Where it will take me?

This is the first such comment I have made on any website, ever. For a number of months I have read all sorts of comments and debates on all manner of topics. Sadly, I realise that most of the stuff I have been reading has been about God, Jesus, faith, Christianity and so on. All born, I realise now, out of a crisis of faith; a search for meaning. In a sense, I guess I am writing this as a form of therapy (which I have been having formally as I make my way through the mud and mire of my recent confusion and crisis). In many ways, I find myself in a place that I didn't expect to be.

With hindsight, I realise that I thought I had moved on from the fundamentalism of my early adulthood. I was young, facing the world as a young adult, replete with the lingering emotional wounds from an absent father from the age of 2 yrs and all the subsequent issues and baggage of step-families, and grappling with my place in the world. Christianity, to which I came as a 19 year old, gave me a place and a community and it felt good. I was 'on fire' for God. I was a hand-raising, tear-crying, preaching, evangelizing Christian zealot. I led worship, I prayed prayers, I preached, I taught at church, I ran the largest youth outreach in my state. Hell, I even gave up sex.

And I read.

Mostly what I read was charismatically-inclined literature, you know the type: miracles, healing, awesome stories of mighty power in the lives of ordinary people. Some of it troubled me... some scared me... most inspired me. And I felt God with me.

But time moves on and over the years, ever so slowly, church became less important (worldly seduction in increments?), although I was still attracted by the myth and mystery, the traditions and the ritual. But less and less my wife and I went. Strangely though, I felt I began to 'mature' spiritually and whilst not adhering to the traditional Christian faith, I still had a profound sense of the sacred, the ineffable, the divine. I entertained the idea that chakras might be real, that the earth and humanity might be transforming, that indigo children might be a genuine phenomenon, that vibration and energy was legitimate.

I read Eckhart Tolle, a little Depak. I only say this, not because I now necessarily adhere to all of that; rather simply to show that over 10 years I slowly began to explore the previously 'forbidden'. Up until 12 months ago, I was traveling well.

Successful professional, happily married, emotionally healthy, two beautiful kids, plenty of money and, strangely, a healthy spiritual outlook and sense of purpose. Then the wheels fell off. twelve months almost to the day after the passing of my grandfather, who was really my father figure all my life, I had a massive breakdown. It started slowly, but ended with a bang. And although initally masked by the trauma of the breakdown itself, at the core I sensed what I termed my 'existential crisis'. What DID I believe? Why did I believe it. Suffice to say that the last six months has been a fearful, anxious and at times almost paralysing search for the 'truth'.

I have read so much on Christian sites, non-Christian sites, sites such as this and more. Time and time again I am struck by a couple of things: the enormous number of errors and inconsistencies of the Bible; the process by which the Bible was put together; the blood-thirsty nature of 'God' in the OT particularly, and the seemingly impossible, variable and problematic requirements for God's steadfast love in the NT. When I read the Bible, I feel fear and terror, not love and comfort. I feel rejection and threats of eternal abandonment -- not unshakable, unbreakable, unconditional love. I feel the imminent strike of God's mighty and furiously imposed hand against my mere mortal and fleshly face at the slightest indiscretion, not the guiding, loving, patient and persistent support and immeasurable love of a father. A real father. In short, I see more compassion, understanding, patience, forgiveness, support, forbearance and unconditional love in many of the 'fallen' sinners of this world than I see in the image of God I have constructed.

Maybe I have missed the mark. Maybe I am way off. Maybe my faith never was, or has failed me, or isn't strong enough. Maybe I just don't want to submit all. Maybe the devil has asked to sift me like wheat. I'm human, not wheat though. And what I see as a human each day in other humans, despite some of the ugliness, is beauty, vulnerability, love, acts of kindness and grace. Oh, that is unless I read a fundie website where all I see is hatred, fear-mongering, rejection, bile, vitriol and a perverse and sickening glee gained from believing God will torture people like me. It is humanity that keeps me buoyant. Ironically, it is humanity that somewhere in the recesses of my soul keeps me believing (hoping) in God. But as for God, or at least my cobbled-together construct of God, I feel like I have woken up one day to discover that my 'daddy' (and I never really had one) -- the man I have loved, admired, worshiped and idolised all my life, is a murderer, a rapist, a blood-thirsty tyrant and a hater of children, in fact of everyone.

I feel like I have admired my father's commitment to my Mum all my life, have used their marriage as the basis for my own, to arrive home one day to find my dad pumping the next door neighbour... and her husband at the same time... while my mum is out making arrangements for his birthday dinner later that night, blissfully unaware.

I fear, God, you see, really hates us. God really can't bear to look at us. God's first inclination is to reject us and destroy us. But Jesus stands before us and God says 'Ah... shit. OK. OK'. Gee, don't know about you, but that just means that God really loves his own son (and even the mafia and terrorists love their own children), not us, and kinda lets us through the door to do Jesus a favor. So God really only (just) tolerates us. "Jesus, if you MUST have those people in the house, at least make them behave."

All my life I worked at seeking love and acceptance for ME, to find out that in actual fact, God is the one who does this the least. He doesn't love me for me. He loves me because Jesus stands in the way and says "Don't shoot!". Trigger happy bad-ass old copper who hasn't shot anyone for years and is so close to a pension-cheque puts his gun down and says: "Ah, shit. Fine. Do-gooder idealist. You'll see. They're all scum! When you've been in the force as long as I have, you'll see."

Bottom line: I feel like I am in mourning. I feel like I have lost a wonderful friend. And I realise that I don't even know what that friend ever looked like. Was he a mental construct? Was he imaginary, like the friends you make up when you are a child?

At times during the last few months I have thought that this battle has been contrived by me, or the 'victory' back to God resisted, to justify a life of sin. But hey, what the hell does that mean anyway? And so here I stand, not in the world, not out of the world, and into it all kind of wondering what it's all about anyway. At times I have been so depressed and so fearful that I have contemplated the unthinkable. Imagine that, leaving my two boys, who I DO love with all my heart, unconditionally, and who I will NEVER forsake nor just tolerate -- to live alone, and lest I say, repeat the sins of my own father by being absent myself. And yet, somewhere in my heart, I still want to believe. I want to believe that God really is there. That God himself is saying: "I agree with you. They get me so wrong! I am the one you can depend on. I am everything and so much more." But that would just be making God in my own image wouldn't it? And that, I remember, is a big no-no. God is the same today, yesterday and forever (my father-in-law reminds me), which hauntingly means that God (at least when referencing the OT) may still be liable to bouts of terrifying anger, rage, jealousy, vengeance, murder, rape, genocide and infanticide (just to name a few).

Strangely, the sorts of things that He may not be all that crash hot on me doing. So there it is, my unfinished journey. Where it will take me yet, I know not. But I hope I am ready. Some closing irony: God bless.

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23 comments:

Ryan Scott said...

You asked what you believe in, but you already really know:

"Successful professional, happily married, emotionally healthy, two beautiful kids, plenty of money and, strangely, a healthy spiritual outlook and sense of purpose."

You still have all that, but you've just developed a fear that you've lost god, and that somehow matters. You need to let go of god, and realize all those things that you value in life came from your efforts, from what you put out in the world, from your humanity.

You sound like someone who has his act together except in clinging to this one last damaging view. Don't try to reconcile the way you see god now with how you saw him before. The veil has been lifted, and there's no going back. Concentrate on what you value in the world, the love of your family, and move forward. Maybe you 'dad' is a bastard, but that doesn't have to affect your adult life. Let him go and keep being the smart loving person that you seem to be.

SpaceMonk said...

"...Bottom line: I feel like I am in mourning. I feel like I have lost a wonderful friend. And I realise that I don't even know what that friend ever looked like. Was he a mental construct? Was he imaginary, like the friends you make up when you are a child?..."

He's the kind of imaginary friend that seems more real than others because you know you didn't imagine him yourself.

The bible-god was imagined for you by clever and devious people, and you were led into accepting that ready made 'answer to all problems'...

...except thinking people like you question the answers, knowing it's not really so simple. ;)

George Davis said...

"Bottom line: I feel like I am in mourning. I feel like I have lost a wonderful friend. And I realise that I don't even know what that friend ever looked like."

My brother...You are in mourning! You are mourning a real death in your life. We have all been there, and it's just as painful as any emotional loss. Your whole world lies in ashes. There will be months ahead where you won't know where to turn...you're so used to seeking God for help and guidance: now there's a silent Universe instead. And the silence is deafening. You must summon the courage to blaze a new trail. To pour your life into your precious kids. To find the core of who you are without flinching or running away. I hope you discover this place a source of strength and encouragement. Thanks for sharing!

Nvrgoingbk said...

What a wonderful post! I mourn with you. It has gotten easier over time, but there are still days that I feel I can't move forward and I can't go back.

I too, always tap danced on the heart of "god" hoping he'd find pleasure in my little performance so he'd love me. I tried so hard, but neither did I find solace in the scriptures or any reassuring love from "Him".

I was given up for adoption at birth and then rejected terribly by my adoptive family. My husband abandoned me and our children and I have had abandonment issues my entire life. I had hoped that god would love me infinitely more and that beneath his wings, I would find peace, but none such existed for me, and like you, I always felt that I was just getting in by the skin of my teeth.

Human beings need to feel validated, not continually reminded of their shortcommings and failures, but Christianity offers no such validation and instead of loving affirmation, reminds us sinners daily and on every fucking page of its "sacred" text that we are nothing but dirt and that our righteousness is as filty rags - our efforts in vain, our little dance, a vain attempt for our Father's approval, because our big brother Jesus is always outshining us, while we stand in the shadows looking on hoping that one day our Father will look at us with that same gleam in his eye. WTF! No more!

Then we find out it's all a lie, that there is no blood-thirsty, controlling, hateful, accusing, and demanding, god requiring anything of us, but instead of us realising our freedom, we stay shackled to the fear of a place called a 'Hell' and a thing called 'wrath'. Haven't we suffered from fear and self-loathing enough? Haven't we punished ourselves enough? What punishment can this "god" inflict on us that we haven't inflicted on ourselves?

I don't know about you anonymous poster, but I'm sick and tired of being afraid of the non-existent boogey monster. I'd like to open my closet without feeling he's going to jump out of it, so that's what I will do every day. I will get up the nerve to go to the closet until I forget that I was ever afraid of his loud "BOO!" in the first place.

The more I stare at the Heavens, the more I learn of the Universe and the world around me, the further away I move from fear and the closer I get to the divine. Replace your fear of a fictitious god with an insatiable curiosity and an unquenchable thirst for knowledge. Make every breath count for this life may be all we have. Learn all you can while you're hear, love with all you have, laugh until your gut hurts.

All the best to you and your family

Bob said...

Thank you for sharing your painful story.

You said "That God himself is saying: "I agree with you. They get me so wrong! I am the one you can depend on. I am everything and so much more." But that would just be making God in my own image wouldn't it? And that, I remember, is a big no-no. God is the same today, yesterday and forever ..."

I have concluded reluctantly that humans HAVE made God in their own image. God has been born in our imagination and this image has been molded by ignorance and fear.

I look at the many confusing and conflicting "God" concepts in our world and have finally concluded:

If there is a God, he/she/it is at best a disinterested observer. I have been unable to find genuine evidence of any involvement in humankind's fate.

We can find people who will readily give you anecdotal evidence of God's intervention in their or other's lives. But ask for evidence and they can provide none. These folks will revert to "faith" statements and all sorts of apologetic machinations to justify their belief and why you should join them.

I am recovering from a lifelong involvement in Xianity. I now see it as a very sad and erroneous belief system.

I'm no therapist, but I can empathize with your feelings of loss. We have been used, abused and betrayed because of our "blind" faith in Xianity.

I hope you have better times as you work through your changes.

for truth, Bob G.

Lorena said...

Keep writing and you'll figure it out. When you least expect it, you will reach the point of knowing what to do with your life--or what to believe.

The mistake some of us make is that we feel we must know NOW. Instead of living, enjoying ourselves, and letting life happen, we want a Christian-like, black-or-white answer immediately.

Learning to live without answers and enjoying ourselves regardless is the best way to go. The answers always come to us, eventually.

jfraysse said...

Please don’t be so hard on yourself as you have LOTS of company, Brother! All of us who have had a “god” in of lives have made them in our image, that is, perceived them as having certain attributes such as loving, kind, forgiving, generous, protective and just. But most, if not all, of these things were taught to us by someone in authority over us or by someone we respected.

When you got to the point in your life where you began to question and research Christianity’s Claims and Dogmas, the religion fell like a house of cards. Be thankful for your new found understanding and press on with the “blessed” life you seem to have. I agree with Ryan Scott completely (and others too).

The transition phase that you are going through is kinda like divorce as it takes time to let the other “person” go, in this case, the “God” of Christianity. It takes time to allow the healing to begin. BTW, if you still find it comforting to do “church stuff”, you might want to continue with it until you become “fed up”. Nobody can tell you when you should let it all go – only you can be the judge of that.

Welcome! I wish you and your family Wisdom, Success and Peace on your Journey.

Your Brother in Unbelief, John

freethinker05 said...

Hey there, I think most of us here know what you are going through. I,m like nvrgoinbk, in the way she explained by saying, [paraphrasing], Sometimes I feel like I can't move forward, and I can't go back. I like that. I shit you not; when I started seeing the turth I wanted to stop searching, because I was eating valium like candy, trying to control the effects of seeing my faith in god starting to vanish, but I had to know the truth. I have gotten better in these last few months, and truly I can say that, I don't fear death anymore, just only the way I might go. Hang in there! Peace, Roger

Kat said...

"I'm an anti-theist. It would be horrible if it were true that we were designed and then created and then continuously supervised throughout all our lives waking and sleeping and then continue to be supervised after our deaths -- if that were true, it would be horrible. I'm very glad there's absolutely no evidnece for it at all. It would be like living in a celestial North Korea. You can't defect from North Korea but at least you can die. With monotheism they won't let you die and get away from them. It's the wish to be a slave. Who wants that to be true?"
--Christopher Hitchens

Not my quote, but that pretty much sums up my own feelings.

You'll be okay. As time goes by more of more of what you're finding scary now will look kind of silly in retrospect. It gets much, much better.

eel_shepherd said...

The topic poster wrote:
"...At times during the last few months I have thought that this battle has been contrived by me, or the 'victory' back to God resisted, to justify a life of sin..."

Been committing a lot more sins lately, have you? Or planning to commit a bunch?

Didn't think so.

Paotie said...

Great article. Goes to show the depths that religion plays with people's emotions and perspectives. Amazing that the harshest critics of Christianity tends to be those who are well-educated within, by and from Christian organizations/churches.

It is painful to grow up all your life believing something and then one day, realizing that it might not have been what you thought it was all along.

Great story.

Also, I don't want to take away from anyone, but I found this website yesterday by accident (through Technorati). If I'd known about this website, I would've responded to my own article, so I apologize.

And, by the way, after some disagreement with my previous blogging site, I've moved on from them (I'm tired of content editors).

Paotie's new address is: here.

Happy readings, and thank you for the kind words and support for the previous article.

:o)


Paotie

Ellytoad said...

Personally, when I lost my belief in the Biblical God, I felt such relief and happiness that I was practically floating on the inside. But everyone's different, I guess. :)

But I can't pretend I don't feel a little sad now and then. Being a Christian was really fun while it lasted. But it didn't stay that way, and I have to remind myself that it is only the good memories that I am missing. The constant fear of Hell, as well as feeling like God didn't really love me, can go to, well, Hell.

Oh, what freedom!

Woodchip said...

Hey there all

I posted the story above and, as I said in it, it's the first time I've done something like that. Not really proficient yet on the whole blogging thing. Anyway, thanks for the comments and support. Feels kind of weird seeing your 'stuff' in the public domain and being responded to by people on the other side of the world (I live in Oz). As I said in my story, its people who inspire me with their warmth and support: evidenced clearly in your comments. Now if only God was able to post a comment.

Woodchip said...

Found this statistic recently:

Deaths in the Bible. God - 2,270,365 not including the victims of Noah's flood, Sodom and Gomorrah, or the many plagues, famines, fiery serpents, etc because no specific numbers were given. Satan - 10.

And Satan is the enemy?!

Paotie said...

Woodchip ..

Thanks for teaching me something I learned today. I've studied the Bible as much as anyone and never considered that aspect.

:o)

Paotie

Richard said...

Congratulations on your successful life. I can only aspire to reach it through hard work and a dash of luck.

I'm sorry about your loss and the crisis you are in. A simple way to alleviate some of the internal turmoil you have is to put things in perspective (at least this works for me). Your size compared to the city you are in, to the Earth, the Sun... Your problems among the 6 billion other people with their problems. Your life span compared to the 4.5 billion age of the Earth. When I do this I feel that all these problems I face are not that important and so I can focus on the positive. Family, friends and doing something I like are my personal tiny world where I can be happy.

Anonymous said...

I'm not the advice-giving type, I just want to say I admire you for stepping out and writing your story for the first time. You're not alone, we have all been there.It makes perfect sense to grieve when you've lost something that was so important to you. Life will go on and it won't always hurt this much.

Anonymous said...

"Sucessful professional..." etc.

Even with all that, its not enough for you, eh?

Gotta blame God somehow.

You sound like a self aborbed jerk.

Woodchip said...

Anonymous 2 said:

'Gotta blame God somehow.'

Your comment is paradoxical, contradictory and non-sensical anonymous 2 (can you not at least 'name' yourself). One would think that indeed that would be enough. Isn't that the point? What's self-absorbed about searching for something beyond the obvious, the material, the corporeal? Isn't that what Xians do? And what precisely am I blaming God for? Did you even bother to read the post? Am I blaming God for all those things I have? Blaming him for my job, my wife, my kids? Shouldn't your post reflect my need to be thanking him? I'm not blaming God for a damn thing mate. I'd never dare. By the way,I can't 'sound' like anything via the written word. I can only 'seem'. Thanks for chiming in with a little bit of bile. You're probably a Xian tho', so I forgive you. Imagine that.

notabarbie said...

Woodchip's response to Anony. 2--beautiful!

Anonymous said...

I relate to your confusion and pain. Just a word of caution, those that you know that are still christians may not be very tolerant of your doubts.

I'm still a closet atheist except to my spouse.

I recently checked out Dan Barker's book "Losing Faith in Faith". I definitely recommend it.

You are not alone. There are others out there that have puzzled over the same questions and complications that you are currently.

Atheists can be caring, compassionate, empathetic, and we don't have to deal with all the cognitive dissonance of trying to reconcile a belief system with so many inconsitencies and contradictions.

I post anonymous because I don't want my family to have to deal with the fallout.

.:webmaster:. said...

Anonymous,

You can click the "other" radio button and type in a pseudonym. In You'll still be anonymous, but by having a moniker, it facilitates conversation.

Just a suggestion.

Jim said...

You have courage, my friend! Far too many are able to elude their own doubts, but you are facing them, and that is a good thing. I did it too, about 10 years ago, and I view it now as the greatest decision in my life. You will too, I hope.

If you need to talk to someone, please feel free to contact me. jim (at) etchison (dot) com

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