Leaving Religion – MOVED – www.leavingreligion.com

Finding my own way…

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Please note that I will now be blogging over here:

http://leavingreligion.com
weve moved

June 12, 2009 Posted by | Leaving Religion, Sharing | , | Leave a comment

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?

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

Sunday Morning Thoughts

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I used to spend my Sundays getting up at 7AM and spending practically the entire day at church.  This was my schedule:

  • 7AM, get up
  • 8AM, leave the house
  • 8:30AM, attend Sunday Service
  • 9:30AM, break
  • 10:00AM, Sunday School
  • 11:00AM, break
  • 11;30AM, leadership meeting
  • 12:30PM, lunch with leadership group
  • 2:00PM, head home for a break, or hang with church people some more, perhaps even an informal prayer request time
  • 4:30PM, choir practice
  • 5:30PM, night church
  • 6:30PM, break
  • 7:00PM, Sunday night activity with church

Holy crap that’s a lot of stuff to do on what is supposed to be the day of rest.  This schedule was years ago, and yet I can remember it like it was yesterday.  All of it to prove something.  That I was a good Christian, that I was active in the church, that I really had Jesus in my heart and active in my life.

Here is my new Sunday schedule:

  • Get up when I want
  • Enjoy coffee, breakfast and the paper with my husband
  • Go for a walk with the dogs
  • Do whatever the hell I want, all day

I like the new schedule better.  It’s more relaxing, and more real.  No more trying to be the best church goer I could be.  You know what?  I think I actually celebrate the Sabbath more now than I ever did back in my church going days.  Imagine that, it took leaving the church and Christianity to actually have a day of rest.

June 7, 2009 Posted by | Christianity, Leaving Religion | , , , , | 2 Comments

Religion… Ridiculous… Religulous!

I know this movie has now been out for awhile, but I must write about it.  I saw it a few months ago, and seriously… it is not only funny, but thought provoking, and for me, at times, emotional.  Mainly emotional when he spoke to those in the Christian religion… why?  Becuase I used to be one of them, and I remember sounding just as crazy and out there as the people in this movie.  I. really. believed.  I would have said the same things the people in the movie say had I been confronted by Bill Maher when I was kneed deep in it.

Have any of you seen this movie?  Curious what your thoughts are

June 4, 2009 Posted by | Fun, Leaving Religion | , | 2 Comments

Want Gossip? Join a Prayer Chain…

Ahhh… tabloids.  Will John and Kate get divorced?  Will Britney fall apart?  Will Brad and Angelina make it?  Honestly, I don’t care, but it doesn’t mean I don’t check my People.com widget on my Google home page.

At church, there aren’t tabloids… but everyone knows how to hear the latest gossip.  Join a prayer chain, small group, choir… really… anything that forces people to have prayer requests.  This is the best gossip hour of the week for most people who attend churches.  You hear all kinds of things…

  • Pray for my marriage which is on the rocks right now
  • Pray for my neighbor who is having an affair and doesn’t know what to do
  • Pray for Susie’s son who is addicted to crack
  • Pray for John’s daughter who is 15 and pregnant
  • Pray for… *insert private, should not be shared with random people, information here*

Unbelievable the things that one can learn in ‘prayer circle.’  My favorite is that even when people are vague, everyone knows who they are talking about.  Or even worse, they don’t, but they think they do.  The other thing that I detest, is that people basically talk about other people (and tell some of their deep secrets) without the permission of this person.  But, it’s all in the name of prayer, so I guess it’s okay.

Personally, I’ve found that getting off my ass and doing something about whatever it is that I’m having issues with, generally has done more for me than sitting back and praying about it.  I’ve also found that giving my brain time to focus (mainly a silent moment to just think) generally gives me more clarity than any prayer time did… especially prayer done with 20 other people who really are just excited to hear about all of the problems in other peoples lives.  You know what else, I’ve found I’m a lot happier too.  You know why?  Because I’m no longer surrounding myself with ‘downer’ people who don’t seem to know how to actually DO anything more than whine when they have a problem.

June 3, 2009 Posted by | Leaving Religion, Sharing | , | 1 Comment

The Only Way? Really?

Ask any devout Christian if their way is the only way, and you will get a resounding, ‘yes!’  I used to say this.  Back when I was narcissistic enough to think that I had found the only way for a person to get to heaven.  The. only. way.  Today, that sounds so selfish and so uneducated, and so… well… so ridiculous.

The world has so many different belief structures, Christianity alone has hundreds, how can one possibly believe that their form of Christianity is the ONLY way?  This was one of the first questions I asked and truly let myself investigate.  It was this investigation that led me to believe that there is not one way, and in fact, there may be no way at all.

The more I studied and talked to people, the more I became convinced that I had been wrong all these years.  That I had been obnoxious and had not even given others the chance to explain their view.  It was all a bit overwhelming, and I felt a strong urge to send an apology to every person I had ever been obnoxious with.

I recently attended a lecture by a top astronomer and physicist in the world.  This lecture only re-enforced the conclusions I had come to.  Not that I really needed this re-enforcement, but it is always good to get it.  I always loved Physics and Astronomy and Biology.  Back in the day, I used to say that all of the vastness and complexity proved God exists.  Now, I say the exact opposite.  Now I say that it proves that the universe is so vast, that it is impossible for me to believe that there is only one way (or any way) to do ANYTHING.  I now point to the universe, and all that we are constantly learning about it, as absolute proof that there is a lot we don’t know.  That I don’t know what I don’t know.

I love that feeling… not knowing.  I used to hate it.  My Christian beliefs allowed me to hide from not knowing.  But now, I embrace it, and have fun with it.  Not knowing… and admitting it, has opened up my mind in so many good ways.  It is thrilling.

June 1, 2009 Posted by | Leaving Religion, science | , | 5 Comments

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

Felt Jesus

I loved felt Jesus when I was growing up. I’d go to Sunday school, and the nice lady would put beautiful and clean felt Jesus on the felt board. He looked so nice and innocent… like he just wanted to be my friend. She told us that he loved us and would save us from our sins and give us a personal relationship with God. It all sounded pretty good to me.

I did wonder how I’d become so bad that I needed saving, but figured I’d gotten in trouble with my parents, so maybe that was bad enough. You know, felt Jesus left my world when I got a little older, and with that, he became a lot harder to figure out. He was no longer this nice easy felt piece sitting in front of me. He was now a more imaginary figure and didn’t make so much sense to me. I didn’t know how to talk to him, didn’t know how to hear him, and wasn’t sure what would happen to me if I couldn’t figure these two things out.

I did everything I knew to do to get in touch with Jesus. I read the Bible, went to Bible Study, went to Youth Group, went to Camp, sang songs, made good friends, memorized versus… you name it, I did it. I still wasn’t sure how everyone around me was hearing Jesus, when all I could hear was static. I finally started faking it by diving in as far as I could. Evangelizing, reading devotionals, becoming a Bible Study leader. For a brief time I did think I was finally hearing Jesus tell me what to do. Turns out, it was just my own voice… I believe my sub-conscious got sick of trying to hear Jesus, so it just became Jesus for me.

Finally, I gave up trying to hear Jesus. Then I realized, all that time, all that conviction, all that anger towards the ‘secular world’, all the feelings I’d had… we’re false. We’re just me trying to make it happen. Were just my subconscious and ego getting the best of me. In my mid 20’s, I left it… but it hasn’t been until now… in my mid 30’s that I’ve really let myself let go entirely. Let myself be honest about the fact that I don’t believe in the Christianity I grew up with. That’s not the easiest thing to do… but once I did, I felt lighter. No more fighting that internal battle that would not end.

May 21, 2009 Posted by | Growing Up, Leaving Religion | , , | 4 Comments

Go to the Dance!

At least this kid is learning at a young age how to step outside the dogma that is part of the Conservative Christian Church.  This scene reminds me of a situation I went through in college.  I was told by my Christian leaders that I could not, under any circumstane leave the Bible Study I was leading, which also meant I was to stay in the dorm that I was trying to leave.  I was stupid enough to comply against my beter judgement.

I look back on that moment as one of the milestones in my deconversion.  I remember thinking long and hard about why I allowed people to dictate what I could and couldn’t do.  I had already started questioning a lot.  This episode was the icing on the cake, and now, over 15 years later, I look back and wish I had done what this kid did.  Exactly what HE wanted to do despite what others were telling him to do.

May 14, 2009 Posted by | Leaving Religion, Religious Right | , , | Leave a comment

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