I have been reading stories on this website for about the last month or so and have found immense comfort in the words of people with similar experiences. I have a story to share:
I have spent the last year and a half in the worst depression of my life because of my spontaneous loss of faith. I was raised in a church and joined a pretty liberal one in Seattle -- a church with a strong commitment to social justice and no focus on judgment and sin. I felt like I was in a pretty good place, but even there I'd had ups and downs of not "feeling" god, or having doubts. Fortunately, I wasn't brainwashed in any of the crazy fundamentalist communities I know exist, but I was encouraged to embrace questions, and in a post-modern fashion, critically evaluate Christianity.
So when this current catastrophe started -- feeling numb about God, questioning prayer/the bible, etc. -- I wasn't too worried, because I didn't feel ashamed about these thoughts. I continued to engage the thoughts, feeling very much in a paradox of wanting to remain with this Christian community I loved and with a god I loved, but completely disgusted with the Christian culture and the absurdity of faith. My mentor told me that she questions Christianity almost every day, even though she is on staff with the church. She says she pretty much stays in because the idea of there being "nothing" was so much more disturbing than the kind of god that Christians had invented. (This admission from a pastor!) But even with all of this support and acceptance of my doubts, the doubts continued to burn in me -- to the point where I was getting high to escape the horrible free-falling feeling and utter loss of identity that was swirling in my head. I couldn't shake the feeling that this faith was all a huge lie that people buy into to invent some kind of meaning be where they want it to be -- to feel comfort. But that it was all complete bullshit.
I became so angry at the people around me for believing what they did. That is mostly what has characterized my chucking of the faith-- intense anger that I don't want, but don't have a way out of. I feel like having participated in this huge delusion my whole life, and giving everything I had to it, is just cause to be angry. I left the community for awhile, but was extremely depressed, feeling life my life had been shredded apart, that the foundation that I had been told was "rock solid" had up and dissolved under me. I went back to this church for awhile earlier this fall, because I thought maybe my mentor was right -- that there wasn't anything "better" than Christianity. So, I thought I might as well suck it up and try to reconcile this relationship I had with god -- who I also felt/feel a bizarre paradox of believing in, but really not, at the same time.
It worked for a while to just try to enjoy my friends in the community, but the questions just started getting more intense in my head. What the fuck god was doing while people are suffering? Where the fuck god was when I was suffering trying to believe in him again? But I got nothing, and like I said, constantly had to get high to relieve the anger and depression. I decided that even if there was nothing better, I couldn't remain around a god that wouldn't rescue me, or relieve the insane magnitude of suffering around the world. What the fuck is he waiting for to "redeem" everything? It just seems so cruel to hang that possibility over people's heads -- that god can save people from their shitty situations, but for whatever reason "We don't get to know..." (or some bullshit about timing) . All I know is that he's not doing enough for me to stick around.
I would make up my mind to leave, but once I did, for about a week or even less, my rage would calm down a little, and these questions would end up not seeming like such a big deal. This started an emotional-frying cycle of addiction to the idea of "fixing" my faith- or working things out enough so I could still function in the church. It was back and forth for so long, always leaving me an emotional wreck. But about a month ago, I think something changed, somehow, and I really feel like I won't go back. It was such a self-destructive process and it's scary to think about how much power I gave to this idea of god that was sold to me.
This was all pretty recent. I still meet with my mentor because she is a huge part of my life, and is the one who basically told me to finally leave. She understood where I was coming from and sees that all of these raging questions and doubts are seriously getting in the way of my own wellness. It was really hard, once again, facing this new journey into territory I have no idea about, but in the last couple of weeks, my emotions have evened out a little (partially from better medication...), and I'm starting to feel like I can press on without Christianity. I can't believe how dependent that shit makes you. I am going to make sure I never get that addicted to something again. It scares me to think about how empty and hopeless I felt when my faith collapsed, and I wasn't even in a crazy horrible Right-Wing church. I can't imagine coming out of that. Props to those of you who have.
Thanks for reading this- I'd love to hear if people have had similar experiences emotionally, or any comments you have about my story.