Still Getting Used to It

It has been a few months since I fully admitted to myself that my belief in God has all but totally vanished. It has been even longer since I began first questioning the core tenets of Evangelical Christianity. It has been longer still since I first expressed my chagrin at predestination theory. Despite all that time that has passed, I still find that some old habits are hard to break.

For one, I still find myself “darkening the door of a church”- specifically, my home church, which I had developed a great fondness for. I still harbor that fondness, honestly, otherwise I would see no reason to continue my visits. The visits are getting fewer and farther between, though, and even though I keep thinking that maybe the feeling of disharmony I feel when I hear the sermons will somehow magically dissipate, it never does. I still have a sharp sense of being out of place. The memory of me lifting my hands, singing, and swaying in worship with everyone else stands in sharp contrast to the way I stand now, either with my arms folded across my chest or hanging stiffly at my sides.

Each time the pastor talks about the benefits of tithing, or the amazing, wonderful life you can have in Jesus, I am reminded that you must always give up something in the present to secure this bountiful future. When cheers rise from the crowd as “testimonies” are given, my mind immediately goes to the idea of confirmation bias and the role it must play in these miracle stories. I cannot rejoice when they proclaim “He is risen! Jesus is alive!” because I do not picture the Son of God seated on a heavenly throne next to His Father. I see in my mind the vast, star-speckled blackness of space- an “empty heaven.”

I started my Tumblr account in January of 2016 and transferred most of my religious-themed posts over here in March of this year. My public transition from theism to atheism has been over three years long, even though as I said before, my questioning started long before then. I remember being 15 years old and being disturbed by the possibility that my non-Christian friends might be destined to hell. That is also when I began to feel unbearably unsettled with the concept that everything we do as humans has already been predetermined, including our choice to believe in Jesus as our savior. I questioned a god that would test the faith of Abraham by asking him to offer his son Isaac, even if he knew what the results would be.

Despite these serious cracks in the foundation of my faith, I was able to cover up the cracks for years. There are many Christians whose faith survives these doubts. They might switch denominations, become “non-practicing”, or become Christian apologists when they dig deep and find the answers to their questions. Other times, they simply swallow truths that may be bitter and stay out of tradition or loyalty. I could do none of these things. I was determined to either embrace faith wholeheartedly, or not at all. I did not desire to believe in a god who did not possess power, but my god’s power was rapidly diminishing in my view. The omnipotence of the God of the Bible did not seem to be in agreement with His unfathomable love; I could not embrace a god who claimed to have complete power over everything and repeatedly refused to solve the problem of human suffering, no matter how wise he seemed to be.

Further evidence still against the existence of the Christian God has been His repeatedly failing promise to send His Son back to earth. I know, “no one knows the day or the hour”, “a day with the Lord is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day” and “the Lord is not slack concerning his promises…he is longsuffering…”. There is a redundancy built into the promises, a “keep waiting, because you never know” kind of aspect to them. I will decline to go into detail about all that, but I know that I have personally waited long enough. The Second Coming of Christ has been predicted incorrectly more times than I would even dare to quantify. In fact, Christians have been predicting Christ’s arrival since the beginning of the faith. To date, none of these predictions have been correct. Truly, it only has to happen once for it to be right, but with God intervening so little in human life now, I am skeptical that He will one day open the clouds and let His righteousness and judgment rain down on the earth.

Even so, “I’m still getting used to it.” When good things happen, I still want to open my mouth and praise God. Humorously, I said “thank God” to my boyfriend, and quickly qualified it by saying, “I mean, I’m thanking all the gods I don’t believe in.” He said, “We get it. You don’t have to qualify it. It’s a saying.” (In other words, he was telling me to get over myself.) I similarly find myself wanting to say a prayer, and sometimes I do. “God, I know you’re not real but if you are, please help.” Even though I look at the date, realize that it is 2018 and all that hoopla about the Jesus coming back in Y2K is now almost two decades in the past, I am still tempted to think, “He is coming soon.” I do not think that I will ever unlearn Christian jargon, or fully forget scriptures that I labored to memorize. Evangelical Christian culture is in my blood. My entire early life is defined by it. I still love “Oceans”, “Ever Be”, “Brave” and various other Contemporary Christian tunes that may come across the radio (and in secret I still sing them). I sit with my family for Bible study when I visit, even though I know it is not mandatory anymore.

Deconversion has been a process for me. Some people are able to make a quick, clean break from their Christian culture, but for a lot of us it is an ongoing journey. There is always something that brings back a memory. People think that we stopped believing because we are angry, that we went, “Screw you God, I don’t believe in you anymore” and that was how simple that it was. They neglect to realize that when we go home for the holidays- or even just for a casual visit- there it is in our faces again, and there we are reminded by the people we love the most that we are different. Some of us are children of pastors. Many of us have served in the church, and some have even had leadership positions. Some, but not all of us, are queer. Whatever the circumstances and whatever the reason, we share this same burden of being “ex-fill-in-the-blank”.

Sometimes we get so concerned with who we are not that we forget who we are. I know that I do, sometimes. I forget that I am more than just an “ex”, that I am a woman of extraordinary character and even more impressive resolve. I know that despite it being a time-intensive process, I will some day feel comfortable in this new skin of mine. God is dead to me, but I have been reborn. I have a whole new life to live, and I plan to live it with everything that I have.

 

 

Advertisements

7 thoughts on “Still Getting Used to It

  1. Hmmm…I don’t intend to ridicule your questions or lack of faith.
    Do you mind if I could share a book of mine with you? No pressure. Even if it doesn’t make sense to you or even if you don’t want to respond to this comment or even take a look at it, it is still okay.
    I could also recommend another book that was of help to me, maybe you have read it. “Holding on to your faith even when God doesn’t make sense” by James Dobson?

    Like

    1. Hi Bassey. I don’t really agree with a lot of what James Dobson teaches but I appreciate your recommendation, since it can be beneficial to hear the opposite perspective.
      What is the first book you wanted to share?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hello again. I actually looked up your page and managed to find your book a bit before you sent that link. I read the first few pages on Amazon. I can see where you’re coming from, but I don’t feel like it’s for me. The entire premise of the book is based around pride consisting of “not needing God” and people needing to surrender their pride and commit to God’s plan for them. You quote verses like, Psalms 10:4 “The wicked, through the pride of his countenance, will not seek after God: God is not in all his thoughts.” This verse seeks to equate a lack of belief in/recognition of God as “wickedness.” I do not believe that it is necessary to espouse a belief in the divine to be a moral person. Moreover, I would like to point out that God is often very much on the minds of myself and other atheists, we just don’t believe in him/her/it/them. Disbelief in God does not necessarily equal a hatred of God or anger at God or the idea of God.
        Furthermore, the book seems to be predicated on an understanding of the Bible absolutely being God’s word, and I do not subscribe to this belief, either.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Hi! Thanks for taking a look at the book. Am glad you did. Am also happy that you acknowledge that God is often very much on your mind and that of other atheists if not even more on your minds as you decide what to do with Him within the limits of what your mind knows and is aware of. But you and I both know that He is much more than what we can literally put in a box and study to know and define Him. Let me use an illustration, I don’t know if you do believe that He made all things including you and I and if He did, then just like the clay cannot say to the potter what are you making, or if you were to have made a machine for an example as a man, you don’t expect that machine to know you the maker outside of what you have put in its brain box and functionalities. God has put a limit to what things exactly we can know of Him through our minds that is why Romans 12;1-2 says we subject our minds to His word to renew the way we think not that we subject the word of God to our minds which can be very limited in scope. Even Solomon in searching for wisdom does admit that we cannot know all that He has done completely. And that is why we relate a lot with Him based on faith which looks foolish to us and he also admits it but admonishes us that it is better to believe without seeing or comprehending with our minds. But He comes to your mind for a reason, that I am aware of. Because in His best creation, man, He has kept a place in us for Himself alone just like the writer of a software has his secret key, access, his way in and out of his codes that no one else can figure out. Solomon captured it as “He has placed eternity in our hearts” yet we cannot figure out all the works of His hands that He has made.
        Now, I do think you will enjoy the book nevertheless your lack of believe in the tenets of the bible and am aware of all that you have listed as things you don’t believe in. But am hoping you can still read the book to the end and you can do that through the link I sent earlier. If you have any problem accessing the book through the link I sent earlier you can let me know. Thanks again for the time. I really appreciate!

        Like

  2. You wouldn’t believe how many times someone has suggested reading a book that more or less is about returning to the fold. You may want to get use to that 🙂

    Getting more to the point of your blog… My deconversion happened with baby steps. I was young and the religious teachings never really made sense to me. Was I doing the right thing?

    When I was sure that I was taking the right direction in Atheism, I still went to church, I still was an in the closet atheist. I think I was more apt, when the topic of the “godless” came up, to start defending the “godless”. The reaction of those who believed in God really started to turn me off.

    Years later, I finally came out and admitted my atheism. My family was fine with it. I’m sure if my Mother was alive at that point, she’s have a conniption! There was a friend or two who questioned me but I was confident with my answers to them.

    More years later, sure, I missed some of the church functions and missed the family type environment. I found other groups that aligned more with my worldview. I attended a UUA (Universalist Unitarian) service for a while. I got more involved with Buddhist Dharma talks and Meditation. I am involved in a hiking club as well.

    There definitely is a period of transition but eventually you will meet like minded people.

    Dave

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for your encouraging message! I have tried a few different groups, but sometimes my anxiety makes it difficult for me to try and stick to new things. I plan to try to check out more groups in the future and see what works out. I know that you can have an abundant, supportive social life outside of church, I’m just still trying to find it.

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s