About six years ago, I attended the church I grew up in for the last time. I hadn't been there in several weeks, and questions were asked about where I had been and what I was up to. Mostly it was the pastor's wife, who had been a mentor to me, asking about what I had been doing. The tone she used made me think she knew I was in a "faith crisis" or whatever you want to call it. I made up a lie about attending another church closer to home and left it at that. I walked out the doors and never went back. 

I've always felt sort of bad about just leaving like that, with no explanation. I grew up in that congregation. Most of the people had known me since I was six years old and doing ballerina twirls in the parking lot. There was always a little twinge of something, I don't think I'd call it guilt, but something that made me feel like I should close that door once and for all. 

I think the biggest reason that I didn't tell anyone why I left was that I was just afraid of the reaction. Like I said, I was raised in that church from a young age. It was a small congregation and felt like extended family. It was scary enough to admit to myself that I'd lost my faith, never mind my own family. I was afraid of the questions that might be asked of me, or of feeling like I'd somehow let them down. 

I'm finally trying to resolve this need for closure. I wrote a letter to the pastor of the church asking to formally withdraw my membership from the church (likely an unnecessary step, but it makes me feel better). I included a few statements about what I do and do not believe anymore, to make it plain that I am no longer a Christian. I plan to put the letter in the mail tomorrow and I hope that will be the end of it. 

This probably doesn't seem important to others, but I really think this is the right move for me. My hope is that by doing this, I'll be able to get rid of that "loose-ended" feeling and end that chapter of my life. It's been a long and turbulent ride to this point. 

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Comment by Rob the Ridiculous on August 16, 2012 at 4:31am

People need symbols, or at least I do. When I decided that I was a full-blown atheist I spend quite some time getting myself unregistered from the Catholic Church. It took me quite some time and effort, and in the end it's just words on paper, but it still made me feel more comfortable about it, as the chapter has had a symbolic end to it.

So, I think that a lot of people can relate to your story.

Comment by Kristi on August 17, 2012 at 12:38am

So, funny coincidence...put the letter in the mail today, and this evening as I was on my way to an appointment, I saw my former pastor crossing the street. If I believed in such things as signs and superstitions, I'd say it was the universe telling me I did the right thing. Instead, I just sort of hunkered down in the car as much as I could and still be able to drive. 

Comment by James Cox on August 17, 2012 at 9:19pm

I can see that you have an adversion to 'confrontation. When the perception of power seems embalanced, staying away might be the best.

Some cults 'love bomb', in an attempt to create emotional dependency, but some harrass or character assinate when you leave. Someone 'leaving', IMHO, creates a feeling that the group's 'stuff' is not worthy of belief, and to recover could imply distruction of the heretic. Knowing what happened to the group when you left, might be interesting.  

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