Sent in by Jennifer N
Ok (deep breath), I think that I'm finally ready to put into words what I have been feeling in the last year or so about leaving Christianity. While I was reading some of the other testimonials on this site, I was amazed at the stories of people who had rejected Christianity outright from childhood. All I can say is that I wish I had your backbone but I never was a rebel, and instead I am a bit of an introvert and like to avoid conflict.
I was raised in a mainstream Protestant denomination and my family were not"born-again" or "right-wing" type of Christians. I had great parents and was not really limited in what I could wear, watch, read, etc. We went to church on a fairly regular basis, but we weren't averse to skipping a week or two here and there, especially if there was an important game on. My mom had been a bit of a rebel herself by leaving Catholicism when she married my dad (she didn't like the Roman Catholic stance on women), but she still thought religion was important and made sure that I was baptized, confirmed etc.
As I said before I am a bit shy and introverted, which is really hard as a kid. I had an especially difficult time in middle school and high school and turned to reading the Bible and religion as comfort. Feeling closer to God helped me feel less isolated and alone. In college I was a biology major and I did very well in my classes, but I still tried to conform religion with science. I guess you could say that I was in the "intelligent design" camp. Although I became a bit less introverted as an adult, i still hung on to my religion and prayed faithfully every night.
The big wake up call for me was during a trip to Africa when I met a preacher (who was white) who would go around to black communities ravaged by AIDS and tell them about how condoms have microscopic holes in them and are not effective, and how everyone must be abstinent until marriage, etc. He had a pamphlet that he gave out telling people with AIDS to repent of their sins, etc. I was pretty pissed off about this BS, and it definitely made me question the values that Christianity is imparting around the world, but I still was not ready to leave religion entirely. Then by chance I happened to pick up the book "The Spiral Staircase" by Karen Armstrong which is the autobiography of an ex-nun who leaves Christianity. While I was reading the book I began to realize that I was feeling just like her. To see some of your own thoughts mirrored back to you on paper and realizing that you are not the only one to have them was a life-changing experience.
It has been over a year since I read that book and I have been taking baby steps towards leaving Christianity ever since. I don't really go to church or pray anymore, but my family has been very negative about me leaving Christianity, so I have to keep my feelings to myself when I am around them. The other problem I am having is trying to "fill the void" left by rejecting the religion that has been my spiritual center. I am definitely not a Christian anymore, but I don't think that I am wholly an atheist either, and still want to have a spiritual connection. Some elements of Buddhism appeal to me and I took a course on it in college, but I don't think just switching to another religion is the right fit either. I guess right now I have settled on "spiritual but not deist" and I'll work from there.
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