I miss my friends. I think that’s been one of the hardest parts of leaving religion. Gratefully, my friends haven’t pulled away from me. It’s actually been quite the opposite, but not for the reasons you might expect.
One of my favorite parts of going to church was seeing all my friends weekly. I’d get to chat and laugh and catch up before and after service. Depending on who you were sitting with in the sanctuary also allowed for more potential fun to take place.
I kept going to church for a while after becoming an atheist, but I was still mostly closeted at that time. I kept going to keep up a front for my family and friends so that they wouldn’t worry or have something to talk about.
It became harder and harder to sit in service and listen to the pastor speak about things that I not only don’t believe in, but that I downright have a problem with. You see, the christian religion, or at least the way it’s always been known and represented to me, is one built on a lot of guilt. Some would paint it as grace or god showing his love, but I’d call it guilt. My biggest gripe was and still continues to be how empty and worthless people view themselves without god.
If you’ve ever gone to church then chances are you’ve heard these statements before. I can’t imagine how many times I’ve heard that humans are broken without god. We’re so terrible and corrupt and morally bankrupt without god. God gives our lives a purpose. We’re so terrible that god literally killed himself. We’re born broken. It sounds innocent enough if you’re in belief, but holy crap….what a massive downer.
It devalues every person on this planet with no evidence. We’re born sick and ordered to be made well by an all loving god that will send you to hell for not loving it. Yikes.
It’s very hard to sit in service and hear that. It’s also hard to even have a good time as I unintentionally sit there and deconstruct everything I’m hearing. Critiquing everything in my head. Looking for holes in the logic or an argument to support the assertions being spoken. I can’t shut it off.
Here’s a good exercise you can do next time you’re in service. Whenever the pastor says God, Jesus or Holy Spirit, replace that word with Zeus, Thor or Apollo. You’ll then have an idea of what it’s like sitting in service for me. It sounds crazy.
Also, since I’ve outed myself because I don’t want to live a double life, I don’t want to go to church and be a distraction to others that believe. I wouldn’t want to hinder someone’s worship.
I’ve been told by a good handful of people that I should still come. That they miss me. It’s a wonderfully nice thing for people to say, but it just seems so much more complex now.
A lot has happened to me over the last 2 years. My brother was killed, I lost my faith and I was blessed with a beautiful new baby girl. It’s been a massive emotional and intellectual roller-coaster in life and my relationships with my friends has suffered the most. If any of you are reading this now, I’m sorry that I’ve been as absent as I have been. It’s not been intentional or out of spite.
Sifting through the complexities that have come with all these recent changes hasn’t been easy. About 7 months after my brother died I was at the absolute lowest point of my life. I was missing my brother and I found myself very alone in my unbelief. Surrounded by people that didn’t and couldn’t understand my point of view while condemning my conclusions outright. It’s a low and lonely spot to find yourself in.
Thankfully, things have come a very long way since then and I feel better now than I ever have in my life. I just miss seeing my friends regularly.
Ah, what the hell. Maybe I’ll swing by church every once in a while just to shake shit up!