Needing Guidance Recovering from Christianity
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22-02-2015, 06:52 PM (This post was last modified: 23-02-2015 03:07 AM by DLJ.)
Needing Guidance Recovering from Christianity
In order to be given the best assistance possible, I will give you as much information about myself and life, in the shortest length possible.

First of all, my dad was raised in a conservative Christian home. My grandmother tried her very best to raised my dad and his seven siblings up as best as she could. My grandfather, on the other hand, was very cruel. Therefore, my dad grew up in sort of a yin-yang household. He had his mother on one hand who was a devout Christian, yet his dad would come home and cuss, beat up his mom, or display very cruel actions.

My dad and my mother got pregnant together when he was 18 and she was 15 with my sister and only sibling. They immediately married, and my mom eventually went to church (she was raised in a very, very abusive home) and got saved.

From the time that I can remember up until about the age of 5, my parents took us to a Freewill Baptist church. We live in the bible belt, and the churches we've attended are very conservative. At the time, my dad believed in the "once saved, always saved" doctrine, which basically meant that if you've been saved, you can stray away from God, practically live in careless sin again, and still go to heaven.

Because of this, my dad stopped taking us to church when I was 5. He became a heavy drinker, and so my mom eventually stopped going to church as well. My dad became very verbally abusive, and often times, physically as well. My mom and him were on the verge of getting a divorce. My sister and I were always spending the weekends at my papaw's or aunt's house so our folks could go out and party.

It was a very depressing, but seemingly normal at the time, childhood.

When I was 11, my dad woke up crying one night and told us that The Lord had come to him in a dream and said that if he didn't start preaching and get away from sin, that He would kill him. My dad immediately threw away all of his beer and starting preaching. He hasn't touched alcohol since.

Our entire family got back in church and everything seemed to be going pretty well. Of course I believed in God because there's no way my dad could have gone from an alcoholic to never touching a drink again... or so I thought at the time.
Even after we started going to church, I still battled with my spirituality.

I had a boyfriend at the time whom I was sexually active with. My parents eventually found out about this when my dad caught me sneaking out one night. My dad took me to our jailhouse and demanded them to put a restraining order against my boyfriend. My parents took away all of my belongings, I got into a physical fight with my dad, and received various punishments with the belt.

I had never felt so disgusting. For one, because I felt dirty for trying to figure myself out and my sexuality. Secondly, because my dad would constantly preach about how fornicators are all going to Hell. Thirdly, because I was deprived of social life and privileges because of my mistake. I eventually became extremely depressed and insecure.

Soon after, I received salvation. One night in church I felt my heart racing after listening to my dad's sermon. I prayed and asked God to forgive me and save me. I felt like my burdens were lifted after I had prayed, and my family celebrated with me. Though I had "gotten saved" my parents still refused to let me hang out with friends, have a cell phone, a television, or any other privilege.

My parents allowed me to see my boyfriend following this, in order to keep up from sneaking around, because they knew that I would find a way to communicate with him whether they approved or not. Though I had received salvation, I still felt as if my boyfriend was the only one I could speak to and have support from.

We still were sexually active, and so that was a constant spin between "giving in to lust" and hating ourselves for being sinful and always falling right back into the devil's traps. I will add that I was 13 at the time, which is extremely young, and looking back, my heart breaks for that little girl, my past self.

About two and a half years later, my boyfriend and I broke up. This wrecked me. My boyfriend was also an acclaimed preacher at the time, (even though we "sinned" consistently together), but some of the things he said and did to me during our break up truly angered me. I did not understand how someone who was supposed to love God, be gentle, and be loving would slander me so harshly. I had never been rejected so strongly, but I knew it was because I had grown boring to him and there was a new girl attracting him.

At first I prayed for God to help me through it, but I began to realize prayer wasn't helping. I despised the "Men of God" who were supposed to share light and joy, but were always angry and speaking harshly against others.

I moved on from this relationship, and in the process I realized that I am extremely strong, a lot stronger than I ever thought. This gave me confidence and a greater sense of worth. I rapidly grew to be more outgoing, and at the moment I am an entirely different person. I love myself, I love what I stand for, and I am perfectly content with the way I am.

Now that I have found my individuality and have a greater sense of "self" my thoughts have been able to transition onto other things.

Obviously, the biggest curiosity for me at the moment is the existence of God.

What started my questioning was probably the lack of strong communication and connection I felt with Jesus Christ. I believed He was there, but I constantly felt distant, unmotivated to participate in bible study or church, and uninterested in things pertaining to the church. I still believed and relied on God, but my faith began dwindling when I realized that I am mostly responsible for all of progress made in my life, not God.

Also, my bestfriend. He is gay, so of course this stirred up a lot of conversation from my parents. They told me it was wrong, though they are completely OK with me spending time with my bestfriend. However, I asked them about when he gets married, and their reply was that I absolutely should NOT attend his wedding someday. This angered me. He is my bestfriend, and I wanted to be in his wedding. Though I wouldn't admit it at the time, I accepted his lifestyle. I saw that he wasn't hurting anyone, and that he genuinely did not have attraction to females. It's not something he could help.

To add to what made me question Christianity, my parents are very secluded. They don't have friends that they go and spend time with, just our church family and actual family. They are always home doing nothing because they believe they will be corrupted by the world if they go to other places and partake in different activities. They are usually bitter and dull. They show no affection for each other. They don't seem to go out of their way and speak to me. Just basic conversation to get us through our day. We don't pray together. We barely do anything together. This made me wonder that if God was so good and so about joy, why weren't my parents, who were supposed to be the closest to Jesus, living with joy and gladness? They are gray, and I resent being around them for this reason. Of course there are things that make them happy, but overall they just seem to be deprived of life.

I am a very open minded, loving, and outgoing person. I love to socialize and travel. I love exploring other cultures.
Being open minded allowed me to start listening to Christian vs. Atheist debates. The things I discovered and thoughts that were entertained truly made me think deeply. At first it was extremely depressing, because I didn't want to even consider there not being a god there.

I was sad, angry, confused. One night I laid in my bed after doing atheistic research, and I begged God to speak to me in a dream that night so I could truly know without any doubt, and never question his existence again. I wanted to serve him, believe in him, and go to Heaven someday. I believed that this was an acceptable thing to ask for, because the bible states that whatsoever you should ask for in Jesus name, you should receive if it wasn't vain. Asking for clarity in order to celebrate God's love definitely isn't vain.

But of course, God never spoke to me. Not in a dream, not in the slightest way.

So here I am now, I am pretty much deconverted from Christianity. I still have fears of dying in this condition and going to hell, though. But I cannot believe that a god who claims to be all-loving would allow someone to burn for all eternity.. I would rather there be nothing than for anyone to have to suffer infinitely. Along with this thought, there were many contradictions in the bible that left me confused. Also, I accept homosexuality, and that is a clear abomination in the bible. I also am proud of my sexuality, though I have been single for over a year and have not had sexual relations in about 3 years. I also am an advocate for marijuana, which obviously is an extreme NO concerning our church's teachings.

Needless to say, the church's traditional, conservative lifestyle just did not make sense to me. I was always sad, annoyed, and in personal conflict. I realized that that is no way to live, and I won't rob myself of happiness.

Unfortunately, I still suffer from negative feelings because it's hard going from devoting yourself to something all of your life and then realizing that it isn't real. I don't know how to stop thinking about there being a hell whenever I die, and because I deconverted, I'll burn forever.

Also, there's no way I can tell my parents about this. They would be so angry with me, and we've never had the kind of communication that allows us to discuss things like this. It's sad, but it's reality for me at the moment. If I were to tell them that I am now an Atheist who supports homosexuality and lighting up a big joint, being intimate with who you love even if you're not married, and simply just loving people and enjoying life.... they literally would disown me.

They would make this last year of me being home a living hell. It would be nothing but punishment, preaching, and me feeling bad for making them feel as if everything they are and stand for is useless. I don't want to be a disappointment to my parents, because I do love them. If I were to tell them I am an Atheist, they would think about nothing else other than their daughter on her way to Hell and being a worker for the devil.

Fortunately I will be leaving next year for a liberal college that is very open-minded and I will be living on campus. They aren't happy with this, but I've got to live my life. I will be majoring in English, literature, specifically. Writing and art have been my two methods of remaining sane. Also, being a friend to others has given me hope and joy. I love people with everything in me. I want to celebrate this life, not throw it away in hopes of obtaining another one.

I wish that I could be open about this in my community. Only my sister, who I am very close to, and my bestfriend knows about this. My bestfriend is agnostic, and my sister doesn't understand the atheist concept at all. She's a Christian, but a lot less extreme than my parents. I've also spoken with an Atheist past-teacher (who, might I add, is the only atheist adult I know of in my town). I've mentioned it to a few other friends, they've told me that it's just the devil getting in my head.

Therefore, you guys are pretty much my biggest support system right now. And if you've read my post this far, you're awesome and I thank you tremendously.

So.... now that you know me, can you pass some advice along my way? Just with how to stop thinking "what if there's a hell?" or how I approach this to my parents and community someday... or if I should just leave that aspect of my life alone?

Thanks, friends.

Love you all.
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22-02-2015, 07:28 PM
Needing Guidance Recovering from Christianity
I'm sure many others will have longer, better advice. I'm typing this on a phone so I can't go too far in-depth at the moment.

Right now what you need is a metaphorical deep breath. It won't be easy at first, because you're falling in years of indoctrination. I come from a Catholic home (Irish & French-Canadian), to some weird Adventist-type, to Christian Kabbalist. You had it harder than me, but at least you've taken the first step.

One of the things you should ponder is that so many religions don't have hell. What we had drilled into our skulls was centuries of traditional indoctrination. I've seen Christians argue over it. So if they can't even agree, how can anyone take it seriously?

I'll try to get on my computer soon. But we're here to talk.

Welcome, by the way.
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23-02-2015, 02:55 AM (This post was last modified: 23-02-2015 03:16 AM by cactus.)
RE: Needing Guidance Recovering from Christianity
Welcome to the forum Smile

If you're still going to be financially dependent on your parents at college, it's probably not a good idea to be come out to them as "the dreaded A-word." I think the most important thing you can do for the sake of your parents is to still keep in touch with them every once in a while, and show them that you're living a happy, fulfilled life, but one that just happens to be entirely secular (that part would be implied, obviously). Maybe do some kind of secular (but not overtly non-religious) volunteer work.

If your parents ever corner you into talking about your religious beliefs, it's important to remember that belief is not a choice. You could either choose to shelter yourself in an attempt to convince yourself of what you want to believe, or you could choose to be honest with yourself, and honest with others. Also, think of some of the positive secular values that your parents tried to instill into you (which they may have associated with a supernatural deity), and show them that you still embrace those same values today.

If we came from dust, then why is there still dust?
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23-02-2015, 03:24 AM
RE: Needing Guidance Recovering from Christianity
(22-02-2015 06:52 PM)youngpoet Wrote:  ...
And if you've read my post this far, you're awesome and I thank you tremendously.
...

No problem. Welcome to TTA.

I don't think you need much advice from me. It seems to me you've got it pretty much 'sorted'.

You've worked out your road-map and have determined a possible route-map. Everything else is just about enjoying the scenery and making the journey as fulfilling as possible.

Cactus (above) is right about financial independence but then, life / living is forever a trade off between security and freedom.

It's about working out your objectives and then managing your risks and resources in order to achieve the most benefit.

To this end, doubt, scepticism and critical thinking are your friends... and that's a state of mind ... not a statement or declaration to your parents.

What encourages me, in what I read, is that it would appear that your parents love you and are willing to support you. Given their background and your history, that is pleasantly surprising.

I would guess that their focus has been to try to protect you (from yourself / from an evil world). That is an admirable thing for a parent to do and given the (lack of) parental training they received / observed... not bad.

So the trick, I suspect, is to demonstrate that you have become / are becoming a responsible adult. This means that your parents' goals have been achieved.

Give them credit for that success and they will probably tolerate the direction you are taking.

Fingers crossed.

Hug

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23-02-2015, 06:39 AM
RE: Needing Guidance Recovering from Christianity
Hi! Welcome to TTA.

My deconversion was terribly painful, as well. It hurt just like a break up with an actual lover. Sounds crazy to people who have never been that involved in church, but the feeling of loss was very real.

I grew up in a very conservative household. Premarital sex was definitely a no-no. Religion's obsession with sexuality had always been a major contention point for me. Also, why the fuck would an omnipotent, omnipresent, creator of the universe give a damn about who I get my groove on with, male or female, ring or not? Doesn't he have prayers to listen to and answer about little children starving and getting raped and beaten?

There is so much fear in the conservative Christian doctrine - the fear of hell certainly was hard for me to overcome. I used to be utterly terrified of blasphemy - one of the things that helped me get over it was actually the pics for a laugh at religion thread. It's blasphemous and hilarious and there is just so much truth in the humor. There's a pic around here somewhere that takes the descriptions of heaven and hell and calculates that the biblical heaven would actually be waaay hotter than hell. I personally found it amusing and helpful as one more way to tell myself this isn't real.

It. Gets. Better. I promise you it does - it just takes a while to try on this new way of thinking about the world. Hug

"If there's a single thing that life teaches us, it's that wishing doesn't make it so." - Lev Grossman
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23-02-2015, 10:55 AM
RE: Needing Guidance Recovering from Christianity
Welcome to TTA, you'll be in good company here I think. Hug I was never that devout of a christian and the hell thing still crosses my mind. I don't know if you ever can really shake it off. I wasn't indoctrinated that hardcore and at 35, I still think about "what if..." and I then have to reason it out again. I think that it can take years to heal. From the sound of it, you have had a rough upbringing and I think that as long as you learn from it and set yourself to not repeat the cycle with your family, spouse, and children, that will help a ton. You don't need god to be good, you just need a good heart. If you love everyone, then run with that. As for your parents, there are people on the forum who have never told their parents. Shoot, I was 34 and married for 10+ years before I uttered the word atheist out loud much less told anyone. No need to rush. I would suggest that you hold that to yourself until you figure yourself out. You need to be right with yourself before you can really begin to be right with the rest of the world. It sounds like you are in that process and I would suggest that you let that process run it's course. If you're 17 or 18, there are so many more experiences that you have yet to have that will shape you into the adult that you will be. Let them shape you. Keep us posted.

"If we are honest—and scientists have to be—we must admit that religion is a jumble of false assertions, with no basis in reality.
The very idea of God is a product of the human imagination."
- Paul Dirac
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23-02-2015, 11:39 AM
RE: Needing Guidance Recovering from Christianity
Welcome to the forum...

I was very pleased with your post. You really seem to have a solid grasp on things. As some have noted above just plot your best course in life and enjoy the scenery. You only get one chance on this rock so you might as well make the best of it.

I would avoid coming out to your parents as long as they are the ones providing for you. However, only you will know when the best time for this will be.

Best of luck to you.
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24-02-2015, 03:09 PM (This post was last modified: 24-02-2015 03:13 PM by Jasozz.)
RE: Needing Guidance Recovering from Christianity
Welcome to the forum! I'll admit, I tl;dr'd a tiny bit due to being at work, but I saw you're struggling with letting go of a fear of Hell, which is something I personally went through just over a year ago, and I understand how frightening it can be, and personally, it was something that, several times, made me think "Maybe I'm wrong, I'll just go back to church this Sunday, and see how I feel..."

One of the things that helped me with this, was that I've actually never liked the idea of heaven. When I was around 12 years old, I had the sudden (and intensely terrifying) realization that eternity is FOREVER. Not 100 years, not 1000 years, not 1,000,000,000 years, but FOREVER. After trillions of years, after I've done EVERYTHING I could ever want to do (Assuming that heaven is somewhere that you can do whatever you want, contrary to the Bible's description where you just love and worship god for forever), I've still got trillions of years to go, and then trillions after that, just thinking, and being AWARE, and NEVER STOPPING. This scared the shit out of me, and kind of still does, in a way. But because of this, I never actually feared hell more than heaven. Both were eternal. Both sounded equally terrible. Then when you think about it, how could Heaven/Hell possibly work if its just an eternity? You'd get used to the pain in Hell and just go insane being bored, and in Heaven, you'd just go insane period, unless you're somehow brainwashed into being happy, and that's even worse. How could a god create a heaven/hell system that is that messed up? Easy. It never happened.

Also, you have to consider what some have already said, that Hell is inconsistent among religions, and actually, its even inconsistent in the Bible! The Bible goes from describing it as a physical place that's just really far underground, to being a kind of "purgatory" of nothingness, to the "lake of fire" (which you'll feel pain from, even though you leave your physical body behind. Makes sense, right?), to literally it just being death, like, not being aware any longer. So this "scary place" that's this whole cornerstone of faith, the only REAL reason to believe, isn't even consistent in god's "inerrant word".

You then have to think about the kinds of things that make Hell impossible, like how good people will burn in Hell next to Hitler just for not believing. Children who grew up in the slums of Kenya, knowing only disease, loss, and starvation their entire lives, will die (God works in mysterious ways, amirite?) and then go burn next to child molestors, murders, etc. simply for not knowing a god that never once showed his face, and only existed through a messily written (seriously, check it out http://bibviz.com/ ) book with the "morality" of a bunch of Bronze-age goat fuckers, perpetuated by a religious group that has a long history of brutality, and even today, has a knack for being hateful and cruel.

I know alot of this might come across as spiteful, but honestly, taking a step back and looking at Christianity and the Bible without my "jesus goggles" really helped me see how it was all a lie. Its SOOO EASY to see how Hell was just invented as a device to help control people. No "loving god" would send someone to an ETERNITY of Hell just for "not believing". In fact, it is impossible for god to be "just" or "righteous" in that sense, because you cannot sentence INFINITE punishment for a FINITE crime. That's not how it works.

Just do some reading and take it easy. You need to make peace with yourself, and decide for yourself where you stand. Keeping anxiety and fear away, and educating yourself is what you need right now.

Hah, I guess we're playing tl;dr tag now. Enjoy this wall of text!

And seriously, good luck! Rooting for you.

QUICK EDIT: I forgot to mention, if someone doesn't link the video here, hop on YouTube and just search for "Hell Isn't Real". I wish I could remember the exact video I watched, but there are tons of great informational videos that lay out what the Bible says about hell, and all of the arguments for why it just cannot exist.
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