Doubting more and more...

sent in by Chad

I became a Christian when I was 17 years old. My cousin invited me to a revival at a local church that I attended on and off while growing up. I wanted to run from it all at first, but I was drawn by the youth group there that seemed to love me and care about me. They were very nice to me and that was such a radical change from the "friends" I had at the time. Overnight I went from being cynical and condemning of the Christian religion to fully embracing it. I remember attending youth rallies, retreats, Wednesday night services and other events where I was always on the front row. I was so very zealous. My stepdad was agnostic then (still is) and I remember praying for him and requesting prayer for him. This was my senior year in high school. My new friends and life made me happy then. Life was tense at home with my stepdad which I realize was mostly my fault in my attempts to convince him of the new truth I had found. My mom followed right behind me in becoming a Christian. Wow, how clearly I see things now. He must have felt like we were so against him. We had joined a big church in our area with 2000 in the attendance on Sunday mornings. He thought we had joined some kind of cult and had been brainwashed. I don't think this was the intention of these people. I don't think brainwashing and making people feel guilty are done on purpose...at least in my experience at this church it doesn't appear that way. I know I wasn't trying to brainwash anyone in my years of going door to door with the church or talking with newcomers to the church.

Anyway, I went to college and struggled a lot. This is the first time in my life when being a Christian was hard. Not because of the partying because I ended up at a Christian school where not a lot of partying took place. Rather, my first year was so easy being around all my new friends and having such a strong support system in place. It was fun during that first year, but in college it became hard. Eventhough I was at a Christian school, I was outside of my support system and in the real world in a sense. I had roommates that were not Christians and my faith was challenged. Plus deep down inside I wanted to go drink with them and at times I gave in and went. I always came running back to the church because of the extreme guilt I felt. I was also very scared. I was so convinced in my mind that what I had found in Christianity was the truth that it scared the hell out of me to think that I was on unfavorable terms with God.

I found another group in college in my junior year and I felt safe and happy again. I was having fun with my new friends from a singles group at a church I had joined. And these were very cool friends. We had a great time together and they were a little more liberal in their thinking about things as I've always been. We drank sometimes, but not too much...never to get drunk. We enjoyed going to secular concerts at local clubs. We had a great time and I wanted that time to go on forever. I still miss it. It made me feel like I was ok and safe from hell and "right with God" yet not some weird fanatical ultra conservative Christian. I had been starting to the feel like that and that caused war to take place inside my mind. I now felt at peace because I could be a true Christian and safe from hell and even more than that, safe from God's discipline. But I didn't feel so weird. I was an enlightened Christian.

In my senior year I started dating a girl and after a couple of months she got pregnant. We got married and started our life together. She grew up very differently than I did. Her parents actually stayed married, a new idea for me, and her dad was a Southern Baptist minister and former missionary in Venezuela. I really looked up to them a lot (and still do as they seem to be the most genuine people...never in it for money, always practicing what they preached). I've always been an approval seeker. I wanted their approval too. We were heavily involved in church, going out witnessing, singing in choir, teaching Sunday school and then eventually became missionaries. This is where my struggles began....

In 2001, we went to seminary to prepare to be missionaries. It was there that my doubts came to surface. I was in a very conservative seminary,but in a very liberal anti-Christian town. I remember feeling that I had to witness to everyone I encountered or I wasn't a committed follower worthy of becoming a missionary. I am not a pushy person and have generally been a "live and let live" type person. Now I was in a town that was very anti-Christian and I felt I had to witness to people. I longed to have stories of witnessing to people to share in my evangelism class and gaining the approval of everyone. I longed to tell my father-in-law and brother-in-law (both ministers) of how I was sharing Christ like a true missionary. I was scared to death though and I got the point of being very depressed and even dreaded going on a normal evening out with my family to a local restaurant because that would mean I'd have to strike up a conversation with a stranger while waiting in line hoping to turn things in a spiritual direction or leave a tract with the waitress and tell her God loves her. It made me sick to my stomach. I managed to make it through and actually had some very interersting conversations with people that talked openly with me about Christ. Some of these people were going through some difficult times and it felt good to listen to them and pray with them. I thought I was the hands and mouth of Jesus in this world reaching out to the lost and hurting doing his work.

Anyway, we left the states to be missionaries in Spain in 2002. I really enjoyed our year in Spain. It was brought to an end after a year because my daughter was having a very very hard time adapting which caused a lot of unhappiness for my wife and I decided at that point that I didn't care anymore if God was happy with me or not... nor did I care if my church back home which had been so proud of me were disappointed in me.... I just wanted my family to be ok again. I was the only one who enjoyed our time in Spain. I guess while I was at language school (my wife already knew Spanish having grown up in Venezuela) everyday and out meeting Spaniards, my wife was back home dealing with the trauma and stress this new life brought. I'm glad I finally realized there unhappiness!! During this year in Spain I continued to think about my seminary experiences... the pressure to be a good witness which I hated (except for the few times when it seemed to help people struggling), and my seminary classes which brought serious serious doubts about the Bible and everything I had believed for years. I was starting to become honest with myself about my doubts and questions. I was also now on the inside of the souther baptist organization. I saw much that I didn't like. Don't get me wrong, there are some very sincere people with good intentions, but there is a lot that finally made me tell our team leader on the field "I don't think I can be a Baptist anymore". It was just too legalistic and rule based for me and I just saw so many people for the first time that were fake and in the whole thing for the money, the fame, and the position. I was quickly on my path of leaving the Christian faith...which I am now near the end.

We returned from Spain. I began to question things more than ever. Why did my daugther struggle so much if we were doing God's work? Why did 9/11 happen? Why would God allow so many people to die that way. I had lived in Spain a year. They were a "christian" nation but they were very different than us. I saw a different belief system and it made me question my own. How could I tell them what I believed was right and what they believed was wrong? How can anyone know for sure? I had a lot of friends who were missionaries in other countries that were Muslim, etc. Some countries had people that had never heard of Jesus. How could these people go to hell for not believing in something that didn't even know about? There is no true without a doubt support for an age of accountability in the Bible, so what happens to aborted babies? What happens to kids who die before they even learn how to talk much less say a prayer asking Jesus to come into their heart and be their personal lord and savior. There were tons of issues with the Bible too. What about the geneaology (sp??) of Jesus? It was foretold that he would descend from David. His geneaology was traced through Joseph back to David, but if Mary was a virgin, Jesus had nothing to do with Joseph in that sense. Maybe Joseph and Mary were cousins and thus Jesus did come from David, but why would God leave something this huge and important out only to leave us in a state of doubt? I have read and heard many answers to these questions, but none that satisfy me. And its not because I don't want to be satisfied. I have hated going through such doubt over the past couple of years. I've begged God to show himself to me and put an end to my inner torture. So far it hasn't happened and the only thing I know for sure is that I have unanswered questions. Why would God create the human race knowing we'd sin against him and many would thus spend eternity burning and suffering. None of it sits well with me and nobody has been able to give me any answers to these questions.

My wife is a believer, but she knows of my struggles. She just thinks I'm going through a hard time and that I'll return to being a committed Christian soon. At least she's letting me work it out for myself and not pushing me. My mother has me on every prayer list that exists at the church. I'm sure my in-laws would be very very concerned if they knew all of this. I'm lonely now as all my friends that I've had (for the most part) are Christians. We're not involved in church like we once were, so we don't hang out with them much. I have a good friend who was a big part of me becoming a Christian that I hang out with a lot. He is actually struggling like I am, but he works so many hours that I rarely see him. It's tempting to go back to church and go through the motions just so I have friends again. Plus, I have to admit that I am very scared of being wrong and burning in hell. I'm scared God want bless my life. I still believe in God. I have had a very open mind about God/creationism vs evolution. I lean towards a creator although where he came from has me baffled, but so does believing that once there was nothing, but then given billions of years, something came out of nothing. I just don't know what to believe. I feel like I'm in hell right now. I'm glad I found this site. I know I've written a book here, but I feel better actually expressing what's been bottled up inside me for a long time. I hope to come to peace with all this soon!!!

Chad

City: Spartanburg
State: SC
Country: USA
Became a Christian: 17
Ceased being a Christian: 31 now, not quite left yet, but close!
Labels before: Baptist, Missionary
Labels now: Almost Agnostic
Why I joined: the love and acceptance I felt
Why I left: I think a lot and finally decided to face honestly the doubts and questions I have
Email Address: chadbryant5 at charter dot net

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

Chad,

I was actually searching the Internet to find missionaries who are currently in Spain and Google brought me to your posting. I ache for what you are going through. I too became a Christian, went to Bible School and was a missionary for a couple of terms. But the price of being a missionary is very high. I loved it in Spain. I still have many friends there and my children were young but my then wife struggled enormously, for many reasons.

During our first 5-year term our family fell apart. (We did a couple of short terms before that.) A couple of year later in the U.S, a divorce followed. I spent 10 years trying to figure it all out. I felt like Moses fleeing to Midian, hiding and just living my life, tormented by the past.

I must admit, it was very, very hard to go back to church after so many years. I felt like a missionary failure. I was ashamed and broken and numb. But someplace inside of me, I knew I needed to reconnect with God.

I too grew in the Lord in a Baptist Church. I learned the scriptures, I knew how to walk the walk, but I did not have what God wanted me to have. I was saved, married a Christian girl, serving the Lord as a missionary, but I was doing it all on my own strength.

I remarried 5 years ago and my life seemed like it was coming back together. We started to going to an Assemblies of God church. It was a quiet sort of Pentecostal church, not too loud, rarely any speaking in tongues but the people were so very loving. They made me feel so wanted. In fact, the first person that introduced himself to me is now my best friend. A brother and a friend I can truly confide in.

Well to make a long story short, I began considering what I learned in the Baptist Church and Bible doctrine and my life and the Holy Spirit and little by little I began to see that God had given me all the knowledge and I was applying it the best I knew how and I was sincere, but I needed to “fall” to realize that I can not do it. (I am not implying at all that you fell, it was just my case.) I needed God alive in my life. I needed a real and true relationship where I could actually hear in my heart what He was saying to me. That I was really listening to the promptings of the Holy Spirit when I thought things I should not think and let him lead me to be the sanctified Christian that only He can do in our lives.

What am I saying? Man I feel your struggle, your loneliness, your confusion. I know this might be hard to believe right now, but God is sovereign. He knows what you are going through and even though I am sure these seem like very empty words right now. I know that one day God will reveal to you himself in a way that will make sense. I am sure you have all the Bible knowledge you need and I am sure that your wife never ceases to pray for you, and I believe that when God reveals himself in a way that is so spiritual, you will understand what he is doing in your life.

Chad, I don’t believe you are an X-Christian. I believe that, that is just another one of those lies the enemies wants us to believe to that we become impotent to the service of God. I hope you get an email that I have posted here. I will pray for you, that God will anoint you with the Holy Spirit, like at Pentecost, so that you will be filled with the joy of being one with Christ like you did when you first got saved.

Oh, by the way, I think you did the right thing in leaving Spain. That was a true act of love on your part to your daughter. I hope she realizes the sacrifice you made in returning to the US and I hope she is not hurting because of where you are in your faith.

Heavenly Father, hear the inner prayers of my brother Chad. Answer his questions of doubt in a way that only you can do. Heal all the pains that exist from these experiences and fill him with the joy and peace that you promise us. In Jesus’ Name,

Chad I am open to receiving an email from you if you want.

Bruce
nuttinb@yahoo.com

Anonymous said...

Bruce
What makes you people think that you have been issued an Authority, to go out unto the world and spew your religious propaganda?

After having been married the first time, BUT!!! You and your first wife made a PACT a religious Pact, a Verbal Contract With God! till death do us Part, But!!! the contract was worthless!!! YOU FREAKING LIAR!!! You lied to God, you filthy effing christian liar!!!!

And Now!!! You've *Somehow!!* righted it with God!!! OK now you're golden, good to go!!!

Now this time! You're *Really-Saved!* Ok God! This time it's real I promise, just let me go out unto the world and Missionary to the world, because I'm really a true *Christian!* I can go out and teach the world how to live! To live LIKE ME!!!! Although the first *Virbal Contract* Pact withe you God!! was faulty mainly, on my part!* But Now!!! Mainly Right Now!!! I am saved! yes boy God! I am saved this Time for sure, therefore I will go unto the world and save others and preach the gospel and tell people how to live and get them saved * Like ME!*

I I,I,I,I,I,I,I,I , I,I,I,I,I,I,I,I,I, will become a missionary and change people lives and I,I,I,I,I,I,I,I, by my religious example! I will change the world God, because I can keep a contract this time God, I promise I will!!! See how faithful I am God, see me? See me? right here God! Over here God, here I am, look over here God, here I am God, the one that keeps verbal contracts, please believe me God this Time please!!! I've never lied to ya before!!!!


bruce: Heavenly Father, hear the inner prayers of my brother Chad. Answer his questions of doubt in a way that only you can do. Heal all the pains that exist from these experiences and fill him with the joy and peace that you promise us. In Jesus’ Name,

bruce you are a brainwashed self-righteous pig!!!!

Bentley said...

Yeah Bruce, Now that you've got a wife that will support you in you insane beliefs you're happly married, how friggin convenient!

So apparently the first marriage contract was null and void and not worth the paper it was written on.

Yet you get up in front of a congregation and family and friends and verbally testify to a preacher and promise to GOD and your wife to be, that you will keep the santitiy of marriage be faithful and truthfull and be honest until death do you both part, in sickness and health so help you GOD!!!!!!!!!!!!

So now it's ok to turn your back on your "VERBAL CONTRACT WITH GOD" at your petty convenience!

Now your word to God is totally worthless, how can God ever believe a word that ever comes out of your mouth?

And now that you have elected yourself as a mouth piece for God, you have self-elected yourself as a missinary and why would anyone believe anything that you have to say?

Now you're trying to convenience to God that you are worthy to represent him by becoming a missionary and pretending and trying fool others that you are a real christian and completely selfless and you can go to other countries and spread your self-righteous fascade.

The more people that you can convence that you're greater and worthy of being called by your imaginary God, the better you can feel about yourself.

Why can you not stay in the US and spread your self-righteousness bullshit to all the people here that constantly need to be saved here?

I smell self-rightous fraud!!!

People would rather go to another country than stay here and face reality.

So why marry in the first place?

Bruce you're such a freaking jerk!!!!

People like you make me PUKE!!!

Reemz said...

Hey, no disrespect but while looking for a christian site this came up and I read your story, I have to say a few things, I am Born again and when I say this to you I'm not judging just stating a few facts from the bible. I read the part where you said you were living for God, But, if you were truely living for God you would have known that you dont drink any alcohol as he says in the bible, " he must not be a lover of wine', also u stated u had a partner and then she got pregnent then you got married,But, if you were a true follower u would have known that any sexual relations before marriage is a sin and is called "fornication", and if you were committed to Gods word you would have known these things and not have done them.You most proberbly brought your problems on yourself thru your constant sinning.Also u said that you didnt like to witness to people, God has told us to do his, I witness to people and everytime I do there is fear, but that is only Satan stopping you from doing Gods will, and by the sounds of it, he did.You know he is decietful why did you let him over come you? you should have found comfort in the word and scriptures as they are your sword that God has given us to combat the enemy. Many christians today want God but find them self seeking him in places that he is not.You were not a christian cos you were sexualy imoral and disobidient to his laws. Many people that get convicted from God when they sin either live stronger for him or backslide cos they cant handle the trials he has set for them to test there faith. I feel sorry for you that you have not only hurt yourself but God, It was just a trial from God to test your faith and I hope you no now how week yours was. Dont leave the Lord friend as he never leaves you, you may have not been in church where they preech the truth as it says in the bible, in the last days there will be people who spread false doctrine. So in saying this if you know the true word of God and you walk away from it it is you that goes to hell in the end. You can start to make allowences for your sin but its gonna rule you one day, you can try and water down the word of God but hey thats what sinners do cos they dont want to turn from there sin, to fear God is the first step to wisdom, so if your still fearing God there is hope for you.My friend find a church that speaks the truth and when you do all your questions will be answered and you will be at peace with in yourself, I have. There is a church all around the world called the "Potters house, Christian fellowship ministries" if you ever wanna know God there is the place to find him.the answerws to all your questions are in the bible, you just have to read it with a open heart. Its not to late, dont be to proud, or to lazy, to find God cos it is you who seeks him that finds there destiny.Dont let bad experiences get in your way of Jesus there are millions of christians in the world what does that tell you?? Dont let satan turn you from GOd dont let him win. It is he who is putting bad thoughts into your mind so you can leave the Lord.It his he who makes you leave God.So to all you Ex-Christians this just shows that you never knew the Lord cos to know him and his blessings you would never want to leave.Pray that he have mercy on you cos everyone that backslides goes 7 times worse then they were before they were saved, so think about your life now how is it going??you left God to have your sin.I hope its worth it.
God Bless.xxx

boomSLANG said...

To the tune of dualing banjo background music, wandering hillbilly robo-fundy blabbered:

"the answerws to all your questions are in the bible, you just have to read it with an open heart."

May I help you with that?....the opening of your "heart"? I'm not crazy about the sight of blood, but I love the thought of one less ignorant person on the planet. Let me know....::wink::


(I'm sorry, that was really mean, wasn't it? lol)

Shannon said...

reemz said...It was just a trial from God to test your faith and I hope you no now how week yours was.

I've found it odd that a all knowing god would have to test anything. What thrill does 'he' get for needling people to the point of suicide? With that kind of love who needs the devil?

Anonymous said...

I would just like to point out the difference in tone between the answers that you received.

bruce you are a brainwashed self-righteous pig!!!!

Bruce you're such a freaking jerk!!!!
People like you make me PUKE!!!

To the tune of dualing banjo background music, wandering hillbilly robo-fundy blabbered:

"the answerws to all your questions are in the bible, you just have to read it with an open heart."
May I help you with that?....the opening of your "heart"? I'm not crazy about the sight of blood, but I love the thought of one less ignorant person on the planet. Let me know....::wink::

compared to your response from Bruce and reemz, who prayed for you. Reemz may have lost some credibility in his misuse of grammar, but at least his intention was not ill. The biggest act of ministry any christian can do is lead by example. And here you can see the kind of hate filled hearts that non-christians have, do you really want to become that?! I don't even really understand the entire basis of this site at all. "Encouraging Non-Christians," dang. Encouraging to do what? I mean, for arguments sake, lets say that atheists are right, Christians are wrong, and when we perish, that's it, it's over, void darkness for all eternity. If you lived your life as a Christian, your afterlife is just the same as everyone elses. Then, lets say, hypothetically, and for arguments sake, that Christians are right and atheists are wrong, and after you die you are judged by God, and live out eternity in praise to him or in excrutiating punishment for your denial of him. I don't understand why anyone would encourage anybody else to take that risk. If the rules are too much, or if you just don't beleive it yourself, then so be it.

.:webmaster:. said...

Anonymous,

The site is not encouraging "NON"-Christians. It is encouraging "EX"-Christians.

Ex-Christians are not necessarily atheists.

Please read the site disclaimer. Then go away.

Thanks.

Astreja said...

Reemz: "there are millions of christians in the world what does that tell you??"

It tells me that you don't know bugger-all about logic. Argumentum ad populum is a logical fallacy. Even if everyone on earth believed something, the number of believers would not automatically make the belief true. There must be additional supporting evidence, not mere numbers.

Christianity fails the "additional supporting evidence" test. There are countless anecdotal accounts of believers' personal experiences, but no objective. testable data that verifies the existence of god-like beings.

"So to all you Ex-Christians this just shows that you never knew the Lord ..."

Yes, and neither did you. Kinda hard to "know" something that doesn't actually exist.

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