8/14/2015 | Share this article: View CommentsBy tattooedmind ~
Where to start. I'm 30 years old, I’ve been married for 7 years and have one daughter with another child on the way. I love my family and wouldn’t change our circumstances for anything. I should mention that my wife is still very Catholic. More on that later though, I guess I’ll start at the beginning. I apologize now that this will be long. I need to get this out for me more than anything, even if no one else reads it.
I went to the Nursery School at the church that shortly after I started, became our home church. I grew up in the Lutheran Church from as young as I can remember. I went to Sunday School most weeks. I had a few really close friends that I grew up with at church since Kindergarten. I learned all the stories that looking back on them with a different perspective seem absolutely batshit crazy. But I believed they all happened, because I was told God said so.
I was part of my youth group as young as I could join. I loved it. Made some new friends and got closer with older ones. As I got older not only did I get much more involved and interested, I began to help with the younger kids. In high school, I was eventually planning and leading some of our youth group meetings. I had been volunteering at many overnight retreats and working with many different groups. I had begun exploring other denominations (primarily their youth group events) with friends.
By the end of high school, I thought I was so in touch with Jesus Christ. I was mostly happy with my life and continued volunteering and helping at my home congregation. I felt like I was doing such a service in helping people connect to their Lord and Savior and build a relationship with Him.
Then hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast. I live in the Northeast but I had an experience like no other. I felt this “calling” to go and help. I volunteered for a few months in Mississippi helping clean out houses and rebuild. I was doing God’s work. I met some awesome people from around the country all there to serve their God and their neighbor. It is still to this day an experience I treasure and will never forget.
While I was down there, I felt another “calling.” One of the organizations I had worked with for nearly 10 years as a youth advisor also put together music/youth ministry teams. I had been interested in joining one of their teams for a number of years, but never to the point where I signed up. Not til then. I decided I was going to join this group and tour a part of the country for a year with a handful of complete strangers.
Just before I left for this yearlong ministry, I met the woman that is now my wife. I was trying to avoid getting involved with a girl knowing I was leaving for a year, but we felt as though “God wanted us together.”
I went away and so the first year of our relationship was built over the phone. In the meantime I was living in a van, going from church to church playing music, running youth programs, Vacation Bible Schools and other ministry activities. I was so deep into my faith at that point, and again, it was and still is one of my most amazing experiences that I will never forget. I made some incredible friends on that journey.
When that journey was over, my girlfriend at the time and I had only spent about 2-3 months time together, but we were “together” for almost 15 months. We were engaged roughly 6 months later and married 5 months after that.
I had intended for us to get married and immediately move south for me to pursue a career in youth ministry and she would go to nursing school. I cannot express how glad I am that never actually happened. As I said earlier, my wife is Catholic and we were married in the Catholic Church at her parents’ request. I wasn’t thrilled, as most Lutherans usually aren’t huge fans of Catholicism in the first place, but it was tolerable. She got into nursing school locally, I got a job and we moved in with her parents for a year.
Life was good, and we were both now volunteering together at both the youth groups we grew up at. I was even on the staff part time at my home church. I eventually left, but continued to volunteer at the other one (the Catholic one). The other volunteer leaders had grown to be really good friends of ours. When we weren’t planning youth group meetings together, we were hanging out with each other socially.
All was well in our lives and I can’t really say that anything specific changed. I was doing some more intense personal Bible study and began to notice things that didn’t quite add up the more I read. I took a handful of college classes, religion being one of them. It obviously opened my eyes to the practices and beliefs of other worldviews and people around the world. Months had gone by and I continued studying, but one idea kept resonating though all the study I had done of religion throughout history up to present day 2015. And suddenly in one instant, I came to understand religion, all religion, as merely a political tool.
I no longer believed in everything that helped to shape me as a person for the better part of 28 years. Ummm…what?! Suddenly everything was different. I felt both free and trapped at the same time. Nearly everyone I knew, associated with, loved, was related to or had any connection to my life aside from professionally was a believer to some degree. So how did I go about telling people?
For a while I didn’t tell anyone. I wasn’t sure if I was sure. I needed more time to process. I wanted to be wrong. I wanted so badly for God to actually do something to prove to me that I was wrong. Not a “sign” or a person with a kind word, I wanted to be talked to by a bolt of lightning or a burning bush, or see someone walk across a lake to me or do some crazy Bible story miracle. Suddenly I thought more about all the stories I had learned over the years and looked at them from the eyes of a rational adult who had never heard of any of it, and realized I couldn’t continue to lie to myself. I would be absolutely nuts to go on pretending I believed in any of it.
I thought more about all the stories I had learned over the years and looked at them from the eyes of a rational adult who had never heard of any of it and realized I couldn’t continue to lie to myself.And that was it, I decided that I would no longer consider myself a Christian. I agree with idea of agnosticism. There may be something out there, but it certainly cannot be anywhere as quantifiable or explainable to such detail as any of the religions of the world do. Then I felt very alone. Again, I didn’t like the idea of that. I liked that there was a God looking out for me and his son who died for me. I wanted to believe, but there’s no way to make yourself believe something, especially when every part of your logical self says otherwise. But its not real, so its time to get over it.
I’m over 2 years deconverted at this point. I told my wife first, and she was very understanding. A little confused at first, but now very understanding and supportive. I try not to belittle her feelings toward church and God. I told my mom and my sister pretty early on but not right away. I’ve wanted to tell my dad for a long time and only just about a month ago actually was able to. Opportunities for “Hey, I know you brought me to church my whole life and tried to teach me about God and all the rest, but I don’t believe any of it anymore,” don’t exactly come up too often.
I’ve yet to tell my in-laws, and many friends who are still religious. I actually still help on occasion at the youth group, because I believe in the good, other than the religious part, that comes from it. It’s a safe place for young people to have friends and I see them truly being themselves and I do think that’s necessary. So unfortunately, there are still many people I’m lying to, or at least just avoiding telling.
Part of me knows that my life would be very different if I never had Christianity in it, and I’m certainly curious how that would have worked out. The other part doesn’t care, because I’m happy with my family, which would certainly have been a very different outcome.
I have noticed negatives to my mood. I’m not sure if its related, or maybe I was just better at squashing my negative feelings before with “the help of God” and whatnot, but my wife and I have both noticed that I get angry more easily at things now. Things upset me that didn’t before. Usually petty things. It may be stress from work, which is definitely more, and just seem like a coincidence. I just hope I can manage my mood better. I don’t want to be angry.
Thank you for taking the ridiculous amount of time to read this. Sorry if I tend to babble. I’m glad I found this site though, as everyone here has the unique perspective of “leaving the flock.”
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