Serve or Leave (or Love)

I wrote a blog post a few months ago called Serve or Lie – it can be found here. Since then I have been telling more and more people about my deconversion, I have been doing this slowly and through it, I have been preparing for my blog to go live in a month (which is odd right, as this post is around the 36th). As you know my blog posts are written 9-6 months behind when they are published. This gives me a chance to live through and write about what is going on.

None of this is easy. Sharing about faith collapsing and feeling like you are standing within the house as the walls crumble and the ceiling comes down, is life-ruining. Recently I have been seeing that there is life after faith, mainly because of The Clergy Project and those that I interact with online.

I have also realised that I am still me, even though I no longer have my faith. It might sound really strange, but I think I actually thought I was going to die at one point. That fear shifted and then I thought that I was never going to get out of the blackness that was all-encompassing. Some days are better than others, but it is becoming more and more obvious that I am on a journey, and that Sam continues through it all. Things have changed, but the person is still intact.

I mentioned before that some days are better than others. Some days I have panic attacks and feel like I can’t breathe. Some days I cry. Some days I stand tall in who I am today. Some days I wake, and I can’t get the fear of hell out of my head. Some days I am absolutely fine. I don’t think life is about landing somewhere in your beliefs and then being unshakeable.

One of the reasons I love science is that twenty years ago it said one thing and today it says something different. Being willing to amend what you believe based on the evidence you have is vital to living in honesty and reality. Sure, we might be ‘wrong’, but we are also just trying to be as ‘right and honest’ as we can be today. Does that make sense?

As you know I have been serving at the church I was co-leading for a few months now. But the more I look at myself in the mirror the more I ask myself if I can honestly keep serving something that I believe to be fundamentally wrong. Now isn’t the right time to go into ‘church’ and why I think it is fundamentally wrong, but this question is another decision point in my journey.

I am going to share the email I sent to my church leader. I call him John on this blog because I honestly want to protect his identity to those who read this and don’t personally know him. He is like a brother to me and I love him very much. This adds massive weight to the unpicking of firstly no longer having belief and secondly still attending church, but having a fundamental problem with it, as I am sure you can imagine.

__(December 2019)

Hey John,

January really isn’t far away now and I thought we should begin the conversations that we just haven’t had time to have.

Back at the start of Oct, we had a walk and pint, I said I didn’t want to be involved in leadership at the church any more – as hard at that is to admit still. We said we would regularly catch up and check-in, this just hasn’t happened with everything that has gone on.

On the 1st of Jan, you are going to get an email from me sharing the link to my blog, which will be going live on that day. I am sharing it with a couple of close friends who know that I have lost my faith. It’s a blog all about my journey, it’s my way to dealing with everything I have been going through. I have been writing it over the last 6-9 months as things have come to ahead.

I don’t believe in God and that doesn’t seem to be changing.

So, I won’t be stepping back into leadership. I also no longer want to do setup, litter picking or serving. I need to take time to think and process – because I might very well step away from church altogether.

There really isn’t a ‘good’ time to have the conversation. You are going to forever either have too much on or be taking some time back – that’s what leadership seems to be within a church. I wish you had more support around you, I know you haven’t had enough for everything you are having to deal with. To be honest, I feel the same (to be clear this isn’t directed at you mate).

Sometimes the easiest way to begin to the conversation is with a clear email explaining everything, as hard as that conversation is going to be to have.

Talk soon bro,

-Sam

__

I never divulge responses after this, because it is personal. The church is small, and I have been a key part of it for a while now. Stepping away from everything is going to be a real hit for John and his family. It is going to be a real hit for the church as well.

I want people to know I no longer believe. But I fully understand that they need to find out in the right way and at the right time, because they all saw me as a co-leader and as a future elder, they looked up to me within the church and as an example of a faith-based life. It’s so hard when they still look at me like that even now, they have no idea.

My hope is that this email begins a conversation where John will begin to work out a communication plan to enable the church to find out. It isn’t going to be easy. My wife is a believer and she wants to continue going to the church with our two boys. I know people will try to ring-fence her and protect her during this time. I also know that she will still want me to go with her sometimes to help with the children or to just spend the time with her whilst we are there.

It isn’t going to be a clean break.

But that doesn’t mean it can’t be an honest reality. I can go there when I go there and people can know that I don’t believe in the very thing they claim is the foundation upon which the church is built, Christ.

The choice I have in front of me should be to Serve or Leave. But life is far too complicated for simple choices all the time, the repercussions of the reality of my unbelief echo into many lives around me.

I love my wife. I love my children. I will support her, and we will have honest conversations about and with the children and the importance of being honest that their Daddy no longer believes when the time comes. She is great like that; she is very happy to let them make their own minds up in their own time.

One day I will leave the church for good and I think this will be a slow process over the months and maybe years. How can I attend something that isn’t right?

Serve or Leave (or Love). I have to love my family first; they need time to allow me to unlatch and move away.

_End of Blog Blurb_

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.

If you want to connect with me, then you can get in touch via any of the social media links that can be found at the top of the page. If you want to get every post straight to your inbox then you can do that by either following directly via WordPress or with your email address, whichever you prefer – the links are to the right.

I’ll see you back here at the same time next week 🙂

-Sam

When Belief Dies #25 – 'The Forest of Questions' When Belief Dies

Dave & Sam talk about where they were when they first started the podcast, and where they are today.   A recap of sorts, but with a helpful explanation for the future episodes and why we ask the questions we do. We hope you enjoy our show. When Belief Dies aims to honestly reflect on faith, religion and life. We blog and podcast. Your support on Patreon enables us to cover the costs of running this show and look to the future to make things even better as we build upon what we already have in the works. Please take a look and consider giving. Use this link to navigate to the website, to find us on social media and anywhere else we might be present online. #Podcast #Deconstruction #God #Agnostic #Christian #Atheism #Apologetics #Audio #Question #Exvangelical #Deconversion #SecularGrace #Exchristian
  1. When Belief Dies #25 – 'The Forest of Questions'
  2. When Belief Dies #24 – 'Metaphysical Insurance'
  3. When Belief Dies #23 – 'Paulogia'
  4. When Belief Dies #22 – 'Peter S. Williams'
  5. When Belief Dies #21 – 'I Quit Christianity'

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