I've wasted my life on a lie

Sent in by Floss (name changed at request of author)

I really thought I was going to lose it in the car not so long ago. I mean breakdown and lose my sanity. I cried, although I tried not to, but I just couldn't put forward reasonable arguments in a coherent fashion to my husband to justify my change in beliefs. In fact I could argue his case better than my own. I ended up scared that I'd got it all wrong and wished I could go backwards but I can't. I just can't. My mind won't let me.

It doesn't help that he's an AoG (Assembly of God) minister. We've been married over 30 years. He actually said to me today that I'd better think of leaving him then because now he's unequally yoked. I know he didn't mean it, at least I don't think he did, but he sees what I've done as a betrayal of my faith.

What have I done? Just read and thought for myself for once. I was saved when I was 10 years old, so I missed out completely on the critical thinking stage of adolescence. My parents weren't even churchgoers, so I was always referred to as coming from an unsaved household. I didn't see it then but now understand what a wedge was put between me and my family.

I used to go to social clubs with them. Mum and dad loved to dance. So did I but I felt so guilty. They always had the radio on with pop music. I loved it but again felt guilty for listening to it. "Worldly."

I couldn't go out with non-Christian boys of course, even though they were always the ones I fancied! No make up, no jewelry, no immodest clothes etc etc. I'm sure you get the picture.

Worst of all I got ill and wasn't healed. For many years I felt as if it was my somehow my fault and people made me feel small and my self confidence flew out of the window.

I had many traumatic personal and family situations over which I prayed and prayed and prayed without answer. At the time I never thought to ask why. I just trusted God as I'd been taught to. That was my trouble all along. I did exactly as I was told. And never questioned anything. Why would I?

I really was a good Christian. I followed everything to the letter. I believed with all my heart and tried to live what I heard preached. It was my life.

Fast forward to 2005. I became friends with an atheist -- a questionable thing in itself for a Pentecostal! And yes, I felt guilty about that too. Religion was never an issue between us at all but one day I was asked a question about Jesus and God that I couldn't answer, so I said I'd look into it and get back to my friend later.

So began my journey out of Christianity. Far from wishing it to be so I thought - as all good Christians should -- that this was a God given opportunity to get my friend saved!

I read all sort of books that had been banned before. We were always taught to guard our minds and not read anything that might cause us to doubt. To be honest I was scared stiff. Really scared. But I told God that all I wanted was the truth, so would he please understand that I wasn't trying to be sinful. I read a great quote at the time -- Truth cannot deny truth. I thought, that's all right then, believing at the time that Christianity would be validated. And if there was a God, he'd surely be interested in the truth.

I read Shelby Spong and Marcus Borg and thought at first I could go for their type of Christianity. But as I dug deeper and read everything I could get my hands on it dawned on me that I couldn't do half measures. It was either true or it wasn't.

I lived in a twilight world for a few months, not daring to voice what was going on in my head. My world had been turned upside down and I felt more alone than ever in my entire life. I recall one night when I couldn't sleep and felt very afraid. I opened my mouth to talk to God and was mortified when I realized I couldn't do that anymore. No point. That was one of my lowest moments.

God had always been my friend. That's how I used to think of him. I'd had him as a confidant for 44 years. I miss that side of things dreadfully. I've lost my friend. Occasionally, especially when I'm out walking, I'll forget and start telling God everything just as I used to. I would stop myself but now I let myself do it if it helps. The difference is that now I call it talking to myself and I'm aware that it's a psychological comfort thing.

I'm surrounded on all sides by Christians. My whole network is of churchgoers. I feel like a black sheep. No-one knows about my views except my husband and I've only recently shared the extent of them with him. My 24 year old daughter thinks I'm going through a midlife crisis as I'm doing things now I have never done, like having my ears pierced (something I'd longed to do since I was a teenager) and other "sinful" things.

This is so isolating and I'm not sure what to do from here. My husband is wanting me to go back to church (haven't been for a while because of illness) but I don't really want to. Seems hypocritical. He thinks being in the presence of god will help me.

I thought I was stronger than I feel right now. But after the conversation in the car and how it knocked the stuffing out of me and gave me an unexpected wobble, I'm not sure I'm up to being on the receiving end of all those well meant, trite, Christianese comments that I know will come my way.

I feel very angry at the moment -- actually the anger alternates with sheer devastating sadness -- that I've wasted my life on a lie. All my life decisions were based on something that isn't what it seemed. And I can't go back. The die has been cast. That really makes me want to weep. 44 years of my life lost. That's how I feel.

I've totally appreciated this site. It was like finding water in the desert. From reading the first post I felt as if I was amongst friends and like minded people. I don't know where else to go at the moment to feel as if I'm normal! Of course I'm a backslider now and having been on the other side I know how backsliders are viewed!

BTW I would never expose a child to the religious brainwashing I had as a youngster. I've read many a time that it's regarded by some as child abuse. When I first came across that idea it was abhorrent to me. Now I most decidedly agree with that point of view. I only regret it was too late to save my own children from such an upbringing.

Thank you for listening.

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44 comments:

Anonymous said...

"I had many traumatic personal and family situations over which I prayed and prayed and prayed without answer. At the time I never thought to ask why. I just trusted God as I'd been taught to. That was my trouble all along. I did exactly as I was told. And never questioned anything. Why would I?"

Beautifully, beautifully put, Marlene. This could be a page out of my own diary. So many of us have gone through trauma and personal pain unrelated to our spiritual belief, and gone on beating a dead horse, hopinghopinghoping that if we JUST have enough faith, God would finally hear us and give us peace.

You just need to give him space. Imagine if it was him who was asking these questions - you would probably have said many of the same things, right? I know I would have.

Davidovich said...

This post really strikes me!
Because I am sure I read the almost identical story about three years ago on another site; I will did it up as soon as I can

Something VERY fishy here.

Matthew F. Hocker said...

Hey there Marlene, I felt like my christian walk was a long one, but compared to yours, it was a mere fraction of time. I do sympathize your situation with the AoG, being a former member of that church. They were a local "mega church" about 2000 members strong. They weren't as strict as the one your husband belongs to, but nevertheless, they had plenty of other silliness to make up for it.

I used to beat myself up for believing in christianity for such a long time, but I realized much of it was not my fault. They used me via fear, guilt, pseudo-sympathy/empathy, etc.

The ultimate point I began to consider is this : If someone tells you that you cannot ever doubt or question something, that is the very reason you should doubt or question it. The only legitimate reason for keeping people from certain books or information is to hide something from them. Would a truth-based religion, which claims to have all this evidence for it really resort to such ideological cowardice? No.

Just remember, your husband was probably surprised at your skepticism, but more than that, felt that because his entire income and life is based on that which you no longer consider true and in fact, foolish, perhaps he feels like you don't respect him anymore (which is not true of course). But, he might think that, because if I was a minister and my wife left the faith because she thought it was a lie, that would hit me hard. He might be thinking "How can she respect me if my entire career is based on a lie to her?".

But, in christianese terms, plant that seed of doubt! Remind your husband that you love him and that will never change. I think the xenophobia of many christians regarding deconversion is that the person is a different person, which is usually not true. We still have the same likes, dislikes, love the same, laugh the same, cry the same. We just don't believe everything we are told anymore. To them, being a christian isn't something you do, it is what you are (just like being a certain race or culture). To deny what they consider you are, is a traitorous act to many of them.

I would say, don't give up and think positive! It can feel lonely to be the only voice of reason among sheer lunacy. But, that is the unfortunate culture we live in. Find people you can talk with in person and/or online. Educate yourself more about the things you have been finding out.

Just a warning : There may be times, even after your discovery, that you could fear "going to hell" or "the wrath of God", depending on how well their programming was. I know I still wake up some days and that fear is on me, even though I know it is ridiculous. But, christianity does succeed with one thing, and that is what makes it survive : psychological manipulation. If you took away the fear of hell and supernatural curses, there wouldn't be anything left for christianity to offer, so don't forget that.

I always thought my marriage situation was unique. My wife accepted me even though I was a christian fundamentalist nut, and after I became an atheist, she told me she was an atheist the whole time, she just didn't want me to leave her if I found out (when I was a christian). She accepted me regardless of my insanity, but if the tables were turned, I might not have stayed with her if I had known she was an atheist.

Isn't the love of Jesus so wonderful? Ha.

Just take this in strides. Remember, you are coming out of a personal "dark age" and so, be patient with your new found view of humanity and the world (which is really a beautiful one). It is good to have you aboard, and I hope to see more from you on the forum in times to come. Please let us know how it is going with your family because I really do care about your situation and empathize with it.

Have a great day,

Matt

Jamie G. said...

If davidovich is right, that's too bad. Sometimes we just assume that the testimonies are true and the people are real. How do we know for sure?

But if it is real....

Marlene,
I am having trouble finding the words to say. I applaud you for your courage to be who you know you are, as difficult as it is. If you are a real person going through these issues, I hope you can find strength in that there are many of us who can identify with your story, and for those of us who have crossed to the other side, you can too. You are welcome here, and amongst good company.

Left of Center said...

If the Posters parents were secular then who did the brainwashing? If they didnt go to church then who stopped her from going out with non Christian boys? This seesm fishy to me too.

Larry said...

Marlene,
All I can say is this. If you are really giving a true testimony here, and are seeking the truth. Keep on doing as you are doing, don't go backwards, always go forward, and some of these replies have some very good advise in them.
And remember that you do have a network of like minded people here that will listen and support you.
One day when I have the time I will give my testimony on here also.

Eris Discordia said...

I too, cam from an "unsaved" family and got conned into the faith by my psycho in-laws. I was young, dumb, and pregnant with my first child at the time. I was raised in an extremely abusive home so I was already emotionally vulnerable and intellectually stunted. I was easy pickins for the fundies to swoop in and save me from myself!

I can understand the writer of this testimony perfectly! You don't need pressure from parents if your parents aren't there for you emotionally. That is why it is so easy for child molesters to weasel into the life of a child! If the parents are too busy or don't care, it is easy to gain a foothold! Yes, I AM comparing fundies to child molesters! They both prey on the vulnerabilities of young people, especially children! Maybe that is why so many of them turn out to be child molesters! They don't see the difference either!

Anyway, My sympathies to Marlene. It provokes a lot of anger in me when I think about all those years of my life wasted on a fairy tale! Marlene, you are probably better off without your husband. I know that sounds harsh but think about it. He obviously does not respect your feelings or your opinions. Personally, I would not tolerate a man who did not respect me for who I am. To me that is the BIG problem with Christianity! The lack of respect for women goes back a long way. Just read the old testament (if you can stand it). Believe me when I tell you that a big weight will come off your shoulders when you unload the christian wackos from your personal life. I like to call it "weeding the garden". I know he is your husband but if HE is threatening to leave then he is holding your marriage hostage! That is a rotten thing to do! If I were you, I would let him go and make sure I got half of the assets including his retirement!

Anonymous said...

Left of Center said...
If the Posters parents were secular then who did the brainwashing? If they didnt go to church then who stopped her from going out with non Christian boys? This seesm fishy to me too.

My parents were secular, non-church going heathens when I was a child. When I was 8, I went to church with a friend and her family. I was strictly indoctrinated and by age 10 I was preaching hell fire and eternal damnation to my siblings and parents from my seat at the family dinner table! In the formative years to come I did not go out with non-christian boys either because I felt the crushing guilt! So you see, It could happen.

Seems funny though.........our roles have changed! My parents and two of my three siblings are now the ones who are telling me that I'm going to hell! I'm so glad I opened my eyes!

Noell

Willis Efburn said...

Sure, anonymous, it COULD happen but did it.
I am pretty sure, although of course I could be wrong,that the same story was floating on Christian sites about three years ago.
I'll dig up more.
See ya.

stronger now said...

My wife said this sounds fishy to her as well. But until I see evidence to the contrary, Marlene, my heart goes out to you.

Floss said...

Hi everyone

I posted this thread "I wasted my life..." but I've changed my posting name from the original one because I don't want anyone to recognise me. I can't imagine that anyone I know would be on this site anyway but then that would have applied to me not long ago, so I feel happier going under another name.It was an oversight on my part. Apologies for any confusion.

First of all I want to say that some of the responses weren't exactly what I was expecting! I was absolutely shocked to read that some of you thought my post was lifted or rehashed or whatever from other websites.

Every word I wrote was from my heart and was my own genuine story. It took me ages to pluck up the courage to pen it and then to read some of the comments I did was really upsetting.

I'd be as interested as anyone, probably more so, to see the other stories that were floating about similar to my own.

I can only reiterate that I have never, ever written about my experiences before. Not anywhere. To anybody.

I'm going to try to address some of the points that were brought up.

"If the Posters parents were secular then who did the brainwashing?"

We moved house when I was five and I made friends with a girl who invited me to Sunday School. I went regularly every week and when I was ten attended a special children's week long event at which I was asked on the last day if I wanted Jesus to be my friend. And I got saved.

From five to my teenage years I was taught that certain things were so. The world was made a certain way, would end a certain way, God was like this, life should be lived like that and so on. Any deviance from the path would mean your soul was in jeopardy.

My parents thought my life style was my choice. I had a brother who was the entire opposite to me. Mum and dad had no idea about the chains I was in, although neither did I til recently. I was happy and to them I guess my churchgoing was better than me getting drunk or doing drugs or whatever. Only once did my grandmother mention the word "religious mania."

"If they didnt go to church then who stopped her from going out with non Christian boys?"!

It was made perfectly clear to us from the pulpit that we should not be unequally yoked. It was repeated to us ad infinitum. And as anonymous said, the guilt itself was prohibitive. The fear instilled in us was so great that that was all that was needed really. And remember I said that I did everything by the book.

I want to say a big thank you for all your advice and suggestions, particularly to do with my husband. I mean to read them all over again, probably more than once. I appreciate them all.

I have to say that I've loved finding myself again. That part has been easier than I thought. The stress came from trying to be what I was not. Despite all the difficulties and yes, the occasional slip back into fear over what I've done, I feel more at ease with myself and at peace with the world than I have in years.

So you see, I am a real person going through real issues.

Pam said...

I know exactly what you are going through. My first husband and I had been in the AOG ministry for many years and I grew more and more disenchanted as I seen the ministry from the inside out. Besides that my husband had a problems with sex addiction and I was counseled privately through "Christian" counseling that I had to always keep secret and all these things and stand by my husband.

We finally left the AOG ministry because of marital stress and divorced. Then I took two blissful years off and enjoyed being free from the constraints of church life...I began to think for myself and form my own idea of the world. Then -- I met and fell in love with a Christian (what?) and got sucked right back into the church...he convinced me of my "sin" and I caved...I hope you never do this -- go back on who you are because sooner or later you'll wake up again and then you'll be even farther behind sanity then ever.

After putting up with 10 years of trying to be a good Christian wife to a man with a volatile temper and demeaning critical tongue, I got myself some "secular" counseling had to choose whether or not I wanted to save myself or save my marriage. I saved myself.

I'm still married but we're going through some really tough times. My husband feels I've somehow betrayed him because I deny God. After I quit church he did too -- he doesn't want to face the questions he would ultimately be asked. I thought perhaps after a time he would be more accepting, but he often puts me down for be a "free thinker" and using my "intellect"...he says the words as if they taste bitter in his mouth. He still defends the God he doesn't even serve.

I have saved myself at a price -- but then everything good and worthwhile in life has a price. Also -- know that in menopause or midlife a woman's brain catches fire -- she is more able than ever to stand up for herself and finally stop being every one else's doormat. Hang in there. If you need someone to walk along this path with, write me at psiemens62@sbcglobal.net.

NateDog said...

Marlene

Try not to look at all of those years as wasted time. Think of many of the fun things that you may have done over the years. I finally lost my faith at the age of 41, and wish that i had done so earlier. However, I still did many enjoyable things when I was a christian. I have always loved being outdoors, listened to rock music when my parents were not around, and had some very good friends. My upbringing was also pretty hard, but I overcame. Right now I am in an unhappy marriage, but have the wonderful son. Luckily for my son, he has very little interest in religion. Lastly, you are not alone in your situation and have people here who care.

Abram Rickards said...

Marlene,

While I know it may be difficult to be happy at this trying time in your life, you should take great pride in knowing that you are one of the few who have finally seen religion for what it is and taken the first steps necessary to live a more fulfilling life without belief in spirits, divinity, and other superstitious fairy tales.

Left of Center said...

Thank you for clearing that up Floss. Indoctination is a tough issue for sure to deal with. The cult tenent of making all "outsiders" the enemy goes along way in insulating victims. Like all addictive behaviors one must get away from the source and other "users".

Anonymous said...

Dear Floss,
Many, many congratulations on your conversion! It's wonderful that you have found that it's easier to be this way, and much more stressful to go back. I have to qualify that I was born and raised an athiest, but after college studied and dated and befriended evangelists and learned so much, and many years later found this site which from my own point of view is immensely comforting, as I grew up feeling very much alone, (and ostracized) and always wondered if my fundamentalist friends knew something that I didn't. I read it every day. You see, Christianity doesn't just abuse the indoctrinated.

I want to comment on something you say. "The difference is that now I call it talking to myself and I'm aware that it's a psychological comfort thing." Since I've never done very much talking to god, I have found that I can talk to something - and it is very helpful. It's not just psychological comfort. It's actually tapping into your subconscious. I used to talk to a little stuffed duck with a wise face when I was going through tough times in my 20's and he gave me the right answers with his nods and skeptical tilts of the head (controlled by my hand). It's like writing every day or trying lucid dreaming. You have the answers in yourself, and I suspect that when christians say they get their answers from god when they pray, they're really just digging for the answers in themselves.

best,
Naomi

Jeff P said...

Thank you for your testimony. My journey from "the way" began with Marcus Borg and Bishop Spong as well. While I have a dear friend who was able to look at christianity within the "new paradigm" view of those authors, I wasn't able to stop there. Like you, if it's a little bit made up, or if the value is in the metaphor, why not just go on and doubt the whole thing? There are many wonderful metaphors that don't need the belief in a god.

I echo your appreciation for this site and for the wonderful comments of these posts. I wish I knew of a way to make this community something other than "virtual" in my day to day life, for alas--I too am living in the thick of the Bible Belt and must, for now, continue to live in the closet.

Many thanks again for sharing your story.
Jeff P

JC said...

Very well said, Marlene... I can
relate to various pieces and parts of your story. I was raised as a Catholic and attended their schools all the way through high school. The constant religious badgering started getting to me by about the fifth grade and by early high school I was skipping church and merely going through the motions to appease my parents.

Catholicism was steeped my family; two of my aunts were nuns and one uncle was a priest. Openly walking would have been totally unacceptable.... so I kept a low profile. Fortunately, the Catholic church isn't very social so there weren't a lot of church related activities to dodge.

I'm still working on recovering from the psychological damage that the nuns and priests inflicted on me. It has seriously affected my ability to make close friends and contributed to the failure of my marriage. Never mind what it did to my self-esteem, love life, etc.

I commend you for your courage to face the truth and reality. Good luck.

JC

stevie said...

Hi Marlene

First off, thanks for sharing. Don't fret about the suspicion voiced in some posts - I think atheists in some parts of the US tend to cop a lot of flack and develop a siege mentality as a defense. Its a whole lot better in the civilized world :-)

I also think that Natedog is right - as you go on you won't look back on a wasted life but you'll eventually be comfortable with it all - the good and bad alike. I used to feel quite ashamed about having been suckered but it was a growing experience. I wouldn't be who I am now nor think as I do had I not gone through that experience. Wisdom comes at the cost of making mistakes.

The key thing with your husband it to take time. He's had a big shock (hence the divorce threat). I think he'll need to be given some leeway to come to terms with your awakening. Ultimately, it can only go three ways: he accepts you, you stop thinking for yourself or the relationship will end. Whatever the eventual outcome I hope you have a great life.

Steve

Lance said...

For you guys that cast a shadow of doubt on this post, how about this for an idea; dig into it FIRST and then cast your doubt IF AND ONLY IF you find something. But until then just keep quiet.

Please, have a little class. Spouting off without facts is what christians do.

The reason this may have sounded similar is that all of our stories have a common thread. I could identify with all sorts of things Floss said. Did you think of that.

Anonymous said...

"but one day I was asked a question about Jesus and God that I couldn't answer"

Floss,
You have me very curious.

What was the question asked of you, and what was your answer to it?

Also, what did you see in your hunt for that answer that gave you enough doubts to keep on looking at secular material afterwards?

whateverlolawants said...

Floss, thank you for your story. It was sad in parts, but very interesting, and I was so glad to read how you decided to research and think for yourself! Yay! :)

About your husband (keep in mind I'm 20 and unmarried, so I may be totally off!)- give it time before any decisions are made. As stevie said, there are 3 outcomes. I hope things work out for the best with you two. That must be so hard. Matthew F. Hocker made another good point- under the usual religious indignation, deep down, he may be worrying about how you could respect him anymore.

Lance said...

whateverlolawants made a good point by saying your husband may feel threatened.

I'm 46 and my wife is still a christian. She sometimes interprets my questions and doubts as direct personal attacks on her and her faith. I have had to tone down my rhetoric when talking about other christians as she feels I am slamming her personally.

Having been married for 18 years, and wanting to continue to be married longer, I have decided not to bring up issues that are gong to freak her out, and to find other outlets to discuss these things.

She knows where I stand and what I believe, so I am not hiding anything, but for our collective sanity I am going to avoid religious discussions with her for awhile. I have had doubts for a long time, but I only chucked the whole ball of wax within the past year.

I hope to be able to come to a better understanding with her on this issue in the future, but I don't want something as unimportant as religion to screw up my marriage.

I hope this helps. Good luck.

Lookinglass said...

Wow, I could have sworn I wrote this article without knowing it because it sounds almost exactly like my story. I told my husband that I no longer believe, and he keeps telling me to pray and read the bible and ask God to restore my faith but like you said, I want to, but my mind won't let me. I too also followed everything to the letter. I was the "saved" one in my family out of all my siblings. Then one day I just couldn't do it anymore.
I still go to church regularly, and it's a really hardcore penecostal church. I feel like such a hypocrite but I can't bear to reveal how I no longer believe the things i used to. I'm a closet nonbeliever. If the church members knew, they would think that satan has really did a number on me! I feel very trapped, even though it's been two years since my deconversion. so I relate to you. Keep your head up and godspeed on your road to recovery.

Anonymous said...

I don't really understand all this talk about a "wasted" life.
Everything we do is a waste. We are all going to die, and in a few hundred years AT MOST there won't be a trace of any of us left.

So have a good time. Whatever get you off. Speaking mystically, porn, whatever.

You may think it matters, but is doesn't.

Quit pretending.

You know I am right.

Lookinglass said...

Anon, you could be a bit more optimistic. You failed to mention that whatever you do, you will leave a legacy long after you are gone. People will always remember you for the guy who spoke mystically, or the guy who did porn, etc. etc. So what do you want to be remembered for? Someone who just didn't give a damn or someone who left the world a bit better than he found it? That's how I see things anyway. Since I no longer believe in an afterlife, I figure you only get one shot at life, so make the most of it.

Steven Bently said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Steven Bently said...

The reason your testimony seems so much alike so many here is, because we were all conned and deceived by the lie. We presumed it to be true, because Christianity has had over 500 years to build it's roots in America as being true, we see the churches already built and see new churches being built on every street corner, a person raised in America naturally presumes religion and it's lies to be true.

To believe that a God needed to send his only begotten son to die for our sins is so way off the charts of common sense and reason, it totally ludicrous, it's totally barbarically insane.

I beg...I plead for anyone to click on my name above and read how Christianity made it's way to this land.

Leave a comment it's either the truth or it's a lie, you decide.

The Bible was written strictly to conn and deceive, that's was it's only intended purpose.

Anonymous said...

If your husband pulls that "unequally yoked" crap again, hit him with 1st Corinthians 7:12-14

Caleb C said...

Dear Floss,
I recently posted myself for the first time. They gave it the title, "My Biggest Problem." I really appreciate what you wrote, because I have so many of the same feelings. Read my post if you ever have time. Anyway, I just wanted to say something specific to your last paragraph about children in church. I have two young boys. I haven't gone public with my deconversion, but since we (my family) hasn't been in church for so long, I guess people are getting suspicious. Especially my Mother in law. My wife is a "leaver of the Faith as well." She was raised and programmed in the Baptist Church. Anyway, my mother in law is always wanting to take the boys to church with her on Sundays. I quite often hear the argument that they need to be there. My wife is too scared to refuse her mom, but I am at the point that I am ready to confront her. To be real honest, I don't want my boys to grow up in Church. I don't want them programmed and brainwashed to believe in Jesus Christ. Now if they do turn out Christian, I want it to be because they experienced God, not because they were given no other option.

Lorena said...

Marlene,

I have to say that I really enjoyed reading your story. I did not enjoy your pain, but I though the writing was really good. You said it so well.

When people started to question the validity of your post, I doubted as well. Just because the writing was so good.

I am not sure I would be strong enough to carry the load you have right now. You mention that you are dealing with chronic illness and that your husband is threatening divorce. You really seem to be handling it well. Kudos to you!

Honestly, I can't give you any advice. I just don't think you need any. You're strong and smart.

My husband is a Christian, but he isn't a jerk. He understands the meaning of unconditional love.

Take care!

Floss said...

Sorry I couldn't get back to you sooner. I must say that I've been very emcouraged by all the newest replies since my last post. Thank you so much.

Anonymous said...

"but one day I was asked a question about Jesus and God that I couldn't answer"

Floss,
You have me very curious.

What was the question asked of you, and what was your answer to it?

Also, what did you see in your hunt for that answer that gave you enough doubts to keep on looking at secular material afterwards?

The question was, "Why did God wait so long to send Jesus? What about all the people who went before?"

I could have trotted out the usual answers - you know, it was God's time, fulfilment of OT phrophecy etc - but my friend was intelligent and well read and anything I thought of just didn't seem to cut the mustard.

I asked my minister husband and he could do no better than me. We spent days trying to come up with a suitable answer to the question. Although my husband was happy with the replies we thought of, I wasn't. I knew they would only seem believable to a Christian and certainly not to my atheist friend.


I'm ashamed to say that I let the matter rest for a while but it had stirred up in me a desire to at least understand my friend's point of view. I knew by this stage that he considered my faith to be all smoke and mirrors. I thought if I could comprehend where he was coming from that when I went back to addressing the question with him I'd be on firmer ground, more likely to win him over!

So I started reading Atheist Universe because I knew he was interested in nature etc. Little did I know what was to come.

I found myself agreeing with some of the views expressed in the book. It made sense to me. I was curious enough about this side of things that I'd been too frightened to venture into before, to bypass my fears and go for broke. Something in me had been awakened and at 54 I was like a kid let loose in a candy store. I lapped up everything I read. And I read for months. I didn't care what the title of the article or book was anymore. Blow it that I was perusing "sinful" stuff! I thought in for a penny, in for a pound. My world view began to change. My beliefs now had my mind on board. It was truly liberating.

I never really decided to leave my Christian beliefs behind or doubt my faith of a lifetime, it just sort of gradually sneaked up on me. I realised as time went on that a lot of the ideas I'd held onto were ridiculous. It's as if filling my mind with rational thoughts and reasonable arguments through all the books and articles I read had thrown my fairytale beliefs into relief and shown them for what they were.

I had needed that. Once a chink of light had been let into the "darknesss" of my mind it was too enticing to resist and, for once, for the first time really, I let my natural curiosity out of the closet where Pentecostalism had had it bound for so long.

The rest is history as they say!


Natedog said "Try not to look at all of those years as wasted time" and anon said "I don't really understand all this talk about a "wasted" life.


Time is something we cannot retrieve once lost. My sadness comes from the fact that I was really stopped from being myself and doing the things I enjoy. I can't recapture my youth now and much as I know that all we have is the present and the past is over and done with, I can't help but feel cheated. All my life decisions were based on doing the will of God, never on common sense or personal desire and although the two sometimes went hand in glove, I cannot help but think that my life may have been very different, maybe happier, had the real me had more of a say in it.

Lorena said,"When people started to question the validity of your post, I doubted as well. Just because the writing was so good."

That made my day! I'm studying to be a freelance journalist.

Many, many thanks again for all your replies. There have been some real gems in them. Nuggets of wisdom that I have found immensely helpful. Thank you all for your time.

Anonymous said...

You are welcom.

But as new stories are added, and people scroll down, you will be forgotten.

You don't really think these people care about you do you?

stevie said...

Hi

Well, anonymous you're certainly a bundle of laughs. In the long run we're all dead and forgotten but for my part I want to leave the world a better place than I found it.

I think this site helps if it can give encouragement and support for people who are thinking for themselves. Marlene's experience is something many of us can relate to - and you obviously can't. Its hard to care for someone you've never met but we do care about supporting Marlene in her journey.

Steve

Floss said...

"You don't really think these people care about you do you?"

I do actually anonymous. In the same way that I care about other people who post on here. You can't help but care when you've been through the same experience and understand what coming out of it leaves in its wake.

Sharing experiences and taking the time to reply is caring. No doubt some will write for other reasons but I'll bet the majority do it out of a sense of waiting to help those are not so far down the road as themselves on this particular journey.

rick said...

Marlene, I had some of the same questions/thoughts, with a different twist.

Most of human history has been Christ-less (4000 BC vs 2000 AD)

Even considering that, how much more scarce has been the word of God? Only available freely for the past 500 years?

How is a person to find salvation, without a Bible, or without Christ???

I heard W.L. Craig once say that God, in his providence, knew who would reject him, and set things up so that those people wouldn't be in a place to hear and be saved... That was his cop-out.

freethinker05 said...

Marlene, as long as you want friends to help "try" answering your questions, or just to be there to help comfort you when times get tough,well,you've come to the right place. Peace, Roger

Anonymous said...

Floss,
even over the course of these few postings you're sounding stronger and stronger. Bravo. I care, by the way! I remember, and hope you do well, and wonder where you live, and how people react to you, and how you'll answer them. And big by the way, I think you'll be a much better journalist for having a freed-up mind!

Naomi

Anonymous said...

You have had a bad experience because you have been living the christian life like following rules and regulations in a rule book. The christian life is an experiential relationship with Jesus that is real. It is not based on living a life out of obligation or duty. That creates resentment and oppression.
I went to many pentecostal churches over many years. I only ever went for my own experiences and never got involved with the people who make up the church. As a result I never got caught up in church rules or politics and was able to absorb what I needed from the many different teachings to learn about the holy spirit. Dont ever let an organisation tell you how to think or feel about things because they just preach their own interpretation of the bible. Don't follow blindly, There is nothing in the bible that says you cant wear makeup or jewelry. That is some preachers interpretation of what he thinks is right and that mindset leads to fundamentalism.To get the holy spirit working in you so you are living life feeling alive in a partnership with Jesus first you have to get a deliverance performed where you basically have to repent of not just your sins but all the sins in your family eg porn, addictions etc. The reason you have to do all your family's sins as well is because it is probably a generational curse that has been inflicted from way back like great grandparents etc and passed on. In the bible it says generational curses will pass until the fourth generation. That is why many people in one family might battle the same addictions, depressive disorders etc. Think of the sum of all parts not just the whole. That is one reason why people battle addictions time and again despite being prayed over. There is a root cause to it and it is rarely the individual's inability to conquer it. Find the root cause eg generational addiction, porn, depression etc. Once you get rid of what has been oppressing you eg addiction etc, the holy spirit can then fill the hole that has been left. Your heart will feel alive and you will feel much closer to Jesus so he is not some remote figurehead. I had to read books to find this out cause no preacher at any of the churches I went to touched on this subject let alone the spiritual realm. That said I find it hard to relate to other christians because I have much more spiritual knowledge than them and they only want to follow the "rules' in what they think is being a good christian. They havent bothered to think outside the square and say "Is this what it means to be a christian". Surely there is more to this than what I am being taught by this church. No they usually think the other way and grow despondent and disillusioned by Christianity and think that is all it is. Why don't they think some more and say maybe there is a whole lot more to Christianity than what I hear at my church. I'll do some research and find out for myself about the spiritual realm, the second and third heaven, my spirit body that Christ designed in me. Surprised? It is all in the bible yet preachers only preach their own agenda and wont tackle subject that are too "out there" as they are too conservative not progressive. I cant relate to these other christians cause they dont want to grow in christ. they just want to follow rules and dont have enquiring minds. I have missed out by not belonging to any church community but the people just want to concentrate on being a "good christian". That is why there is this website because these type of people are negative and disillusioned in their thinking. They dont have much spiritual knowledge
They just want to concentrate on being a good christian which involves following the rules the pastor interprets which can lead to fundamentalism and then people lament they wasted years of their life. Of course you will feel that way if you live like that it is oppression! The kingdom of god is a state of knowing. It is internal not external so what you seek from the outside to fill your heart dont work. It is all within. It begins with healing your heart from bitterness and negativity and captivity. Then you are alive in christ. Think and explore people!

Anonymous said...

You feel this way because you have been living the christian life out of duty and obligation to a set of rules told to you by your church.
Never follow blindly what an organisation tells you to do. This leads to fundamentalism.The human heart will feel oppressed. The people are the church that is true but they usually have their own needs to be fulfilled and with that comes pecking order, status etc in an organisation. That is bureacracy. To live as you have out of duty and obligation to these rules has robbed you of the chance to feel alive in the holy spirit. Dont live according to what someone says is the way to live, there are great guidelines in the bible to live by but they are not the way to know Jesus personally. Ask to know Jesus personally and him how to live. To live in partnership with the holy spirit is to feel alive. We all have a spirit man inside us. We have a soul- mind, will,emotions, then our spirit body which we can then fill with the holy spirit to connect to christ. We fill this with the fruit of the spirit - patience, joy etc.They never teach any of this at church I only found out through reading a lot of books. At church the teachings are usually based on fear- fear of the outside world, etc. Fear is Satan's weapon. Faith is Jesus. So dont put your faith in rules and bureacracy and follow out of duty and obligation. That is not Christianity. That is not how a Christian should live. Take the best of what the pastor says and and put your faith in Jesus who designed the church. The early church at Ephesus was in its purest form. Supernatural happenings abounded. Healings were a regular occurrence because the faith in the holy spirit was so high. Put the focus back on the experience of the holy spirit and live that way otherwise you too will feel like Christianity is wretched and you gain nothing from it.

AtheistToothFairy said...

Hey blathering anonymous, who said:
The early church at Ephesus was in its purest form. Supernatural happenings abounded. Healings were a regular occurrence because the faith in the holy spirit was so high
---
I doubt you'll ever see this reply, as most xtian anon's seem to run after dumping their 'load' here.

Now, do you have any idea how PAINFUL your two posts were to READ?
I swear, the word PARAGRAPH must be a curse word in the xtian dictionary, as so many of you never oblige us with this very basic writing concept.

Anyway, so you're saying the reason all the miracles aren't seen today is because faith in this holy spirit isn't nearly as "HIGH" as it was back in the 'dark ages' when most folks couldn't even read and only had the basic skills needed to survive.
Gosh, it almost sounds like the ability to have super faith in this holy ghostie is inversely proportional to one's IQ and/or education level.
If we assume that is the case, we should have lots of un-smart folks who believe in the holy ghost, getting healed all the time; even have those blown-off limbs grown back by this holy god power etc..

Okay folks, all we need to do is to 'rev up' our faith in this holy spirit and well, let the grand miracles commence post-haste.

I can picture the first big-top show about real miracles happening......
Now who wants to be the very first to try out this new plan, in our Holy Ghost CIRCUS Show.
Hey, you there....Yes, you son....Do you wanna be the first to feel the power of the holy spirit tonight?
Step right on up, lad.
Oh, and don't mind these lions. I'm pretty sure the holy ghostie won't let them bite ya, well, maybe just a nibble or two.


ATF (who loves how each of these fundies that post here, have formed their own religion and are here to tell us that they are the only one who truly understands how it really works with god)

.:webmaster:. said...

That's right! Ephesus just abounded with super-duper stuff.

Today, it's all going on in Africa! Witches, curses, magical healings... It's all there!

Cough, cough, sputter, sputter...

stronger now said...

Good goin' ATF and Dave!

Let me just add that most who post here have already tried to have a "real" relationship with jesus in spite of our churches "rules".

I for one had faith in jebus, and not in man or man's church. I still couldn't find any comfort or joy. I found I was alone in the relationship as did probalbly all of the ex-christians that post here realized.

Now...why can't longwinded anony christard realize this before dropping that block of dung?

Jered said...

Thank you. I'm 25 and I just left the faith as well. I'm getting over the guilt and the feeling like I let god down by thinking for myself. I still am trying to perfect myself and trying not to hurt others with my actions. I'm still on a path of being a good person. Just using my experiences and not ones that were fed to me. Thanks to all of you who just helped this gorilla off my back once and for all. I love you all. Namaste.

Jered18@yahoo.com

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