Young & Impressionable: Inside the Mind of a Young Christian

I've been living in Florida since February... er, well... I felt I was being held captive anyway. I tried to escape several times, but failed. I finally decided, in May, that I was ready to move around the first part of August. I planned on living with my parents, who are in Texas, to save some money and freakin' pretend like I was 11 for a little while.

Well, my older brother (Caleb Daniel on this site) sped those plans up a bit with a very risky emergency surgery. [He's done with surgery now and recovering quickly!] Because of this, my parents didn't have much time to clear out some space for me, so I've been doing it myself. Like everyone, I have a bunch of old, random paraphernalia from high school and when I lived in Nashville laying around: pictures, ticket stubs, journals, etc...

I found one of my journals from when I moved out on my own for the first time. I had just turned 21 and was in pursuit of "getting closer to God" ; my best friend at the time was a member of a Four Square Church , which I started attending with her. It's pretty strange to read a lot of my entries and see the mindset I was in. Honestly, I knew something was off, but I thought it was just me. There were a lot of things I didn't agree with and thought were wrong, but I just couldn't put my finger on exactly what the problem was...

This is a little embarrassing, but here is an entry I wrote June 1st of 2004. I may post several of these so people can, sort of, get inside the mind of a Christian...

Enjoy (or, try not to throw up in your mouth at least)!
---
June 1, 2004

So, yesterday was church… awesome service. I was “Baptized in the Spirit”. But I don’t feel any different. Am I supposed to? I should be able to speak in tongues now… I can try and think I might be, but I dunno; I feel dumb doing it, and Coli says I would know if I were. Mom didn’t. Maybe I should call her…

Noel and Natalie are the ones who prayed over me. Natalie said she’d sensed that I had been craving it, and I have been. While she was praying, God had a word for me (through her)… about my doubt. I know what I’m talking about: this insecure feeling that’s always followed me since my salvation. I know that I’m saved, but I have always been insecure that I’m not. Fear has always been a powerful force in my life.

Anyway… so she spoke directly to that; assured me that I was His, and I don’t doubt anymore. I actually cried. I don’t remember exactly what she said (unfortunately), but it was very moving; what I needed to hear.

But… I couldn’t ever quite let loose. Not that I didn’t want to. I wanted to say something more profound than “praise you Jesus”, etc… It’s so repetitive and unoriginal. I really want to sing Him a new song… and not just say, “I bring you a new song.” It’s all the same! Doesn’t it get old hearing the same old words and metaphors? I mean… saying He’s my shepherd isn’t even applicable to my life now. Someone think of something new!

Oh well. So that held me back a little. Is that dumb? Does God even care? I just wish I had something better to offer…


June 18, 2004

...anyway, I like hanging out with Tiffany. Ali is cool. Donny is nice. Christian? No. What's hard is making a real connection with Christians! It's like everyone's so painfully aware of anything mildly offensive it's just... annoying. It's like they're purposefully becoming shocked. Seriously people!!! We're adults; we don't have to pretend to be shocked anew every time someone cusses, or when someone makes a suggestive comment. Get over it! Let it roll off. Don't go looking for vulgarity, but stop acting like it's some new thing that shocks you as though you're 3 and someone says "butt".

It all just seems like an act to me. They all want to feel more holy. Maybe that's what bothers me. It all seems so forced a lot of the time. "I'm going to sing this crappy song with only four chords just because they say 'Jesus', and I'm going to LIKE it!"

Does it really have to be that way? I'm frustrated. I need to just worry about me though...

Views: 42

Comment by Jeremy Roney on July 5, 2009 at 1:31am
Definetely nothing to be embarrassed about. Childhood indoctrination puts quite a few people in this situation, and unfortunetely many choose to take the forced faith path that you describe in the second entry. Its not real, they intuitively know that... so they try harder to make it seem more real. Count yourself lucky to be one of the few that were able to break free, hopefully more will do the same.
Comment by Reggie on July 5, 2009 at 3:19am
I may post several of these so people can, sort of, get inside the mind of a Christian...

I thought you sounded like an atheist trying to be a Christian. Perhaps it is my perfect 20/20 hindsight? At any rate, I have doubts that you were a typical Christian. None of this is to suggest you are fraudulently claiming anything, but rather that you were a bit too thoughtful for religion even then? These are merely my first, speculative thoughts upon reading your words.
Comment by Misty: Baytheist Living! on July 5, 2009 at 4:45am
Thanks for sharing, CC.
I know it must have been a hard thing to do.
Now featured!
Comment by CJoe on July 5, 2009 at 2:34pm
@Reggie... funny that you say that. My mom accused me of never actually having been a Christian last night; told me I don't "understand" God and his Word because I've been blinded (by Him, apparently, which makes so much sense). I can say, even on this side of it, it's very frustrating to be told my experiences weren't real. I don't believe anyone's experiences with it are real but, at the time, they felt real.

Ya know, there are a lot of intelligent Christians, even though that seems like an oxymoron. I can't figure out why it never worked for me and yet it works for them. I guess I've set out in my life to NOT delude myself or fake experiences. I believe ALL Christians are faking, even though they don't realize it.

*sigh*

This is all even more frustrating after having had a religious debate with my mother last night that lasted until nearly 5 am. Just when I think I'm making progress, she pulls out the whole "God shames the wisdom of the world with the foolish..." and I feel like slamming my head on the pavement. YAY!
Comment by Reggie on July 5, 2009 at 3:01pm
My mom ... told me I don't "understand" God and his Word because I've been blinded

Well, that makes two funnies! My "Born Again" mother used to say the same exact thing to me! Now she won't talk to me about religion.

I think that a Christian's experience is genuine. However, attributing it to a god is where they steer wrong. From the sound of it, you would have always been a horrible Christian.

I am keenly interested to read more about your experiences in the church, especially the social interactions. I find the human element to be fascinating.
Comment by Jeremy Roney on July 5, 2009 at 4:38pm
Its funny how from an atheist's point of view theists are the ones that seem blinded, blinded not by a god but by their community and themselves. I can't even begin to comprehend how difficult it must be to come from a religious family, my own parents are only slightly religious and do nothing more than give me a funny look when I read books like The God Delusion.
Comment by Dave G on July 6, 2009 at 12:19pm
Thanks for sharing, Cara. It sounds like you were already having a few insights into things back then, like the bit about people deliberately looking for things to be offended by.
Comment by Wendy on July 8, 2009 at 4:38pm
Sounds like you've dealt with the "no true scotsman" attack. You were never a "real" Christian, 'cause "real" Christians don't desert the faith.

I may have to go dig through some of my old journals & post some entries here, too. I was convinced I'd be a youth minister when I was in high school. I so desperately wanted to feel the faith that I heard other people praising. There was such PEACE in trusting God, and I wanted that. Because of that, I sometimes refer to myself as the "reluctant atheist." I would love to have that sense of security & peace that an ever loving God could provide. Too bad that WANTING it doesn't make it real.

Life would be easier if I won the lotto, too. But I can't go about acting like that's reality.

It was a very hard thing for me to acknowledge that, as much as I wanted to, I can't actually believe in God, and definitely not in the dogma & rules prescribed by religion.

I had the same conflict you do about smart theists. Hell, my father is a biology teacher & a devout Catholic. I learned my scientific reasoning AND my faith from him. How he never canceled out faith, I don't understand. One of my mentors was a chemistry professor. I couldn't fathom how someone so smart & grounded could be wrong... so who was I to question faith? That thought process didn't last long, though.
Comment by Wendy on July 8, 2009 at 4:40pm
Oh, and I finally absolved myself of the guilt of the faithless.... my dad used to say that God decides when you get faith. Since I still didn't believe, it was one of two things:

1) There really is no God
2) There is a God, who has decided in his infinite wisdom, not to bless me with faith in him. In that case, it's not my fault that I can't believe in him, so why worry?

(PS... being a cradle catholic, I've had to learn how to absolve myself of LOTS of guilt. Gotta love it!)

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