Preserving Your Faith

A few weeks ago, I came out and said I wasn’t a Christian anymore. Some of you still are a Christian, though, and life has taken you on a different path. I’d like to hear from you.

A good friend, Aaron Gates, told his story here. Aaron shared that he’s still a Christian but had some struggles after he left ministry feeling like he was mourning the loss of friends and the people in ministry that become his family. He also shared that his relationship with God had been formed on what he “had been taught and told and made to experience.”

Aaron entered a journey similar to my own, where he had to decide what he believed, and where he stood on the core issues of life; including where he stood with God.

You may not realize it now, but even in your moments of pain and hurt, you’re on a similar journey.You’re deciding what you believe in (or don’t believe in) and where you’re going to go from here in life.

Now for you to answer:

How has your journey begun, evolved and continued?

Do you still believe in God? If so, how has what you experience strengthened that relationship with God or perhaps allowed you to be more skeptical of that belief?

Did it cause you to be more skeptical of church? If so, what parts of church are still painful to you? Have you found one that you feel comfortable in, or are you still searching?

Who or what has helped you along this journey?

We are all teachers and we are all students

“We are all teachers and we are all students.” My friend John shared this on his Facebook page Homeless Faith, which he describes as: “A place for those who have maintained their belief in a Higher Power, yet have no structured home to practice it.”

“We are all teachers and we are all students.” My friend John shared this on his Facebook page Homeless Faith, which he describes as: “A place for those who have maintained their belief in a Higher Power, yet have no structured home to practice it.” Although I haven’t maintained a belief in a Higher Power, so many of my good friends have and they are searching for answers, mostly because Christian beliefs have had us trained that there are answers. Instead, I think there are journeys we can take and paths we can wander down, bits and pieces we can learn from as life takes us through dark moments and happier days, and people and places we can connect with. No one is your guru, your teacher, your leader. No one rules over you anymore. Like John said, we are ALL teachers and we are all students. We learn from each other and we teach each other.

Atheist Labels can be Confining

I’ve been a blogger for almost two years. When I first “came out” as an atheist, I started with a broad statement “I’m not a Christian anymore.” I realize that was a little ambiguous but it’s okay to sort out your faith or loss of faith as you go, piece by piece, day by day. There’s no right way to become an atheist.

I immediately ran to all the atheist communities online, hoping to find…I’m not sure what I wanted to find-answers, new bff’s, deep discussions? I visited just about every atheist online community, including the assholes on reddit.com/r/atheist (and they are truly assholes), and landed in Think Atheist. I liked it the best, but my interest faded with time. All of the communities serve a purpose, but few people had stories like mine (former reverends join a coercive religious group; minister for seven years; can’t date, etc.) so it was difficult to find people to relate to. I started blogging more about being atheist and as it turns out there were a lot of agnostic or atheist or skeptic friends on my Facebook, so that ended nicely for me.

Blogging is something that requires you to categorize yourself and label yourself, mostly so people can find your expertise or opinions in the vast sea of blogs. Of course when I came out, I wanted to rush to label myself as atheist…because I was.

How did everyone else do it? Oh, big red A’s? 

Ew.To be honest, those red A’s that everyone puts on their blogs are just tacky. And then there’s the rumors of Richard Dawkins being sexist. I’m feminist before I’m anything because I left the church for being so damn confining and oppressive to WOMEN, so when I heard that, I definitely wasn’t a fan and won’t be wearing the Dick Dawkins red A or anything related to him.

Plus, my writing is much more comprehensive than just atheism and I think that’s what I don’t get about the atheist community. Aren’t we people with a wide range of talents and interests? Why just stick to one single subject daily? It’s almost as boring as Christianity and the same old recycled sermons. Yawn. I would bore myself to tears if that’s all I wrote about everyday. To be honest, I started this blog to get my story out and I’ve attracted quite a large amount of Christians. We don’t necessarily get along all the time, because they don’t like my profanity or my attitude, but I still try to find a way to offer them resources because I realize they are hurting because the person they trusted most (a clergy person) abused them or misused them.

I get it, the word atheism is a label and sometimes that’s important. But there’s something important to me about the ability to change and be flexible, especially after being so tightly wound as a fundamentalist. When people ask me if I’m an atheist I like to say that I can be agnostic, atheist and anti-theist all in a weeks time. If I ever become comfortable with medication meditation or something spiritual in nature, then I’d like to explore that without another label being in the way (living life as a “I love Jesus. Do you?” Christian will do that to you).

Being Untethered from Religion

“When I got untethered from the comfort of religion, it wasn’t a loss of faith for me, it was a discovery of self.” Brad Pitt

image

I’ve read good things about Brad and Angelina and always admired the amount of humanitarian work Angelina does. No matter how many people make fun of her for adopting babies, she has done some commendable work with the United Nations.

I’d also read somewhere that Brad and Angelina were not going to raise their children Christian, but were going to let them see the world and decide for themselves. They also were going to have multiple books of faith around, not just the Bible, for them to explore.

Reading Brad Pitt’s quote below did something for me-it articulated how I feel about being free from religion. It’s a very liberating feeling.

Cheers.

 

UPDATE: More on Brad Pitt’s religious views here.


I Feel Like You Should Know

I feel like you should know…

  • That even if you don’t have ‘faith’ anymore, you’re a pretty awesome person. There’s nothing wrong with you. Don’t worry about what others are going to say about you behind your back. Be who you are and those who love you for who you are will come out and show you they like you no matter what.
  • Don’t let anyone criticize you for who you are. Be proud. Wear your quirks like a yellow raincoat. If someone doesn’t like the good, healthy decisions you’re making, remove them from your life.
  • Christians can be bullies too. Don’t take shit from anyone–no matter who they say “called them.”
  • Critical thinking is winning. Walk into the murky pool of doubt, wade deeper into the unknown and swim with the questions. You’ll find that the water will become clearer the longer you’re there.
  • Just be who you are. If you don’t know, you don’t know. If you do know, then you do know. If you’re not comfortable talking about your faith or lack thereof, or questions, to others just let them know you’d like them to respect your privacy on the matter. If they don’t listen, tell them to shut the fuck up. 🙂 If you put a smiley face after it, or smile after saying it, it takes away the severity.
  • You’ve overcome a lot and you’re going to have a better life on the other side. Whatever side that is and wherever you land. You might land in a fluffy frosting-filled town of happiness (and if you do, I’d like the drugs you’re on, please). You might land back in reality where shit sucks and life happens and you’ve got bills to pay. Just remember, wherever you land, after we go through dark times in life, we’re very strong people. If you’re not there yet–you’re still in the dark times–it’s ok. You’re stronger than you think you are.  You’ll make it. Life will be good again.