sent in by Cyrano
Hi all, I'm Cyrano and I walked away almost five years ago.
It was actually my best friend's coming out that started me down that road, although I'd been going down it a while.
I was raised a Fundamentalist Baptist and exceeded even my zealous father's dreams in terms of my own "holiness" (read: self-righteous prudery). I was one of those horribly better-than-thou people who had read the Bible backward and forward, knew every apologetics answer to anything an unbeliever could throw at me, and actually wrote my graduating thesis on the value of the KJV over any other version of the Bible. In short, I was an annoying little shit.
And when I got out of my father's house (or the Bible Bubble, as I like to call it), I kind of went crazy. Well, crazy for me. I dated and unbeliever *gasp* and had sex outside of marriage *double gasp*. I ended up pregnant and scared and so I got married. My husband (now ex) was a great guy, understanding of all my existential angst and need to binge and purge (get rid of all the "worldy" objects in the house). I remember times where I must have pushed him to the breaking point. And looking back, a lot of that had to do with my own nebulous grasp on exactly who I was and what I wanted from life.
Then my best friend sent me an email and told me he was gay.
It floored me. I had evangelised this guy. I had converted him. I had defended him when others had accused him of being femme. And I even fancied myself in love with him when we were teenagers.
Now he was telling me that he'd been lying all those years and he couldn't take it any more and had to be honest with who he was. And that honesty touched off something in my own life. I had not been happy in years, maybe not ever. I was increasingly suffocating in a system that I could not breathe in and I was trapped in a marriage that I had taken on because of guilt and convenience.
So-I left. I just got into the car and left. I ran away.
I felt at the time that I was flying apart. I couldn't stop crying. I felt like a coward. I had always thought that I was an honest person, and now it seemed that I had been decieving myself for so long, not allowing myself to see the evidence against my faith and not allowing myself to feel how unhappy I was (or anything that didn't fall into the happy-happy Bible life I was supposed to be leading).
I ran to my friend. And he took me in. With amazing compassion he accepted my need to just be away from myself for a while. He was there for me when I started to ask hard questions about my life, like "Why does God allow pain?" and "How can God let hell exist?" and the most horrible, wonderful question of all, "What if this whole thing is a lie?"
It was SO painful to give up my faith. Words can't describe it. I felt lied to, decieved and betrayed. I was so angry and hurt. I hated anything to do with xianity and god. And I so longed to have that simple faith back.
But another part of me saw how poisonous it was, and how the venom had leeched the life from me until all that was left was the shell of a person, spewing chapter and verse but feeling no true compassion.
It took a long time for the guilt and fear to subside. I remember laying in bed late one night and thinking about hell and suddenly just cracking up at how ludicrous it was...I began to laugh. I ran upstairs to my friend's room and told him and we both stood there going, "I KNOW! How retarded! A god that fries people for eternity!"
Another time I remember having the need to come clean with my Fundy family about my walk away. My step-mom (I call her Flip Top Head because she can never keep her mouth shut) said that I had never really been saved. I remember being SO offended, like my journey was completely nullified and all the fourteen years I had spent as a slave to the system were meaningless. And then I realized, they *were* meaningless. It was stupid and pointless. I wish it had never happened.
But another part of me feels like if I had never had those experiences, I wouldn't be the strong, self-aware person I am now. I mean, if I had never had to really examine myself and my life, would I be even a fraction of the person I am today? Would I have been able to walk away with intergrity?
It's been five years since I ran away from home. It's been only a year since I was able to say, "Yes, I *am* an atheist." And I don't know that I will ever be able to see the people I went to church with, or have a normal realtionship with my family. That used to grieve me a lot. Now I just feel sorry for them. They are as trapped and unhappy as I once was.
And I hope that whatever love and compassion exists in this world will turn itself to them and they can someday be as happy and fulfilled as I am.
~Greater than the death of flesh is the death of hope, the death of dreams. Against this peril we must never surrender.~
How old were you when you became a christian? seven
How old were you when you ceased being a christian? twenty two
What churches or organizations or labels have applied to you? Independant Fundamentalist Baptist, dabbled in Foursquare, Assemblies of God, and Christian Missionary Alliance
What labels, if any, would you apply to yourself now? Athiest
Why did you become a christian? felt convicted
Why did you de-convert? the concept of eternal damnation didn't gel with a loving God. And my best friend came out, and I couldn't bear to condemn him for who he was.
email: Cyranothe2nd at hotmail dot com
Online Reading List
- An Outline of Intellectual Rubbish by Bertrand Russell (1943)
- Bible Teaching and Religious Practice by Mark Twain
- God is Imaginary
- Is there an Artificial God? by Douglas Adams (1998)
- Skeptics Annotated Bible
- The Age of Reason by Thomas Paine (1795)
- Which Way? by Robert Ingersoll (1884).
- Why I Am Not A Christian by Bertrand Russell (1927)