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Jane

my faith journey

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I grew up in a family that was Christian in name only.  We did not go to church except Christmas, because it was tradition.  My father is an atheist, my mother was a sort of minimal Lutheran.  I went to Lutheran confirmation and became a Christian for a short time as a teenager.  After some really bad stuff happened, and God did not help me, despite lots of prayers I stopped being one.   Later on, after meeting my current husband ( married 20 years), he convinced me I should give God another chance, and we became members of the LCMS Lutheran church.  I think I brainwashed myself into believing, and was quite happy to be a fundamentalist Bible thumping Christian for a little while. I liked the church friendships we made, and it was nice being part of a group, and it was nice thinking there is a God that is there when you need him.  I made the same excuses every other Christian makes when prayers are not answered " oh, it was not part of God's Plan" , " God will answer it later" , " maybe there is some unconfessed sin in my life and that's why " , "maybe some good will come out of some bad later" , blah blah blah...you all know the excuses. 

Anyway, this went on for a good 10 years, until the cracks started to appear.  Things just went majorly wrong in my life, and in those around me, despite all the prayers in the world.  I started question things in our Bible studies that didn't have answers and almost got me kicked out ( like pointing out inconsistencies in the Bible , or telling someone that survived cancer, that it was not a miracle, but modern medicine, after all 50 years ago, that same person would have died from it for sure) .  The number one question I got no answer to was "why do animals suffer"?  why would a loving  GOOD God condemn innocent animals to suffer not just because of us evil humans in factory farms ( yeah, why nothing in the Bible about treating animals well?) but just by the nature of them.  We have guardian dogs that protect our livestock ( goats and sheep)  from coyotes and bears and such.  These dogs are super friendly to us, but if you see what they do to a groundhog or fox, or other dog, or cat, anyone with any sense should question what sort of "nature" God has created there.  Ever watch a cat with a mouse?  This is nature. Nature if full of cruelty and suffering.  Some Christian  excuse this by saying that animals don't feel pain and have no feelings at all ( bull!!!! ) , others just say they are part of a fallen creation caused my human sin ( so it is OUR fault...hmmm...I did not create nature) .  Others don't care at all.  I hate that.  Part of why I am a farmer is to raise livestock in a humane way, so we can avoid factory farm meat.    It makes me cry to see how some Christians treat their animals around here ( not all but some).  But there is nothing I can do about nature itself.  If God created it, he sucks!  

Then there is the prayer thing.  I have to be honest here.  I had an accident recently and got injured. Everyone told me " I am praying for you" and when it turned out I was going to be ok, they all agreed it was THEIR prayer that made that happen.  What about all the prayers all over the planet that don't get answered?  What about people's kids disappearing and getting brutally murdered for example?  Aren't those prayers more important than my relatively minor accident?  Why does God allow wars and famines that kill and injure millions?  Why do 5 year old's die from brain tumors?  Why did God create Adam and Eve if he knew they were going to sin and we were all going to suffer because of it?  Why "free will"?  Free will is not mentioned in the Bible at all btw.  Why would God create different races and languages only to cause endless conflict amongst humanity because of it? Why not make everyone look the same ?  Yes tower of Bable, but really???? They wanted to build a what 100 foot tower to "reach the heavens" and God punished them by making them speak different languages?>???  That really makes God seem like a moron.  First, they were obviously NOT going to reach heaven, and God would have known that.  Second the punishment seems very severe for such a minor silly thing. It makes God seem like a petty asshole.   The flood.  Again, why are the animals getting punished ?  And what happened to the unicorn? 

I could go on but I am new here and don't want to ramble endlessly.


I no longer believe the Bible is the word of God.  If you don't believe in the Bible, you really have no basis for any sort of Christian faith, so I am no longer a Christian.  The problem I now have is that almost all of my friends are still Bible believing Christians.  I don't really believe in prayers, but they want to pray for me all the time.  I don't know what to say to them.  I don't want to be rude or make them feel bad, or cause them to lose their faith like I did.  It's not a good feeling to lose your faith. Faith gives people hope and comfort.  I just don't have any anymore for the reasons I wrote. 

My problem is what to say to my Christian friends.  I am a terrible liar and not good at pretending.  I just usually say "thanks for the prayers" and offer prayers in return when they need some, but it is so damned insincere, I hate doing it.  But at the same time I would really hate saying " your prayers are just nonsense and there is no God going to do anything for you or me" , which is what I am really thinking.   I try to say things like " well wishes"  instead of "praying for you" , but that always sticks out, especially if I post it on facebook or something like that. EVERYONE offers prayers, except myself offering "good thoughts and well wishes" .,   So I continue to say I am praying for them, even if I am not and don't believe it, just to make them happy and avoid making anyone feel bad.  I love my friends and don't want to lose any of them because of this.  It's very hard.  Thankfully most of MY relatives are not really Christians either , my husband sort of still is, but he understand why I think the way I do and also does not believe the Bible is the total truth.  

Thanks for letting me write this on here, no place else I can say these things!  

Jane 

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Hi Jane,

 

Thank-you for sharing your thoughts. Some Christian attitudes toward the suffering of animals has always annoyed me. I was told that god created animals and nature for us to have dominion over. As if they have no value beyond their utility for us. This attitude of superiority is partly responsible for wrecking the planet.

 

Thank-you for treating your animals well, we need more farmers like you.

 

When a friend tells me “I’m praying for you”, I choose to hear that as “I care about you”.

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Hello Jane and welcome. Your extimony really hit on all the issues. Glad to have you here. Be sure to check the responses on your other thread.

 

 

3 hours ago, Jane said:

I love my friends and don't want to lose any of them because of this.  It's very hard.

 

Yes, it is. But if someone cuts off a friendship over this, then perhaps that person wasn't really a friend, eh?

 

 

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Thank goodness your husband is not a "dyed in the wool" fundy.  Congratulations on being a logical, rational thinker.  I was also one from an early age which got me into trouble at times.  After decades of study I decided religions with infallible deities are the biggest superstitions in the world, and each year that goes by, I am more sure of it.  Life in your setting won't be easy, but you've got to be true to yourself.  Thanks for your story.

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I understand you discomfort with praying for someone.  If it helps, one definition of prayer is to humbly request something.  It doesn't have to be religious.  At least that's the way I rationalize it.😁

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Welcome Jane!

Thanks for sharing your story.  I had so many similar thoughts on my path out of Christianity - especially related to gratuitous suffering.  Even if much suffering of animals could be attributed to "human sin", what about a deer who burns to death in a forest fire caused by lightening?  How could that be man's sin?  It's just unnecessary suffering allegedly caused by/allowed by someone who could totally prevent it. 

 

Something that also put a huge dent in my faith was a question someone posed:  if you knew a child was burning in a building and you knew you could run in and rescue her and save her life, would you?  Of course you would.  So what do we do with a God who does know the child is burning, is able to save her, but doesn't?  The whole "there is a higher good that we don't see" argument - I just can't buy...

 

I too accept others' offers of prayers on a humanist level - in their own little world, they are wishing me the best...  I totally hear u when, on FB for example, everyone is posting "praying for you".  If you write "sending positive feelings" you've pretty much declared your atheism/agnosticism.  Instead of either option (offering prayers or warm thoughts), I say something empathetic and uplifting - something that affirms the person suffering while neither making religious pretense nor telegraphing my unbelief.  For example - someone posts that their parent died and asking for prayers.  Everyone posts "praying for you".  I might say "I'm SO sorry.  May all the sweet memories you treasure of your Dad comfort you and make him feel near."

 

Or,  someone's dog is in surgery and they ask for prayer.  "I know how much you love your dog!  Please keep us posted on how the procedure goes."

 

Hope that helps!

All the best to you.  😃

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Hey @Jane

 

Thanx for posting your extimony. These things are a catharsis but also help those who come here looking for answers and support. Personally I don't know where I'd be in my journey at this point if not for this site and finding people with similar questions and providing answers and/or references to books with answers.

 

Yes, the ridiculousness of the doctrine and the excuses for the shortcomings found therein did it for me. It was so obviously written by misogynistic controlling men with no knowledge of science and a profound contempt for those who seek knowledge of anything except their specific BS.  When pointing this out to Xtian leaders it's always the same response - "Yes, it was WRITTEN by men but directed or influenced by God." This is just as lame as getting caught with a refer in your jacket pocket in High school. "It's not mine, Mom! I was just holding it for Billy!"

 

I too, wince at the thought of praying to resolve anything and used to respond to "I'll pray for you" with "I'd prefer you do something that will actually have an impact." I just ignore them now BUT, when they as ME to pray about something I do respond with "Let's do something that will actually improve the situation."

 

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Thanks good answers !  As for actually doing something for someone, in some cases not possible ( because of distance, they are elsewhere, or you just can't do anything) , but yes, that would be a good response.  " can I do anything for you?" instead of prayers.  That's good. 

 

 

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On 8/2/2019 at 9:23 AM, MOHO said:

I too, wince at the thought of praying to resolve anything and used to respond to "I'll pray for you" with "I'd prefer you do something that will actually have an impact." I just ignore them now BUT, when they as ME to pray about something I do respond with "Let's do something that will actually improve the situation."

 

On 8/2/2019 at 9:41 AM, Jane said:

As for actually doing something for someone, in some cases not possible ( because of distance, they are elsewhere, or you just can't do anything) , but yes, that would be a good response.  " can I do anything for you?" instead of prayers.  That's good.

 

Drifting a little off topic here, but this can be a challenge. When I told someone about my Very Serious medical diagnosis, I got the "We'll pray for you" response. When I said that what would really be helpful is to vote for politicians who support stem cell research, which their religion opposes, I just got stares. Obviously I offended them, and I learned that in the future, accept such efforts as well meaning.

 

I recently read a short book about what NOT to say to someone who is suffering. Can't remember the title but two takeaways I remember were:

- Center your comments on the person who is suffering and what they are feeling. Don't talk about your issues or make comparisons to them. And never say, "It could be worse."

- Don't just say, "If there is anything I can do...." Make a specific offer. I can give an example of this: A good friend died last year. He was a hobby machinist and there is a huge shop full of machine tools and equipment. Two of his other friends and I have offered to come over when his widow is ready to help sort out the gear, estimate its worth, and help dispose of it. She has thanked us and has said she'll let us know when she's ready. 

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On 8/3/2019 at 10:03 PM, older said:

 

 

Drifting a little off topic here, but this can be a challenge. When I told someone about my Very Serious medical diagnosis, I got the "We'll pray for you" response. When I said that what would really be helpful is to vote for politicians who support stem cell research, which their religion opposes, I just got stares. Obviously I offended them, and I learned that in the future, accept such efforts as well meaning.

 

 

Well, you would have gotten a dirty look from me if you had said that also!  While I might support stem cell research, that same politician might be 100% opposed to something I feel very strongly about.  You can't ask people for things like that.  They are not going to change who they are for you.  

 

But you could probably ask for something else, like have them do your shopping or something.  I have done that.  

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On 8/3/2019 at 9:03 PM, older said:

 

 

Drifting a little off topic here, but this can be a challenge. When I told someone about my Very Serious medical diagnosis, I got the "We'll pray for you" response. When I said that what would really be helpful is to vote for politicians who support stem cell research, which their religion opposes, I just got stares. Obviously I offended them, and I learned that in the future, accept such efforts as well meaning. 

 

I don't blame you at all, and would likely have told them the same thing.  You were the one hurting, and you gave them an honest response.  If you had had time to think about your response, it could have been softened by thanking them for the prayers, and then asking them to support the research.  But, what the heck.  Maybe it made them reconsider their stance.

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Thank you for your testimony Jane. I to have struggled with telling Christians details about why I left the church because I do worry that they will lose their faith as well. We all know how bad it hurts to realize that basically your whole concept of reality was actually a tale of fiction. While some would probably prefer to open their friends eyes, I think that the journey we all have made here is one of personal enlightenment. It's not something that they will see anyway unless they are likewise having questions and seeing the fallacies that are in the bible. Live and let live, right? Unfortunately there are always those few christians that think they can keep thumping the bible on your head and make you believe again. But that just isn't the way it works. 

 

DB

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Hi @Jane,

 

Thanks for sharing. I'm glad you were able to break away from xtianity. You seem like a considerate friend. I understand not wanting to hurt them,they often mean well. I think you're also lucky in that most of your family isn't really religious. At least that pressure is not weighing on you as well. 

 

But I do hope you find an easier way to navigate your friendships while being true to yourself. 

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