Over the last few weeks, as I have been preparing to leave the Christian place of work that I have been at for the last four and a half years, and so I have been telling a few more people that I have lost my faith.
There have been some very hard conversations. Telling those who knew you loved God or who thought you were called to a life devoted to God’s outworking through you, that you have lost the fundamental belief in the God they love and worship, is fairly brutal.
There has been a range of reactions. Some of the people I have told already regularly talked with me about the deep things in life, like meaning, hope, purpose and reality. These people seemed to know subconsciously that I had lost faith before I told them. As if the final piece of the jigsaw clicked into place and all the times we have spoken over the last couple of years came together and made sense. Others have withdrawn from me and now await me to leave so that they don’t have to interact with someone who no longer believes the same things that they still believe. Yet others are trying to convert me back or ask deliberately hard or tricky questions in the hope that they will catch me out or help me to think about things in a way I have not thought about them before.
The hardest has been those who have told me that they are really sorry for me. That they are going to think and pray for me, and then come back to me when they know what God wants to say. Is God not able to tell me Himself? It isn’t like I have my fingers in my ears and my back deliberately turned towards Him. I have screamed in pain and I have searched with tears, but all I have found is dust and silence. Can they not see that their words are dusty air, stale with fabricated hopes in religious fables?
Sometimes I fear to tell people. For instance, I told someone who is also fairly close to becoming an elder within their church that I had lost my faith, and having come from a similar background, being at similar states of life and having similar futures on offer, they were confused and shocked. They wanted to talk to their wife and pray things through before we go for a couple of beers in a couple of nights time. They want to pull me from the place I am in as if I am down a hole with no way to leverage myself out. I wonder what they are going to say…
Having told one of my brothers that I think God should work on more than just the emotional plain if He is real, I ended up having a conversation with my father. I was told that I am blocking the river with a lie and forcing the water of my thoughts to get further and further away from its intended destination. I was then told that I am not going through doubt, rather I am going to a bad church, one that isn’t supporting me enough. My Dad hasn’t asked me where I find myself, rather he takes second-hand knowledge from a single conversation with one of my brothers and distilled it down into his narrative. I hope he found the answers he provided helpful because they did nothing but upset and hurt me.
What seems abundantly obvious is that people fear someone who has lost their faith. Those who are happy to engage are usually those who lock their belief up within a fortress and do not allow doubt to scale the tower or for questions to be allowed to siege the walls. People want to question my questioning, but they will not question their own answers.
A couple of people have thanked me for providing the ability for them to realise it is ok to ask questions. I have seen them begin to unpack their beliefs and study them in the light of day, away from religious jargon and propaganda. Some will think that I am leading people to hell, but I think I am empowering those who want to honesty live in the reality of their beliefs to do so one step at a time as they question and think for themselves. They may still land in the arms of Christ, but they also might not, I refuse to deliberate and decide for them but decide they must with all honesty as they seek and ask.
I don’t have any answers for a safe way to tell Christians that you no longer believe in the God that they think is the foundation to everything within this world. But what I do know is that living a lie as your world and keeping the reality of your mind and heart hidden within yourself is a sure way to produce bitterness and to begin to resent everything in the end.
There have been a lot of hard conversations, and there will be many more I am sure. But hard conversations enable honest convictions, and I would always rather be honest than a fraud.
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Thanks for taking the time to read my blog. It has taken me a few years to get to a place where I am able to share my loss of faith and to start writing about the journey that I am still on for you all. I hope you find it useful.
Podcast: If you like what you read then you could always check out the podcast ‘When Belief Dies’, it is available on all major podcasting platforms or you can listen via YouTube. Dave and I upload and publish via Anchor FM each Wednesday at 7 am.
Grammar, spelling, capitalisation and punctuation: I am massively dyslexic. It has taken me years to get to the level I am currently at with writing and I have done this mainly through reading. I want to be better and ask you, reader, to please forgive any errors in my writing. I hope you notice improvement upon improvement over the coming years.
Time Frame: This blog is roughly six to nine months behind where I currently am at in my journey out of religion. It’s important to remember that when reading and commenting.
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I’ll see you back here at the same time next week 🙂