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A taste of freedom at last!

By Casey Tyler ~

Taste of Freedom - Jimmy Ovadia
As a child I was not regularly involved in church, although I did attend occasionally with my grandparents. I remember attending church hit and miss until around age ten. During this time I was taught that Jesus was real, he was our savior, God was his father, and all other Biblical stories. From age 10 to age 18 I wasn’t involved in church at all. I did believe in God, Jesus, the Bible, and I even prayed. It was just what I was SUPPOSED to do.

In 1998, at 18, I was married. My husband and I were persuaded by his close cousin to attend church with him and his wife. In September 1999 I accepted Jesus as my personal savior and became a Christian. I was baptized in October 1999, at the Baptist Church we attended. Our experience at this church was rigid and uncomfortable. We never felt welcome there. Needless to say, our membership only lasted a few months.

We stayed away from churches for several years until Tommy became an ordained minister. He convinced us to try the new church he was pastoring, and we did. Around 2003 we joined this Baptist church and became members. We were fairly active there, helping with VBS and other functions. Then, in 2004, our cousin was “called” by God to start a brand new church. My husband and I would be one of 8 families to join the new church. In the beginning our church family held a strong bond. I was children’s church leader and Treasurer from the start. Within a year our church had grown tremendously. My husband was ordained as Deacon around 2006. Being a part of such a close knit group of people gave us immense feelings of involvement and security. We had a common goal; we were to reach out to the members of our community and bring others to Christ. The first five or so years as a church went very smoothly. Only on occasion would we have a “bad” apple spoil our good works, but they eventually moved on. Sometime around 2008 our church growth had tripled, we’d seen many families come and go. The need for more leaders was desperate. As our church continued to grow, we had more leaders; the drama pot began to stir. Gossip within the church family started and has yet to cease. There are church members today that refuse to speak to each other because of past, minor disagreements. Once the drama started it just multiplied and I began to see the “real” people in my church family. It was at this time that I began to question my feelings and opinions about Christianity but I wouldn’t DARE discredit or stop believing in Jesus/God! Church and believing was just what I was supposed to do, it was a way of life for our family.

In November 2010 I joined a friend’s Facebook post with an Atheist. When I first read his comments and began conversing with him I thought he was the most arrogant asshole to ever walk the earth! He told us that our God was evil, vile, a murderer, that the bible was a fallible, erroneous piece of ancient literature. I was initially concerned for his soul and tried desperately to win him to Christ with God’s love. I started studying Apologetics so that I could prove my faith and my God to him. All the while I was entertained by his views as he hated religion as a whole. Since I’d never really been exposed to Atheism or other religions, I was curious to learn more. During this time, as I studied to prove my religion to him, I began reading into his posts and studying his biblical references. With all intentions of disproving him, I actually began to disprove my own faith and belief system. WOW! I was scaring the hell out of myself now! This was too much…I became physically and emotionally ill. Depression set in from the guilt of discrediting God in my head, I was NOT supposed to do this! But then I started thinking about how practicing Christianity affected my life and my family.

Being a Christian and surrounding myself with Christians was terribly stressful and emotional. Especially as I began to personally get to know my fellow “believers”. Most, in fact, all but ONE of the leaders in our church are completely different outside the walls of the church. The pastor being one of the “different”. I literally became disgusted with Christians in general. It became very trying and difficult to constantly have to defend, to myself, the actions of these so called Christians. I would tell myself that we are not perfect, just forgiven. The hardest part of it all, for me, was that I lived in a glass house! Everything I said and did was critically analyzed and examined by the world, non-Christians. I had to literally think carefully before I spoke or moved. I always asked “what will others think or say if I do this”. The guilt was a heavy burden for me.

As I began to closely monitor the actions of my fellow Christians, I realized several things; Christians are by far the most judgmental, cold hearted, hateful, fake people I know. Not a minute went by when I was at church that someone was not being judged, gossiped about, or shunned. Christians have generated their own set of rules and biblical interpretations. All of which are 100% contradictory to one another.

The next month was a total blur to me. I had so many thoughts, ideas, questions, doubts, and theories running through my head I went deeper into my depression. I became sleep deprived. Until I finally broke free from the guilt, depression, and despair. I had my mind made up! The guilt was gone, my heart clear. I now openly share many of the same views and opinions of my FB Atheist friend! The feeling of religious freedom is overwhelming. I am a new person, no longer confined by the dogma of Christianity. I am free to live, speak, move, and decide for myself! I am NOT a Christian anymore! I am no longer being held prisoner by other’s standards and opinions…I have officially resigned from my leadership positions at Crossway and am free to live MY life!!!

As for the question of whether or not there is a God/Creator. I can’t answer that. I no longer have blind faith in a God though. I still struggle with my personal theory on “Him”. It is very hard for me to fathom an infinite deity, creature, being, alien, or what-not that created everything in existence. Do I believe there is a loving being looking over us, listening and answering our prayers? NO! It’s not feasible to me. Science and Intelligent Design go hand in hand for me right now. I enjoy studying both, and as for now, I will stay on the fence; undecided as to whether we were “created” or just “became”. Maybe I will never know, and maybe that’s best! I WILL live the rest of my life enjoying just being human! A Free Thinker….

As I wrote this I remembered something that happened about 6 months ago to my 10 year old. Remembering this time is quite difficult and I making me angry as I type. My precious child woke up one morning and told my husband that he thought about killing himself. He said that since we told him heaven was such a great place and that Jesus was a wonderful savior he wanted to live with him in heaven. He knew he had to die to get there so he would kill himself. Of course, I didn’t blame religion at the time for his thoughts. Instead I took him to a Psychiatrist and he began counseling. My baby was having obsessive thoughts of death and dying. He was afraid to go to sleep at night, that he would stop breathing and die. He underwent several weeks of “death” counseling; he learned how to control his thoughts. Religion, religious morals and standards did this to my child! His mind was warped by religion…NEVER again will I push religion on my children. I am de-converting them from Christianity. From now on they will be taught to be free thinkers, and will be allowed to form their own theories and opinions on religion, life, creation, existence, etc. They will be taught to be good people, to love one another, and how to make their own choices based ONLY on their PERSONAL feelings and standards.