journal250x188What is it like to move away from the religion you’ve spent your life enjoying, loving, and following? As this blog begins to form,  I hope to illustrate my own experiences for you, my haven’t-had-enough-time-yet-to-be-loyal reader. I hope these disjointed memories show how even today I’m still forming my thoughts, beliefs, and character apart from religion.

Slide back in time with me as I re-visit a private journal entry from my journey into non-belief:

July 22, 2008

For the first time in my life, someone asked me a question that began, “As a non-Christian, do you…”

This may not sound odd to you, but since my Christianity has been a vital and overwhelming influence on my entire life, development, identity, and choices, having someone essentially confirm what I’ve been wondering is a bit unnerving. I don’t want to say I’ve deconverted. I really ache to avoid it. What if this is a “phase”? I wouldn’t want to say I was one thing and then pull an “Oops, just kidding!”

Most of all, I don’t want to tell the people who still think “that’s GG, she’s a Christian” that I’m not so sure any more.

I’ve never had this crisis before. I always knew God and I always felt like that knowing was impossible to change.

I still have a Christian world view. I still know the Bible better than any other book. I am still interested in theology and doctrine. I still think Jesus/God makes a powerful, life-changing impact on people’s lives. In fact, I still love God as I understand it and Jesus as I understand him. But… I don’t know if I’m Christian anymore. I don’t care for the religion, even if I care for the principals at its core (love! all should be love!). But the religion is not that simple, no matter how many different pithy ways people explain it. I know this. I’ve been one as long as I can recall.

Clearly, I’m struggling over this. I’m struggling with the idea that a core identifier of my life might be gone. I’m struggling with the fear that I might lose the respect and love of those who respect and love “Christian GG”. I assume people won’t take my view seriously now–simply because I am not an orthodox believer. As if suddenly my insight and knowledge doesn’t matter anymore…. I haven’t felt like an outsider before. In simple terms, I feel demoted.

And you all might remember how scared I am of my family’s expectations. They have a picture of me in their heads… and they have no idea how far off they are. But they love that picture, and they support it and admire it. They know how to treat it.

But that’s not me! Who am I now?

I’m afraid.

———–

Thank you for reading! Do you have any stories or thoughts on what the change was like for you? If so, hit me up in the comments.

Related Posts with Thumbnails

2 thoughts on “On the Way Here: “I Feel Demoted””

Your-Atheist-In-Arms · March 20, 2009 at 3:05 am

The Sporadic Journey
-This is Long because the Journey and Change was Sporadic and Long. Get comfy while reading.

Between 1991 to 1992, memory may not serve me right on the exact year now that over a decade has passed, there I was, in a huge auditorium, Newsboys playing their brand of Rock’n’Roll with Christ centered messages. The speak Josh McDowell came to give the sermon and alter call. There I looked at my friend, and asked him to go down with me, and thus it began.

The search for God was like playing hide and go seek in the dark and blind folded. Touch the trees, you think you no where your at. Touch another, your lost again.

I come from a home that was devastated by drug, emotional, physical abuse. Before my conversion to Christianity, He-man, Voltron, superheroes were important. There was a closet in my childhood home where I would spend hours playing with action figures. My safe haven I suppose. The place I hid away from my parents.

When your parents are trapped in such things as I mentioned above, your fictional, creative mind as a kid, helps you to be happy. I call it, self-preservation. Having dealt with a minor form of sexual abuse and parental abuse fictional even mythical characters become a source to find truth. Forgiveness and servitude to a god concept. Convincing yourself that it is real so you serve it with all your life.

Years went on by and theological pursuits became the prime factor of my faith as well as servitude to this god. Know the right truth to be able to be in the best grace with this god. Then to have the most righteous life possible. God praising life. Search the heart of God right? Live for God right?

Yet no orthodox belief ever led to orthopraxy for me. Funny how many a times, I committed some grave immoralities while believing in Christianity. Let’s name a few shall we? Adultery, lived a drunkard life, blasphemy while being a believer, drug use. To keep it short, the typical prodigal son story for me was lived while in Christianity. This conflict never left me…until I left the faith. I never could conquer the things that Christianity deemed damnable. It took me awhile to realize you can’t take away a headache by taking Aspirin for pain that is being caused by a brain tumor. Which then leads to the very fact that Christianity doesn’t help lead people away from the very sins it condemns. It covers them, nothing more.

I mention these things because it shows how deeply rooted the faith was in every aspect of my life back then and it keeps short. Regardless of my failures. Regardless of my successes. Regardless of things done to me out of my control/against my will. The idea of god, Christianity was the very crux of my life.

The change took roughly 3-4 years to concrete itself. Go from mainstream Christianity mixed with evangelical, Pentecostalism, Calvinism/reformed thinking, Quaker thinking, Post-Modern, Liberal thinking in Christianity, then to researching Buddhism, Roman Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy, heretical theological beliefs it does take a while to get to that point that you know what you believe in. I am an antitheist now. I will gladly concede to being arrogant in my atheism/antitheism. The change for me, has been very bittersweet.

Bitter because, I remember all the hurt I did when I was religious. The pain I cause on people. I have apologized to friends, family, ex girlfriends, even women I had a shot at relationships with.

Then realizing how foolish, irrational I used to think and then to look back at how it infected area of my life.

My parents not dealing with it too well. We don’t get into debates. My father does care what I believe in but he comes to so many misconceptions about me, and I am having a hard time finding the desire to clear them up because there’s no reason for some of these conclusions. My mother will not talk about me changing. She says it so brief and short. I’ve laid it on the table for them. This is how I am, I am an atheist. I do not use the term antitheist with them, because they better understand that term as atheist. There’s no difference between the two, so I used words they understand. I do not want them to have deceptive images of me. I will gladly destroy their image of me as a “born-again Christian man”, or a “godly man”. I am neither. They can no longer say, “We are a Christian family” without blinding themselves to the facts of their son’s views.

I would rather do this and lead them to a situation where, either you accept it or you don’t because then, to me, that will help us to have a better relationship by knowing me and not them living on what they want me to be and while knowing what they believe in as well. It is hard at times knowing how they really don’t like this change about me. Yet, its the most loving thing I can do.

I have also lost friends due to this change. Only one as far as I know of, but that’s enough to include into this part.

Then a new area for me to go about changing is my love life. This a work in progress, because I know what I want in a woman, it is just, this change keeps me on my guard if I come across religious women. So this part of my change, figuring out how to go about finding that lifelong relationship is in the process right now. A religious woman wanting me seems like a dichotomy to me. I do not like the idea of limiting my options to only a set few. At the same time though, I have to be realistic. So I am figuring it out as it goes I suppose. The best I can do while being single.

In terms of the change being sweet is, the intellectual honesty that I now have. The ability to think critically and rationally and to not accept lies, immoral beliefs of our existence that poison everything, moral progress, a renewed beauty of life, existence, myself, trying my best to use the very method of thinking that enlightened so many about our world.

Mere example for a part of the change that I have now is, I would consider a strong atheist. Yet if we could put it on a scale of 1-10, I am a 9. I say it grudgingly I must admit. I want to make the leap to 10. No matter what though, I have to be humble and not demean the very method of rationalizing that brought us to so much enlightenment. The grudgingly part is because I cannot see what new manipulation of science theories could come across about god’s existence. I cannot see what philosophical rationalizations could come to rationalize an existence of a god being. God-concepts I believe are man-made so anything new is just that…a replication of the old proven wrong theories. Science can predict billions of years away and let’s not forget, science is not biased on proving or disproving the existence of a god. The methods to explain things, I will feel safe to predict, will never need the existence of a god to be true.

So it is tempting to just leap to 10 on the scale. Yet, I will remain at 9…grudgingly. I fear that making that positive assertion demeans the very method of thinking that evolved our perception of reality to a more rational understanding. I will say this much. Out of all the reasoning, theories, philosophical rationalizations, manipulation of scientific discoveries trying to prove some god, I will with conviction say, “There is no God”. When anything new comes about, if/when it does, I will critically examine it the best of my ability. While I come to this grudgingly, the humbleness it gives, I believe is vital for living. So we can constantly learn, grow, evolve etc. etc.

It is such an enlightenment, because once you get passed the first stage of it, you can figure out yourself more clearly. Yes it takes time. My life is drastically changing right now outside of this stuff. Yet, I feel more equipped to tackle on the challenges of life that are going to come.

My own personal morality has gotten extremely more moral and is still progressing. When before, I felt like I was at stalemate. Its hard to explain but the best way I can say it is, when you think rationally it is addicting because it is the only proper way to think. When you get to that point, you want every area of your life to be rational. Regardless of what you lose, regardless of anything in the past, you just want to live this way.

This part, the internal changes the more I think about it, the more actually I realize, it wasn’t that bad. It had its rough moments, but it was a fairly smooth ride. I look at it in the sense, all I was trying to do was the same thing I did when I was 12 and accepted Christianity. I suppose that helped it to be somewhat smooth with just minor bumps here and there. It led me away from Christianity. Odd how what led you to one thing, leads you away from the very thing it led you to before.

Regardless of the bitter aspects of it, sober, unadulterated, rational, free-thinking, clear thinking, critical thinking has been such a monumental aspect of living a better free life. I’ll accept all of the consequences I have to.

Only one person, a friend of mine, really knows the depth of my antitheism. Eventually it will come out to my family fuller. If I face rejection, I will have the moral aptitude to stand my ground. Face the emotional pain that will come. Face the consequences and be there if they want me back. I sure hope I don’t go through it. The same goes with my friends.

I don’t expect to. My family and friends, with the exception of one friend, seem pretty accepting even if they have a hard time with it. I am just preparing for it regardless. Seems the only rational thing to do because they know how I used to be. I am like night and day now. People may have a hard time accepting to it once they know more fully how I believe. Only time will tell.

So I will end this by saying, the change has been good and needed. I look forward to the future and living this way because I am living freely and thinking freely.

Your-Atheist-In-Arms · March 19, 2009 at 8:05 pm

The Sporadic Journey
-This is Long because the Journey and Change was Sporadic and Long. Get comfy while reading.

Between 1991 to 1992, memory may not serve me right on the exact year now that over a decade has passed, there I was, in a huge auditorium, Newsboys playing their brand of Rock’n’Roll with Christ centered messages. The speak Josh McDowell came to give the sermon and alter call. There I looked at my friend, and asked him to go down with me, and thus it began.

The search for God was like playing hide and go seek in the dark and blind folded. Touch the trees, you think you no where your at. Touch another, your lost again.

I come from a home that was devastated by drug, emotional, physical abuse. Before my conversion to Christianity, He-man, Voltron, superheroes were important. There was a closet in my childhood home where I would spend hours playing with action figures. My safe haven I suppose. The place I hid away from my parents.

When your parents are trapped in such things as I mentioned above, your fictional, creative mind as a kid, helps you to be happy. I call it, self-preservation. Having dealt with a minor form of sexual abuse and parental abuse fictional even mythical characters become a source to find truth. Forgiveness and servitude to a god concept. Convincing yourself that it is real so you serve it with all your life.

Years went on by and theological pursuits became the prime factor of my faith as well as servitude to this god. Know the right truth to be able to be in the best grace with this god. Then to have the most righteous life possible. God praising life. Search the heart of God right? Live for God right?

Yet no orthodox belief ever led to orthopraxy for me. Funny how many a times, I committed some grave immoralities while believing in Christianity. Let’s name a few shall we? Adultery, lived a drunkard life, blasphemy while being a believer, drug use. To keep it short, the typical prodigal son story for me was lived while in Christianity. This conflict never left me…until I left the faith. I never could conquer the things that Christianity deemed damnable. It took me awhile to realize you can’t take away a headache by taking Aspirin for pain that is being caused by a brain tumor. Which then leads to the very fact that Christianity doesn’t help lead people away from the very sins it condemns. It covers them, nothing more.

I mention these things because it shows how deeply rooted the faith was in every aspect of my life back then and it keeps short. Regardless of my failures. Regardless of my successes. Regardless of things done to me out of my control/against my will. The idea of god, Christianity was the very crux of my life.

The change took roughly 3-4 years to concrete itself. Go from mainstream Christianity mixed with evangelical, Pentecostalism, Calvinism/reformed thinking, Quaker thinking, Post-Modern, Liberal thinking in Christianity, then to researching Buddhism, Roman Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy, heretical theological beliefs it does take a while to get to that point that you know what you believe in. I am an antitheist now. I will gladly concede to being arrogant in my atheism/antitheism. The change for me, has been very bittersweet.

Bitter because, I remember all the hurt I did when I was religious. The pain I cause on people. I have apologized to friends, family, ex girlfriends, even women I had a shot at relationships with.

Then realizing how foolish, irrational I used to think and then to look back at how it infected area of my life.

My parents not dealing with it too well. We don’t get into debates. My father does care what I believe in but he comes to so many misconceptions about me, and I am having a hard time finding the desire to clear them up because there’s no reason for some of these conclusions. My mother will not talk about me changing. She says it so brief and short. I’ve laid it on the table for them. This is how I am, I am an atheist. I do not use the term antitheist with them, because they better understand that term as atheist. There’s no difference between the two, so I used words they understand. I do not want them to have deceptive images of me. I will gladly destroy their image of me as a “born-again Christian man”, or a “godly man”. I am neither. They can no longer say, “We are a Christian family” without blinding themselves to the facts of their son’s views.

I would rather do this and lead them to a situation where, either you accept it or you don’t because then, to me, that will help us to have a better relationship by knowing me and not them living on what they want me to be and while knowing what they believe in as well. It is hard at times knowing how they really don’t like this change about me. Yet, its the most loving thing I can do.

I have also lost friends due to this change. Only one as far as I know of, but that’s enough to include into this part.

Then a new area for me to go about changing is my love life. This a work in progress, because I know what I want in a woman, it is just, this change keeps me on my guard if I come across religious women. So this part of my change, figuring out how to go about finding that lifelong relationship is in the process right now. A religious woman wanting me seems like a dichotomy to me. I do not like the idea of limiting my options to only a set few. At the same time though, I have to be realistic. So I am figuring it out as it goes I suppose. The best I can do while being single.

In terms of the change being sweet is, the intellectual honesty that I now have. The ability to think critically and rationally and to not accept lies, immoral beliefs of our existence that poison everything, moral progress, a renewed beauty of life, existence, myself, trying my best to use the very method of thinking that enlightened so many about our world.

Mere example for a part of the change that I have now is, I would consider a strong atheist. Yet if we could put it on a scale of 1-10, I am a 9. I say it grudgingly I must admit. I want to make the leap to 10. No matter what though, I have to be humble and not demean the very method of rationalizing that brought us to so much enlightenment. The grudgingly part is because I cannot see what new manipulation of science theories could come across about god’s existence. I cannot see what philosophical rationalizations could come to rationalize an existence of a god being. God-concepts I believe are man-made so anything new is just that…a replication of the old proven wrong theories. Science can predict billions of years away and let’s not forget, science is not biased on proving or disproving the existence of a god. The methods to explain things, I will feel safe to predict, will never need the existence of a god to be true.

So it is tempting to just leap to 10 on the scale. Yet, I will remain at 9…grudgingly. I fear that making that positive assertion demeans the very method of thinking that evolved our perception of reality to a more rational understanding. I will say this much. Out of all the reasoning, theories, philosophical rationalizations, manipulation of scientific discoveries trying to prove some god, I will with conviction say, “There is no God”. When anything new comes about, if/when it does, I will critically examine it the best of my ability. While I come to this grudgingly, the humbleness it gives, I believe is vital for living. So we can constantly learn, grow, evolve etc. etc.

It is such an enlightenment, because once you get passed the first stage of it, you can figure out yourself more clearly. Yes it takes time. My life is drastically changing right now outside of this stuff. Yet, I feel more equipped to tackle on the challenges of life that are going to come.

My own personal morality has gotten extremely more moral and is still progressing. When before, I felt like I was at stalemate. Its hard to explain but the best way I can say it is, when you think rationally it is addicting because it is the only proper way to think. When you get to that point, you want every area of your life to be rational. Regardless of what you lose, regardless of anything in the past, you just want to live this way.

This part, the internal changes the more I think about it, the more actually I realize, it wasn’t that bad. It had its rough moments, but it was a fairly smooth ride. I look at it in the sense, all I was trying to do was the same thing I did when I was 12 and accepted Christianity. I suppose that helped it to be somewhat smooth with just minor bumps here and there. It led me away from Christianity. Odd how what led you to one thing, leads you away from the very thing it led you to before.

Regardless of the bitter aspects of it, sober, unadulterated, rational, free-thinking, clear thinking, critical thinking has been such a monumental aspect of living a better free life. I’ll accept all of the consequences I have to.

Only one person, a friend of mine, really knows the depth of my antitheism. Eventually it will come out to my family fuller. If I face rejection, I will have the moral aptitude to stand my ground. Face the emotional pain that will come. Face the consequences and be there if they want me back. I sure hope I don’t go through it. The same goes with my friends.

I don’t expect to. My family and friends, with the exception of one friend, seem pretty accepting even if they have a hard time with it. I am just preparing for it regardless. Seems the only rational thing to do because they know how I used to be. I am like night and day now. People may have a hard time accepting to it once they know more fully how I believe. Only time will tell.

So I will end this by saying, the change has been good and needed. I look forward to the future and living this way because I am living freely and thinking freely.

Leave a Reply

Related Posts

personal

Relationship Funerals & The Way We Say Goodbye

One year ago today I wrote the following in response to this piece about Relationship Funerals I share it now with you. A breakup ritual could be incredibly beautiful… and painful… and healing. It’s one way Read more…

my past

Be the One to Turn On the Light

I remember reluctantly stepping out of faith into atheism feeling as if everything I cared about had been erased against my will. My community support structure was gone; my family now felt like strangers; and I had Read more…

religion

A Little “Thank You” to Atheism

Thank you, Atheism, for: Causing me to realize my ethics need to come from my own truth, and not from someone’s interpretation of a book or prophetic message. Challenging me when I was comfortable and Read more…