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Trying to get free

By Goldcrest ~

Have you ever watched one of those movies where, after maybe an hour and a half, the story seems to have reached a natural ending, and you expect to watch the credits roll any moment, only to find the story takes another turn, and then another, and your still watching an hour later? My deconversion journey is like that at the moment. I get to a stage where I think “Yes. That’s it. I’m through with religion for good now. I can get on with my life.” Then something happens. I run into an old friend from church, and I find myself missing the place. Or sometimes I just feel lonely and want to be back there again. I think to myself, “Surely it wasn’t all that bad. Okay, you were unhappy as a Christian. But you’re not happy now…you’ve got nothing to lose by going back.”

Some days I go down a whole imaginary road of how I’m going to go to church again. Not straight away, though. First I’ll call one of my old friends and meet up and have coffee and a chat. Then maybe go to the church men’s group meeting, not the Sunday service. Just dip my toe in. No commitment, no pressure. A couple of weeks ago I arranged to meet someone via a text conversation. I backed out. The problem is the head is in one place but the heart is sometimes in another. I KNOW Christianity is untrue. I’ve spent over a year studying all the problems with doctrine; I’ve read Dawkins and Hitchens and watched The Atheist Experience. But my loneliness keeps wanting me to go back. The problem is I suffer from bi-polar disorder and am quite a heavy drinker. I find it so hard to go out and mix with people. Church seems a very soft option. So welcoming, so warm and friendly.

It was because of the shallowness of Christian friendship that I left, along with the failure of the promises of the bible to deliver. I had gone to church at first looking for friendship, but found only fellowship. The happy handshakes and smiles; the false welcome that makes you think they’re really interested in you. I soon found that they didn’t want to invite me into their lives; they just left me on the edge of things. One guy, to his credit, did make an effort to get to know me, but I soon found our “friendship” was just him mentoring me. I discovered that he was someone who made it his ministry to try to encourage those who are vulnerable and in emotional need.

All my prayers for my healing were unanswered. I was “a new creation in Christ” but I still had depression and I still drank every night. I began to get hopeful that things were improving when I started doing gardening jobs for church members. I was feeling useful, and appreciated. After a few months I suddenly developed a skin reaction to plants and had to stop. This seemed so unjust and inexplicable that it started me off on a process of doubting, looking for answers. At first I felt a lot of anger. That’s easing off now.

I’m not going back to church. I don’t think I am. I’m just trying to keep working at getting free.