It’s been ten years since I dared to say out loud to myself…
I don’t believe in Jesus anymore.
There’s a lot of loss when a person ditches religion. Lots of agonizing worry and haunting fear. While enormously freeing and ultimately wondrous, there are undeniable holes left behind and wounds that take time to heal. Relationships change, points of view take on new hues, and time is spent differently.
I power walked my brains out last Sunday morning for the two hours that I once would have spent in a pew. I listened to an audio book about the backstory of the HeLa Cell and I fought church traffic on my way home from the trail head. Dreadful timing. On the drive I heard myself say for the umpteenth time, “I don’t miss that at all.” Meaning church.
And I don’t. Not at all. I’ve had moments where I’m almost giddy driving past a church while I sing, “I don’t have to do that anymore!” to the tune of “I’m Gettin’ Nuttin’ For Christmas.” It’s a weird thing to be ten years out and still so exuberant over not feeling obligated to go to church. Seems that should have passed by now. And yet…
There is no playbook on how to grieve or celebrate the death of your religious beliefs.
The further away I get from Christianity, the more foolish my old belief seems to me. It’s interesting to note the changes in my thinking as each year passes.
For a few years after my de-conversion, I still held onto the belief in an afterlife. After all, if we humans can emerge on earth and live and grow without a god governing us, why can’t the same be true in a spiritual place beyond death? Then that started to not resonate so much.
I believed in spirits for awhile: Angels and demons with no god governance. I don’t really know why I held onto that as long as I did. Maybe because I’d attributed some strange occurrences to the paranormal and I just couldn’t find a place for those memories. Old ghosts, I guess.
A few years later my belief in spirits took a beating as I dug deeper into the theory of evolution. Earlier this year Bill Nye The Science Guy’s book Undeniable kinda shoved me over the hump. There was a time in my Christian life I wouldn’t have touched his book with a ten footer. But I read that one twice, back-to-back.
The scars of leaving the faith are many. The psychological damage is hard to calculate and I try not to actually do the math too much these days. Moving forward into new things is far more enjoyable than adding up all the losses and hurts. But I miss a few of my friends and I continue to feel frustrated by those who hold fast to beliefs that now appear silly to me. We shared those beliefs once. Now we’re worlds apart…
Every once in awhile I think it’d be nice to have a god who truly is in control… someone bigger and more powerful to trust and count on.
Might seem strange to hear an atheist say that. But the fact is, there was an enormous amount of comfort thinking that there was a god who had the whole world in his hands. At least, as long as I didn’t focus on his tyrannical side.
Some time back a Christian friend said to me, “You’ll be back.” I was still angry at that point and I said, “Don’t hold your breath.” We’d been close for a number of years. But we’ve not seen each other now for quite some time. What once connected us, now separates us.
Now the anger has passed. Still… I feel more certain of my departure than I was even when the anger was raw. But I miss that friendship none-the-less. And a couple of others that have moved on with their Christian friends.
There are definitely holes.