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Felt so cheated...past 40 years


Josh19
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I never thought I will say this, after 40 years of being a Christian - How I wish I never met Jesus and its over zealous followers.  What I thought a chance encounter with a fellow student as a divine appointment is one single most tragic event in my life. As a gullible young man longing for friendship, I surrendered under relentless "witnessing to say sinner's prayer in 1975  and accepted the mind control of an extremist ministry group whose unofficial motto by some "spiritual giant" team leaders was "never dater". Dating was, as proudly proclaimed by these leaders, were too distracting to serve God.   What was the utmost daily activities were Cold turkey witnessing, memorizing the scriptures, mandatory discipleship activities.  Even you felt like crap, you had to psyche yourself up to appear to be spiritual, to show that you are worthy of the calling.  The team leader talked about " body count, close the sale" in the number of people accepted Christ through their campus ministry. For the good part of the years afterwards, my brain was programmed to do the same, giving up time with my kids to do God's work.  How I hate it !!   Hardly a day went by since I walked away from my Christian faith that I do not regret and feel angry of the time cheated.  Time I should be spending with my kids or have a hobby to enjoy life. 8 years ago, I walked away from Christ. It was not perfectly happy life but I felt so liberated that I no longer have to prepare for church services or felt guilty for not  saving another soul. 

 

I would like say to all those self appointed soul winners - leave other people alone, do not impose your idea of happy life to others. And to this ministry group, that I heard have learned their lesson to be more sensitive to young believers, you own I and others an apology for life that were so rudely interrupted. 

 

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Hi Josh, and welcome to our community!  The feeling of liberation you have experienced in moving away from fundamentalist Christianity is one that so many of us here have experienced.  I understand you still believe in the god of the Bible: most of us here have ended up with no god-belief whatever, but in any case it seems like you are sufficiently Ex-Christian that you should feel at home here with us.  Deconversion is a process and I hope this will be a good place for you to continue your journey among people who understand and empathize.

 

I look forward to hearing more from you!

 

- TABA

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@Josh19

 

I read your profile, especially the "About me" section. I think you are in good company here. Matter of fact, you remind me of myself, and my thought process, when I first joined Ex-C three years ago. I look forward to seeing more content from you.

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Hey, @Josh19,

Welcome to Ex-C!

 

Most of us here were authentic Christian believers at one point. Most have similar extimonies and many have differing ones. Many point to unreasonable demand such as those you specify but it seems to me that most reference the doctrine itself and how it was so obviously authored by ancient small-minded control freaks and, possibly, war lords.

 

Some Christian friends of mine point out that fundamentalist Christians are not any "better" than the Sadducees but, if you believe that the Bible is the inerrant word of God, then you really must behave as most fundamentalist Christians. So, my point here is if you are not at or near fundamentalism then you might just be on your way out because if some parts of the books are not accurate then what parts are, eh?

 

Welcome again and I hope to "hear" more from you...

    - MOHO (Mind Of His Own)

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Hi , so delighted to see all your replies. I am still evolving so I am not sure who I am and how I should be profiled.  What I put together are random thought. Hopefully I will see more clearly and better know who I am.  I read that many became atheists.  I can never be one.  The existence of the Biblical God is overwhelming through the beauty and complexity of nature. God is very real to me, I converse with him often, mostly cursing him  Best described where I am is a father & son relationship that went sour.  A rebel who got so mad with who God is I left him for good.  The all loving, all just, all forgiving father are not what I think.  Of all the reasons I can think of, one is deep disappointments of what God said in the Bible.  I have couple chronic ailments and health issues since youth days.  Very annoying that I begged for God's healing.  I claimed the Biblical promises.  Make no sense for the suffering. Not just me but what happen to other people - why Palestinians are treated like step child over the favorite Israelites ? atrocities in wars, innocent children molested.... on and on .  I started building a folder titled " God is love ? ".  It was so full with newspaper clippings I have to start another one.  Where is this loving God, how long is he going to hide behind the devil and watch on the sideline.     I used to be inspired by the book of Job.  Now I read that as an extremely cruel and callous God using Job as a chess piece.  Whatever that inspired me before in the Bible, I see the polar opposite now.

 

Yes, the early falling out is sad and difficult. It get easier over time.  I found nothing in common with my Christian friends who wanted to reach out to me. Thank goodness, no more calls or email anymore. One thing I realize is there is so much happiness, so much joy and love in this world outside Christianity. Chairman Mao said one time " religion is an opium". I have to agree, looking back, I felt like an addict. This drug control my mind, my finance, my everything.

 

 

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@Josh19 I really understand where you are coming from. I had the same thoughts before I ended up leaving Christianity. I did not leave it right away, but the doubts were definitely there. I thought about how insane of an idea Hell was. How could a loving God, or really a God with a shred of compassion continue to hate elements of his creation for eternity in Hell, especially in light of the fact that he is asking us to forgive our enemies (as you mentioned in one of your statements, Jesus = God within Trinity theology). It occurred to me, God was asking us to do one thing, while he did another. It was perplexing because then what do you do with ideas like, "be perfect as your Heavenly Father is perfect." Well, if God is perfect, and he is justified in genocide and torturing people forever, should I emulate that as well? I would always get bogged down in the details of these teachings and principles. It seemed the rules for us were different then the rules for God, but yet we are supposed to be matching God's glory. It is confusing.

 

I never thought I would leave the faith either, and I am not telling you that you should, all I would ever ask is that you are willing to look at the arguments and the evidence and decide for yourself. When I first came here, I had a few tidbits of apologetics in my pocket that I thought justified my belief in Christianity. I posted a lot, I mean a lot in the General Theological Questions area. I really wanted to see a different perspective on what I thought were convincing arguments. There are a lot of folks here with a lot of knowledge that opened my eyes, and my mind.

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We are all work in progress, never ending exploration of what life can offer.  One small upside of leaving Christianity behind is how much more relaxed and enjoyable talking to people. In the past, I always want to strategize, prepare what to say to a person with the objective of sharing the gospel (bridge illustration) or train him to be a disciple ( hey, man where is your Timothy ? Born to reproduce.... that is how my former team leader challenged us or shamed us). Now I can truly share a no expectation chat and enjoy the friendship. Really a burden off the back. Other big upside for me is "intimacy" liberation. With the "never Dater" campus ministry group I mentioned, self gratification let alone real intimacy were major issues to spiritual growth. I was so concerned with my own youthful lust I marked down failures on my calendar to better monitor and hopefully control my transgression.  It is laughable to look back but I was quite ashamed and guilty at the time.  Now being single after a painful divorce, I am much more liberal minded.  I just wish I am liberated earlier.  I can not turn back the clock.  The precious time with my kids when they were young were no more.  I was too busy doing God's Holy work.  Learning to look forward not the past is something I still need to work on.

 

I am using my profile page as a place to store and organize the bits and pieces my self analysis. Ex-C and its members are wonderful place and resources to share and learn.

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@MOHO, I am happy to share.  I have to go back in time with the story.  My spiritual journey was quite weird.  I became a Seventh Day Adventist (SDA) so I can marry my spouse.  Love at first first sight plus pre-marriage indiscretion that rush us to the altar.  Even up to this day, I felt like God is punishing me with a bad marriage because we did not stay pure before the wedding.  That was a cloud over my head through and through.  We manage to stay as SDA for couple years until we both became secular with career and kids.  I was a back sliding Christian but I think my wife was never a believer to start with.  The spiritual flame was out for a long time until in late 1990s. One night for no reason I thought of my "never dater" ministry team in college days . I searched the organization web site and reconnected with the team leader. That was my 2nd awakening. For the next 8 years I must say I was quite red hot and involved in workplace/college ministries, conducting Bible study in lunch time and witness to strangers.  Church offerings, weeknights going to fellowship, outreach were always difficult and contentious.  I prayed to God to save my wife and my kids.  I thought to myself, what a testimony it will be if she turn into a evangelical partner.  That was not to be. Seems like the more devoted I am with my faith, the more distance between us.  I recall it was the morning after my younger kid's birthday. I was doing the laundry and she just said " I am taking my kids with me".  Separation followed and the lawyers were milking us both.  I would not wish divorce for anyone. It is probably the most painful experience especially when you have kids. I felt so guilty up to this day when one morning I and my wife were yelling at each other. I can not believe the loud cursing was coming from my own throat - in front of my two kids. The younger one was in middle school and she was so frightened she hid under her desk and cried. Even as I wrote this, I feel like crying because of the hurt I did to my children.   Strangely enough, the following 2 years during the legal stuff, I was super active in God's work and evangelical doors were open to me - just like divine appointment.  I assume my ability to deal with the pain was because of those Bible verses I memorized that sustain me.  And I love the hymns and church songs. I used to run the music CD over and over again and immersed myself in that spiritual high.    What followed in the next 2 years before my walking away were one uneventful evangelical outreach after another. One fellowship was with the restaurant workers. Our fellowship will not start until they get off work which was after midnight. A team of us will drive up to the church, set up the food, pray and wait. Be a fishermen of men must be the most frustrating experience. You spent time building relationship with the strangers with the hope the Holy Spirit will do the work. What ended  out was endless nights of hard work without seeing any fruits. It is as if you are doing what God want you to do yet not only he does not help you, he sabotage your work.   My walking away from God was gradual. Bottom line is I never really feel the love and joy as other Christian so happily share. They said " Jesus is all you need," I would say now " what a bunch of nonsenses". I need the female companionship, I need intimacy.  My coworkers and friends are surprised by how liberal and free wheeling I am nowadays with intimate relationship. I think I suppress my human desires and needs for so long, it just exploded and there is no turning back. I told my friend, I am sure I will go to hell but I am very assured that I will never be lonely. My family and many of my buddies will be there with me.

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I also want to share why I used Psalm 144:1 in my profile picture. Even at this stage of my journey, I still have this very small pilot light burning that may be all these rebellion and walking away is just part of the training just like Moses spent his time in the desert to prepare for the mission ahead.  SDA talked much about the book of revelation of the dark days ahead. That is pathetic thinking I know.  May be I will totally extinguish it one day soon.  May be it will come sooner than I thought.  

 

Anyway, I am not sure what the hell I am talking about.  Sometimes I feel like I am crazy trapped in a limbo - free from the Christian yoke yet not entirely.  It is good not to dwell in it too much. Drink and be merry, tomorrow you will die.

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Reading all these things you've written here make me wonder if you are willing to let yourself be happy with what you have. You had all those years where self deprivation was fundamental to your identity and the key to your self satisfaction. You have let that sexual deprivation go but characterize yourself as having turned you back on your christian god and become the prodigal son. You say you await a future of either your return to Christianity and repentance for your present behaviors or eternal torture in hell with family and friends. That seems like a very heavy load to have to drag around with you while you enjoy your new found freedom.

   You say that the beauty in nature supports your belief in the Christian god but wouldn't that support belief in any number of other gods besides the Christian god? Do you think the 2/3s (about 4.9 billion) of humanity that choose a non christian god or no god are somehow fundamentally flawed or just don't care enough to listen to the Holy Spirit? Why has the Holy Spirit been so ineffective in its mission after more than 2,000 years of work?

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@DanForsman  it is a big baggage to carry around with the false hope of some kind of divine training plan. At my retirement age, really what is the chance of this Samson mentality.  I am afraid I have to live with this the best I can.  I can not think myself into total freedom.  But I can take comfort in the fact that I am now many times happier than before.  In Sunday morning like now, I probably will be struggling with writing a cheat sheet as liturgist who will lead the worship service. But I can stay on late, do my own thing, sleep in.   During my 40 years of being a Christian, there were some true moments no matter how brief it was of real joy and closeness to God.  I will never forget the church retreats, the last day was always the camp fire sharing, the open invitation to accept Christ. The  joy of witnessing someone who did. In the quietness of the room, I keenly aware of the presence of God. I can count with only one hand how many people I led to Christ. Seeing them grow spiritually (and later come back to try to save me) and enthusiasm still amaze me.  It is what it is. I still feel attached to God but deeply resentful of his hypocrisy and broken promises.  This akin to, as I try to analyze my behavior, an abused spouse still hang on to the abuser, just to give him one more chance. The Bible seems to build on the message of building strength through suffering. I used to have  a big stack, well categorized 3x5 hand written cards of all these scriptures, many on suffering alone. Along with this cards that I trashed were of Christian books, tracts.  The damn brain is too programmed to discard my previous life. So many times I entertain the satisfaction of taking my well used Bible ( so full of fine written sermon notes, people's name and scripture references in fine print) to the backyard and hack it into pieces.  Until that day come, this baggage is still on my shoulder.  In the mean time, I do my best to live a happy life.  Hope pandemic will end soon to allow me to travel that is one thing I enjoy so much.

 

Hey, this is what give me happiness.  If you ask me what heaven is like, I say have the skills, tools and space to work maintain this old 1982 VW wagon. And take your true love to the road.

https://www.facebook.com/marketplace/item/284945179401141/ 

 

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Hello.

 

Great replies. Many were hurt from what they encountered in Christianity, me included. I could recommend some therapists that know issues of spiritual abuse to process some feelings. I was helped by one.

       Also you seem to mention about mental-emotional habits. Like most every habit , with work they can be changed. Thay IS what psychotherapy kind of is. Search cult literature, ICSA, thought reform etc for more info. There is a growing body of research and clinicians working with such issues.

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"The damn brain is too programmed to discard my previous life."

 

I've noticed that my approach to females is still highly programmed by the dire warnings about lust and "the first look is automatic, the second look is lust" bullshit. It makes me more approachable as a friend, but I never learned the dating game at all. But I've been told repeatedly "You really don't know how sexy you are." That is because I trained myself not to even think that way, and it comes across as disinterest to most women, even though they like the "wrapping".

 

Believers are totally sold on magic answers, and god will always be there faithfully providing magic answers even when he isn't. It was a constant shell-game of "he answered, it just doesn't look like what you expected". Constantly. And because of the friends I had (after a friendless childhood), that provided all the motivation I needed to stay in the cult for 30 years. I had to seek out secular books on dating and attracting to learn what I needed to know, and that worked well enough. Happily, my wife and I both left the cult when we saw through the toxic control and realized the leader was lying. It was lying based on ultra-Pentecostal beliefs that if you really believe then it is true even when you don't see it, that your faith will make it come into being. But that is lying since it doesn't work and there is no god there to back up the empty promises. 

 

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18 hours ago, Josh19 said:

I told my friend, I am sure I will go to hell but I am very assured that I will never be lonely. My family and many of my buddies will be there with me


I don’t know to what extent you believe that Hell exists, but it helps to learn how the concept of Hell evolved during the centuries before Christianity arose.  It looks a lot like part of a man-made doctrine rather than an unchanging truth from God.  
 

 

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On 8/14/2020 at 8:48 PM, Josh19 said:

I also want to share why I used Psalm 144:1 in my profile picture. Even at this stage of my journey, I still have this very small pilot light burning that may be all these rebellion and walking away is just part of the training just like Moses spent his time in the desert to prepare for the mission ahead.  SDA talked much about the book of revelation of the dark days ahead. That is pathetic thinking I know.  May be I will totally extinguish it one day soon.  May be it will come sooner than I thought.  

 

Anyway, I am not sure what the hell I am talking about.  Sometimes I feel like I am crazy trapped in a limbo - free from the Christian yoke yet not entirely.  It is good not to dwell in it too much. Drink and be merry, tomorrow you will die.

 

Welcome, Josh19! 

 

I'm a blood relative of William Miller, we were there for the birth of SDAism in the mid 1800's on my paternal side. My great grandfather rebelled somewhat, but my grandfather remained SDA till late in life. The church ex communicated him over his apostate views, basically. I was already done with it in my own mind by then, while off at SDA academy. I eventually poked around and told my grandfather that I seriously questioned the existence of god. I figured, what the hell. He was surprisingly calm about it. And he admitted to an agnostic theist view, basically. He talked about not knowing for sure if god exists, but believing anyway. And how he had questioned it over the years too. What had him believing was a subjective experience during a quadruple bi-pass surgery. He had an experience with a light, that said, "I am!" He knew that it wasn't objective evidence for god, but it was enough to keep him believing. 

 

I had my membership terminated and not long after my immediate family all left the church as well. It wasn't working for any of us. Too much BS, and too many self contradictions to give it any serious thought. I've been out of the game for around 30 years now. But I've been married into SDA families twice, and live in and around an SDA community still. I keep contact with my old school mate's. It's just that I was one of the village atheists that remained so into mid age. They know it. It just is what it is. Some of them don't care, some of them do and stay somewhat distant. 

 

Anywho, welcome to ex-C. 

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