After coming to this site every night for two weeks, I have decided to join and share my story. I have felt so alone in my disbelief lately, and I'm so thankful to have found this site! Thank you all.

I grew up in Alabama in a family of extremely devout, slightly evangelical, and very Baptist Christians. To say my family is religious would be an understatement. I became a Christian at age 12 (which was very late in comparison to the majority of the children at our church). I was at a church summer camp when I made the decision. When my parents picked me up at the end of the week, I told them I was a Christian. My mom then told me that my grandfather had passed away earlier in the week. She tearfully told me that my grandfather (on his deathbed) requested that they leave me at camp in hopes of me accepting Christ. I missed his funeral, became a Christian, and completely believed this was a sign from God.

As I got older, I began to resent Church for a number of reasons. Most of my resentment towards Church stemmed from my resentment towards my Dad. For whatever reason, we have never really clicked. He has a very unexpected temper and we constantly argue. I have always been resistant to anyone forcing me to do anything. Going to Church was not an option. My parents forced me to go to Church every Sunday morning, Sunday evening, and Wednesday evening.

I never fit in socially at the Church. Looking back I realize this is because I thought they were all crazy and I distanced myself out of fear of being different. At my first job I met a girl who invited me to go to Church with her. My parents allowed me to go. I went and loved it. It was a lot "cooler" than my Church. I met people who I fit in with better. I asked my parents if I could start going to this church instead of ours and they became very emotional and angry and wouldn't allow me to go. My resentment grew.

Later on I went to college and became extremely depressed and anxious. This was the first time that I somewhat comfortably called myself an agnostic, but not to my family. I felt very alone and devastated in the realization that I did not believe in God. I still felt an incredible amount of guilt from sinning even though I rejected God. Losing my virginity caused me a lot of anxiety. I was very fearful of my Christian roommate finding out. She did eventually find out, and she asked that I not have sex again out of respect for God and that if I did, she wanted me to move out. I agreed not to, but that conversation did irreparable harm to our friendship.

Eventually I met a group of girls that were either atheist or agnostic, and we became friends. This was the first time that I really felt like I fit in with a group of people. After a year or so of knowing these girls, they began to do hardcore drugs (which I was not okay with) and we parted ways. I studied abroad after that and met two Christian girls who shared the same morals as me. We became friends. I started going to Church again. I wouldn't say that I was ever truly a believer again. I wanted to believe very badly, though. For a long time I thought something was wrong with me. I prayed and begged God to open my heart, to give me a sign, to show me he was real. I never heard anything but my own voice and the occasional "warm fuzzy feeling."

After graduating, my college roommate called me and told me about a job at the Church we grew up in. I took the job, where we now work together. At first I thought taking the job would be a great idea. My parents would be (and were) thrilled and I thought it would be a great chance to be more open minded. It turns out that working there has been the icing on the cake as far as my lack of belief goes. I spend most days being angry over anti-gay comments or general ignorance. Other than my boyfriend, I feel completely alone in my atheism.

Anyway, hello everyone! Sorry I am not the best story-teller. I did think you all would be interested to know that there are people faking it in the Church though. I can only assume that I'm not the only one.

Views: 176

Comment by Melvinotis on August 12, 2013 at 9:09pm
Hamilton, feel free to stretch out and enjoy yourself here. Welcome to TA.
Comment by Strega on August 12, 2013 at 9:44pm

We're glad you joined us, Hamilton :)

Comment by Adam on August 12, 2013 at 10:18pm

Welcome Hamilton

I agree, sometimes its hard to find other fellow Atheists to hang out with. Especially depending on the location you are in.

Comment by H3xx on August 12, 2013 at 11:22pm

Well hello there neighbor. I grew up in Mississippi, and in pretty much the same situation as you. I became an atheist much younger, but my family back in MS still doesn't know. In fact, I'm not sure which news would piss them off more, me being a heathen, or me being gay. Anyway, you're not alone. Welcome to TA.

Comment by M.M. on August 13, 2013 at 2:30am

Well Met! Your story confirms my idea that atheism will not flourish until it can offer the social equivalent of church.

I live in the south and being a non believer is a lonely road. I keep it to myself just to keep my job and to make life less stressful.

Anywho nice to meet you, thanks for sharing.

peace.

Comment by Belle Rose on August 13, 2013 at 3:40am
WELCOME HAMILTON!!!!!!!

What Nate said,

"The more you share who you really are, the better your life will become."

YESSSS!!!!!!!!! Learning to be who you are and proud of it is freeing, and healing at the same time. I didn't grow up with the same church forced indoctrination, but I do know what it's like to be made to feel like you have to comply with what other people want from you and for you.

For example, the conversation with your roommate bullying you into an agreement of not having sex again or you'll be kicked out, or your parents getting "angry" because you wanted to attend church elsewhere....

These little control tactics and manipulations can over time make you respond to stress or conflict by succumbing to do "what other people want you to do to keep them happy." It is a dangerous path to follow. It tarnishes your self-esteem, destroys your sense of self, and rids you of the ability to stand up for yourself.

The extreme of this pattern leads you to lie to keep the peace, or even more destructive - lie to get what you want from people. If you have ever lied to someone so that they won't be mad at you, (because you know they would be mad if they knew the Truth), you've learned a survival mechanism that can only become self-destructive.

But there is hope my friend!!! Continue unapologetically, ferociously, and adamently to learn who you are, and do not be afraid to BE that person. If you can be that person no matter who is watching or what they might think, you'll reach a level of self-acceptance that will make you walk taller with a big smile....at least that's what they tell me, I haven't made it to the top of that hill yet, wannna traveling buddy? LoL!!! Life is a journey my friend. And just when you think you've "arrived" you'll realize it's just the beginning ;)
Comment by onyango makagutu on August 13, 2013 at 7:30am

Welcome Hamilton

Comment by Emperor Milos on August 13, 2013 at 7:55am

Welcome, Hamilton.

You will find a good community here.

Comment by Ed on August 13, 2013 at 10:47am

Hello Hamilton,

Hopefully you will find comfort here at TA!

I suggest your employment at the Church be temporary in nature as it sounds like that negative environment will not allow you to be the freethinker you really are.

Peace and to thy own self always be true.....

Comment by Aim on August 14, 2013 at 6:43pm
Welcome Hamilton!

I thought you might enjoy this video series by Evid3nc3 on YouTube, about one man's deconversion from Baptist Christianity.
Your story reminded me of it.
It's lengthy, but very well worth your time.
http://m.youtube.com/user/Evid3nc3

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