof, you'll follow the rules of cleaning up after yourself, not swearing in front of them, being respectful, not discussing it with your siblings, etc. but you also expect privacy and consideration in return. You didn't ask to be born, but they had you, and you're growing up and becoming an adult, and of course you won't see eye to eye on everything. But you love them, and they love you, and if they want to pray for you that's fine. However, your own brain and beliefs are yours. You are not a clone of your parents. You are not rejecting them. You are just different than they are in your own beliefs, but you still love each other. You aren't a bad person. You aren't angry with them. You aren't angry with the church. You just believe it isn't right for you. 

 

This might SOUND funny to you (and to them) when it comes out of your mouth, but it's true. You ARE entitled to your own beliefs. They do NOT own your brain. YOU do. Read this over and over again until you believe it 100%. 

 

Because I know exactly what it's like growing up in a house like yours, where your wonderful and loving parents want the best for you, but they're just... wrong. And your own brain, your own mind, is telling you what's right. You CANNOT let them have your brain. It doesn't belong to them. It belongs to you. Don't forget that. 

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Remind them that the logical conclusion is never, "I don't know the answer, therefore the Christian god."

 

I love how easy some complicated things can be. Thank you my friend. 

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Hey Mycroft, I'm new here too. Also very much your senoir, I think. Anyway, I don't know how much comfort this thought might bring but,,, don't let anyone bully you into thinking you owe them an explanation. Good luck man

 

Thanks man! The fact that you're new here might mean that you just got out out of christianity too. In that case; good luck to you too, my friend. 

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Congratulations on your new freedom!

One strategy you can use is to take what your parents say about their god, and turn it around and challenge them to behave as if they actually believe it.

For instance, do they say things like "God has a perfect plan" or "God is in control"? If god has a plan, then his hiding from you right now must be part of the perfect plan. Do they say that god loves everybody and is all powerful? Then god would have the power to give you what you need to believe. And an omniscient god would know better than they would what you would need to believe again. If he hasn't sent anything yet, it must just be part of the plan, or just "mysterious ways".

Do they say they trust god? Then they should actually trust that their god will take care of you in his own way and in his own time. There's a phrase I've heard from xians "Let go and let god". If you parents have ever said that to you, you can challenge them to actually do that now. They should leave you alone and spend the time that they were spending on haranguing you on praying instead. (It won't be any more effective in reconverting you, but it might get them off your back.)

Use their own delusions and indoctrination to push back, if you can.

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