Spirit in the sky

Sent in by Sharon

I remember a day in 2000 when my children were still living at home. My de-conversion had already begun, I think. I was getting into their contemporary music, both Christian and “secular,” as it was called. I was going to a church where I felt more free, dancing was part of the worship service, and now I was dancing at home to anything.

On this particular day, I was dancing to a song on a CD belonging to my 16-year-old daughter called “Spirit In The Sky.” I don’t know if it was a “secular” or a Christian artist.

That song made my heart soar, and I didn’t know why. Maybe it was just because I was feeling more and more like flying those days, as I was beginning to loose myself from the restraints of Christianity.

One of my two daughters saw me dancing and ran to get her sister, yelling, “Come look at Mommy! You’ve got to see this!” My other daughter came and saw and both yelled, “Go, Mommy!” and started dancing with me.

I still love that song and dance to it today.

Both of my daughters are out of my life now. One says she has disowned me permanently, and the other says she is just taking some time off from our relationship. They both are devoted Christians, just as I, regrettably, raised them to be. And they both seem to blame me for family traumas that resulted from the heavy negative influence of Christianity on my life and on my parenting style.

But the memory of dancing to “Spirit In The Sky” with them that day brings me great joy. That song unleashed a spirit of irreverence that is still alive and thriving in my heart today. As I dance, I sing ever-so-sarcastically, “I never been a sinner, never sinned, I got a friend in Jesus!”

Tongue-in-cheek humor has been such a therapeutic companion in this whole deconversion process of mine.

18 comments:

AtheistToothFairy said...

Sharon,

Quite a touching personal story, I must say.
I am very sorry that your de-conversion caused such a rift between you and both your daughters.

I am curious to know more about this line....
"And they both seem to blame me for family traumas that resulted from the heavy negative influence of Christianity on my life and on my parenting style"

I can read this line with more than one meaning I guess.
What do you mean here by 'negative influence'?
Can you expand on this for us please?

If trauma resulted because of your xtian methods of bringing your daughters up, and they blame you somehow for this "parenting style", then I'm quite surprised they are both devout xtians today.

How do you think they reconcile their own Christianity beliefs with what they disagree with, in your own Christian parenting style you obviously used to raise them with?

If I'm being too curious here about your personal life, then just say so.

I do find it quite interesting however, that your daughters blame your xtian style of bringing them up, then push you out of their lives because you do an about-face and turn your back on those xtian beliefs.
Gosh, one would think if they hated your style so much, they would be happy you had a change of heart about your xtian ways.
Is this a matter of having your cake and eating it to, for them?


ATF (who also loves that spirit song)

Caleb said...

Sharon,
Your post made my heart sink. My sons are four and six. The other day my four year old started telling me how Jesus was God and He lived up in the sky. I remember teaching them both this fairy tale when I was a devout xtian. Since my deconversion, I didn't think they noticed how we just don't do religious things anymore. That was until he started talking about this. I couldn't really think of any reaction, but to ask him, "well how do you know that son?" Of course he couldn't really respond to that, cause he is only four, but it really made me think. You know all five of his grandparents are xtian, and the rest of both sides of our families too. We all (myself included) brainwashed them both to believe the xtian stuff since birth. Of course I want to reverse all of that now by encouraging free-thought, but it makes me wonder how it will affect their thinking and our relationship as they get older.

Anonymous said...

just curious caleb how is it possible to have 5 grandparents???

Ricky said...

To Sharon: I felt horrible reading your post. I can't imagine how it must be for your children to not want to see you anymore. Maybe it will take some time, but they might someday see their mistake...just like you eventually did.

To Caleb: You have your chance now and only now. As we can see with Sharon's story, there is only a tiny window when kids are young to set out the truth for them. If you just keep silent and don't tell them the truth, then the same thing could happen, as what happened to Sharon's kids. One thing is to - just one year - ask them if they think that Santa is real. Then, on Christmas morning, don't have ANY presents for them. Say that Santa is make-believe like God (and explain why) and then go out shopping together so that your kid can get what he wants. It might seem cruel, but it would only be one day (and with a later reward) and it would prove something to your kid. I know that I can still remember some truly unique experiences from my childhood when I learned a very important lesson. These lessons stay with me to this day.

Anonymous said...

Hi Sharon,

Thank you for your post. I, too, am hurt, as I just "came out" to my sister last night.

After 2.5 years of having left the faith, finally my family will know that I've rejected the bible, its Jesus, and its God.

In a way, I am glad that I already didn't have a great relationship with them. But I am sure that any improvements are now out of the question.

It is still very sad, however, that, in this day and age, one still has to give up family and friends when leaving religion.

It really is sad!

Laughing Buddha said...

The brilliantly ironic thing about that song is that the original version of the song was written by hippies who had been "evangelized" by some well-meaning xtians in the early 70s. These guys basically took what they (rightly) thought were some pollyanna fairytale ideas about Jesus in the sky and wrote a cool tune about them. Millions of young, idealistic xtians back then were so hungry for culturally-relevant images, words and music to augment their bold, new faith that they all went apeshit over the song and thought they were on the brink of a 'revival'.

It was all tongue-in-cheek; the writers were trying to express how liberating it is to have a good chuckle at those stupid theories about spirits in the sky. Enjoy it for what it is, and dance every time.

Just Me said...

Sharon, I don't envy your position, and what I can say, I can only say as a male without children.

Be who you are, and love yourself, the only honest love you can have from your daughters... is the love they give you for being who you really are - not what they believe you should be.

Your daughters have to grow to understand the difference between being in love with one's "ideal" of what "should be", and being in love with that "which is". Ideas are hard to hug.

Your daughters are where they feel they need to be. Some find a way to escape in their ideas, so that they can evade painful memories, but it comes with the cost of removing oneself from reality - to include family.

There is nothing wrong, with you loving yourself, and sharing your love with them. In such situations, it's best to listen to them, be silent and let them mentally work out their past so they can be free to live in the present.

I say this, as I have had a similar experience with my mother. Talk about dancing, she had the bandanna thing going through the sixties and beyond; played keyboards for Christian gospel rock groups from east coast to west, and introduced me to every temple and church imaginable - even the Krishna temples in CA (talk about never-ending dancing and chanting).

She is currently a performing pianist in Canada, I picked piano up at age six, and it’s our communication connection. Some talk to dads through sports, I talk to my mom through music.

It took me many years, to get past my childhood memories. There were some good memories, but highly overwhelmed by the negative ones.

I learned to accept, that we can only do with what we have... and at the end of the day, if we can say that we did the best with what we had - that was good enough - nobody is perfect. It took a long time to learn that the word “perfect” had no realistic application in life. I had to learn to forgive myself for not being perfect, before I was able to truly understand and release her from the unrealistic ideal I had come to expect.

Just be there for them, and listen, you don't have to have all the answers - you just have to care for them, while they figure out which questions are actually meaningful in their lives, and which ones aren't. Hope all works out. Take care.

Anonymous said...

I got chills reading this and the other comments.

I am surrounded by christianity on all sides. Everyone but my best friend is obsessed with the "old time religion."

My atheistic stance is not generally known. I can't imagine what would happen if it WERE known. Posts like this terrify me.

I have no kids, but my wife and I have talked about it. This is all scary and unjust. Families should not alienate their members for refusing to be mindless carbon copies.

Best wishes to Sharon and Caleb and everyone else in similar situations.

Jim Arvo said...

My comments here are mainly in response to Caleb:

As an atheist parent, I've made it a point to never disparage religion, especially in front of a child--mine or anyone else's. My wife and I even send our kids to a mildly religious private school (primarily because it's an outstanding school, but also to give them some exposure to religion). But from day one, I've challenged my kids to think things through, and to figure things out on their own. For example, I often weave tall stories and challenge them to catch me at it--to figure out what doesn't add up in the story and to call me on it. (This is a popular game in my house.) This has worked spectacularly well. As one side effect, the "Santa" myth was unceremoniously exploded early on (by age five, if memory serves). I'm also happy to report that religion has not found even the slightest toe-hold--at least not yet.

My son surprised me at age six with this conversation:

Son: "Who was Buddha?"

Me: "Good question. He was basically the founder of one of the world's major religions."

Son: "Is that all?"

Me: (somewhat surprised) "That's a pretty big thing, don't you think?"

Son: "No, not really." (long pause) "Do you have a religion?"

Me: "No, I don't. But lots of people do. How about you? Do you have a religion?"

Son: (laughing, as though I just told a great joke.) "No."

Another time, when we were playing twenty questions, the thing he had in mind was "god". I eventually guessed it, but the answers leading up to it were quite telling. One of my questions was "Is it real or imaginary?", which I learned to ask of my son early on, even before "Animal, vegetable, or mineral?" His answer was "Imaginary". He did not get that from me. What he has learned, however, is 1) not everything that people claim (even teachers and friends) is actually so, 2) he can figure out for himself what is real and what is not, and 3) he's perfectly entitled to probe any topic and to form his own opinions. Am I a proud daddy? You bet I am.

My point is this. I don't think it's necessary to orient children toward atheism. In fact, I'm personally dead set against it. From my (obviously limited) experience, it suffices to teach children to question and to think critically. Long ago I came to this realization: If my kid eventually became religious, I would have no problem with it provided he did not do so mindlessly. If he could articulate why he believed what he believed, and showed the same tenacious curiosity toward those beliefs as everything else, then I'd have every reason to be proud of him. But, in my opinion, those characteristics are precisely what leads most people out of religion, so the likelihood is that religious indoctrination will never take root to begin with.

Bottom line: Teach kids HOW to think, not WHAT to think. The latter will take care of itself; and in any case, it's THEIR decision.

Caleb said...

anony asked;
just curious caleb how is it possible to have 5 grandparents???

I was a throw-away as a child. I grew up in a boy's home, and then lived with a kinda surrogate family after that. I have also recently made ammends with my dad. So him plus my wife's parents plus the two adults that raised me after the boys home, makes 5. They are all just nana, poppa, nonny, papa, and grandpa to the boys anyway...

to Jim arvo;
I agree with your comment... thanks for sharing it. I've always felt that if I come off as level-headed about the whole thing, and never disparage my family's religion, the boys will see what is sound and reasonable. I hope I get the chance to respond as you did to your son's last question. That was perfect! I like Ricky's idea too, but my wife would never let me do it... lol!

Sharon said...

This is for Atheist Tooth Fairy. He asked me to expand on the statement: “They seem to blame me for family traumas that resulted from the heavy negative influence of Christianity on my life and on my parenting style.”

When my daughters were “ten” and “seven,” I married because Christianity taught me that marriage was an important life goal.

In the marriage, I tolerated physical, emotional, and verbal abuse from my husband, because Christianity taught me that I was not a worthwhile person in my own right. Our minister verified my small worth by reprimanding me for filing an incident report against my husband when he shoved me out of bed. Three years into the marriage, and three weeks after our son was born, my husband beat our son and left bruises all over his body. I discovered the bruises in the morning, while my husband was at work, and I drove him to the doctor. Unbelievably, my husband and I were allowed to take my son home from the hospital the next day. It happened again at eight weeks, and--again, unbelievably- we were allowed to take our home. For four days I agonized to myself about the prospect of placing my son in foster care for his protection. On day four, operating on autopilot, I made arrangements with the social worker, called my husband telling him to meet me at the social services office (ithout telling him what I was doing),packed my son, buckled him into his little car seat, and drove him to social services to surrender him there. All that concerned me in that moment was getting my son placed in a home where he could be protected from further physical abuse. Two weeks later, I got a restraining order on my husband and filed for a divorce. (Over a period of one year I was railroaded by social services and lost my son permanently. I last saw him when he was thirteen-months-old.)

Over the next few years, my daughters followed in their stepfather’s footsteps of abuse by physically and verbally abusing me—first the older daughter, then the younger. For my own protection I placed them in the homes of friends at ages “sixteen” and “seventeen” respectively. Both daughters, believing me to have deserted them and to have failed to love them unconditionally, have since chosen to alienate themselves from me—the younger one indefinitely, and the older one permanently. Both are devout Christians, just as I regrettably raised them to be. To clarify my statement: I think my daughters blame me for the traumas they sustained from witnessing domestic violence, but I don't think they view Christianity as a cause.

AtheistToothFairy said...

Sharon wrote: "This is for Atheist Tooth Fairy. He asked me to expand on the statement: “They seem to blame me for family traumas that resulted from the heavy negative influence of Christianity on my life and on my parenting style.”"
-----
Hi Sharon,

Thanks for replying to my request to know more of your family situation.

>In the marriage, I tolerated physical, emotional, and verbal abuse from my husband, because Christianity taught me that I was not a worthwhile person in my own right. Our minister verified my small worth by reprimanding me for filing an incident report against my husband when he shoved me out of bed.

May I ask you which denomination of Christianity you had belonged to during this time element of your life?
Also, did you have any clues before you married him (in retrospect) as to these characteristics, or did they only show up later?


>Three years into the marriage, and three weeks after our son was born, my husband beat our son and left bruises all over his body. I discovered the bruises in the morning, while my husband was at work, and I drove him to the doctor. Unbelievably, my husband and I were allowed to take my son home from the hospital the next day.

I don't know what year this happened, but in today's society (at least where I live), they wouldn't have let that baby go home without some serious inquiry etc..


> It happened again at eight weeks, and--again, unbelievably- we were allowed to take our home. For four days I agonized to myself about the prospect of placing my son in foster care for his protection.

What possible excuse could he make for BEATING a baby, not once, but twice, in such a manner?

>..... All that concerned me in that moment was getting my son placed in a home where he could be protected from further physical abuse. Two weeks later, I got a restraining order on my husband and filed for a divorce. (Over a period of one year I was railroaded by social services and lost my son permanently. I last saw him when he was thirteen-months-old.)

Now this sounds beyond incredible to me.
What factors would ever convince the legal system to take away your son.... unless you mean they needed to remove your son from your husband's presence and he was still with you during this time?


>Over the next few years, my daughters followed in their stepfather’s footsteps of abuse by physically and verbally abusing me—first the older daughter, then the younger.

This is probably more common than most folks let on about, especially with teenagers.

> For my own protection I placed them in the homes of friends at ages “sixteen” and “seventeen” respectively. Both daughters, believing me to have deserted them and to have failed to love them unconditionally, have since chosen to alienate themselves from me—the younger one indefinitely, and the older one permanently.

Did they not understand your reasons for having to remove them from your day-to-day existence at this point?
Couldn't they see that you were scared and they were mirroring their step father's abusive patterns?

Also, what is the difference between 'indefinitely' and 'permanently' ?
Sounds pretty much about the same to me in this case, as either daughter could still change their minds at any time, no?


>Both are devout Christians, just as I regrettably raised them to be. To clarify my statement: I think my daughters blame me for the traumas they sustained from witnessing domestic violence, but I don't think they view Christianity as a cause.

Now hold on a second here, shezz.
Your Ex-Husband abused you and they saw it happen, and some how this is now your fault...SAY WHAT.
Worse, they themselves were guilty of also abusing you, and yet they say they feel traumatized by witnessing your Ex abusing you?
What's wrong with this picture Sharon?

So, what did your daughters expect you to do when being abused by your ex Husband....

Run?
Fight back?
Take your lumps because you somehow deserved it from him?
Enjoy it?

What did they then expect from you, when they themselves were abusing you later on?

I'm trying to understand how they can call themselves Christians while treating their mother in such an abusive fashion.
Then they get all ticked-off when she looses her faith in a god who never picked up one finger to protect her from any of her abusers, and also let her son be removed from her; through no fault of her own.
Where do they think this god-being they still believe in, was during all these bad times?

This is surely more evidence against their being a sky god that watches over humans and answers their prayers, but most of all, fails to protect the innocent when they need it most!!

Sharon, I'm very sorry your life has run this horrible course.
I'm not sure how old your daughters are currently, but don't be surprised as they mature into adult women more, that one day they might finally understand the situations you were faced with, that left you little recourse in your actions.

Who knows, they might even come to see that their xtian god is all in their own minds and a light will come on that will explain to them why you no longer believe in such mystical beings.

BEST OF LUCK TO YOU!!!

Please take notice that I did NOT offer to say a prayer to god for you, as WE know it won't do any good, but I bet a few xtians reading this will certainly do exactly that now.


ATF (who is very surprised that no one else commented on this part of her story)

Anonymous said...

"Your gonna burn in hell..." That song by Twisted Sister in the late eighties touched me, and it should touch you too...

Sharon H. said...

Thank you, Atheist Tooth Fairy, for your reply. Let me attempt to answer your questions.
I belonged to the Southern Baptist denomination at the time. The minister who told me I shouldn’t have called the sheriff was a Southern Baptist. As far as clues that my Ex was abusive, yes there were clues. But I had little reason to pay attention to those clues, since Christianity had convinced me by then that marriage was an important life goal and that I was not a worthwhile person in my own right.
Concerning the hospital’s allowing us to take our son home, this really happened. But it was not the fault of the hospital. The fault belonged to social services. The second time he was sent home, social services was to blame again.This was only ten years ago, ATF, and it happened in the wonderful state of Georgia.
My Ex never gave an excuse for beating my son, and he never apologized to me.
When I say I was “railroaded” by social services and lost my son permanently, I mean that they allowed me to sign papers surrendering my parental rights just two days after my being released from a voluntary psychiatric hospital stay.
Thanks for the comment that abuse by children is “far more common than folks let on about.” I do feel very alone in this.
I was very clear to both my daughters as to the reasons I made them leave home. Yes, I believe my oldest daughter could see that I was scared but it didn’t seem to make much difference to her. She would only get more abusive when confronted. I don’t know if my youngest daughter could see my fear. And I’m sure neither of them could see that they were “mirroring their stepfather’s patterns,” as you said.
You are right—both daughters could change their minds about seeing me in the future. And “indefinitely” and “permanently” do sound very much the same. But my youngest daughter wrote me a letter recently and gave me reason to hope that she would be willing to see me in the future.
Concerning my statement, “They seem to blame me for family traumas that resulted from the heavy negative influence of Christianity on my life and on my parenting style.” I think I tried to pack too much information into one statement. My daughters are just plain abusive, I guess, and blame me for just about everything, regardless of my fault or innocence. The traumas of losing their baby brother and of having a complete asshole for a stepfather would not have happened if not for the controlling influence of Christianity on my life, because I wouldn’t have married the asshole in the first place. And here is what I’m really trying to say. I blame Christianity for the traumas that happened to us as a family. I guess I was just trying to analyze—maybe even justify—my daughters’ abuse of me by finding rhyme or reason for it. Also, because I love my daughters, admitting they were without excuse for abusing me is the hardest thing in the world. But here it is, in black and white. My daughters are just plain abusive.
And you were saying, “Your ex-husband abused you and they saw it happen, and some how this is now your fault…SAY WHAT. Worse, they themselves were guilty of also abusing you, and yet they say they feel traumatized by witnessing your Ex abusing you? What’s wrong with this picture Sharon?”
Here’s the thing of it. They never saw the physical abuse but they witnessed the emotional and verbal abuse. He involved them in the emotional and verbal abuse. He would say to them, referring to me patronizingly, “Now we have to take care of Mommy, because she is not well,” referring to my depressive symptoms which he caused himself.
And you said, “What did they they expect from you, when they themselves were abusing you later on?” Well, I guess they were not surprised when I didn't fight back, but very surprised when I acquired the courage to throw them out!
Thanks, Atheist Tooth Fairy. Your comments and questions operated as a springboard for some very helpful soul searching.

Sharon (Writer of Spirit In The Sky Testimony) said...

My Ex-Christian.Net member name is "girlfound" if anyone wants to contact me.

AtheistToothFairy said...

Sharon (Writer of Spirit In The Sky Testimony) said...
My Ex-Christian.Net member name is "girlfound"
--
Sharon,
Can you explain how to access this contact info of yours. I see no way to do this.

ATF

.:webmaster:. said...

ATF, that's her nick in the forums at ex-Christian.net. (Notice the hyphen.)

Sharon said...

I feel so lost on this website. How do I learn to make my way around on it?

Archived Testimonial Pageviews the past 30 days