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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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)