My parents were saved before I was born, and can be labeled religious fanatics! To their credit, they have been consistent in their beliefs for more than 50 years, and as far as I know, their only sins are little ones … but let me start at the beginning.
My first church attendance was at the age of 2 weeks, the first of too many to count. At the age of 16, I went with my parents to the mission field, and ended up staying overseas for 29 years, working in the secular world and raising my children. This whole time I was heavily involved in music at church, Bible studies, etc. and my parents were pursuing their missionary career.
I always dreaded the prayer meetings when everyone was expected to pray around the room. I don’t think I ever prayed for God’s benefit. Not a public speaker, I was more concerned on my presentation to those around, and would think of what to say until it became my turn. And if somebody before me prayed about my chosen subject, I panicked!
I always wondered why I didn’t feel on the inside like I was presenting on the outside. I didn’t love Jesus with all my heart, although I tried and wondered how to make it happen. I didn’t pray without ceasing, or meditate on the Bible, although I have memorized countless verses (KJV). I often had doubts, like how could God send all those unenlightened people to hell because they had never heard of Jesus, and how the contradictions of the Bible were explained. And which parts to take literally (which was almost everything, except those parts that could not be explained, which were obviously meant to be taken figuratively). I often thought that I would probably be a Muslim or Jew if I had been born in the Middle East. My brother and sisters are also missionaries, and I felt like I was missing something because I never received the “call”. Incidentally, they always had more material things than I had, but I put that down to God providing for them.
January 2006 back in America – As a single mother I had taken on yet another parttime job to make life easier. I let my Sunday School teacher know that I would be working short term on Sunday mornings and would miss Sunday School for several weeks, but would make it to the worship service. His reply astounded me. He pointed out that (a) I was aiding and abetting people by providing a service during church time, (he went out to eat after church every week – how about the servers in the restaurants that had to skip church to prepare his food?); (b) my heart would not be in the proper mode for worship after having to work right before church (how could he judge the condition of my heart – or who knew if even the minister may have had a knock-down, drag out fight with his wife right before church but manage to put on a happy face in time to preach?); (c) I was giving a poor role my daughter because it was teaching her she didn’t have to go to church if she didn’t feel like it (I don’t remember a verse stating that church attendance was mandatory); (d) If I worked on Sundays, which day had I chosen as my Sabbath to rest; and (e) there must be something deeper inside that I would make such a decision. (No offer to help a struggling single mother, who gave a lot of time and effort to the church in many ways).
I never returned to church there, and the minister told me that this deacon was only concerned about my wellbeing. Actually, I felt like a burden had been lifted off my shoulders. I didn’t have to “pretend” anymore, I didn’t have to try to believe the things that had always bothered me.
Over the last year and a half, I have started to reject all the teachings that have brainwashed me all these years. The fundamental, evangelicals are so narrow-minded and holier-than-thou and I was wrapped up in.
But I feel “superstitious” like I will be struck down (remember Ananias and Sapphira?) for thinking such thoughts. But as time goes by, I am feeling more comfortable with my new thought patterns. I am happy and free … so what is the truth that will set me free? Not the illusive standards that I had been futilely trying to grasp for years.
Then I began to date a Catholic man and now we are ready to marry. But I have to tell my mother, and although I am 55 years old, I dread telling her, because this will be worse than heresy. She does not know my true feelings of being an ex-Christian.
Finding this site has been an eye-opener for me because I don’t feel so alone now. I’m scared to vocalize my feelings to my family because it will break the charm and bring shame upon the family who are pinnacles of the spiritual community, both here and overseas.
Advice from those of you who have gone before is welcome.
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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)