What follows is partially a mind-dump of thoughts and feelings relating to this, partially me telling my (religious) family that I’ve lost my faith, and partly needing to say these things somewhere. There’s a lot of “I’s” here. This is me talking about me.
So, the sharp eyed would have noticed that the word ‘Christian’ has been slowly vanishing from my profiles, across my social media accounts. This was not unintentional.
I lost my faith.
I used to have a church, I went to every Sunday, pretty much without fail. I spoke to the pastor there, told him I was struggling, I was loosing my faith, asked for help. Got pretty much unhelpful platitudes in return. Additionally, around this time, a petition was going around the church, against same-sex marriage in the UK. What we really needed was more hate, distrust, and disgust going around. The well-meaning congregation probably didn’t realise it, but that was the undertones I was hearing from them. I stopped going, “what God of Love would accept that?” I slowly, very slowly, drifted back into depression, with fewer tools to aid me.
I was shouting into the ether, asking for help from God, asking for guidance. Nothing came, nothing helped. My faith was slipping.
Eventually, the answer to the question in my head “Is there a God?” started returning the answer ‘No’. In my head, that question had been returning ‘Yes’ since 1998. My faith broke. You’d have thought it would’ve been a quick process, but it took many, many months, slowly, painfully, tearing away. I used to think there was a plan. I used to think someone bigger than myself cared. And slowly, over time, those thoughts, beliefs, started being evaluated ‘untrue‘ in my head.
The process of loosing my faith itself was hard, painful, and very unpleasant. Mixed into this is Guilt. A lot of Guilt. I feel I’m letting my family down, who’re all actively believing practising Christians, mostly Evangelical or Anglican.
Slowly, my sense of self has been adjusting, my moral compass set free from what the Bible says, what my interpretation of it said, what Pastors, theologians I trusted said. I still have morals, if anything they’ve become stronger, no longer linked to an external force. Mostly, they’re the same as current liberal evangelical Christian base ethics, but stronger against homophobia. I can certainly rant about people being horrible to one another quite a lot, if you care to listen sometime.
You might’ve worked out the gap, between my profiles changing, my faith breaking, and today, is not insubstantial. Though it was a painful process over months, it was complete back in 2014.
Why the gap? My family. I didn’t want to tell them. I’m afraid of the reaction, I’m afraid of getting treated differently, badly. It might be a silly fear, but it’s there nonetheless. In fact, I’m wimping out by writing this here and posting it to my social media instead of contacting them. My Mum knows, I told her a while ago, I was tearing myself into bits, I had to confide in someone, but apart from that, not even the Brother I love to bits knew, though I suspect he worked it out a while back. He’s very very intelligent.
I’m scared. I’m lonely. I’ve great friends, who have been helping. I’ve great work colleagues, one of whom in particular is the most intelligent person I’ve ever met, and though he can be a pain in the neck (he knows it), his advice has helped me greatly. The friends I’ve made in the IndieStone community as well have helped me greatly.
I’m currently coming out of this bout of depression, the stormclouds are slowly, achingly slowly, being inched away. I can see the sunshine again, more and more; The dark thoughts about suicide in the night haven’t troubled me at all recently. But, I’m still filled with guilt. Guilt over dropping my faith. Guilt over not being the son, cousin, brother, grandson, nephew, my family expects me to be. Guilt at saying “No, a lot of the moral ‘rules’ of the modern Church are stupid, and I reject them entirely.”
I’m still left with a void. I knew faith, I knew that assurance and belief, and now it’s gone.
So. That’s why loosing my faith sucks. I had to say it. And I had to vent.
If you’re my family reading this, I’m sorry, I couldn’t say this in person, I couldn’t say it via text or phone call. I’m too scared. I’m in too much pain right now. Don’t judge me, please.
At this point, I’m fairly certain my faith loss is permanent. There’s a reason I’ve been describing myself as Agnostic/Don’t Know though. I truly don’t know if there is a loving God, I don’t know if any religion is right, if none are. However, whilst I’m coming out of a really dark place, I’m also not really open to conversion attempts, nor anything other than discussions about faith over a drink somewhere warm and comfortable, and the important bit here *in person*. 🙂
Saying that, I’m filled with love for my family, my friends, and hell, pretty much everyone on this weird, wonderful, strange, horrible, horrific planet.