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I need help, support, anyone to tell me that I’m not going to burn

By Bethany ~

Life is the most extraordinarily difficult epicenter of our existence. We would all die for our loved ones, but who of us really live for them?

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For the first 18 years of my life I’ve been immersed into the Christian faith. I’ve been baptized, dedicated, and was known as a covenant child. Every person in my family is a god fearing saint, every person except for yours truly. For one thing I have had issues with my religion every second of every loathing-sobbing-thrashing day of my life. I never really connected with God and Jesus the way I thought I was supposed to, I felt inadequate because I was a woman and I spent my days praying to desire God and guilt ridden when I continued to fall short. It still hurts. Six years ago I was at every prayer breakfast, youth group, missions trip and biblical retreat doing my best to “defy humanity”—but in doing so I was the most miserable person I knew. Two suicide attempts, two psych evaluations, two semesters at Bible college, two Rob Bell books, and one broken engagement later I am a new person, all my own for the first time; and I am the happiest I have ever been.

I don’t not believe in God, but I don’t necessarily believe in him either, thus I secretly claim agnosticism. This puts me between a rock and a hard place right now because there is nothing in my life to depend on, I have no comfort. Being a deeply spiritual person I think that not believing in something just because we don’t understand it is idiotic and I think that unexplainable wonderful things happen to us ever day.

According to my family I am “lost” or “gullible” or “arrogant”, when I’m really just Bethany. I realized the normalcy of “The God who surpasses all understanding” was weird, kind of creepy, and all of the people who use that statement seem to think they understand God quite well; I also realize that I have spent 80 percent of my life brainwashed.

As anyone can imagine this has drawn huge lines between my family and I. I am one of seven children, in a very close religious family. Even my stoned-sour-crack-addict-delinquent cousin is better than I am because he sits in those pews every Sunday and sings as loud as he can to those hymns. I love my family so much and I don’t know what I would do without them—but I hate being an outcast. I hate what Christianity has done to my relationships. Let me confirm that I am a pacifist by nature as well as by heart. I do not and will not hate Christianity itself. I think that having faith and acknowledging that there are purposes greater than that of our own small lives is a beautiful thing, and I think it has done as much amazing good in lives just as it has bad. But it’s a bittersweet symphony when it makes me sick to my core. I get nauseas when I walk into a church and when I hear or see a Bible verse I am consumed with bitterness, I hate myself when I am associated with that life.

So I am not a Christian. I believe that the bible is a very old, misinterpreted and overrated book. I love life and people and I am a good person apart from Christ—stronger as well. My boyfriend has had a very different experience with religion and doesn’t understand me. My family gives every effort to pull me back in with them, to extreme extents. The friends I have left don’t discuss it with me under any circumstance; I am alone.

I need help, support, anyone to tell me that I’m not going to burn a torturous death. I go back to my beginning statement and wonder if this is even worth it. I would die for any of the above listed people in a heartbeat, so I wonder if fighting so hard for my own happiness is right. I carry so much shame now, shame and fear. Am I making a huge mistake?