Skip to main content

An Honest Answer

By OatmealPanda ~

A few of you may remember me from my post a couple of years back called, "An Honest Question." For several weeks, back in late 2011, I visited this site almost daily, and often, multiple times in a day. My visits coincided with a number of things in my life: the diagnosis and acceptance of my youngest child as autistic (like his sister before him), the finalization of my divorce, my first personal experience of anti-depression and anti-anxiety medications, and what was my most recent (but neither my first, nor probably my last) spiritual crisis.

Before we go any further, I want to say this: although I did not find everything I was looking for here, I am so grateful to the many of you who tried to help me find it. You aided my journey considerably, and I would like to share some of the things I learned, in my brief sojourn here:

1. No matter where you go, there will be many, many people who are genuinely kind and want to help you. To all of you, all I can say is thank you. I identified with so many of your stories, particularly the ones involving guilt, fear, a love of "sinning", and other affirmations of life, and your stories helped me not to feel so alone. My especial thanks to Thin-Ice (thank you for your willingness to understand, and your prompt defence of me), Discordia for your irreverence and for sharing so much knowledge, glebealyth for your incredible supportiveness, WizenedSage for tailoring your responses so thoroughly to my personal issues, Insanezenmistress for managing to make me laugh in the midst of what I hope is the worst depression of my life, momof8 for seeming to understand my perspective so clearly, Julie Montgonery for your unfailing goodwill and welcoming demeanour, UncagedCardinal for your wonderful description of a what the idea of "Jesus" can be, and Mo, slave2six, ethana2, statmaster2001, exrelayman, unoder, buffetphan, and dozens more of you for responding to my honest questions, with honest answers/replies/extracts/memories. You have all helped me, more than you'll ever know.

2. There is no easy answer. In retrospect, I know I came here hoping for a road map, a sort of how-to guide to leaving my increasingly burdensome, increasingly estranged faith, but the truth is, faith has to leave you. I envy some of you your freedom... but just as when I first came here (2 weeks into a course of Citalopram, a week into a course of Diazepam, 7+ years out of attending church, and living with a man who is *still* not my husband even now) I have to call myself some sort of Christian, because at least a part of me still believes. And for better or for worse, I can no more see the value in spending umpteen hours a day trying to convince myself of the non-existence of God, than I could see the value of trying to convince myself of the opposite, all those years ago when I made the decision to leave the church. I managed to get away from church almost instantaneously, though it took moving to a foreign country to do it--faith is something else, though, and it clings to me, regardless of how elastic or non-specific it becomes.

3. In any walk of life, there will be those who are fearful, and therefore hostile. To the less-than-a-handful of people who refused to engage with my openness and quiet desperation: you should be ashamed of yourselves. I won't name and shame, however, because I would like to think I've grown beyond that. All I can hope is that if you read this, you'll recognize yourself. Still, I owe you thanks, as well--thank you for showing me that it is possible to leave Christianity, yet stay just as sanctimonious and judgmental and loveless as when you were in it. In a number of ways, it did me good to see that the full spectrum of humanity, from its ugliest to its most beautiful, exists in any large group or subculture. I am quite sure you did not intend to give me this gift; and I am now such a terrible "Christian" that it amuses me to think of how thoroughly you helped me, through trying to hurt me. I am also a terrible enough Christian to wish the same hurtful, snide, unkind treatment on you, someday. Maybe you, too, will learn from it.

That's not all I took away from my time here, but most of the important things I learned have been summed up in the above list. In conclusion, let me give those of you who were so kind to me the first time around a quick update on my life:

I have been functioning without anti-depression/anxiety medication for over a year now, and in a move resplendent with triteness, I have managed to complete a year of part-time study in the area of psychology. At the end of it, hopefully I'll have a better understanding of myself, and those around me... plus more career opportunities :-)

After nearly 10 years of non-attendance to church, I generally refer to myself as a Universalist, or make reference to inter-faith beliefs, when asked about my spirituality; I'm still looking (not very hard, admittedly) for a church or meeting house or sanctuary of some sort, to attend. Or perhaps I'll never return to organized religion--and after a long time striving, I'm okay with that, now (in spite of the continued flak from some friends and family members, and the ended relationships with others).

The greatest joy of my life is, and likely always will be, my beautiful, cheeky, spirited, quirky unique children, and I am proud of my decision not to inundate them with the religious programming of my early years--my youngest is 5 now, and unlike myself at his age (even now, occasionally) he never wakes up in a panic, sick to his stomach from dreams about hellfire and demons. Knowledge like that is the greatest comfort of my life and makes my own terrors easier to bear.

I think that's all I wanted to say--as always, I'll lurk around on the site from time to time, and probably reply to most/all comments on this, if there are any. Assuming this little essay goes up, I give my embarrassingly grateful thanks to the veto board, webmaster, or whomever else may decide to put this on the site--your generosity and neutrality are a credit to you. Finally, my best wishes to all of you, as you continue your personal searches for the things that leave you contented, at peace, joyful, fulfilled, and just plain happy. I wish you the continued discovery of all those joys, and more.


Popular posts from this blog

Are You an Atheist Success Story?

By Avangelism Project ~ F acts don’t spread. Stories do. It’s how (good) marketing works, it’s how elections (unfortunately) are won and lost, and it’s how (all) religion spreads. Proselytization isn’t accomplished with better arguments. It’s accomplished with better stories and it’s time we atheists catch up. It’s not like atheists don’t love a good story. Head over to the atheist reddit and take a look if you don’t believe me. We’re all over stories painting religion in a bad light. Nothing wrong with that, but we ignore the value of a story or a testimonial when we’re dealing with Christians. We can’t be so proud to argue the semantics of whether atheism is a belief or deconversion is actually proselytization. When we become more interested in defining our terms than in affecting people, we’ve relegated ourselves to irrelevance preferring to be smug in our minority, but semantically correct, nonbelief. Results Determine Reality The thing is when we opt to bury our

So Just How Dumb Were Jesus’ Disciples? The Resurrection, Part VII.

By Robert Conner ~ T he first mention of Jesus’ resurrection comes from a letter written by Paul of Tarsus. Paul appears to have had no interest whatsoever in the “historical” Jesus: “even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, we know him so no longer.” ( 2 Corinthians 5:16 ) Paul’s surviving letters never once mention any of Jesus’ many exorcisms and healings, the raising of Lazarus, or Jesus’ virgin birth, and barely allude to Jesus’ teaching. For Paul, Jesus only gets interesting after he’s dead, but even here Paul’s attention to detail is sketchy at best. For instance, Paul says Jesus “was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures” ( 1 Corinthians 15:4 ), but there are no scriptures that foretell the Jewish Messiah would at long last appear only to die at the hands of Gentiles, much less that the Messiah would then be raised from the dead after three days. After his miraculous conversion on the road to Damascus—an event Paul never mentions in his lette

Christian TV presenter reads out Star Wars plot as story of salvation

An email prankster tricked the host of a Christian TV show into reading out the plots of The Fresh Prince of Bel Air and Star Wars in the belief they were stories of personal salvation. The unsuspecting host read out most of the opening rap to The Fresh Prince, a 1990s US sitcom starring Will Smith , apparently unaware that it was not a genuine testimony of faith. The prankster had slightly adapted the lyrics but the references to a misspent youth playing basketball in West Philadelphia would have been instantly familiar to most viewers. The lines read out by the DJ included: "One day a couple of guys who were up to no good starting making trouble in my living area. I ended up getting into a fight, which terrified my mother." The presenter on Genesis TV , a British Christian channel, eventually realised that he was being pranked and cut the story short – only to move on to another spoof email based on the plot of the Star Wars films. It began: &quo


By David Andrew Dugle ~   S ettle down now children, here's the story from the Book of David called The Parable of the Bent Cross. In the land Southeast of Eden –  Eden, Minnesota that is – between two rivers called the Big Miami and the Little Miami, in the name of Saint Gertrude there was once built a church. Here next to it was also built a fine parochial school. The congregation thrived and after a multitude of years, a new, bigger church was erected, well made with clean straight lines and a high steeple topped with a tall, thin cross of gold. The faithful felt proud, but now very low was their money. Their Sunday offerings and school fees did not suffice. Anon, they decided to raise money in an unclean way. One fine summer day the faithful erected tents in the chariot lot between the two buildings. In the tents they set up all manner of games – ring toss, bingo, little mechanical racing horses and roulette wheels – then all who lived in the land between the two rivers we

Why I left the Canadian Reformed Church

By Chuck Eelhart ~ I was born into a believing family. The denomination is called Canadian Reformed Church . It is a Dutch Calvinistic Christian Church. My parents were Dutch immigrants to Canada in 1951. They had come from two slightly differing factions of the same Reformed faith in the Netherlands . Arriving unmarried in Canada they joined the slightly more conservative of the factions. It was a small group at first. Being far from Holland and strangers in a new country these young families found a strong bonding point in their church. Deutsch: Heidelberger Katechismus, Druck 1563 (Photo credit: Wikipedia ) I was born in 1955 the third of eventually 9 children. We lived in a small southern Ontario farming community of Fergus. Being young conservative and industrious the community of immigrants prospered. While they did mix and work in the community almost all of the social bonding was within the church group. Being of the first generation born here we had a foot in two

Morality is not a Good Argument for Christianity

By austinrohm ~ I wrote this article as I was deconverting in my own head: I never talked with anyone about it, but it was a letter I wrote as if I was writing to all the Christians in my life who constantly brought up how morality was the best argument for Christianity. No Christian has read this so far, but it is written from the point of view of a frustrated closeted atheist whose only outlet was organizing his thoughts on the keyboard. A common phrase used with non-Christians is: “Well without God, there isn’t a foundation of morality. If God is not real, then you could go around killing and raping.” There are a few things which must be addressed. 1. Show me objective morality. Define it and show me an example. Different Christians have different moral standards depending on how they interpret the Bible. Often times, they will just find what they believe, then go back into scripture and find a way to validate it. Conversely, many feel a particular action is not