Leaving Religion – MOVED – www.leavingreligion.com

Finding my own way…

Commitment to Future Husband

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So, I found my old NIV Bible (that cost around $100, by the way… ), and in it, I found some old pieces of paper that I had written various notes on.  One is a note that we were told to write in a Bible Study.  It was a ‘Commitment note’ that you were to write to your future spouse.  Well… this note is pretty funny, because I remember writing it and reading it aloud… and I remember adding a side note after I read it, that was for me.  Here it is in its entirety:

As a commitment to my future husband, I will always be there for you… to talk to, cry with, and I will always listen to what you have to say.  I will follow where you lead me and will always stay strong in my walk with God so that we may both grow in God and have God as the center of our marriage.  I promise to do what God leads us to do even if it is not exactly what I planned.  If we have children, I promise to let you be the leader of our family and will help in raising those children along with you in a Christian home filled with love and compassion.  I will work to make our family feel comfortable talking to one another.

This was what I read to the group… god I remember this like it was yesterday… and it was at least 14 years ago.  I was in college, and had started some questionning, but was still working so hard to fit in and make it happen.  So I read this letter, that I didn’t really believe, especially the part that is basically me saying I’d submit to my husband.

After I read the above, I wrote this side note to myself:

I will also have my own opinions because I feel that every person should have their own mind.

It makes me laugh now.  But that time of my life was excruciatingly painful.  I wanted so badly to really believe Christianity.  I wanted to be in that group… be a strong believer… be loved by Jesus/God.  So I wrote and said things that were expected, that got good responses.  But ultimately, I couldn’t keep this up, and I finally let go.  The more I opened my mind, studied, and even tried to believe, the more I realized I didn’t believe, and that I wasn’t going to change my mind about this.

When I find old notes like this, it’s always so strange… because I know I wrote it, but I don’t know that person anymore.  I can’t believe I ever felt that way, and even faked feeling that way.  I had to grieve the loss of this person and the faith that this person had… and I did.

As I find more of my old notes and writings, I’ll share them here.  I think I destroyed most of the evidence, but there are still a few pieces out there.

Any old notes/writings you’ve found from your past?

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June 11, 2009 Posted by | Christianity, Identity, Leaving Religion, Woman | , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Guilt… my god… the guilt!

During my high school years, and even early college, I hung on to my religion and church tightly. I did everything they asked of me and more. I was the poster child for what a person should do to gain entry into heaven, and more importantly, gain acceptance by church going peers. I could not be in the building too much, couldn’t be singing loud enough or evangelizing enough. As I went off to college, I found a group very quickly. Then, as years passed and I became more aware of my true feelings, I came to the realization that much, if not all, of my deeds were to keep me going. To not allow one single moment of actual introspection. To not allow myself to think what I really thought. For if I did, even for a second, I would be overcome with so much guilt it would practically suffocate me.

Guilt is perhaps one of the worst feelings I’ve had. I put it right up there with grief, and believe me, I’ve felt both as strongly as a person can feel them. Guilt will ruin your body and your mind faster than any nonsensical diet. It will mess with emotions you never knew you had, and will cling to you like the darkness clings to other side of the moon. It will not let go. It will not stop at anything. It has taken me 13 years to get to where I am, able to think and feel things without feeling paralyzed by guilt. Fear of hell, fear that I will never fit in or be loved. My husband plays a very large part in this recovery, and I owe him my life for it. While I had been letting go of my belief structure years before I met him… it wasn’t until I met someone I trusted deeply, that I was able to let myself truly separate from my religious beliefs completely. Let myself feel the guilt, deal with the guilt and let go of the guilt.

Now, I am not completely cured (I really do compare having this type of guilt to that of being an addict… guilt is addicting and plays a significant role in religion). I may never be completely cured. But, I am now at a place where I recognize it, deal with it head on when it strikes, and I beat it instead of it beating me. It is a great place to be, and I feel lighter than I ever have. It is a strange feeling to just… not… believe. Not… have… guilt… all… the… time. And by strange, I mean great!

May 29, 2009 Posted by | Identity, Leaving Religion | 3 Comments

Re-inspired to Write

I know I’ve taken a bit of a hiatus.  I am back, and ready to write more frequently.  I just stumbled upon a blog, Unreasonable Faith, and have enjoyed scratching the surface of it.  The person writing it has a very similar background as mine, and it is a refreshing blog that has well thought out writings.  It’s like reading a copy of ‘Skeptic’ that is solely focused on questioning all that religion has taught him.

One of my favorite posts on the site is about interpretting what a Christian is saying and what an acceptable and unacceptable response is.  I have said, and heard, every single one of these phrases.  One of my favorites is asking people for prayer requests.  Even when I was knee deep in my church going ways, I always viewed this as a strange ritual that I always felt served as the ‘church tabloid’.  I always hated coming up with a prayer request and would usually come up with some mundane request.

I look forward to exploring the path of leaving religion and the church behind.  It’s a path I’ll always be on, and one that still has it’s rocky times (the guilt is something that still creeps up frequently).

I will question, point out things that drive me crazy about the world I left behind, and will explore the real emotion that I and others have about leaving behind something that was such a big part of life at one time.

I hope you will join me for the ride and will interact with I and others who visit.

May 13, 2009 Posted by | Identity, Leaving Religion | , | 1 Comment

Socializing

Something that I knew I would miss about going to church was the social aspect.  I grew up in it, I had friends in it and I really considered it my second home.  Once I left it, I did lose friends.  I would say most of them were lost becuase we didn’t have church in common.  Once that commonality is lost, there doesn’t seem to be a reason to hang out, because of course, there is nothing to talk about if it’s not about church or how God is working in our lives.  I came to accept this… as friends come and go for many reasons.

In all honesty… I’ve never found a group that was as tight as the one I had at the church.  One that pulled you in tightly because of one thing, a belief.  One that held on so tight that they would make you feel that no decision could be made without them right there, praying, listening or questioning.  One that eventually held me so tight, they caused me to flee through the cracks.

I always felt so fake at church.  Like I had to be happy all of the time, accept everyone, and take everyone into my circle.  I never understood why people around me trusted people just because they said they were a Christian.  I could never do that… I tried… thought that if I faked it enough I’d like everyone and want everyone to be my friend.  But, I never got that feeling, no matter how much I prayed for it to happen.

Yes, my social life is much different now, but I would argue that it is much more real now.  I hang out with people because I truly like them, not because of some belief.  I do things with people I really truly enjoy being with.  It’s different, but it’s good!

September 17, 2008 Posted by | Identity, Leaving Religion | | Leave a comment

How To Handle Reconnecting

With the advent of Facebook, LinkedIn, MySpace and other online networking devices we are able to find and be found by people from our past. Overall this is great, but it can become awkward when people from my past are still on the church path that I left years ago.

There doesn’t seem to be a good way to bring it up. People generally respond with a non response, which is fine. Some ask what I believe now, and when I say nothing in paticular they don’t usually know what to say. Usually this is when I hear about everything God is doing in their life and how blessed they are. They usually throw in something that is negative or bad in their life that God is really working on.

For some reason a lot of Christians think there must be negatives around them for God to help them. I used to be like this too. I would consider it a test from God. Something He was teaching me. Now I just see this as one more way to justify the bad things that happen. It’s never allowed to be coincidence. I’m much happier now… Now that I no longer cling to the negative in my life as something that is coming from some guy in the sky that is just there to test me.

Anyway, back to the original topic. How do you explain your change in belief when an old friend comes back in contact (who still believes)?

September 11, 2008 Posted by | Identity, Leaving Religion | , | Leave a comment

What Am i?

When I was a Christian I had a clear identity that was tied to a group. One that I held onto very tightly. It was easy in some ways because saying “I’m a Christian” generally gave a starting place.

Now when people ask about beliefs or philosophies I don’t have a solid answer. For years after deciding to leave Christianity behind I did nothing in terms of soul searching or philosophizing. I just wanted to be, wanted my Sundays back. Ahhhh, Sundays are my favorite day now.

Recently I started looking more closely at philosophies and beliefs and still have no real ‘spirirual’ identity. I love science and believe it shows us how amazing the world is. But I also believe the world is made up of more than that. Whether it’s an energy we all share and can tap into or is something inside our own being that can bring us ultimate comfort and peace. Or maybe even a mixture of both of these ideas. So, I’m reading, listening and learning all sorts of things.

The one constant in what I am starting to believe is that it is up to me. I have the power to make my life better and to give something to the world to make it a better place. I also know that whatever I come to believe, it will not be built up on a foundation of not being good enough. I’ve had enough of that and the guilt that comes with it for a lifetime.

September 5, 2008 Posted by | Identity, Leaving Religion | , | Leave a comment