How things are going so far…

updateSo most of what I write to you are the stressful things that are happening due to me slowly opening up about being an atheist. The response you guys have given me has been amazing!  But I need to point out something very important:

I’m only writing about the interesting and relevant events surrounding my coming out!

What that means is there are multitudes of events that happen daily that I don’t write about, and most of these events are either neutral or even positive.  I’m telling you this because many of you have commented on here or hit me up on Twitter (@pastornofaith) worried about me.  Yes this is a stressful time, but you aren’t seeing some very positive things that are happening too (which is really my fault).

You’re not seeing:

  1. My wife and I joking while making dinner
  2. Me wrestling with me kids while my wife mocks me when they start winning (hey, dad’s gettin’ old)
  3. The parts of my job that I still do and I still love (hospital visits, music practice, etc.)
  4. Regular everyday arguments about who should take the trash out, etc.

Many of you have written that you are rooting for my wife and I to make it.  Honestly, things are going pretty well. Yes, we have our times of trouble surrounding my loss of faith.  And I put those times of trouble on display for you, partly so you can support me but also to help both atheists and Christians understand what it looks like in real life when a pastor loses his/her faith.

Which those two reasons are why I’m continuing this blog.

  1. I need support.  I only have 2 atheist friends, only one of whom lives close, and I haven’t come out to either.  You are helping me not doubt my doubt.
  2. Everyone needs to see this kind of story.  For me knowing that people like Jerry Dewitt existed helped me come to terms with my slipping faith.  Knowing that the Clergy Project existed, helped me to admit out loud that I was an atheist.  Hearing that Richard Dawkins financially supported the Clergy Project, helped me to understand that there is a kindness to atheism that I would have never known otherwise.

I want every pastor in America (and Canada, and Australia,…) to know it’s ok if you become an atheist. Be honest with yourself.  Stop killing yourself over something you don’t believe.  Yes the journey is hard, but you need to walk it.  So I’m documenting my story, and the toughest parts of it, in hopes that if I come out alive then so can they.

I know what its like to feel alone. Other pastors need to know that they aren’t.

And for many of you reading my story, you need to know that my story is somewhat typical.  Except I seem to have one of the easiest stories out of anyone I’ve heard so far who belongs to the Clergy Project.  Seriously. As troubling as some of you find my story, the Clergy Project, and other blogs I read, are full of people who are having a harder time than I am.  There are some people who have it easier.  I onc interacted with a guy on the Rational Doubt blog that said he came out to his wife and she responded with relief saying:

“Oh good, I gave up on those myths months ago.”

I’m a little jealous of that guy.

I’m sure things will get tougher for me as I head off into a new career direction, but I expect things to be relatively calm in my house until then.  Thanks for sticking with me and thanks for reading.  Most of all thanks for supporting me.

I’m not done blogging about this yet, so stay with me.

“John”

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21 thoughts on “How things are going so far…

  1. “You’re not seeing:
    My wife and I joking while making dinner
    Me wrestling with me kids while my wife mocks me when they start winning (hey, dad’s gettin’ old)
    The parts of my job that I still do and I still love (hospital visits, music practice, etc.)
    Regular everyday arguments about who should take the trash out, etc.”

    That’s a very good sign, because a sign of things getting worse is usually the loss of those habits and what was once a lighthearted joke is now a sharp spear to your cest.

    Please do tell us about the good things in life.

    Also, I don’t suppose you guys married each other’s religion. You married each other. While it’s true that your wife (does she have a name? Even a fake one?) married you in part because of your faith, that cannot be the only or even the most important reason. Else she could have really married anyone with a pulse and a church membership.

    Unless she is a comedian by profession, the fact that she can crack a joke without turning it into a passive aggressive punch to the gut is a very good sign.

    I have a question: does she believe in the doctrine of hell? The reason I ask is because that can really be the hardest belief to remove from your lives (or so I hear). If she thinks you are going to hell it cannot help but affect your day to day lives and your relationship.

    Liked by 3 people

    • There’s been an overall reduction of passive aggressive behaviors to levels below normal, which is helping. We are both exercising quiet a bit of patience and grace towards each other, both of us are actively striving to make the relationship easier on each other.

      Hell yeah she believes in hell. But I think she might be one of those Myspace believers, you know, technically it exists but no one you know ever goes there.

      I really thought about giving her an alias too, like I have for myself and all my friends. But I can’t. It almost feels like cheating. Her name is part of her, and I don’t feel comfortable altering that. I know it’s weird, but I just can’t bring myself to give her another name. At least not yet.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. I hope that you kind find a job writing full time for your own column or something. The way you right is very easy to read, has a great flow, and a unique perspective. Keep up the great work!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Wow, that’s very kind. I’ve always been self conscious of my writing skills, English was consistently my worst subject in school. I’m much more a talker, and unfortunately that reflects in my writing. You’ll notice that what I’m doing with these blogs is transcribing conversations, since the spoken word is my strong suit. However getting my written word skills up to snuff is one of the secondary goals for my blog, so, there’s that. Obviously if I’m going to take my writing more seriously, I’m going to need to find something to write about. Suggestions?

      Liked by 1 person

      • “On Writing,” by Stephen King. Very good guide to writing better, including some very concrete ideas. Not just vague suggestions. It is also an entertaining read. Best to you in all youre endeavors.

        Liked by 2 people

  3. I want to say how much I loved your articles and hope for nothing but the best for you. Have you thought about writing a book on what you are going through? I have one question for you though:

    “… helped me to understand that there is a kindness to atheism that I would have never known otherwise.”

    What made you think there wasn’t?

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Hi John,
    I’ve been following your blog and reading every article. Some of your posts really pull at the heartstrings and I can feel the heartache, the sense of loss, and the feeling of being alone. Especially with having a wife that doesn’t understand, and that you love so deeply that you want to shield from the full brunt of why you no longer believe. I get it. If you shared everything, it would quite possibly lead to her own crisis of faith and her own deconversion – and you don’t want her to lose something she values so highly. She may never know what kind of sacrifice you are making for her in this regard, and I wanted to step in to say what a wonderful person you are for putting her first and foremost in your mind. Now, circumstances may change. She may *really* want to know. She may need to know. Who knows what the future holds? But you will handle that as it comes.

    It is certainly good to hear that you and your family are still getting along well and having a good, relatively normal, home life. How are the kids taking this? (I can’t recall you mentioning the kids specifically with this, sorry if I am having a faulty memory moment.) Do they know what the deal is? Or are they just aware that daddy’s not feeling well? If you think they are unaware…think again. Kids can be pretty perceptive at times. Have you thought about what you will tell them if they ask you why you no longer go to church, once you leave the ministry?

    Finally, I want to thank you for following me back on Twitter (@Daelda) – if you ever want to chat, I’d be honored. I know that you are a very busy person, and so I won’t hold my breath, but I just want you to know that I am out there and I’m willing to talk. Be well.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Well my oldest is only 5, and I’m not even sure he has a concept of God. I’m hoping that my wife and I can find a progressive church we can agree on. Something LGBTQ friendly with a Universalist flair would be fine with me.

      Thanks for the chat offer, but you know, I think I’ve already found the right people thanks to the Clergy Project. But it’s so awesome that you are looking out for me.

      Wife scheduled my doctor’s appointment already.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Oh, also, do please have your depression treated. I, in NO WAY, think that your atheism is just a manifestation of your depression, but as someone who has suffered depression most of his life, I really hope that you can see a doctor and perhaps get some therapy. Now, you would want a therapist that *isn’t* going to push religion on you, or blame your atheism. I recommend visiting The Secular Therapy Project first, to see if they have someone in your area. https://www.seculartherapy.org/ If not, be sure to ask questions of any therapist before you agree to go see them. You can always call around without giving your name. Best of luck!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. When I left Christianity, I left all my old Church friends behind me. It was hard, but I found it necessary. Don’t worry, new friends, true friends, are right there ahead of you. There are a lot of great resources available today.
    http://www.themystic.org/dark-night/
    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/daylightatheism/essays/into-the-clear-air/
    When you get through to the other side, it’s like a giant weight has been lifted from your mind.

    Like

  7. perhaps at one time you only had 2 friends but just looking at your followers on this blog you might rethink the definition of the word friend. for many years you stepped out in faith that there was a god and yo had a personal relationship with him. i think i have a relationship with you even just as a reader/follower of your blog. keep an open mind and keep going. look how far you went in life with an illusion. read dr seuss oh the places you’ll go! imagine! grow!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I have to say first off that I’ve been thoroughly enjoying your blog. I was one of those people who came across it because of the Friendly Atheist publicity, and I’ve been following along ever since. Part of the reason I was so taken with it at first is because of the similarities of experience we seemed to have regarding our respective deconversions, but now I’m just reading to find out what happens next. Seriously, it’s like a soap opera!
    This isn’t to say that I don’t still relate; there’s just fewer similarities than I first thought. But this is great news! For starters, my wife and I got a divorce because of my apostasy, and (so far at least) you two don’t seem to be heading in that direction. The church that I grew up in was very strict. Not one that a person just casually attends. Seriously, they think everyone is going to hell except for, what, like 12 people? So when I finally told my wife I was done with church (oh, I should add that another difference is that I was never a minister, though I am the son of one), she just freaked out. And it never got better. Distrust was rampant, and I was treated at times like I was some sort of intruder in the house. So when I read about the way that you and your wife are working through this, despite her denial of your atheism, I can’t help but feel hopeful that this particular soap opera just may have a happy ending (if, of course, soap operas ever ended).
    Thanks for writing all this. I have no doubt that you’re going to help a lot of people by sharing your story.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I’m glad to read that you’re also having enjoyable moments and that your life is not all just a struggle. At least in my case even relatively simple things like warm shower or a simple sandwich and tea can bring unusually high levels of enjoyment. Or the cause of that enjoyment could be social. It can be very difficult when a large number of people around you do not understand.

    The fact that this is mainly a struggle of mind and not, for example a broken leg makes it just that much more difficult for people around you to understand. Although, this is not to say that you’re not also struggling physically and socially. I have struggled with panic disorder for 20 years now, so I can relate on some level through my experiences with this condition. If you’re interested in reading about my struggle with panic disorder and the physical and social problems that came with it, I’m willing to share my experiences on that with you via email.

    Perhaps it would help you if you could arrange more time and space just for thinking, or not thinking if you so chose. Let your mind catch a breath so to speak. After all, the change in your thinking was, and quite possibly still is accelerating exponentially. Consider the relation between the time your mind was used to thinking and behaving within the constraints of your faith relative to the cascading effect your mind is going through ever since you lost your faith. Another important thing to note is, that people close to you are also struggling with you. So, in my experience it helps when you reward a family member or a friend with a simple, honest thank you for something supportive and/or constructive they did. After all it takes more effort to be supportive and/or constructive when you’re exhausted. Or it might be a hug, kiss or something else depending on the person.

    Take care.

    Liked by 1 person

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