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Advice For A New Ex-Christian


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Hey everyone,

 

This is my first post. I was raised in a fundamentalist Baptist household for 17 years before switching to a more liberal form of Christianity to eventually leaving Christianity altogether recently as a 20 year old. I'm looking for help with two issues specifically, but any advice in general for me as I begin to heal would be lovely.


First of all, it has been fairly easy to leave since I've been abroad for half a year. But I am about to return to a home where family and friends are bound to ask me, "How was your church?", "Are you coming to church with us?", or even general discussion on theology since I used to be really engaged in doing this in the past.
How do I avoid these questions since I'm definitely not comfortable or ready with coming out about leaving yet?


Secondly, how did you guys cope with having your views on life essentially shattered? I feel as if the foundation of everything I believed in has crumbled, and I tried seeking comfort from my non-Christian friends. However, none of them understood how momentous and life-changing this has been for me. Their responses are mostly just like "Good to hear." They just don't quite understand how now I need to break past the trauma of having this fear of hell and punishment imprinted in my mind since I learned how to speak and read. Or they can't grasp that I feel completely lost as my life no longer holds the same purpose I once thought it did. 


Thanks in advance! :)

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Welcome to Ex-c ca queen! Thanks for sharing your story with us. I'm so happy that you are going to be deconverting at such a nice young age. I didn't  start to deconvert until I was in my late 40's. You got out in time hon. That's the good news. You might be in for a bit of a bumpy ride but if you stay close to this site, many can help you form a new world view. It takes time. Go easy. Don't be hard on yourself. It takes time to unbrainwash yourself.

 

I told my family and friend when I was starting to back out of the church that I was going through a 'dark night of the soul' and that I wanted to be alone with god for awhile by myself. Some of them bought it and some didn't. Some of them prayed for me and some directly came out and asked me what was wrong. So I told them about my doubts. They tried to tell me it was just phase I was going through. When I finally didn't go to church anymore, they knew I was serious. A lot of friends in the church left my life. That's why I say it can be a bumpy road. You follow your gut. It will tell you what to do. Many here at Ex-c have had to continue to go to church to keep their loved ones happy.

 

So glad you found us. Hang tight! We're right here for you!

 

(hug)

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Welcome aboard!

 

I wish I had a good answer for you to give your family when they ask.  I tend to just go with, "That's a personal question", or "That's between me and god/dess."  It's challenging to deal with people who want to debate.

 

As for your views of life being shattered, it is a loss and ok to grieve.  Some things that help me are remembering my family's intentions are basically good.  They're brainwashed themselves and afraid to question.  Reading "The Power of Now" by Eckhart Tolle brings me a lot of peace.

 

Be gentle with yourself.

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Welcome!

 

Try to realize that your "purpose" as a believer was hogwash. I think our real purpose is simply to live, laugh and help others whenever you can.

 

Each journey out of the cult is different. In general I can say some of the more rabid Christians may no longer want to associate with you. Those of us who leave can trigger the others to think and question, and that's too uncomfortable for some. It's hard at first but honesty is best, you owe both them and yourself that.

 

I hope your path is easy and good luck!

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You really have no obligation to tell them anything. Honestly, I've been out for about 8 years and it's still a process. As far as my family goes, it's become a don't ask don't tell type of situation. I know my parents wish I was religious, but I think they prefer to just live in ignorance which is fine with me. Maybe your family will be the same. 

 

As far as moving on know that it's ok to miss religion than the belonging you felt when you were part of it. It's ok if you go back and forth between becoming one again and not. It's all part of figuring out who you are on your own without religion. 

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I quit going to church and told those who asked that I had heard enough sermons to last a lifetime. They just assumed I was backsliding or hurt or angry at God.

Actually I was just sleeping in and reprogramming myself.

 

I feel no need to tell anyone that I no longer beleive unless I just want to. Apparently not many are surprised now when I do.

 

be careful. Go slowly.

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Hey everyone,

 

This is my first post. I was raised in a fundamentalist Baptist household for 17 years before switching to a more liberal form of Christianity to eventually leaving Christianity altogether recently as a 20 year old. I'm looking for help with two issues specifically, but any advice in general for me as I begin to heal would be lovely.

 

 

First of all, it has been fairly easy to leave since I've been abroad for half a year. But I am about to return to a home where family and friends are bound to ask me, "How was your church?", "Are you coming to church with us?", or even general discussion on theology since I used to be really engaged in doing this in the past.

How do I avoid these questions since I'm definitely not comfortable or ready with coming out about leaving yet?

 

 

Secondly, how did you guys cope with having your views on life essentially shattered? I feel as if the foundation of everything I believed in has crumbled, and I tried seeking comfort from my non-Christian friends. However, none of them understood how momentous and life-changing this has been for me. Their responses are mostly just like "Good to hear." They just don't quite understand how now I need to break past the trauma of having this fear of hell and punishment imprinted in my mind since I learned how to speak and read. Or they can't grasp that I feel completely lost as my life no longer holds the same purpose I once thought it did.

 

 

Thanks in advance! :)

You start by asking questions, which you're doing now. But ythere'se to understand that you really don't know as much as you think you know. But there's a difference between asking questions and questioning the process.

 

keep asking questions from everyone and to everything and the religious mindset will become unstuck, and the answers will come.

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Hey everyone,

 

This is my first post. I was raised in a fundamentalist Baptist household for 17 years before switching to a more liberal form of Christianity to eventually leaving Christianity altogether recently as a 20 year old. I'm looking for help with two issues specifically, but any advice in general for me as I begin to heal would be lovely.

 

 

First of all, it has been fairly easy to leave since I've been abroad for half a year. But I am about to return to a home where family and friends are bound to ask me, "How was your church?", "Are you coming to church with us?", or even general discussion on theology since I used to be really engaged in doing this in the past.

How do I avoid these questions since I'm definitely not comfortable or ready with coming out about leaving yet?

 

 

Secondly, how did you guys cope with having your views on life essentially shattered? I feel as if the foundation of everything I believed in has crumbled, and I tried seeking comfort from my non-Christian friends. However, none of them understood how momentous and life-changing this has been for me. Their responses are mostly just like "Good to hear." They just don't quite understand how now I need to break past the trauma of having this fear of hell and punishment imprinted in my mind since I learned how to speak and read. Or they can't grasp that I feel completely lost as my life no longer holds the same purpose I once thought it did.

 

 

Thanks in advance! :)

You start by asking questions, which you're doing now. But understand that you really don't know as much as you think you know. But there's a difference between asking questions and questioning the process.

 

keep asking questions to everyone and about everything and the religious mindset will become unstuck, and the answers will come.

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Hey everyone,

 

This is my first post. I was raised in a fundamentalist Baptist household for 17 years before switching to a more liberal form of Christianity to eventually leaving Christianity altogether recently as a 20 year old. I'm looking for help with two issues specifically, but any advice in general for me as I begin to heal would be lovely.

 

 

First of all, it has been fairly easy to leave since I've been abroad for half a year. But I am about to return to a home where family and friends are bound to ask me, "How was your church?", "Are you coming to church with us?", or even general discussion on theology since I used to be really engaged in doing this in the past.

How do I avoid these questions since I'm definitely not comfortable or ready with coming out about leaving yet?

 

 

Secondly, how did you guys cope with having your views on life essentially shattered? I feel as if the foundation of everything I believed in has crumbled, and I tried seeking comfort from my non-Christian friends. However, none of them understood how momentous and life-changing this has been for me. Their responses are mostly just like "Good to hear." They just don't quite understand how now I need to break past the trauma of having this fear of hell and punishment imprinted in my mind since I learned how to speak and read. Or they can't grasp that I feel completely lost as my life no longer holds the same purpose I once thought it did. 

 

 

Thanks in advance! smile.png

 

Your old Worldview is destroyed and needs to be replaced. Let Science be your guide. Reading Darwin will help.

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I see a few parallels between your experience and my own. I was just a year or two older than you when I started to deconvert and living abroad pretty much or at least nearly sealed the deal. 

 

My decoversion was a process that lasted a number of years, but you have some advantages I didn't have back then. You have this site, and the internet in general. I had a ton of lingering questions and it took me a long time to answer them all as there wasn't a lot of material available back in the early 90s when I was deconverting. So, as to advice, I'd say, take advantage of all the info that is now readily available. Read, engage with others here and at similar sites and get all your questions answered and get it all out of your system. 

 

The second piece of advice I'd offer is to be careful with what you read and in particular those referred to as "the new atheists." There are a lot of good books out there and a lot of good info, but don't let one set of beliefs get exchanged for another set of beliefs. Put on your skeptics hat and ask yourself "Is this person just making a good argument that is convincing, or do they really have evidence and sound reasoning, which isn't merely rooted in selling me a new paradigm"? 

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Hey everyone,

 

This is my first post. I was raised in a fundamentalist Baptist household for 17 years before switching to a more liberal form of Christianity to eventually leaving Christianity altogether recently as a 20 year old. I'm looking for help with two issues specifically, but any advice in general for me as I begin to heal would be lovely.

 

 

First of all, it has been fairly easy to leave since I've been abroad for half a year. But I am about to return to a home where family and friends are bound to ask me, "How was your church?", "Are you coming to church with us?", or even general discussion on theology since I used to be really engaged in doing this in the past.

How do I avoid these questions since I'm definitely not comfortable or ready with coming out about leaving yet?

 

 

Secondly, how did you guys cope with having your views on life essentially shattered? I feel as if the foundation of everything I believed in has crumbled, and I tried seeking comfort from my non-Christian friends. However, none of them understood how momentous and life-changing this has been for me. Their responses are mostly just like "Good to hear." They just don't quite understand how now I need to break past the trauma of having this fear of hell and punishment imprinted in my mind since I learned how to speak and read. Or they can't grasp that I feel completely lost as my life no longer holds the same purpose I once thought it did.

 

 

Thanks in advance! :)

Where you an Independent Fundamental Baptist? That's what I was.

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First I agree with Margee.  You have done well to deconvert at 20.  It may seem now like you've misused a lot of your youth, but you'll soon come to realise that you really haven't.  You're very fortunate!  Welcome to the real world :D

 

I would say, take it slowly.  You don't necessarily have to have a big coming out event if you do not want to.  Personally, I told a few close friends gradually, and eventually told my mum and dad (I've never told my grandparents).

 

What I would say is, some people can suffer from telling people, even being kicked out of the house by family members, so if you live at home (or may do again in the future) be sure that your parents would not be the type to do that.

 

Last warning:

 

Be prepared for the feeling of indifference from your Christian friends.  You may think that they would try and spend a lot of energy trying to convert you back, but oddly enough that is often not what happens.  You may simply end up being ignored, which can be more painful than harsh words.

 

Here's a quote from the preacher turned athiest speaker Jerry de Witt:

 

"I’m not surprised that virtually everyone that I know and love, and have helped - spent my life helping – now believes I’m going to Hell.  I’m not surprised by that.  I expected that, I really did.  What is hurting me is that they’re all taking it so well.  I’m telling you, I literally sat around at night and cry about it like, why aren’t these people banging my door down?"

 

...

 

So I suppose I am saying two things.  1. Prepare for a backlash and 2. Prepare for indifference.  Make sure you're mentally ready to take both in your stride.

 

And remember, you don't owe anyone an explanation.

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Hey there! Welcome!

 

I actually just went through this and, if I were a Christian still, I'd tell you "my heart goes out to you." Well it does. I really can empathise here.

 

Firstly, how to avoid the questions. I ran. I stopped going to church, stopped answering emails, stopped replying to texts. I originally felt really bad about it, because I felt like a coward. That said, I think there are two ways to approach this. The first is to stand up to the people you've left behind and answer their questions honestly, concisely, but with no room for a reply. Short, clipped responses. You don't want to have a theological discussion. The other option is to never speak with any of them again. And I'll tell you that I know now, this is not cowardly at all. You have been through TRAUMA, and just talking to those people is extremely wearing on your mind, as you have a lot of healing to do. Its okay to ditch them for good, without a word. Now this wouldn't address random grocery store "oh hey, havent seen you in awhile"s, but it can at least get you started. As for those random meetings, ive just not given out my phone number, found reasons to be in a hurry, or said that I was exploring my beliefs or something. The more you run into these awkward, uncomfortable situations, though, I promise that you'll be better and better at handling them. I was able to get to the point where I had coffee with my childhood best friend. I told her I found more spirituality in nature and thought Christianity was false. She responded, telling me that God will show me the way and that it's okay to have doubts and be confused. I thought, "no you dont get it. I dont even believe in God. These arent doubts. God isn't real!" Instead, I meekly listened and centered the conversation around her. Christians love to talk about themselves and their callings. Try to get them talking about themselves and away from you as a subject.

 

I'm not going to sugarcoat this: having your entire world view turned upside-down is one of the most excruciating, heart breaking, absolutely shitty things ever. It fucking sucks. You feel crazy and confused sometimes, and empowered and confident at others. Ride it out. Search for your truth. I started by cutting all the toxic people from my life, then exploring a different lifestyle. I smoked weed, drank, had casual sex, had a polyamourous relationship, explored Christian withcraft. Though I stuck with none of these things, they were all a part of finding myself. I have come to a balance, and have a healthy worldview and view of myself. I started going to counseling and therapy. I joined ex-c and a support group. I began to read about the Bible from an objective standpoint, and read about science and free thinking. All of these things help resolve the inner turmoil. There will be worse days than others. But the feeling of being in control of your own life is the most empowering goddamn thing you'll ever experience. Think. Ponder. Agonize. Let yourself grieve over the shit that Christianity has put you through, and the people that inflicted this horrible disease. And then get back up and prove that youre in control now, and you are powerful, and can think for yourself. You're a fucking badass, and I promise that you're way stronger than half the people in this world. Hang in there, darling.

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The second piece of advice I'd offer is to be careful with what you read and in particular those referred to as "the new atheists." There are a lot of good books out there and a lot of good info, but don't let one set of beliefs get exchanged for another set of beliefs. Put on your skeptics hat and ask yourself "Is this person just making a good argument that is convincing, or do they really have evidence and sound reasoning, which isn't merely rooted in selling me a new paradigm"?

 

+1!

 

After three years I finally calmed down from my deconversion turmoil and realized that science doesn't have as many answers as it thinks it does. It has way more answers than religion (not to mention it actually works in the real world) but take its fundamentalists with a grain of salt just like everyone else.

 

We all have agendas that get in our own way, including folks who are making a ton of money by tapping into ex-Christians fears and uncertainties.

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First of all, it has been fairly easy to leave since I've been abroad for half a year. But I am about to return to a home where family and friends are bound to ask me, "How was your church?", "Are you coming to church with us?", or even general discussion on theology since I used to be really engaged in doing this in the past.

How do I avoid these questions since I'm definitely not comfortable or ready with coming out about leaving yet?

 

While you were gone you had a life shaking Jesus experience that brought you closer to him than you have ever been. He has spoken to you and has something special for your life but it requires one on one time , just you and Jesus. You can't put it into words either. Like Margee said, some might buy it , others might not. :) Hopefully you won't be living under their roof. Much easier just to say, "Not interested in Jesus anymore" if you're on your own.

 

Secondly, how did you guys cope with having your views on life essentially shattered? I feel as if the foundation of everything I believed in has crumbled, and I tried seeking comfort from my non-Christian friends. However, none of them understood how momentous and life-changing this has been for me. Their responses are mostly just like "Good to hear." They just don't quite understand how now I need to break past the trauma of having this fear of hell and punishment imprinted in my mind since I learned how to speak and read. Or they can't grasp that I feel completely lost as my life no longer holds the same purpose I once thought it did. 

 

Born and raised as an agnostic so my 10 years (later in life) as a fundy didn't imprint very deep. My views as a Christian were pretty much the same as the ones I grew up with. Just some added fear and guilt on top of that. :)

 

Christianity is based on fear, not love. Give yourself some time to work through Hell as well as figure out a new life purpose if you really need one. Consider the possibility that you can enjoy life without having a mission statement. Let meaning/purpose grow naturally. Start doing something that sounds interesting to you, not something that someone wants you do. Live for yourself. It's your life.

 

SageHealer mentioned reading  some Tolle. Program yourself to enjoy the present moment. It's hard for other people to sell you future happiness if you already have it right now.

 

Welcome to Ex-c.net

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I've "come out" to my parents (specifically my mom) several times in the past year. She does not understand, and will probably never understand. That said, one of the biggest mistakes I have made in losing my Faith, was repeatedly seeking advice, attention and understanding from others. You have to understand that these people are locked into a belief system that their life virtually depends on. It would require them getting out of their comfort zone and possibly dying spiritually in order to put themselves into your shoes. The thought of those requirements is enough to scare any Bible-believing Christian from being empathetic for a non-theist.

 

If I could turn back time, I would have not told my mother about my faith-related happenings. It might go without saying, but it really put a downer on our relationship. I was impulsive and needed to get my feelings out somehow, so on many occasions I spoke without thinking. This was to my ultimate demise. So, catqueen, if you really want to know what to do, I advise you to consider your non-Faith and your mom's Faith. Think about how the two fit (or don't) together. Really ponder how this will make the two of you feel in the future. Then, choose wisely, my friend.

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Feline Royalty,

 

The icky feelings you have now go away after you re-program your data center (brain). Give a year.

 

As far as your friends - make new ones. 

 

I am locked in to a fundy family unless I divorce my wife. There is now way in hell she would ever deconvert as her ego absolutely depends on thumping that book. That said I had to start going to church with her again and act all fundy-like just to keep things smooth on the home front. ( I know. I'm a coward trt19ROFLPIMP.gif )

 

I envy you!

    - MOHO (Mind Of His Own)

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Abandoning dignity and honesty to keep a false peace is a bad bargain that can't be kept indefinitely. We are all entitled to hold opinions. The believers, being a majority, will try to manipulate, shame, frighten and threaten those who disagree with them. This shit has to stop. Stand up on your hind legs and claim your freedom to think and disagree even if friends or family members may not react kindly

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Florduh,

 

We all know you are correct and accurate on all counts. 

 

I did this for an entire year and it was so incredibly stressful that divorce was inevitable. My separation anxiety, however, pulled me back from the brink. I believe I would have been happier by now had I simply gone through with it. 

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For me the phasing out has been hardest. Like people I thought were my best friends at university has now gradually seemingly forgotten about me... and I'm not even fully out! I share a lot of humanist posts though so I suspect they get the idea.

The ego in me sometimes wishes they were fervently praying about me, but I'm also glad for the indifference. Its easier to not feel as though you're desperately hurting people you love when they stop giving a shit. 

 

I think what hurts most is realising that people you thought really cared a bout you can so easily phase you out their lives. I'll admit I also moved away from the town where most of my Christian friends are. But it doesn't make it any easier when they just stop responding to you.

 

Also, be glad you got out at the start of your twenties! I lost half mine to religion, not to mention missed out on a lot of normal student fun at University! Replaced it with 2-3 bible study/prayer meetings a week.......

 

ETA- while everyone is different I experienced a massive bout of depression when I was coming to terms with my loss of faith. My whole world had been utterly and irrevocably shaken and it took my a long time to deal with the mental fall out, whilst trying to carry on normally.

 

Breathe. Read. Live in the moment. It gets easier xxx

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Hey everyone,

 

This is my first post. I was raised in a fundamentalist Baptist household for 17 years before switching to a more liberal form of Christianity to eventually leaving Christianity altogether recently as a 20 year old. I'm looking for help with two issues specifically, but any advice in general for me as I begin to heal would be lovely.

 

 

First of all, it has been fairly easy to leave since I've been abroad for half a year. But I am about to return to a home where family and friends are bound to ask me, "How was your church?", "Are you coming to church with us?", or even general discussion on theology since I used to be really engaged in doing this in the past.

How do I avoid these questions since I'm definitely not comfortable or ready with coming out about leaving yet?

 

 

Secondly, how did you guys cope with having your views on life essentially shattered? I feel as if the foundation of everything I believed in has crumbled, and I tried seeking comfort from my non-Christian friends. However, none of them understood how momentous and life-changing this has been for me. Their responses are mostly just like "Good to hear." They just don't quite understand how now I need to break past the trauma of having this fear of hell and punishment imprinted in my mind since I learned how to speak and read. Or they can't grasp that I feel completely lost as my life no longer holds the same purpose I once thought it did. 

 

 

Thanks in advance! smile.png

Hi Cat Queen,

 

Can relate to a lot of what you said, there are many secular individuals who haven't gone through a crazy worldview shift and they don't know what its like to have your values and purposes uprooted leaving nothing but the remnants of roots which lead to nowhere.  The first thing I would like to say is to BE PATIENT, and respect the process that you now have to go through, to figure out what life is all about to you and not to jump to the next thing.  Allow yourself to mature a bit as an individual and get an education if you're able to (or already have).  

 

To your first question, I would say that you should share as much as you want with them.  And that doesn't have to be the same from person to person, for instance my wife and best friend are devout Christians and I told them.  They have respected me and helped me all along the way, and don't pressure me to try and go back at all.  That's a judgement and risk that you have to try to figure out for yourself, and you can certainly ask for advice here, but make sure you put some thought to it.. not everyone has as good results.  There are plenty of people I choose not to tell either, and perhaps many of them still think I'm Christian, but this shift will make you realize who actually loves you and who associates with you just out of commonality.  I also don't talk about it with hardly anyone at work, as atheists are very often distrusted arbitrarily as value-less people who will act out when you're not looking.

 

The second question, I would be realistic first about your mental condition.  Do you think your mind is just going through the natural process of having your ideologies and beliefs changed, or do you think there might be some unhealthy depression with constant ruminations about negative aspects of what you're going through?  For me, I had a pretty fucked up childhood in addition to going through multiple major worldview shifts in my early twenties which led to some severe depression that I have still had to work through.  

 

Even with all that craziness, I've had success in business and have a beautiful stable family.  There is life after Christianity, and it better, just in different ways than before.  Richer, more authentic.

 

Welcome to the board.

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Welcome catqueen!

 

You've asked a couple of very difficult questions. My advice to you is to take things slowly. You seem to be looking for an avoidance strategy, and I actually think that this is a wise choice for the first little while. There will come a time when you are ready to discuss your unbelief, but you should not feel pressured to do so before you are ready.

 

The thing is, it's really hard to start out as an ex-Christian. Christianity deals in absolute certainty. This is one of the reasons why people like it. Deep down, there is something about us that quite likes being told what to do. Christianity appeals to that part of us. It also provides us with answers to basically every question that we could ever have. Now, of course, the answers are not satisfactory, but they are provided nonetheless. The real world doesn't work this way. We don't have a rule book, and most of the questions don't have complete answers. I remember very well what it is to feel as if the foundation upon which I had built my entire life had abruptly crumbled away. It is not a pleasant feeling.

 

But remember this: if the foundation is not there now, it is because it was never there in the first place. It isn't as if Christianity used to be true and now it isn't; rather, it has always been false and we are only just now recognizing this. There is no need to feel lost. You are exactly as lost as you were before. Nothing about life has changed. All the things that used to make it good are still there. All the things that used to make it shitty are still there too. The only difference is that now you can focus freely on pursuing those things which make you happy and avoiding those things which don't without worrying about whether or not your actions are offending God.

 

It's really hard to get over indoctrination. I've been out for several years, and I'm fairly well adjusted, but the scars from my indoctrination remain and will always remain. But they don't bother me as much anymore as they used to. I am who I am because of my experiences. And, for the most part, I like who I am. In time, I hope you'll get there too.

 

As for how to avoid the questions, I would suggest getting a job or taking up a hobby that directly conflicts with Church. Then, when people ask if you're planning on going, you can honestly say that you're busy. Alternatively, you can just say "Sorry, but I can't make it" and not elaborate as to why. After a while, the questions will stop coming, and you will also feel more comfortable dealing with them.

 

Take as much time as you need before telling anyone. You don't have anything to hide, but you also don't owe anybody an explanation. Relax, and enjoy the ride. Read as much as you can. Keep hanging out here. And remember that it really does get easier in time.

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Hey everyone,

 

This is my first post. I was raised in a fundamentalist Baptist household for 17 years before switching to a more liberal form of Christianity to eventually leaving Christianity altogether recently as a 20 year old. I'm looking for help with two issues specifically, but any advice in general for me as I begin to heal would be lovely.

 

 

First of all, it has been fairly easy to leave since I've been abroad for half a year. But I am about to return to a home where family and friends are bound to ask me, "How was your church?", "Are you coming to church with us?", or even general discussion on theology since I used to be really engaged in doing this in the past.

How do I avoid these questions since I'm definitely not comfortable or ready with coming out about leaving yet?

 

 

Secondly, how did you guys cope with having your views on life essentially shattered? I feel as if the foundation of everything I believed in has crumbled, and I tried seeking comfort from my non-Christian friends. However, none of them understood how momentous and life-changing this has been for me. Their responses are mostly just like "Good to hear." They just don't quite understand how now I need to break past the trauma of having this fear of hell and punishment imprinted in my mind since I learned how to speak and read. Or they can't grasp that I feel completely lost as my life no longer holds the same purpose I once thought it did. 

 

 

Thanks in advance! smile.png

 

Welcome Catqueen.

Your story sounds similar to mine.

You can't avoid questions from christians, but you can work on the best ways to answer them. It's not hard to anticipate what their questions are/will be, so you can use your spare time to think of things to say. I don't know your family so am reluctant to offer things to say. Now that I've been deconverted for 30 years (it also happened for me in the early 20's) it's become second nature to say to the family and others why I'm not going to church with them. You just have to answer them something that does not give them a hand to argue back with more, and stand your ground. If they try to talk you into going or try to make you go, it's peer pressure. Address it as such.

 

When my reality was destroyed what helped me recover a new reality was reading. I started with a college level text book on plane geometry. Learned how to start to think. I remember it feeling like fresh air. It actually scared me at first, learning such important skills from heathen men. Then I read Joseph Campbell's Myths to Live By, which opened my mind to other religious ideas from history and around the world. Another I read later was Paul Boyer's When Time Shall Be No More, a book about different ways to interpret prophesies. Excellent book if you're caught up in seeing the end times one certain way.

You're in a position to cultivate fresh, your own spiritual development in directions of your choosing. I chose to follow paths that came naturally to me, not ones that didn't. I didn't rebound to another religion, I stayed unaffiliated, a challenge in itself. 

 

The fear of hell part is a bitch for a lot of us. Once in a while we get a new thread here titled something like "How Do I Get Over My Fear Of Hell?" And a lot of us chime in on those. We've had to face it and overcome it ourselves. It's gradual for most people, sometimes taking years. A most important thing to grasp is that hell was created by the religious institution to frighten people into line. You just can't let people hold that over you. 

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Secondly, how did you guys cope with having your views on life essentially shattered? I feel as if the foundation of everything I believed in has crumbled, and I tried seeking comfort from my non-Christian friends. However, none of them understood how momentous and life-changing this has been for me. Their responses are mostly just like "Good to hear." They just don't quite understand how now I need to break past the trauma of having this fear of hell and punishment imprinted in my mind since I learned how to speak and read. Or they can't grasp that I feel completely lost as my life no longer holds the same purpose I once thought it did. 

 

Thanks in advance! smile.png

 

catqueen, It hit me right in the gut to read your words which so perfectly explained the pain I went through during deconversion. I've described it as the feeling that the earth had been ripped out from under me and I was falling endlessly into a pitch black void - alone, lost and frightened. There's no easy answer to your question and I think most here would agree with that. You and I have already made a big step in finding this connection to others who've had the same experience here at ExC. At least you don't have to go through it completely alone.

One thing I know is that you are your own best expert. Others, like those here, can offer solace, comfort, maybe assistance. But ultimately the buck stops with you. Where do you want to go from here? If you could believe anything you wanted, what would that be? Is there anything you want to explore? Do acknowledge and honor your pain. Write a letter to God. Tell him everything, say goodbye for good, burn it. And grieve the loss. Give yourself time and patience. This is comparable in weight to the loss of a very close loved one.

As for the mental torture regarding hell, I know much of this. I won't speak of the horrors I endured - you already know what that's like. I was fortunate as a believer to have developed a kinder perspective of/relationship with the biblical God so that when I deconverted and reasoned it out, I (after much struggle) was finally able to see the hell I feared just was not consistent with the God I had known (or perceived myself to know at the time). Your healing process may look completely different. But the fact that you're here tells me you have not given up on yourself. "Recovery is always possible."

I applaud your courage in speaking out about your pain. Stay in touch. This community can be here for us when we're low, celebrate with us our milestones and help support us as only community can do. I hope to see you around and hear how you're doing.

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