That's a pretty incredible story, Darrell. You were a missionary? What organization were you with? I was in YWAM for a while, and did a lot of missionary stuff for a lot of my 20s, so I can relate to that.
How is your wife doing with all the transitions? Has she also lost her faith? How did she react when you came out?
Hope you don't mind all the questions.
Don’t mind the questions at all! Like you say in your post, this deconversion thing can be pretty lonely: all of my best friends from my whole life have been believers, and I find it very hard to speak openly with all but one or two of them about my loss of faith. Like you, I’m hoping to connect with a community here that can approximate some of what I became accustomed to as a member of a spiritual family.
When I was 20, I trained with a team at Abilene Christian University to spend two years working as a missionary in Cameroun with the Church of Christ. The ten of us spent 8 months learning French. But then “rival missionaries” from within the country who heard that we planned to baptist active polygamists blocked our entry :-/ and myself and my best friend ended up coming to Quebec instead, where I worked for a year with a small francophone church. Ended up staying in Quebec, doing my graduate studies at a French university, and here I remain.
My wife totally transitioned out of our old church (= cult, The International Church of Christ a.k.a. The Boston Movement) before I did, but a believer she remains. I think she believes I can’t really be an atheist, that this must be due to the *other* crisis in my life. At present, I still attend church with her and our sons (which is often quite uncomfortable these days), although my four best friends in the church know I say I no longer believe in God. (Of course, they’re hoping I’ll repent).
Would love to connect with your husband as well: is he on here? I’d be interested in hearing the process he went through to shift his paradigm and perhaps hear what advice he could give me in my marriage to a strong believer.
I think my husband started to make a TA profile, but I don't think he's finished it. I'm sure he will get around to it sooner or later-and I know he wont mind talking to you about his process/journey/whateverit'scalled.
It's hard for those who are still christians to understand what it's like to lose your faith. I hope you've been able to maintain some friendships with people who can accept you for who you are.
I guess I was just your ordinary evangelical non-denominational christian. Towards the end, I was getting really interested in Eastern Orthodoxy, but I don't know if I ever would have fully committed. Anyway, I wouldn't really call myself an atheist, I guess I'm more agnostic. I don't think I'm ready to completely give up on the idea of God. My husband is an atheist though, which is weird because he used to be the most devout christian I've ever met. He started questioning things during college, because he has a degree in Bible history. Then he totally lost his faith in his first year of seminary, right after we got married. I was terrified, and thought I'd made some awful sin by marrying him when clearly he wasn't the person God had planned for me because now he's an atheist. LOL....anyway, I started having doubts and questions after he started explaining his process and some of the things he'd learned in his studies. I realized that I did marry exactly the right person, and now we're blissfully happy in our unbelief. :D
I've been getting kind of discouraged lately because all of my friends have kind of drifted away. No one really seems to understand how painful it is to lose your faith, and how lonely it can be. So I'm really glad to find this community, and some people to connect with. I think that's the thing I miss the most....the solidarity and support that you (are supposed to) have in church.
Hi Darren. Once you hear the words “I do not believe god exist” sounding in your own mind you are an atheist. That is all there is to it. What to do next is not as easy to work out because it takes time for the religious mind-set and worldview to be undone. You have realized that the answers religion offered are not “the truth”. You will have to build a new way of looking at the world and our place in it. This should be seen as an adventure, just as life itself should be. The meaning and purpose of our lives is not something to be defined by others for us. We find a meaning and purpose for ourselves. It can be whatever we want it to be. Family, friends, golf, whatever….Listening to a bit of Hitchens always helps.
Appreciate the encouraging word Reg. One of the reasons why I wanted to connect here is that one of the hardest things about this journey is that it can be a lonely one, at least at first.
I hear what you're saying though and I think there is a ton of truth in it. For much of my life, I have waited for god, waited on god, waited on other christians and have used christianity to reinforce my fears and insecurities. Seeing life as a new adventure in which I actually have the ability to direct the story is reassuring.
For example, one of the big things that my family stopped doing this past year was tithing. When I started having doubts, I realized that giving thousands of dollars to the church each year (for the past 15 years), hasn't really helped me or my family.
While I would like to give more thoughtfully to charities, I also would really like to travel and see places. This is something that we've always put on the back burner, because of the kids, because it would distract us from church, because we didn't have the money, but I've been thinking that the time is right for us to do some of those things. Hell, I want to see the national parks. I want to travel around Europe. Anyway, this is just one small example. I also realize that as you say, this is something that will happen over time. It's about building something new and Rome wasn't built in a day (as they say).