Losing My Religion

When I was 15 years old, my parents and I went to a Christian family camp for a week. While we were there, the family running the camp found out that I can sing and they had me perform some songs with their teenage boys who led the music. After one of the performances, a man came up to me and my parents and told us that he keeps a journal – that he feels like God speaks through him sometimes and he writes down what he hears/feels. When I was singing, he got the feeling and started writing to me:

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Amazing, right?  I thought so at the time and asked for a copy. Even more amazing was this stranger knowing, seeing that I was hiding. Some people really do see past the masks, past the sad eyes pretending to be happy. I was in denial at the time though – I thought I felt happy – but the darkness of my childhood was brewing underneath.

I kept this letter and hadn’t seen it again until this past weekend when I found it looking through old boxes in our garage. Reading it again choked me up. It took me back to the positive, hopeful girl I once was. It took me back to the Christ-loving person I once was. I was 15 then and by 17 I was teaching Jr. High Sunday School and summer vacation bible school. I was doing solo concerts at my church and churches all over our county. I was breaking free and going forth, just like the letter had said. I was starting to live my dream! But then…

Then I got pregnant and started dealing with the incest of my childhood, I had problems being a mother, then the family fell apart and all the estrangements happened, everyone seemed to be protecting my abusers instead of me – and then one day, I realized I no longer believed in God, at least not the kind and loving one I was brought up believing in. It didn’t happen overnight – I confessed my anger and confusion to God many times over, begging for help, for relief, asking what I did so wrong to deserve my fate, asking for a sign that he was there. Nothing ever came, just more turmoil and more grief, having those I loved most ripped away from me one at a time. There couldn’t be a God – not one who allows everything that happened to me, especially when all I ever did was give of myself to everyone. I achieved the letter above only to be slammed down and smashed against the ground like I was nothing.

Once I realized I didn’t believe anymore, an emptiness followed. When there is no longer faith, no God to pray to, no Heaven to look forward to – an emptiness takes hold. And I retained the anger and confusion.  Anytime someone offered Godly advice, I would scowl. When I’d see or read about someone’s faith, I would roll my eyes. And the anger was always flowing like a mad river underneath. I have been this way for the last 4 years. This last year, something inside me started to change – I still didn’t believe but something was pushing me to just try to believe again. I reached out to two different people, hoping maybe I could find my way back, two people in the ministry, two people that I thought for sure would take me under their wings and help – they both left me in the dust.

I don’t know what I am hoping to achieve by sharing this today. I hope it doesn’t turn off believers or cause anyone to stop following me. I just wanted to express something very real and very difficult. It actually bugs me to not believe but so far I haven’t made my way back. I still have too many questions, too much doubt, too much confusion. I guess in order for me to be so angry when He is mentioned, there must be something in me that is holding onto Him. I read the letter above, then see how I had moved forward and became that letter, only to have my spirit crushed and my faith destroyed. It just doesn’t make any sense to me yet.  Maybe someday it will.

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47 thoughts on “Losing My Religion

  1. I don’t think I have read a more profoundly honest post ever. Thank you for your courage in sharing this. Believe it or not I think there are alot more people in the same place as you are. Circumstances can be soooo difficult, can be so painful that we think we can not recover or come back from them. I know this from experience. My faith is alot less than it used to be, but I’m still hanging on, sometimes not by much. Wishing you all the best.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for understanding! I had fear in posting this, afraid of possible backlash. But your right – I put all my honesty out there. I am still wrestling with it. Some days I think I want to believe again and then other days I just shake my head and can’t believe. Such is life I guess, with more things than just this. HUGS!

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  2. Your honesty is truly commendable. There’s so much that I can say to you, but what you need to realize and truly believe is that you are God’s masterpiece. He thinks good thoughts about you inspite of everything. His love for you is unconditional and you will find your way back. That’s inevitable. I believe that wholeheartedly.

    Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you very much. There are pieces of me that want to find my way back but also pieces that still carry so much anger and confusion. I’m allowing myself the time to get in touch with how I feel. Thank you for your words of encouragement!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. There’s a set timing for everything in life. He is patient and understands. He’s also walking with you through all of this – step by step, holding your hand. Feel free to reach out at anytime. Take care.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I appreciate you being so honest. My faith, which was huge, has dwindled. It looks like a dying ember and yet I still hope. I miss my faith. But, I do feel that if God is real, he is big enough to love me despite my doubt and even understands it better than I do.

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  4. Ok, I was raised “Christian” but rarely went to church. I believed in God and throughout my abuse was extremely angry with Him. And the many years after of cutting, drug abuse, sex, and other things I used to cope, I hated him. Why me? I was convinced that the God I once knew wasn’t there anymore or didn’t care anymore. Like I was unimportant and of no value and he just abandoned me. I was locked up four years ago for trafficking in heroin. it was literally less than a tenth of a gram and I served 60day in county jail and went to a lock down “prison like” rehab. While I was in jail, I did bible study (as well as GED when I have my HS diploma) just to get out of my Pod, aka room aka cell. I didn’t believe God cared yet, I still believed I would go to heaven. I read the prayer they told me to read, because honestly, I had been praying for years and asking to be shown the light or prove he cares. I was ready.
    Nothing happened. No beautiful light or voice or relief. Nothing.
    Until weeks later when I caught myself praying more, reading the bible more and not being affected by the drama in our POD. It’s hard to explain, but once the change took place it was like a light switch. I knew what it felt like to have the love and forgiveness of God, but I couldn’t accept it. Learning to accept it now is still a battle.
    Once leaving jail and onto the rehab center, I worked on forgiving my abusers which I did *though I still need to forgive them sometimes daily now* and learning to figure out about my childhood. with the help and support of one of my sisters, she helped me see things that happened in a different more understanding light. She had years of therapy, so maybe that helped her to see things more clearly and could now help me.
    I did great when I got out. I got involved in church and Celebrate Recovery. I surrounded myself with God, scripture, Christian music and people. Then my husband started drinking and I was unhappy and feeling unloved and after two years I lost it and relapsed on heroin and cocaine. I cut myself and i lost contact with God. We still have this argument in my head….. he said I never lost contact, but that I just stopped listening. but that was last summer and after entering church one day and being called out and prayed upon in church to “break every chain” and fight what the devil is doing, yell at him like I do my children and to “just say no” literally…. seriously. I sat there bawling and i got sober within days. the withdraws were horrible but I made it through, while caring for my two crazy toddlers, massive depression about my separation from my husband and everything else. I just realized how strong I really was. I could go through withdraw and still be a mother and do what I needed to do. I was so strong that I didn’t need that drug anymore.
    I go back and forth even now. I realize that when I go to church and listen to Christian music and surround myself with positive things, that I am happy and feel more connected to him. Even if I’m battle horrible things (best friends relapse, father’s stroke) i can still find comfort in him and he relieves my pain and tears when i ask. not all the time, but several times I have stopped mid sob and lost all desire to cry.
    more recently, i fasted during holy week and asked God to change me how he saw fit, not how I thought I should change. And to save my husband.
    My husband was saved that week and now goes to church and prays regularly with me. (regularly for me is very irregular lol) I have lost over 40 pounds, I started a journey the next week to get more fit. I also quit smoking within days of fasting, again, I had lost all desire to smoke.
    While I’ve still struggled, during this journey since Easter, I am now working, which i haven’t worked for over 8 years. I’m on disability for my mental issues. I’m mentally and physically stronger. I’m happier, healthier, more confident, have more energy…..
    Then PTSD comes flying back to me like a ton of bricks and destroys me. I went from being so confident and energetic to being a scared little girl didn’t wanna leave her house. i couldn’t parent, My husband was out of town working and couldn’t help. i battled with understanding why this was happening. I had moved on! I had forgiven them! I was past this!
    But I wasn’t. While I still forgive my brother (and others) for their abuse, its not about them now. It’s about finally healing the little girl inside. Perhaps it was a step that was needed to forgive them – before i could really heal. But the thing is, I’m embracing this for what this is. A lesson, a chance to grow, A chance to finally move on. I’ve accepted that I have ptsd, and I’m not hiding it from anyone anymore. for the longest time I took care of everyone else and no one saw me or helped me. even a month ago. now I’m taking care of me, and I’m sharing my pain even if people don’t get it or think I should be over it. It did happen to me. I was raped. Beat. molested. by many different men. i can’t change it. it happened. and i’m not gonna let anyone tell me I shouldn’t feel bad anymore. I’m tired of pretending I’m okay or that I’m normal. its exhausting.
    it’s been freeing to admit to others what I struggle with, even if they don’t get it or want to support me. I also imagine if I do end up inpatient, that my family will abandon me and not take me seriously. years ago before being put on disability i was in and out of many mental hospitals due to my ptsd at the time. I was abusing drugs, cutting myself, trying to constantly hurt myself. i couldn’t deal…..
    anyways. i told you I had a lot to say. lol. I just got stitches out of my thumb and couldn’t type via phone, which is why I couldn’t respond earlier. I’m sure I have a lot more to say…. but since I wrote so much, I’m going to leave it at this. and i think i’m cutting and pasting and putting this in my own blog because this felt good to express.
    remember God hasn’t abandoned you. You have a purpose and He has a purpose for your pain. Me? I’m going to be a counselor to help people in the same situation as me. I’m going to share my story so others don’t feel alone. I’m going to fight back and stand up for those who can’t speak. I’ve been a fighter and survivor my whole life. I’m not going to stop now.
    hugs!

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    1. I think that acceptance of our pain not hiding anymore is key! And please don’t stop now! What you have just written and expressed is truly amazing. It actually shows just how far you have come. I don’t think we ever find nirvana, not those of us who have been abused, but we can find the best mindset and life possible for us. The pain will come and go but we will remain strong.

      I too wish I could be a counselor – but at least right now, there is no way for me to go back to school. I guess my way of trying to help others is my blog.

      I am glad you have found strength through God, especially with everything you have been through. I believe that believers have a certain comfort that others do not. I don’t know what it would take for me to believe again. I held onto my belief for so long through all the struggles, but then one day my faith was just gone. I know that my being strong and coming through it could have been from Him, but I just don’t understand why he allows good people to hurt the worst. It doesn’t make sense to me. I would like to think that I am not closed off to the idea of rediscovering my faith; my mind just isn’t there yet.

      HUGS back to you my dear!!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It’s the same thing I mentioned to my sister who couldn’t see God through her pain. She then understood he was there. She didn’t die, she’s still alive. She made it through, because of God. She was saved shortly after I reminded her of her love for that poem.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I still don’t quite understand why he allows people to hurt. I just say that he gave free will to all of us- including those who harm us. And that he allows things to happen to help grow us and strengthen us. If I wasn’t abused would I go onto to be a counselor and help so many others who are hurting? I’m choosing to take my pain and hurt and turn it around for the greater good.

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  5. Good for you! I’d like to share something I wrote relative to this, “Comfort”
    I proclaim myself an atheist,
    and logic comforts me by day
    But in the recesses of the night
    I wade through starlit shallows
    and am embraced.:

    My father abuser read “The Age of Reason” out loud to me, wanting me to disbelieve only in Jesus. It backfired on him: I ended up disbelieving in the lot of them. But as my poem illustrates, I’m still conflicted.

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  6. Yes at times I too feel I’ve lost faith. But then, something inside of me keeps telling me that with all the sorrows, there’s something better coming my way. I really hope “he” delivers.
    And one day “he” will deliver to you too… Like my dad used to say, there’s a long queue and we just have to be patient for our turn 🙂

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  7. I felt every word of this post.
    When I was with my abuser, I felt I had lost faith in God. Boy, did I suffer. My unborn child too. My little boy did not move for five days when I was pregnant, from all the stress and beatings I had endured – not to mention being starved. And this wasn’t all. There was a lot more. With no end in sight, I wanted to commit suicide, because I knew he would end up killing me. But I couldn’t. I was in my second trimester, fast approaching my third, and I just couldn’t go through with it. I asked God to show me a sign, because I was tired of waiting. I said it was His last chance before I lost faith completely. I continued to endure the abuse for the sake of my beloved baby boy. Once he was born, I found the strength to leave that bast**d. When my son was twelve weeks old, I boarded a plane with a one-way ticket back to the UK.
    Did God answer my prayers? I think so. I was so low, if I had completely lost faith and hope, I would be in a box six feet under with my son.
    Although I still have my ups and downs with my faith, my life would have ended in 2013 if I had just given up. I needed something to hold on to. I wasn’t disappointed.
    Life is still far, very far, from a bed of roses for me. But I’m alive and so is my son. We are both healthy.
    I hope you find the peace with your situation. May God show you a sign for you to believe again, if this is what you wish for. Just remember, sometimes the answer to your prayers may not be what you expected, nor as big as you may want. But it is a blessing non the less.
    All the best with your journey my dear.
    Much love. xx

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I am so happy to hear that you made it through your difficult times! I know what that takes. Abuse takes a serious and very real tole. I am also glad you found that faith again. I myself have wondered – was He there and that’s why I am still alive instead of gone to suicide? Kind of like you said. It’s hard to say though. I am just now wrestling with that question…

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      1. I really do understand. All those I was helping before, was not there for me when I fell. I have put that down to God’s blessing. Although I have suffered, he has shown me who was worth keeping in my life, and who was not. And shut them out I did. Some of the people I let go of hurt so deep, but I knew it was the right thing to do. They were actually treading on me, rather than trying to help me up. It took a little while to admit it, but I do feel better for it.
        I am not trying to force you into doing something you do not wish to do, but maybe you could find a Church you are somewhat comfortable with, to attend for a few weeks. See how you go. This may help with your decision.
        It is a battle, as I have definitely been there. I shall leaving you with this quote:
        “They say God gives his toughest battles to his strongest soldiers and what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”.
        xoxo

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      2. Thank you for this, especially that last part, even though it stung a little bit. It’s such a duality – I honestly do not feel like I believe anymore but the anger inside me in relation to God – how can I get so angry at someone I don’t believe exists?

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  8. I don’t think there has to be a “reason” you’re sharing it, other than it is simply your thoughts and feelings and this is the avenue you chose to pursue. What I’m trying to stress is that you gain power from making a decision, because decisions are the only real power we have in this chaotic world.
    I won’t discuss the religiosity of any of this, because I have had my own experiences of losing religion. Having been raised a catholic to learn that I am evil because of things in me that I have no ability to control has really left a bitter taste in my mouth, so I don’t judge others outside of hurting people. I think there are so many people out there that don’t seem to grasp the concept that some wrongs towards people are not something easily reconciled and it is rare that someone has THE answer for it all.

    I admire the courage you have in keeping this blog and writing it. You are a marvelous person and I truly hope good will for you!

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  9. “Anytime someone offered Godly advice, I would scowl. When I’d see or read about someone’s faith, I would roll my eyes.”

    There was a time when I felt the same way. I was a total believer and fully acted the part, but as time went on and my sh** life remained a sh** life, I started feeling like God either wasn’t listening me, didn’t care, or simply didn’t exist. And as I listened to other people of faith say how God was doing great things for them in their lives and how the same would eventually happen for me as well, I began having the same reaction as the quote above.

    But that was years ago, and since then, I’ve learned to just let it go. God doesn’t work for me. That’s all. I’m glad God works for other people, but He doesn’t work for me. And that’s okay. Maybe the reason God isn’t in my life is because I don’t need God in my life. I can handle things just fine on my own. And I certainly don’t believe that famous line of, “Without God, I’m nothing,” anymore, because that certainly hasn’t been the case.

    In short, I feel now like I’m much stronger without God. That doesn’t mean that I don’t believe in a higher being; maybe I do, maybe I don’t. The great thing now is that I can freely ask those questions of whether God exists and how God exists without being confined to a specific set of beliefs and rules that I was trained to follow. I can question God, and that’s a great thing.

    Also, I can joke about God and not feel like I’m going to be struck by a lightning bolt by an angry being in the sky. In fact, I do so in the trilogy of novels that I’m writing. Part of the theme of my novels is belief and the different beliefs people have and different intensities of belief and how those differences conflict with each other (you know, like in real life). Anyway, one of the characters in my second novel, when asked about her relationship with God, says, “Oh, yeah, we have a wonderful relationship, God and me. He stays out of my life and I try not to f*** it up even more.” So that’s the nice thing about not being so strict in my beliefs; I can write characters from different perspectives based on their own beliefs.

    Plus, I can talk to people through their own beliefs. When someone of a particular faith is talking to me, I can listen and talk back without any judgments coming from beliefs of my own. And I don’t get offended when someone says they don’t believe in God. That’s just fine with me. I’m sure it’s just fine with God too. I mean, if it wasn’t, if God was really angry at people for not possessing the right beliefs, there’d be a lot more Atheists struck by lightning than there are now. 😉

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    1. I, as well, like to feel I can listen to others and their beliefs without getting defensive. I have noticed many articles and TV news reports lately about more and more people going to atheism. I, personally, don’t condemn anyone for their beliefs, unless their religion promotes killing others.

      I don’t know if I am stronger without God, I still feel a bit of that emptiness. I guess right now my beliefs are more in line with Buddhism – everything is equal and we all go back to the earth. I like those teachings. True Buddhists are so kind to everyone yet I have seen so many Christians be mean to and judgmental of others. That doesn’t seem right to me.

      And then I was brought up in a Christian family, yet I was molested by my father and brother! It’s all so backwards.

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      1. The way I look at things, this is a backwards world, where wrong is right and up is down, where no good deed truly goes unpunished while selfish deeds are rewarded with great wealth. That’s why it’s okay if you feel you’re going mad; it just means you’re becoming sane. 😉

        But yeah, people are human, the religious and non-religious alike, and they do all of the tragically hurtful things that humans do against each other. What we can do is help others or at least try our best not to hurt anyone. I think that’s something the Buddhists say.

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  10. I totally understand this and can relate. I do not have the answer to the feelings we have against God, that is for each one of us to find. When commenting to a post, I do not usually refer a fellow blogger to a post I wrote, but this time I will. It you have time, read this post I wrote: http://spearfruit.com/2015/09/26/hallelujah/
    It is a similar feeling you are expressing in this post. I hope it helps.
    Thanks for sharing this, there are people out there that do understand, I am one of them.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for this! It’s comforting to see someone has struggled with the same questions as I have. Your post, your words, is definitely something for me to take in and consider, as hen asked how I was able to turn the corner and start to heal, I haven’t really had an answer.

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      1. I am glad you took the time to read my post – I have found there are many of us bloggers that are taking similar paths in our lives. We can learn and grow from one another. I know I learn from other’s posts I read and it helps me a great deal.

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  11. I think that for those of us who had perfectly happy childhoods, we can’t really imagine how bad things can get for those whose experiences are different than ours. I think that same goes for faith, when we have bad experiences with church, we can’t really imagine how nice things can be for others. Because the two are intertwined like DNA, family and faith, faith and family, we don’t always know how to help, what to say, and many would rather say nothing at all than to risk offense.
    Considering what you’ve been through, I believe you’re entirely justified in feeling as you do. Conservative elements of Christianity has fallen victim to a particularly tragic set of beliefs that tends to protect abusers and throw their victims under a bus. Christianity has lost it’s way, so it’s creates a system that loses people along the way.

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    1. Thank you for this! This is an amazing response to what I wrote and how I feel. And yes, family and faith ARE intertwined, so losing both was devastating.

      There are so many opposing doctrines in my head – I was told by someone that God didn’t DO those things to me, he only allowed it because he can’t change free will, or it was satan and not God. What? Well, I was taught as a child that God has a plan for you and knows your days before you are even born. So God planned for me to be molested and have my family torn away? I am hoping that believers can see my confusion.

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      1. The problem of evil is one of the most puzzling things of all. I’ve never found a satisfactory answer. I could study about God’s sovereignty, omniscience, free will, etc. for a whole life-time and never be closer to the answer than by saying “I don’t know.” I do know that churches have had splits, and denominations have had schisms over these topics. The more we try to define how God works, why he does what he does, the more confusing it gets. Some will uphold God’s sovereignty at all costs, including denying free will. Some will uphold God’s goodness at all costs, including denying that God has the power to hold back all the evil Satan does. Some will uphold God’s omniscience, saying that he didn’t plan for anything but he just knew it would happen. I don’t know what to believe, but I don’t think anyone else knows what to believe either. Some people I know are so inclined to believe in order and authority, that they believe in God’s sovereignty over everything. Some people I know are so inclined to believe in love and goodness, that God’s goodness is explanation enough for everything. Some people I know are inclined to believe that God holds back his own power, so that’s what they believe. Sometimes I’m a little envious that they have it all figured out and I wonder why it’s harder for me.

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      2. Great response – what you have written is so true! no one really knows and we all have our own ideas of how God works. To me, it is all just so confusing and everything seems to contradict something else.

        I wish I was one who had it all figured out, or at least could believe I do. But the truth is – I don’t know either. I think the best thing I have heard all my life is that God will never give you more than you can handle. Oh yah? Well if God is real, then I guess he gave me too much to handle if it made me stop believing in him. This goes right along with what you are saying – who really knows?

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  12. Hey there… I totally get it. Over the last 5 years or so I’ve walked away from Him, yelled at Him, stopped believing in Him, cried in desperation to Him, etc, etc, etc. My entire concept of God has changed. Or the way I view Him. And for me the way I’ve changed my view resulted in disappointment for many people.

    Well…. God does not judge us in our anger. AT least I don’t believe that. And I don’t believe that God judges us or feels anything but love from us during those moments when we don’t know what to believe (or why we even believe at all!)

    HUGS… go with the flow here. You’re dealing with a lot. And I don’t believe for a minute that God would want you to judge yourself harshly for your honest, healthy feelings.

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