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My Deconversion

By Charissa ~

I struggled for months with my relationship with god. If I look back at my prayer journal, it’s pretty depressing. I would cry out for him for hours on end. And even then, when something would happen and id be on a spiritual high for a few hours or minutes depending on the stimulation, I often wondered, is this just me making myself “feel” good again?

When I was a new Christian I would have doubts. I once met an atheist online, and we discussed evolution vs. creation. And I thought I was doing a real service by trying to convince him. But most often he would give me too many doubts, questions I didn’t want to answer because I was taught it was all lies. My arguments were very convincing to me at the time (I have gone back and read what I actually wrote *face palm* what an idiot I was ha-ha) and eventually I just never replied to his last message, because of the way it made me feel, and the fact that we were just going in circles. I think I actually used the line “I believe because I believe” (flushed red face right now!)

So the doubts obviously stopped as I stopped exposing myself to the arguments against. Until earlier this year. Because of family problems I moved about 60kms from my home town and church, a Baptist church. I wanted more of the Holy Spirit and its power. So I started going to more charismatic churches, and the doctrine being taught was just so different to that which I was used to! I moved around three times in six months, and eventually found a church thats doctrine was a bit more balanced. But the damage was already done. The seeds of hypocrisy were already planted.

I didn’t understand why so many people believed such a wide variety of things, based on exactly the same scriptures. I saw in these people, how they made their experiences bigger and better than what actually happened. I heard people being filled with the spirit and falling over, they told me I needed to let go, you only get the spirit when you let go and start falling. (So the spirit doesn’t knock you out, you need to fall) tried it once, was not filled with the spirit I just felt like a fake. Speaking in tongues were the same thing, you need to start and let the spirit take over. Tried it out a few times, still never got the spirit all over me! I was desperate for more of god and his working in my life. I asked god, judging from these people, how much of MY relationship with him was just in my head? And that progressed me to, is god really there? I was daring the one time and tried to pray for a friend who is deaf, Jesus was pretty expressive about us doing miracles and greater in his name. We prayed for 30 minutes. Eventually my friend (sign language) said that she could hear something in the one ear. We prayed for another 10 minutes. I was sort of excited, but I also doubted the sincerity of what she said. When doing a clicking test, she played along, but she was still very much deaf. I was really disappointed; this is not what Jesus promised. What did that mean?

When moments like that came up, I fought. I tried everything. I listened to sermons on battling faith, I redoubled my efforts of spending more time in prayer, getting up at 4am to pray and spend time with god. And it would help for a while, until something set me off again, and I would spiral down. Friends prayed for me, I fasted, I moved churches, and I tried everything. But the small nagging was still there, how much of my relationship is in my head??

It was actually a dream that I had that was the flip switch. I dreamed that I was at my stepfather's house (who was the family problem and why I left home: he cheated AGAIN on my mother and in essence, my family) and while I was at his house, he called the cops in because someone had done something. I don’t know what it was exactly, but dream-me knew that I had done it, and I was thinking haha fuck you buddy you will never catch me. And then I left to go to school (I am a long time out of school) but when I got to my car my little brother was putting twigs and branches in my car, and I was like, "Stop messing around, we are going to be late for school." And he (being a bratty teenager that I love to bits, but has serious tempers as most teenagers do) freaked out on me, and I just started crying. Then Einstein (yes crazy hair scientist Einstein) came along and said to me that I must hurry or I will be late for school.

Pretty random dream, but my uncle helped me uncover the psychology of it: Every character in the dream was actually me, like my step-dad and the cops are the me that persecutes myself, (thank you religion). My brother freaking out was also me, cause hey I can freak out too, the part where I knew I did something was the part that “sins” and does the wrong things (wrong being according to my religious brainwashing of what is right) and Einstein was the influence of who I thought I should be, not Einstein, but going to school, doing well etc etc.

It was after I figured this out that I realized that religion was all in my head, taught to me, a bar and a person that I really just wasn’t. And it’s like the psychology of it all started making perfect sense. I went to bed crying, I prayed, I was so scared to lose god. I finally admitted I don’t know if I believe in god anymore. I called old church friends from my home town and asked them to pray for me. Seriously pray in earnest cause I guess I knew I was actually fighting an imaginary battle that would not end until I started thinking for myself.

I woke up the next morning still very confused, I decided to Google something I had never had the guts to Google before, I needed to know if this was normal, I believed once saved always saved, and I knew I was “saved” I was definitely a Christian if god existed. So I searched I’m losing my religion and found I read through articles, and started seeing; hey I’m not the only Christian that is or has gone through this. I posted a few questions and got more than the answers I already knew, but encouragement, just knowing I’m not all alone.

The very next day, I woke up and admitted to myself I don’t believe in god. It was super scary, I kept praying still, asking god to help me, which obviously he hasn’t. I kept thinking something bad would happen, my cars clutch was totally buggered for a few months, and I was waiting on some extra money to fix it, and I relied on prayer to get me from point a to b, I kept thinking it would finally give up. But it didn’t. I sold some of my scuba diving equipment to pay for the repairs. Selling of it I would usually attribute to god. I kept saying to god, I don’t want things to happen, I want you.

I got a raise at my very Christian work (I cannot tell them I am not longer a Christian, I know I will lost my job) while in my new atheist place. Also something I would attribute to god. I work in accounting and in one day I managed to pull in $250,000 outstanding debt, which the company attributed to god. I started to see more and more, I am just blessed, not by god, but by random circumstances. I’m lucky. I work hard and get rewarded.

I have told a few friends, not many, I can’t publicly broadcast this yet. There are certain family members and people I don’t want to know. The friends I have told have had strange reactions, one youth pastor saw it as an opportunity to try push a friends with benefits arrangement! Like I would be interested in someone living in a fairytale! My ex-pastor has heard the rumours and invited me to move in with him and his wife and kids. (Leaving my job, lease on my flat and everything!?) Most of my friends are freaking out, obviously, because like me deep down they also have the doubts! But it always boils down to, "Maybe you were never saved." Close friends who have known me for a while can’t use that card, but some have, I think it’s a desperate last hope to hold onto. Cause nothing else can explain it. Well, not biblically anyways.

And on that note, I have had one disadvantage -- it has been lonely. The community I was in is gone, and I have no desire to try and put up with their bullshit. I live in an area that is heavily Christian, every Tom, Dick and Sarah believes that they are Christian. I have one friend that is also an ex-christian, who happens to be my boss’s younger brother. And, the same atheist that I met online has been awesome in supporting me. And that is what my circle of like-minded friends boils down to: a total of two. This is pretty lonely. But I look forward to new friendships soon. Hopefully I can avoid Christians.

Something else happened in the weeks after my deconversion. I started feeling good about myself. I started feeling a bit smarter because hey, I can think for myself, and you know what, it adds up now. Maybe I have more questions now than before, about the meaning of life and a few other things. But its okay if I don’t know it, I’m not going to fall into a religion that comes up with more dead ends just to explain it.

I was never a piece of shit that needed a saviour. I actually pretty much like me too! Many of my Christian and the one non-Christian friends have said that I have multiple personalities. I realize that’s from trying to be this super Christian, I’m getting more balanced. Life is back in my hands, it is not up to the will of god, but it’s in my power to be the best I can be! People have noticed! Even my heavy religious boss asked me if I’ve met someone the other day. Would have loved to tell him the real reason for my happiness, but I need the pay cheque.

I can wear make up and show cleavage! Because I don’t need to be ashamed of myself and my desires. I can flirt, have fun, and feel life because it is good! I don’t want to die and be with Jesus anymore. I want to live, taste, smell and experience! I still want to reach out to people, and plan to get involved in humanitarian work, with non religious organizations.

All in all, it was the best thing that has happened to me.

I was thinking today about a bumper sticker I saw, “The truth will set you free.” The truth this Jesus character brought did not set me free, it enslaved me to guilt and shame and fear. Whereas now, the truth that it is all in our heads and wishful thinking, frees me from all of that, and gives me hope, that this life is mine, and my life is in my own hands, and I take so much pleasure from this.