I will keep this short, I don’t wanna rant whilst I am pissed off.
I am slowly coming out to those around me, as they begin to ask why I no longer lead or preach at church. It’s a strange feeling, I mean I don’t think I ever asked people ‘how is your faith’ or ‘where are you at with God’ on a semi-regular basis. I tended to just assume people are doing well unless they tell me otherwise.
This opens up a whole host of questions around surface-level conversations within the community of believers that you worship with or used to worship with if you ever did. We don’t seem to deep dive in the culture that we live in, we don’t ask the honest and quiet often hard questions of those we are in life with. But that’s where we need to live because we need to engage with those that we are doing life with, in meaningful ways.
Not only is there rarely the space to do this, but neither is there the appetite. I’ve noticed the opposite since leaving the fold. Sadly.
I have seen every leader within my church and the family of churches my church belongs to withdraw from me. None of them are talking about how I have left the faith, asking how I am doing and coming alongside me. My wife, who still believes and goes to church, hasn’t been supported by anyone and I can’t help by feel like we have been left shell shocked by how unloving and un-supporting people have been. It should be noted that this is all my opinion of the situation, and I don’t speak for her, rather I observe.
I didn’t imagine that my loss of faith would affect my wife in the way it has. She has no one to turn to for support and comfort in the community of believers that she still sits within. Not only this, but it turns out that my loss of faith is going down the grapevine to other churches. My wife met up with a good friend of hers a few days ago, they belong to another church in the same family of churches I was leading within. This person just blurted out, ‘So I hear that Sam no longer goes to church’. When she told me that this had happened, I was shocked. I do still go to church with my wife when she wants to go; I want to support her, so I will walk life with her. But clearly, my church leader has told the wider church family, and these other church leaders have told this person about me when they said they were meeting up with my wife. It’s enraging.
My wife and I are still people. We have pains, struggles, emotions and vulnerabilities. Surely you would go out of your way to wrap your arms around someone who was hurting. I’ve had nothing. My wife, who still goes to the Wednesday evening meetings and is involved in the church has also had nothing. I can understand why I might have been rejected, but why has she been left on the fringes all alone?
What the fuck has happened? I feel as though if I found someone had struggled as I did and then left the faith, I would want to at least remind them that I love them and think they are still an amazing person, regardless of what they believe. I would doubly make sure that their partner was supported as they tried to navigate a massive life change such as their spouse losing their faith.
I guess another way of looking at it is to ask: What did I really expect people to do?
I recently started a non-Christian job, and as I interact with people who hold either different faiths or no faiths, I am beginning to see more and more that people are just people. Being a Christian doesn’t tick a special box which means you are different.
Do we really believe that by praying (to what by the way?) and attending church, by experiencing emotions, claiming a relationship with the risen Jesus and changing our Facebook bio to ‘Christian’, we are now going to heaven? That we ‘become’ different because we think we are different? Sure, we can act differently when we believe we are different, but that doesn’t mean we are different, just that our mental state has changed.
You can be an asshole as a Christian or a nonbeliever. You can love and support people as a Christian or a nonbeliever. Faith doesn’t seem to change anything, rather it’s what we allow ourselves to think about ourselves and others around us that allows us to change our mental states and our outlook on the world around us.
I can’t help but think that the ‘Fruit of the Spirit’ is nothing more than the fruit of a healthy outlook on the world, an outlook where you don’t place yourself as the most important thing in your life, but rather realise that life is about living in relationship with those around us. We evolved in a community; we are blindly engineered by evolution to be within a community.
You’re not fucking special just because you call yourself a Christian.
You could at least try to love and support a stay-at-home mother of two little boys by regularly checking in with her and making sure she is doing ok in a town she barely knows, which she moved to support her husband and your fucking church.
_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.
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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.
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