Slowly coming out, Part 1

MjAxMi0wZTdjYzFkMDdkY2FmM2I5Friday Night.

I’m in the state where some of my friends from church long ago are gathering to drink beer and sit around the fire. I see an old youth group student I used to teach show up.  He’s finishing up seminary at the ripe age of 30, and I’ve never cared for his theology.  I’d often read his blog posts and Facebook updates and think, “does this guy even read the bible?”  We’ve always stayed friends but I’ve avoided commenting on anything he writes because it was so clearly a very different faith than what I had taught him.  I wouldn’t even venture to call it Christianity, but more a Jesus accented spirituality.

I’ve had enough beer where standing is easy but not perfect.  He comes up and says,

“Hey man, how are you doing?”

Oddly he is the first person in the last 48 hours that actually has inquired about my life.  Looking back he might have just seen me sway a bit and wanted to make sure I wasn’t going to be sick.

I choke out a response holding back tears

“Not…not good man.  Something devastating has happened to me and I’m not sure what I’m going to do.”

A few brief words are exchanged and he suggests we keep talking.  I suggest we go for a walk to get away from the crowd of people who know me as a pastor.

We start walking and I come out and say it:

“I’m…ah…I’m an, uh…So, I’m an atheist and I fucking hate it.”

I begin relaying to him all my fears surrounding becoming an atheist; job, money, wife, kids, mortgage, death, and the like.

Turns out my friend is a chaplain, and pretty damn good at his job.  Obviously I was a geyser looking to blow, but his ability to listen and empathize was astounding. At one point in the conversation I break down and start sobbing, nearly losing all control.  He puts his arms around me, and just lets me do it.

I quickly re-gather myself and my sadness turns to anger.

He asked me if there was something I was reading or someone I was listening to that brought me to this conclusion (that God doesn’t exist).  I respond:

“Well no not really.  It hasn’t been just one thing or one person, but it’s been many many different things.”

I decide to talk about the points of the Bible I already know he disagrees with; death sentence for homosexuals, hell, and the general lack of grace, love, and holiness exhibited by Christians for the last 2,000 years.  I’m trying not to offend his beliefs since he is a ministry professional just about ready to graduate seminary.  I find myself constantly apologizing, but I keep saying this is why there is no God.

Eventually I find out what I kinda already knew about him, he’s a borderline agnostic with Christian flairs.

I don’t remember many other details of our conversation, but I remember being listened to an accepted.

It was the first time I had told someone I was an atheist without using an alias or hiding on the internet. It was what I needed it to be.

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16 thoughts on “Slowly coming out, Part 1

  1. I’m so sorry for the pain you are going through and distressed to hear that you ‘hate’ being an atheist. I think that’s temporary- you are experiencing a major upheaval. I don’t know what’s to be with your family or your friends but I hope at least some of them will find their peace and accept you. Admittedly, I’ve never experienced what you are now going through- I had a secular upbringing in a loving family and a community in which such a way of life was not a big deal. Just know that there is a pretty big community of atheists/agnostics/humanists waiting to give you the acceptance you deserve. Be well.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. i feel your pain and i have hope for you. but what the heck is a “borderline agnostic with christian flairs”?

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  3. I’m an old guy, in my sixties. I was a believer for DECADES. At one time I aspired to enter the ministry. I’ve preached behind a pulpit and witnessed people rushing the stage for salvation prayer at the end of it.

    I live in the South, smack in the middle of the Bible Belt, surrounded by nothing but extreme right fundamentalist Christians.

    Have I come out completely and openly as a Freethinker? I don’t go around announcing it, no. But you can’t visit my FB page without quickly being hit in the face with my blunt views on religion.

    I’m sorry you’re having such a difficult time. My journey ro mental and emotional freedom, breaking the chains of religious belief, was a hard and long one. Reading the entire Bible, doing some research and fact checking, was the hammer that broke those chains.

    Not to mention the contribution of the contrary political views my “Christian” brothers and sisters held that further fueled my questioning my faith. I couldn’t reconcile the mean spirited, selfish political views these people espouse with what Jesus teaches. I don’t recognize the Jesus they promote and worship. THAT Jesus isn’t in the Bible.

    The first year was pretty dough for me in coming to grips with the fact that all I had been taught and preached to were lies and myth.

    NOW I feel freer and more at peace than I have ever felt in my life.

    I truly am sorry you’re having such a difficult time. I don’t know how to advise you except to say that self hatred over awakening from what is the equivalent of drug induced brain washing isn’t helpful. Most people never wake out of that religious stupor, nor do they WANT to.

    Religion is adult thumb sucking, a buffer against reality and a fantasy used to safeguard against the reality and finality of death.

    So you’re going to have to find a way, where possible in your relationships, to restructure them. My wife is extremely religious. We had a tough time in the beginning when I came out of my deluded state. We’ve reached an agreement to avoid the topic of religion completely. For us, it’s working.

    Hopefully you can find what will work between you and your wife. I know it probably won’t be as simple a solution as ours, especially if your spouse is adamant about your returning to the fold.

    The thing is, once you’ve awakened, once you KNOW what you know, there’s no turning back and pretending that stuff is real anymore.

    It’s not, and you know it.

    I wish you well my friend, I hope there’s light at the end of the tunnel for you.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I am so sorry that you are going through this very difficult time. It’s definitely painful and very frightening. (Signed: voice of experience) You really do come out the other side, I promise. I promise.

    It took me six solid months of terror, where I felt like I was walking through blackness, with an abyss before my feet and the ground shaking like an earthquake. I kept begging God to show me the answers to my questions, so this wouldn’t happen. But when it was all over, and I saw the bricks from the walls on the ground all around me from their tumbling down, it was like I was blinking in the bright sunshine of the real world for the very first time in my life.

    There WILL be bright sunshine for you. There really will.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Life will get a lot easier for you now. You are now free from gods and their demons. Look around you in wonder at the discoveries we have made about the universe. The people that you will want to know generally wish to be known as secular humanists. They are everywhere and their numbers are increasing.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Please know you have so much support, even if you can’t see or feel it. There are so many people in situations similar to yours, it adds such a tough layer coming from such a religious background as well. I was previously very religious and had been a closeted atheist for 6 years. I came out after Phil Robertson’s rant about how atheists have no moral compass, I wanted people to put a face to an atheist. My heart is still the same, I’m still deeply passionate about helping people, maybe even more so. Always reiterate this to people you love and to yourself, you’re still you but you’re growing and that’s beautiful. Terrifying at points, but beautiful.

    Stay strong. I know I’m just a stranger on the internet, but please feel to reach out should you ever need an ear.

    Ash

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Atheist is just another word for open minded doubtful Christian.

    Problem with most atheists are they are basically reacting to the brainwashing they’ve been subjected to through the process of religious indoctrination by bibliography during their upbringing and education.

    They therefore reach conclusion that is not accurate. By rejecting Christian dogma does not work with the understanding of how life is formed or sustainable through human evolution.

    So just because Christian dogmatic believed ideology don’t answer the question of how the universe is created or sustained don’t mean that a unique power of spiritual force didn’t have anything to do with it.

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  8. Good luck to you. It took me decades to wrest out all of the details of my fundamentalist christian upbringing. The worst thing you have going on right now is EXACTLY what a gay or transgender person who is still in the closet has. Make no mistake, you will lose some people who aren’t good enough to be real friends. Straight people have no idea how awful being in the closet is. I know it feels like you are on the edge of a cliff, and in a way, you are. Once said, it can’t be taken back. All I can offer you is that my life got better when I got out of the closet and started to live an authentic life.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. For me, this all happened about five years ago. My first journal entry was, “I still love God; I just don’t think I believe in Him anymore”—and to me, that statement made perfect sense at the time. Now, I’m much, much better.

    One thing that helped me a ton was listening to Julia Sweeny’s hilarious and surprisingly poignant monologue, “Letting Go of God”. If you haven’t already, give it a listen; I guarantee you’ll laugh and you’ll cry.

    Liked by 2 people

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