My Journey Through Christianity

Sent in by George R. Davis

On April 27, 1971, I skipped my last class of the day and followed an old railroad bed behind the school into town to the neighborhood pharmacy. After some surreptitious searching among potions and hot water bottles, I found the bottle of Sominex (“Take Sominex tonight and sleep, Safe and restful, sleep...sleep...sleep.”). I guiltily handed the clerk a crumpled five dollar bill, studiously avoiding her eyes, feeling like I was buying a Playboy magazine. At home later that afternoon I stuffed the bottle under my pillow, full well planning to swallow the entire contents that evening and end my miserable, despairing existence.

The thought of death was sweet. No more suffering. No more emotional pain. The added benefit of my suicide would be revenge against those who had contributed to my pain... to pay them back for all the bullying and verbal abuse through the years. Some kids in pain lash out with violence; others shut down and destroy themselves by suicide. I was one of the latter.

That evening, though, Bill, a friend of my brother, stopped by and invited me to a teen Bible study taught by Rev. Bruce Jones at a newly built coffee-house called “His House”. For the first time in my life I heard that I was truly loved, (by the Creator of the Universe, no less!), and that He had a wonderful plan for my life if I would only accept His Son Jesus into my heart. I was promised a life of joy, peace and freedom from sin filled with a sense of purpose as I walked daily with God. That night I decided to give God a try. I went home and flushed the pills down the toilet.

That was thirty six years ago. For thirty five of those years I embraced my faith with my whole heart. I sought the Lord daily for guidance, help, comfort and strength. I attended Bible School in Germany and the United States, did inner-city mission work, youth pastored, pastored a country church, had a radio ministry, taught, preached, prayed, and led worship teams with the best of them. I tried a variety of Christian expressions seeking the best group to bond with: Methodists, Baptists of all stripes, Congregationalists, Plymouth Brethren, Charismatic and Calvinists. I knew the Bible cover to cover, and possess an extensive library of Christian writings of a couple hundred volumes.

It was all dust in the wind. Like many Christians I met throughout the years, my life was really not very different than the average guy on the street: except for a spiritual gig replete with buzz words, formulas and standards for living and acting, and an ever awareness of not offending God by thought, word or deed, either by sins of omission or sins of commission. Though I sought God daily for guidance, my life often spiraled out of control, and I found myself down many a dead-end. I would have been just as successful rolling dice for guidance.

Sometimes we adopt a worldview because it serves a need for a given point in our personal journey. Maslow would probably say we are seeking self-actualization with a view to transcendence. I had sought meaning and love and purpose, found it in Christianity for a season, then awoke gradually to discover the best years of my life had been wasted on anxiously trying to please and serve a non-existent Being in the fervent hope he would in turn bless my life and my children and give me that abundant life I had been promised so long ago. The Christian faith served me for a time, albeit not very well. It kept me immaturely dependent upon an invisible God to guide my life and meet my needs when I should have shouldered those responsibilities myself. I would have saved a lot of heartache and grief had I done so. I would have made better choices in life. I would have chosen a career that would have provided better for me and my family. I would have dealt with my moral shortcomings more severely, not expecting someone Else to “heal” them.

There’s now, after much heartache and mourning having rent myself from my former faith, an inner restfulness. I still feel betrayed by God...lied to about the potential for an amazing life that would rise above this earth’s siren song, promising abundant joy, peace and victory over failure. But I gave it a good shot and found such promises wanting. I feel as though I have outgrown an old suit of clothes and laid them in a box to be dropped off at the nearest Salvation Army. No more striving to please a god who is not that much interested in what I want, or wish for or dream about if he exists at all. Though sometimes I still wish it were all true, that I just took a misstep somewhere, that He will coming calling for me, searching for my companionship, dusting me off, hugging me, telling me everything’s okay, I see my life now in the cold light of reality as a miserable attempt to please an emotionally cold, judgmental, abusive father I never felt loved me. God was that Substitute Dad. Both of them, now dead, have finally given me peace.

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9 comments:

TheCapetonian said...

George,

Thank you for sharing your story. After more than 3 decades to make the decision you made must have been tough, but it was the right one. Believing in a non-existing being is lunacy. Best of luck as your journey forth in your new-found freedome and joy.

jimearl said...

Hello George, and thanks for sharing with us.

The church is forced to use delusions to maintain their hold on people. When someone begins to question those delusions, the grip is loosened. When someone is unafraid to use logic and reason as a guide in life, then religion will lose their hold on that person. You have joined this group and we welcome you.

Although delusions still rule the majority of people in the world, be happy that you no longer are subject to the b.s. of religions. I hope you will hang around and contribute to this site.

Porter said...

"Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. Those by the way side are they that hear; then cometh the devil, and taketh away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved. They on the rock [are they], which, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, which for a while believe, and in time of temptation fall away. And that which fell among thorns are they, which, when they have heard, go forth, and are choked with cares and riches and pleasures of [this] life, and bring no fruit to perfection. But that on the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep [it], and bring forth fruit with patience." Luke 8:11-15

Nvrgoingbk said...

You are a wonderful writer. Thank you for sharing your story.

I too at times wish that I were wrong about all that I found regarding the make-believe God I once served. Like you, I never felt he loved me and lived far too many years tapdancing on his heart in hopes of making him love me. I too prayed to the popcorn ceiling only to be met with an ever elusive silence. We've all been there. We've all tried to reconcile the silence, the random and sensless suffering, the evil that persists, the failed prophecy, the Biblical inconsistencies, the hypocrisy that runs amok throughout the Christian faith, the "false" doctrines, and the interdenominational wars.

The Bible promised us that we would find him if we searched for him with all of our hearts, but the end result of our searching, our beseeching, our earnest prayers and supplications was a vapor-an illusion.

I have wrestled many a time with the loss of this God that I once loved but never existed. There is no psychological explanation that satisfies my soul as to why I still long for something that never existed and something that rarely offered me any peace in the first place, and yet every once and awhile, I find myself sitting alone in silent places and try to pray giving "him" one more chance to reach out to me much like a stubbon child desperately clinging to the hope that the father who abandoned him will one day return.
I know better, but after so many years of searching the skies for the coming of Christ, I still catch myself blinking at the sun and wondering if it's all true afterall.

Wes said...

Hmmm.. I think I read Porter's post in some fictional book someplace... -Wes.

Noell said...

Hello George.

I also thank you for your well written story. Your experience falls frightening close to those of most of us here at ex-christian.net. For me you shed light on the one aspect that I have always told myself was the most heinous act I’d ever committed against myself while under the mind control of the christian cult. I had relinquished all of my life's responsibilities foolishly to a nonexistent deity. I often cry quietly to myself at night wondering how differently my life may have played out had I just “shouldered my own responsibility”. Like you, I would have made much better choices for my life. In hindsight, when I think of how I insanely trusted an imaginary being to govern every aspect of my life, I tell myself that I would have been better off placing my absolute hope and trust in the family cat. The results would have been the same if not better. As you say, there's no escaping the cold light of reality. It comes for all of us sooner or later.

muttmutt said...

what people dont realize is to be truly loved by others you must love yourself first. I was picked on by bullies too, but im the type that stands up for myself once ive had enough, unfortunately christianity made me *meek* and feel powerless agianst my adversaries. Ive learned that you must stand up for yourself if you want to get anywhere in life, even though im poor financially ive realized its best to tell people how you feel about them rather than keep silent. I dont know you well but i send you hugs because i know what its like to be bullied.

THE ACE said...

What can you say to Porter's comment? How about..YAWN!

It never fails..the same old Bible
verses we all used to quote until
we were blue in the face.

With the fundies, its a never-ending rehash of verses and hackneyed Christian cliches.

If someday, one of them actually comes up with something original,
it should be reported to CNN and
all the other news services right
away!

George Davis said...

Hey...just wanted to say THANKS for all the encouragement and input. It's great having a safe place like this to open up. Look foward to getting to know you all better!

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