4/12/2006                                                                                       View Comments

Highly Sensitive People and the Church

By Lorena Rodriguez

I believe that my years of christianity severely damaged me emotionally. The religion points to Jesus as a solution to each and every problem a person may have. When one expresses pain, disappointment, fear, or anger, the verses are thrown on one’s face: "Don’t let the sun go down on your anger," "Rejoice in the Lord always," "I will fear no evil for you are with me."

The idea is to suppress one's feelings and "take every thought captive to the Lord." What are the psychological consequences of suppressing one’s emotions year after year in "The name of the Lord?"

Are we all to experience the world in the same manner and apply the bible verses to our lives indistinctly?

Are we to erase our individuality to feel the way the bible says we should feel?

According to Dr. Elaine N. Aron, writer of The Highly Sensitive Person (HSP), one of five humans (20%) experience the world in a unique way. HSPs, she maintains, have a brain that processes physical and emotional stimuli as much as 10 times more intensely than that of non-HSPs. And as a result of such sensitivity, HSPs feel overwhelmed by noises, work demands, hectic schedules, or just contact with other people. Situations that for others are completely normal make an HSP want to cry, run away, or hide in a dark room.

Being an HSP, writes Dr. Aron, is both a blessing and a course. Because HSP's experience the world more intensely, they are able to pick on details and circumstances that others can't perceive. Thus HSP's are usually talented individuals with much to offer. They, however, find themselves wanting to contribute their skills while, at the same time, being hindered by the emotional heaviness of a world that seems unbearable.

HSPs like herself, affirms Dr. Aron, can learn to manage their sensitivity and use it to their advantage in leading happy lives.

Her theories come from many clinical studies and from analyzing the writings of other psychologists such as Carl Jung, whom she cites speaking of the origins of neurosis:

"He believed that when highly sensitive patients had experienced a trauma, sexual or otherwise, they had been usually affected and so developed a neurosis. Note that Jung was saying that sensitive people not traumatized in childhood are not inherently neurotic" (p. 36).

She adds that HSPs can be damaged, not only in childhood, but later in life by being in long-term situations that deny them the right to manage their sensitivity.

Church, I maintain, is such a damaging place. HSP church goers, such as I was for far too many years, see themselves continually beaten over the head to adapt to a cookie-cutter model of behaving and feeling that overwhelms them.

HSPs, who due to their sensitivity are more likely to experience guilt than others, take the Bible teachings seriously, too seriously, demanding of themselves complete adherence to the rules, and fearing God 10 times more than non-HSPs.

The whole church experience for the HSP is a traumatic event likely to cause neurosis. And to me, that explains why some can go to church Sunday after Sunday and do not feel pressed to comply with every single commandment that is preached from the pulpit. Many, like my husband, have the ability to decide which teachings to adhere to and which to let go. Others, like me, feel compelled to obey everything that is said and follow it to the letter. During my last visits to church, I used to feel like covering my ears when holiness, money, or witnessing was demanded of me. Even though, by all accounts, I was as holy as they get.

By now, if you are a Christian, you are thinking that I am just mentally ill or demon possessed—I should be on medication, right? Dr. Elaine Aron and others who write on the issue don't think so. They think I am a brilliant individual who needs to create an environment in which I can thrive.

Fundamentalist christian churches are certainly not the place where I can thrive. And I believe that if God exists he is smiling at me in agreement—After all he created me, didn’t he?

52 comments:

Piprus said...

Dear Lorena,

I was moved by your post, for it testifies to your getting in touch with your core, and your feelings. That's a wonderful thing. And certainly a sensitive person such as yourself could be damaged by christianity, for it is a religion built on guilt and terror. But it appears you've risen above that, and though you've suggested that you're standing on the threshold of a new journey, your words seem to raise questions of uncertainty. And that would be exactly right, for uncertainty is a part of life.

Seek wisdom, and you are sure to find it.

Melissa said...

Lorena,

I enjoy reading your thoughts and find myself feeling right at home with much of what you say. I think Piprus expressed it all very well and I would like to second those sentiments.

Glad you have made your way out of the mental pit of christian contradictions and condemnations. Be free and be well my dear!

muttmutt1978 said...

heres a favorite quote of mine God is a democrat and shes pissed. I think if there is a God its nothing like the judeo-christian-muslim God that people percieve

Anonymous said...

I believe you are correct.Church for me has been a source of guilt,worry,obsession and unhappiness. I could never meet their standards and I would analyze confessions,sermoms,mortal vs. venial sin,commandments and prayer. I believeit,in part caused me stress,nail biting,smoking and other undesirable traits not to mwntion an elementary education by neurotic,guilt inducing nuns.
I am in the process of leaving it all,,,,,,,,,a journey. I AM YOUR POST. Thanks

Optimist said...

Lorena, It is obvious from your writing that you are an HSP, and it must have been doubly difficult for you to remove yourself from that quagmire. Like you, I felt that either we had to follow all the commandments, or none of them. There is no half-way.

Fortunately I found the one commandment that solved it all for me. Deuteronomy 23:1 states (my paraphrase) "Any man whose testicles are damaged by cutting or crushing may not enter the house of the Lord".

I survived testicular cancer 20 years ago, but lost one of them in the process. So I am commanded by God not to enter His house.

You won't believe the satisfaction I get in explaining this to Christians when they ask me why I don't attend church. It is their God that forbids it, so I am obliged to stay away.

Look carefully - I am sure you will find something that forbids you as well. If any of your ancestors in the last 10 generations was born out of wedlock you are also forbidden from entering the Lord's house. That is a great catch-all and includes almost everyone.

Good luck as you rebuild your life.

Schalk Swanepoel said...

Dear Lorena,
As a fairly recent convert to atheism (+- two years) I can so identify with your rationale! I can't wait to get myself a copy of Dr. Aron book, The Highly Sensitive Person. Thank you for clearing my mind on this one - I've suffered in silence long enough, believing I'm some kind of freak for being a HSP!
Like yourself, I was one of those all-or-nothing christians which, more often than not, left me with a massive guilt feeling that eventually lead to me falling into a terrible state of depression, eventually causing me to consult a psychiatrist! Altough the treatment that followed helped me to deal the sharp edges of christianity and life in general, somehow I never really managed to completely rid myself of this guilt feeling . . . until I discovered this and similar sites some two years ago. This was when I gradually managed to wriggle myself out of the stranglehold of christianity.
Thank you for helping me along another step of the way and also a big thank you to the webmaster for a wonderful job! Keep up the good work!
Swanie

Lorena said...

Thank you for your words everybody.

I was thinking today that some of the most nasty church people are the long-term members.

It could be that it takes thick skin to survive in the church or that the church doctrines make people rude and insensitive. After all, they believe in a God that had his own son killed--you have to be pretty insensitive to believe that.

As for me, I only found out last week that I was a HSP. So I am going through a sad period, reviewing the events of my life and realizing how I exposed myself to many situations that were not suitable to my sensitive nature. The church was just one of them.

Thanks again,

Lorena
http://exfundamentalist.blogspot.com/

Jesus said...

We are Borg. Resistance is futile. We will assimilate you.

Jim Lee said...

The church along with any other religious institution and or supposed Scripture throughout ol' mother earth is one of control. A manipulation of the mind. Weak minded millions sucumb to these institutions.(I myself was one of them, once upon a time)
My introduction as a child to Catholicism and in my 50’s to Protestantism and Pentecostalism, I became adept in prayer meetings, bible studies, Ministry training seminars, etc. As I have experienced church indoctrination I am able to expound on it. As humans many seek the meaning to the mysteries of existence, purpose, origination, and when life as we know it ceases. Christianity holds almost absolute control over those who follow its dogmas. It controls its adherents by removing their human potential in a real world. From its early beginnings up to this present time, it has employed ways and means of inducing fear and guilt into its followers, to create what is today a powerful belief system. Indoctrination is so intense, the follower is forbidden by his own conscience, to examine truth as presented from any other source. This imprisonment of the human mind crushes self-acceptance and fosters intolerance of those who have not yet suffered indoctrination. This intolerance exists within itself, and each denomination and or cult is wary of the other, even though they all profess to be Christian. This belief system teaches that you are depraved, and that you need salvation or redemption from eternal doom (hell). This type of belief creates a negative self-perception of the individual and it awakens an emotion of fear and guilt necessary to justify its conclusions. Their leaders relate that it will cost followers their salvation to look anywhere else for assistance or understanding of life’s problems. They teach that the bible contain all of the answers that they will ever need. They believe that knowledge from other sources is useless and dangerous, since it creates doubts and confusion, so they should surrender unconditionally to the supposed " Word of God" and to preach it to others at every opportunity. In nearly all cases adherence to their doctrine stops all questions and closes the mind, bringing to a close the rightful exercise of human freedom and reasoning.

south2003 said...

Lorena,

When I read your post, I knew you were describing me.

Thanks for making it so clear.

Pastor Doug Hoag said...

It's very disturbing that many Christians can quote Bible sound bites and flatter themselves with unending moralisms without realizing the effect they are having on others, expecially those who are very sensitive and are easily spooked.

I am a Christian, and, no, I do not think you are mentally ill or demon possessed.
I believe you took the right step in dealing with HSP by walking away from a very toxic place. That was the sane thing to do. And please, go to places where you can thrive. And yes, God smiles on you no matter where you decide to go!

Dr. Aron's book sounds interesting. I'll have to get a copy.

GoneNsane said...

I am HSP and church, even my liberal church, made me feel like crap. The message was always, "You are not good enough for God. No matter what you do, it will never be enough." Right there in the creed you have to recite every week that you haven't loved God or your neighbor enough. I felt tremendous guilt because I had food on the table every day and others didn't. Christianity was a giant nail in the coffin that buried my self-esteem.

The sad part is, I think the ultimate goal of Christianity is to make people more compassionate and sensitive. Too bad it drives away the very people it is trying to create.

Anonymous said...

Hi Lorena and all the ex-christians!

A few things i want to say before i post a reply.

1. I Know there is a god . it dont mean i have seen him or have proof.

2. At one point in my life i gave up on religion and god. (sorry i didnt join the site hate joining sites too much of a hassle.)

3. Weather you believe in god or not he loves you ( A concept thats not taught by christianity guess they figured it was easier to manage people with set rules that are absolute)

4. I can quote bible also but i will not weather you believe in bible jesus or god is your progotive (there might be spelling mistake there)

All that said Lorena I am very proud of you! Over the years I have learned one thing you can tell people something and no matter how precise you are it will get twisted changed morphed into something that you didnt say. Now church is based on some teaching that were given to us 2000 years ago and it was left at the hands of people who are weak ( in the moral sense) Just need to look at the past to know how weak they are they have started wars killed innocents and spread lies.

God and Jesus never wanted any one to be hurt. And god is all about forgiving and not punishment like churches and preachers say ( If they all know that would they go around abusing children?) Does that mean that they can confess and go to heaven even after all that honestly I hope not. Anyone Who intentionally and greatly harms another being should not be permitted to go to heaven (imho) So all the people who made you feel you are not a good christian fall into that catogary (imho again).

Do i mean that you have to go back to church and confess and cry and all that to get forgiveness and become a crhistian again. Absolutely not! all i am saying is just because someone thought you did not fit in with their perfect mold of a christian doesnt make you a bad christian. Everyone could only be asked to do their best nothing more if you do what you can to help others ( I dont mean you have to go around helping everyone you see all you have to do is help the people you like. yeah i said it you dont have to help the people you dont like. we are humans we are meant to be imperfect.

All i mean is if you can go to sleep at the end of the night peacefully you have done everything god asks of you. Church can go to hell if they dont like it. and once in a while say thanks to God for all the nice things he has done for you. The only thing I ask anyone who read this to remember is christianity is just a path ( some people have put speed bumps and stop signs because they like em.) God is our destination just because we dont like the path dont turn away from our destination just find your own path.

One thing before i end this church is not where God is at he's in your heart church is where you go to know you are not alone. (and to show off your cars and clothes seriously why do they even bother)

You dont have to agree with everything i say or like everything i say its devil's night and i woke up in the middle of the night and felt like doin something nice for people.

Melissa said...

Anony 5,000 said:"God and Jesus never wanted any one to be hurt."

How do you know this? Is this your independent perception of the will of your god or are you filling in the ethical blanks as you go along? Do you base this claim on the bible alone?

Because if you are...then you have not read the bible completely. If you have no problem with some of the horrific actions proclaimed in that book, then that is where we exchristians "bump heads" with you and many other christians.

If you claim to know what god wants, then that would mean you are supernatural...because you have made your knowledge equal to that of your god, OR you are simply projecting what you BELIEVE your alleged god wants from us or for us. Either way, it is your personal experience and nothing more that brings you to that conclusion.

Not everyone here agrees with that conclusion. And listing things next to a number does not make them factual...as you might think.

Allow me to demonstrate.

All gods are man made mental hallucinations. There is no one true god that is known and revealed to all of mankind and this is a strong piece of evidence that supports my personal conclusion about "gods" existence.

Upon further examination, the bible fails to win me over because of the mental quagmire it creates for humanity. It holds a double standard on almost every page. God declares that he made evil for wicked purposes and Jesus wants to cause strife in this world, this is the belief according to those ancient minds who conjured up the bible some 2,000 years ago.

Those are my personal views, but I did not need to put a number before it because it is not a factual statement...it is a expression of my disbelief.

Yet, you turn around and claim:

Anony 5,000: "Now church is based on some teaching that were given to us 2000 years ago and it was left at the hands of people who are weak ( in the moral sense) Just need to look at the past to know how weak they are they have started wars killed innocents and spread lies.

Okay...are you confused or what? That is common. Confusion and contradiction seem to go hand in hand with biblical interpretation. These people you describe as being "immoral" and "weak" are the very same people that concocted the books of the bible!

You can not have it both ways. If you read the bible and examine the overall story and find yourself not in spiritual/ethical agreement with many of the actions of the alleged jesus and god...it is because your human judgments have guided you to be a better person with higher ethical values.

And as far as the rest of your post, it is all subjective rhetoric that does not apply to everyone else simply because you believe that it should.

Now, next time you show up...try to find some common ground to stand upon before you go off on a religious tangent that overlooks the intention of the original post.

In case you did not notice yourself doing so, you showed up here to pass off your version of faith and then proceeded to stand over all of us as if your version were superior to all those people who do not share your views.

I don't know what your religious label is...but it sounds almost the same as every other church goer who competes for points in the afterlife as well as the preachers who insist upon the plentiful dollars of every last gullible "soul".

You sound like a nice person but please try to see that your words are just as condemning as the next followers and it offers nothing new.

Nice try though.

Melissa said...

Correction to my post:

All gods are man made mental hallucinations. There is no one true god that is known and revealed to all of mankind and this is a strong piece of evidence that supports my personal conclusion about "gods" NON-existence.

It could be read as correct in the first post, it just depends upon the views of the reader. As an atheist, it should be corrected for obvious reasons.

BTW:

Have a happy egg day tomorrow! Don't forget those hard boiled religious eggs. Solidify those undeveloped embryo's and think of the joy of jebus as he breaks the yolks of your sin.

Glory be to the savior Bunnies!

freedy said...

Once again,"some of the meanest people on earth are CHRISTIANS,".
More people are damaged in the church than are helped ,....20 years in the ministry taught me this!

Anonymous said...

Hi Lorena,

What you write strikes a chord with me. About 6 years ago I had a "born again" kind of experience. Even now I find it hard to accept that is was something within me rather than something outside of me that was at work. Certainly at the time, and up until quite recently, I thought it was God.

When I was full of the "spirit" I tried to follow whatever Jesus taught and that included the advice given to the rich young man. I sold my house, car and gave the proceeds along with all my savings to charity. I wasn't trying to buy my way into heaven - it pleased me to do it at the time.

I gave up good jobs because I did not want to compromise on the precepts of Jesus, so much so that I have become unemployable.

I had accepted the spiritual advice that as I became detached from material things so God would shine his light in the space vacated in my soul but it did not
happen.

When all the emotionalism ran out of steam there was no abiding joy of Christ's presence only emptyness, fear, depression and loneliness - I lost what friends I had through my fanaticism - and the observation that not only had I not progressed in holiness but was much worse than what I was before "Jesus" came into my life.

The real turning point for me was finally facing up to the horrible doctrine of hell. I tried to get answers from really knowledgeable people that could explain how a good god could bring into being a creature that never asked to be born in the knowledge that it would be punished for all eternity for a temporal crime. As best I can see there is no evil ever created by a man that could compare with such an evil scheme of vengeance and hatered - all from a God who is love.

I don't want to murder my conscience any more. I still believe in God but I think am best described now as an agnostic.


Jacky

Anonymous said...

Dear Lorena,
I understand your feelings-as a HSP and a fairly new Christian-I feel the rub of trying to use Scriptures "pat"sounding answers to painful situations. It seems unfair to be expected to simply "relax". Being HSP is a major challange-more so as the world increases its sensory assaults by the day.
At the same time, I can't imagine how assaulted Christ must have felt as He entered the same world-only without a single flaw to offer himself. Annoyed doesn't begin to describe it I'm sure! To endure not only putting up with us and our sin and its consequences, but to endure the ultimate physical and spiritual assault of death and separation from God beore returning to glory so that we may one day be free of all pain and discomfort.
I was deeply moved by the hurt you and many commentors have received from religion-and its dispensors. I pray that you would know that God's love surpasses man's ability to mangle the Truth in such unloving and unforgiving ways. Especially to the man who believes that one testicle will keep him out of the Lord's house. The old testament laws were only meant to #1 keep God's people from the consequences of sin and a fallen world-and to show us our inability to reach those standards that we may find it necessary to look for salvation and in doing so find life, abundant life in Jesus! It is faith that makes us worthy to enter His house-for we are under grace. As an HSP-I need more grace than the next guy, not just to be patient with non-HSP's, but to know that I am forgiven even as I have so far to grow myself.
I pray that you will find comfort in Him. He cares-and so do I! Love to you-Angela Hougas

boomSLANG said...

Yet, one more Christian who is convinced that THEY have the "True" interpretation of scripture; that THEIR "prayers" will work; that THEY can understand exactly what someone else has been through; that THEIR personal experiences dictate "Truth"...and all the while, presupposing that THEIR god-head is something that actually exists, while all others are non-existant. The arrogance is astonishing.

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure if all churches are like that. There seems to be a movement in Evangelical Christianity to take such research.

An example: look at all the books Christian psychologists and therapists are writing (stuff by Henry Cloud, for example).

I think Christians actually have a tendency to embrace the emotional (perhaps too much).

Norwegian said...

Being a HSP myself I feel alot of strong and very negative emotions reading all these comments. The one thing that is most important to me is being dragged through the mud by very unreasonable statements made by the very people who purports to be sensitive themselves, and yet you show only disregard for those who believe differently than you. If it were not for my faith I would probably be lying in a gutter somewhere.

Yes! I believe in One universal truth: Jesus is the Way the Truth and the Life and no one comes to the father except through Him. This truth is what keeps me afloat.

Being a HSP is not (necessarily) about sitting in a ring singing "combayah" like a bunch of hippies.
(I apologize for my bluntness, I am just so upset!).

The truth is the truth wheter you like it or not. If you don`t believe it, it`s fine but to turn from what you believe is the truth because of difficulties and stray emotions is not fine. I would ask you to derive truth from logic, evidence and genuine truth seeking and not because of mere feelings.
Truth is not relative and something to be changed on a whim.

I would reccomend yall to follow the advice in the psalms "taste and know that the LORD is good". Christianity does not supress emotion like you profess. Read the psalms, the book of job, the lamentations etc. etc. Chrisianity is not mainly about judgement but salvation, not about guilt but freedom from guilt, not about the "law" but freedom from the law, and all can be found in Christ.

I have nothing in myself but Christ is my "all in all", my wisdom from God, righteousness, sanctification and redemption.

Astreja said...

Norwegian: "Being a HSP myself I feel alot of strong and very negative emotions reading all these comments."

If you know that you're a HSP, and know that our words are bringing out undesirable emotions in you, do the responsible thing and stop reading. We have no intention of playing nice just because our comments might upset someone. It's our website, not yours.

I am also a HSP, and take issue with this statement: "If it were not for my faith I would probably be lying in a gutter somewhere." I do not have your faith, and I've managed to stay out of the gutter quite nicely.

And I find this statement tragically sad: "I have nothing in myself..."

To me, that's one more reason to run screaming from Christianity.

Vera said...

Dear Lorena,

I'm so sorry the church made you feel like that. I believe that you are a person with extreme sensitivity to everything around you, what people now call HSP. Unfortunately there is still not much knowledge of the beautiful different people God created. We're always thinking that we know best and it caused a lot of pain and hurt a lot of people, nations and families. The true doctrine of the Bible is one of love, acceptance, understanding and peace. I believe that God made you a very special and beautiful person that He has a plan for. He created you with high sensitive character. He's planned a great future for you where you can use your special gift in a special way. In Scripture we call high sensitive people prophets. Read about Elijah and you'll recognise a lot!
I'm highly sensitive as well and I find a lot of comfort in my faith. It also protects me a lot because of the set boundaries. God gave us rules to protect us, so that we can live in freedom forever. If we stick to the rules, we will experience freedom, happines, love, and all you need in life. I chose to stick to the rules, not because I'd feel guilty but because I love my God and because I believe that He wants best for me. I also love myself, so I'd better protect myself. I could chose not to follow God's rules, which I've done in the past. As soon as I go beyond the framed standards, I get damaged because of my highly sensitive nature and the signals I pick up immediately.
I'd like to encourage all the people who have reacted to the church negatively to start reading the Bible and discover how loving God is towards all people. Highly sensitive or not!

Be blessed.

webmdave said...

I understand what you mean because I felt quite similar for a long time I never felt like I fit in and that was pre-Christian and not everyone who calls themselves Christians are Christians. I do understand what you are saying but if you are also saying you have made yourself and ex-christian I ask that you reconsider. That is what Grace and forgiveness is about. If you look at the Apostles even Peter had to be corrected by Paul and even Paul admitted to his own faults. I don't think we were meant to stray from the church and I don't necessarily mean a church building, I mean to fellowship with other true believers and followers of Christ. I think we were meant how to learn how to bring our gifts into the church and how to learn how to live in a world that is overwhelming. I wouldn't say, or categorize Christianity or the Church at total fault, we have a responsibility too. I've felt like you felt, been through similar if not worse situations but each time it was also an opportunity to exercise not only my faith but my love walk and each time I had to choose to forgive those in Church who just never understood me and forgive myself as well. I agree alot of churches may not be where they should but it doesn't mean they won't get there the question we who consider ourselves HSP is "how can we help them to do so?" Just something to ponder, not guilt or judgment on you just sharing the conclusions I'm coming to and like every Christian who loves God learning to grow. So if you removed yourself totally from Christianity I hope you reconsider again. Blessings.

webmdave said...

Ncsmith04: "I hope you reconsider again."

You go first. On behalf of both the HSP and non-HSP members of Ex-Christian dot net, kindly provide empirical proof that your god actually exists. Unless you can do that much, you haven't got a snowflake's chance in hell here, and our rather forceful and derisive comments will put you into a place that is not at all healthy for HSPs. As an HSP Myself, I strongly advise you to withdraw from this place forthwith.

webmdave said...

Religion did give me psychological problems, and I found the best way is not to give it any space in your thoughts. Don't let the doctrines and those individuals influence you anymore.

The first stage is to let gooooo. It may be hard, but remember you never had this pychological problem before until you got really involved with religion. Second, focus on remembering how you were before your illness. The things that you did that made you happy, and the process at which you obtained your goals or whatever you define success. Get into some interests and hobbies, and go start dating if that is what you want in your life.

What do you suppose life is all about? It is for your personal goal fullfillment, not about what others got to say that you got to do, or what a Biblebook got to say that you need to follow because you apparently got a brain....so use it! Keep away from individuals that are not going to have a positive effect or to those who are going to infict suffering on yourself because seriously, it's your health that suffers IF YOU LET IT AFFECT YOU. NO ONE CAN AFFECT YOU UNLESS YOU ALLOW IT. This goes for OCD sufferers (you harbour something you cannot let go and do not want to let go, and this creates a cyclical in your head and will only stop if you don't give space of thought to it, and so you can have a calm mind). It is you who have the will (choice/strength), therefore the capability not to submit into the whims of the darkness (negative, hatred, anger, self-pity, tormenting yourself, guilt, extreme sorrows, depression) of your thoughts.

Bring yourself out of this and the brightness of happiness, cheerfulness, clarity of mind, decisiveness, motivation, confidence, self-esteem will break through, but the requirement is just to let it all go so that your thoughts doesn't backslide into the past of the darkness.

I don't advice for hallucengic drugs that can alter or affect your thoughts that can destroy neuron cells. Best to work it out on own as well as with your therapist but the sooner you let go, the better it is to recovery.

webmdave said...

Interesting conversation. I am an HSP, now with several HSP children. I am a christian and love my community. I think that there are flaws with any church and a healthy, balanced, humble pastor would be the first to admit that. If not, you might have a problem. So maybe some of everyone's church experiences are a result of poor leadership. I myself was in one of these in the past. Yet, still, my goal wasn't to trust and obey my pastor. It was to meet God and that is a private personal experience that cannot be confined to any list of rules or regulations.

that aside. The church is not meant to be a place of legalistic rules. The Old Testament commandments have been fulfilled through Christ's death on the cross, freeing anyone from having to follow a rule list. The only obligation I have now is to love God with all my heart and to love my neighbor as myself. (sometimes this is hard to do b/c I don't always love myself.) But I try. So I am sorry that so many people here have had bad experiences. It really is too bad b/c having a gift of being a HSP makes it especially possible to know God in a deep way that most people can't. Anyway, as far as proving that God actually exists. If anyone could do that, there wouldn't be any room for debate and everyone would believe the same thing; however, if one wants to look at the history of religions and the historical accuracy of written accounts, the Bible is fairly accurate. In the end, though, it is only through a relationship with God that one can know he is real. Reading words or believing someone's word isn't going to do that for anyone.

webmdave said...

Good Evening,
I came back from Church today in tears, again, and found this website. Lorena, I appreciate your sharing your experience. Reading your story and all the comments from others, has at the very least, made me feel not so alone.

I still believe Jesus is God and came to save us from the consequences of our sin (willful disobedience to God) and invite into a personal relationship with Him, a holy and righteous God.......however, I am seriously considering stopping my attendance at church. I have wanted and tried to find a family in the church for about 20 years, partly to replace the loss of my family (almost all have died) and partly to be in Christian fellowship, but I have had so many heartbreaks I just can't take it anymore. I don't know if my expectations are unreasonable, but I keep hoping to find a handful of people to study the Bible and pray and sing songs, without the harshness that I can not handle anymore.

I wish I could find a gathering Christian hsp's ......that would be great!

webmdave said...

Carra,

I think you're going to be disappointed, if you came to our website to find xtians to have fellowship with.
We are former xtians here and the only xtians that usually show up are the fundie types, who wouldn't do you any good, I'm SURE.

While you're here though Carra, I would suggest reading through some of the testimonials.
You may discover, as we did, that not only isn't the bible god real (nor is jesus), but that ex-xtians are far better to have for friends than most xtians are.

ATF (Who thinks Carra is on Step One of a long journey)

webmdave said...

Church for me has been one of my greatest sources of pain simply because my being an HSP was not at all understood by others around my nor even myself. As I began to understand more and more, I became more of what would be perceived by others as a rebel or non-conformist. Basically, I have been driven from three churches for "discerning" too much - mostly the intents and motives of those in leadership. Being a Believer has been hard, and I am no longer so gung-ho about attending any establishment. Although I do still attend my current place of worship, I am not so much actively involved anymore because I believe I am protecting myself from further pain and the knowing that no one understands me anyway. Who wants to be "demonized" while being in a place where one should experience love and protection? Not I, so I have pretty much backed off from the "establishment" and distanced myself as much as possible. I do love God, and sometimes I feel more "sensitively" than most, but I am no longer going to be "bound" by the play upon others. I know that this is not all places of worship, but for the vast majority that I have attended, it is. I can "feel" this the moment I walk into any church. It's more like church has made me (and others like me) the enemy and has all the more become my enemy and a very unsafe place to be which makes me empathize with those "out in the world" who want absolutely nothing to do with the "church". I am most certain that this is not the way our LORD would have wanted things at all.

webmdave said...

Dear Lorena,

I'm so sorry the church made you feel like that. I believe that you are a person with extreme sensitivity to everything around you, what people now call HSP. Unfortunately there is still not much knowledge of the beautiful different people God created. We're always thinking that we know best and it caused a lot of pain and hurt a lot of people, nations and families. The true doctrine of the Bible is one of love, acceptance, understanding and peace. I believe that God made you a very special and beautiful person that He has a plan for. He created you with high sensitive character. He's planned a great future for you where you can use your special gift in a special way. In Scripture we call high sensitive people prophets. Read about Elijah and you'll recognise a lot!
I'm highly sensitive as well and I find a lot of comfort in my faith. It also protects me a lot because of the set boundaries. God gave us rules to protect us, so that we can live in freedom forever. If we stick to the rules, we will experience freedom, happines, love, and all you need in life. I chose to stick to the rules, not because I'd feel guilty but because I love my God and because I believe that He wants best for me. I also love myself, so I'd better protect myself. I could chose not to follow God's rules, which I've done in the past. As soon as I go beyond the framed standards, I get damaged because of my highly sensitive nature and the signals I pick up immediately.
I'd like to encourage all the people who have reacted to the church negatively to start reading the Bible and discover how loving God is towards all people. Highly sensitive or not!

Be blessed.

webmdave said...

Norwegian: "Being a HSP myself I feel alot of strong and very negative emotions reading all these comments."

If you know that you're a HSP, and know that our words are bringing out undesirable emotions in you, do the responsible thing and stop reading. We have no intention of playing nice just because our comments might upset someone. It's our website, not yours.

I am also a HSP, and take issue with this statement: "If it were not for my faith I would probably be lying in a gutter somewhere." I do not have your faith, and I've managed to stay out of the gutter quite nicely.

And I find this statement tragically sad: "I have nothing in myself..."

To me, that's one more reason to run screaming from Christianity.

webmdave said...

Thank you for your words everybody.

I was thinking today that some of the most nasty church people are the long-term members.

It could be that it takes thick skin to survive in the church or that the church doctrines make people rude and insensitive. After all, they believe in a God that had his own son killed--you have to be pretty insensitive to believe that.

As for me, I only found out last week that I was a HSP. So I am going through a sad period, reviewing the events of my life and realizing how I exposed myself to many situations that were not suitable to my sensitive nature. The church was just one of them.

Thanks again,

Lorena
http://exfundamentalist.blogspot.com/

webmdave said...

Being a HSP myself I feel alot of strong and very negative emotions reading all these comments. The one thing that is most important to me is being dragged through the mud by very unreasonable statements made by the very people who purports to be sensitive themselves, and yet you show only disregard for those who believe differently than you. If it were not for my faith I would probably be lying in a gutter somewhere.

Yes! I believe in One universal truth: Jesus is the Way the Truth and the Life and no one comes to the father except through Him. This truth is what keeps me afloat.

Being a HSP is not (necessarily) about sitting in a ring singing "combayah" like a bunch of hippies.
(I apologize for my bluntness, I am just so upset!).

The truth is the truth wheter you like it or not. If you don`t believe it, it`s fine but to turn from what you believe is the truth because of difficulties and stray emotions is not fine. I would ask you to derive truth from logic, evidence and genuine truth seeking and not because of mere feelings.
Truth is not relative and something to be changed on a whim.

I would reccomend yall to follow the advice in the psalms "taste and know that the LORD is good". Christianity does not supress emotion like you profess. Read the psalms, the book of job, the lamentations etc. etc. Chrisianity is not mainly about judgement but salvation, not about guilt but freedom from guilt, not about the "law" but freedom from the law, and all can be found in Christ.

I have nothing in myself but Christ is my "all in all", my wisdom from God, righteousness, sanctification and redemption.

webmdave said...

Being a HSP myself I feel alot of strong and very negative emotions reading all these comments. The one thing that is most important to me is being dragged through the mud by very unreasonable statements made by the very people who purports to be sensitive themselves, and yet you show only disregard for those who believe differently than you. If it were not for my faith I would probably be lying in a gutter somewhere.

Yes! I believe in One universal truth: Jesus is the Way the Truth and the Life and no one comes to the father except through Him. This truth is what keeps me afloat.

Being a HSP is not (necessarily) about sitting in a ring singing "combayah" like a bunch of hippies.
(I apologize for my bluntness, I am just so upset!).

The truth is the truth wheter you like it or not. If you don`t believe it, it`s fine but to turn from what you believe is the truth because of difficulties and stray emotions is not fine. I would ask you to derive truth from logic, evidence and genuine truth seeking and not because of mere feelings.
Truth is not relative and something to be changed on a whim.

I would reccomend yall to follow the advice in the psalms "taste and know that the LORD is good". Christianity does not supress emotion like you profess. Read the psalms, the book of job, the lamentations etc. etc. Chrisianity is not mainly about judgement but salvation, not about guilt but freedom from guilt, not about the "law" but freedom from the law, and all can be found in Christ.

I have nothing in myself but Christ is my "all in all", my wisdom from God, righteousness, sanctification and redemption.

webmdave said...

Dear Lorena,
I understand your feelings-as a HSP and a fairly new Christian-I feel the rub of trying to use Scriptures "pat"sounding answers to painful situations. It seems unfair to be expected to simply "relax". Being HSP is a major challange-more so as the world increases its sensory assaults by the day.
At the same time, I can't imagine how assaulted Christ must have felt as He entered the same world-only without a single flaw to offer himself. Annoyed doesn't begin to describe it I'm sure! To endure not only putting up with us and our sin and its consequences, but to endure the ultimate physical and spiritual assault of death and separation from God beore returning to glory so that we may one day be free of all pain and discomfort.
I was deeply moved by the hurt you and many commentors have received from religion-and its dispensors. I pray that you would know that God's love surpasses man's ability to mangle the Truth in such unloving and unforgiving ways. Especially to the man who believes that one testicle will keep him out of the Lord's house. The old testament laws were only meant to #1 keep God's people from the consequences of sin and a fallen world-and to show us our inability to reach those standards that we may find it necessary to look for salvation and in doing so find life, abundant life in Jesus! It is faith that makes us worthy to enter His house-for we are under grace. As an HSP-I need more grace than the next guy, not just to be patient with non-HSP's, but to know that I am forgiven even as I have so far to grow myself.
I pray that you will find comfort in Him. He cares-and so do I! Love to you-Angela Hougas

webmdave said...

Hi Lorena,

What you write strikes a chord with me. About 6 years ago I had a "born again" kind of experience. Even now I find it hard to accept that is was something within me rather than something outside of me that was at work. Certainly at the time, and up until quite recently, I thought it was God.

When I was full of the "spirit" I tried to follow whatever Jesus taught and that included the advice given to the rich young man. I sold my house, car and gave the proceeds along with all my savings to charity. I wasn't trying to buy my way into heaven - it pleased me to do it at the time.

I gave up good jobs because I did not want to compromise on the precepts of Jesus, so much so that I have become unemployable.

I had accepted the spiritual advice that as I became detached from material things so God would shine his light in the space vacated in my soul but it did not
happen.

When all the emotionalism ran out of steam there was no abiding joy of Christ's presence only emptyness, fear, depression and loneliness - I lost what friends I had through my fanaticism - and the observation that not only had I not progressed in holiness but was much worse than what I was before "Jesus" came into my life.

The real turning point for me was finally facing up to the horrible doctrine of hell. I tried to get answers from really knowledgeable people that could explain how a good god could bring into being a creature that never asked to be born in the knowledge that it would be punished for all eternity for a temporal crime. As best I can see there is no evil ever created by a man that could compare with such an evil scheme of vengeance and hatered - all from a God who is love.

I don't want to murder my conscience any more. I still believe in God but I think am best described now as an agnostic.


Jacky

webmdave said...

Hi Lorena,

What you write strikes a chord with me. About 6 years ago I had a "born again" kind of experience. Even now I find it hard to accept that is was something within me rather than something outside of me that was at work. Certainly at the time, and up until quite recently, I thought it was God.

When I was full of the "spirit" I tried to follow whatever Jesus taught and that included the advice given to the rich young man. I sold my house, car and gave the proceeds along with all my savings to charity. I wasn't trying to buy my way into heaven - it pleased me to do it at the time.

I gave up good jobs because I did not want to compromise on the precepts of Jesus, so much so that I have become unemployable.

I had accepted the spiritual advice that as I became detached from material things so God would shine his light in the space vacated in my soul but it did not
happen.

When all the emotionalism ran out of steam there was no abiding joy of Christ's presence only emptyness, fear, depression and loneliness - I lost what friends I had through my fanaticism - and the observation that not only had I not progressed in holiness but was much worse than what I was before "Jesus" came into my life.

The real turning point for me was finally facing up to the horrible doctrine of hell. I tried to get answers from really knowledgeable people that could explain how a good god could bring into being a creature that never asked to be born in the knowledge that it would be punished for all eternity for a temporal crime. As best I can see there is no evil ever created by a man that could compare with such an evil scheme of vengeance and hatered - all from a God who is love.

I don't want to murder my conscience any more. I still believe in God but I think am best described now as an agnostic.


Jacky

webmdave said...

Once again,"some of the meanest people on earth are CHRISTIANS,".
More people are damaged in the church than are helped ,....20 years in the ministry taught me this!

webmdave said...

Correction to my post:

All gods are man made mental hallucinations. There is no one true god that is known and revealed to all of mankind and this is a strong piece of evidence that supports my personal conclusion about "gods" NON-existence.

It could be read as correct in the first post, it just depends upon the views of the reader. As an atheist, it should be corrected for obvious reasons.

BTW:

Have a happy egg day tomorrow! Don't forget those hard boiled religious eggs. Solidify those undeveloped embryo's and think of the joy of jebus as he breaks the yolks of your sin.

Glory be to the savior Bunnies!

webmdave said...

I am HSP and church, even my liberal church, made me feel like crap. The message was always, "You are not good enough for God. No matter what you do, it will never be enough." Right there in the creed you have to recite every week that you haven't loved God or your neighbor enough. I felt tremendous guilt because I had food on the table every day and others didn't. Christianity was a giant nail in the coffin that buried my self-esteem.

The sad part is, I think the ultimate goal of Christianity is to make people more compassionate and sensitive. Too bad it drives away the very people it is trying to create.

webmdave said...

It's very disturbing that many Christians can quote Bible sound bites and flatter themselves with unending moralisms without realizing the effect they are having on others, expecially those who are very sensitive and are easily spooked.

I am a Christian, and, no, I do not think you are mentally ill or demon possessed.
I believe you took the right step in dealing with HSP by walking away from a very toxic place. That was the sane thing to do. And please, go to places where you can thrive. And yes, God smiles on you no matter where you decide to go!

Dr. Aron's book sounds interesting. I'll have to get a copy.

webmdave said...

Lorena,

When I read your post, I knew you were describing me.

Thanks for making it so clear.

webmdave said...

Lorena,

When I read your post, I knew you were describing me.

Thanks for making it so clear.

webmdave said...

The church along with any other religious institution and or supposed Scripture throughout ol' mother earth is one of control. A manipulation of the mind. Weak minded millions sucumb to these institutions.(I myself was one of them, once upon a time)
My introduction as a child to Catholicism and in my 50’s to Protestantism and Pentecostalism, I became adept in prayer meetings, bible studies, Ministry training seminars, etc. As I have experienced church indoctrination I am able to expound on it. As humans many seek the meaning to the mysteries of existence, purpose, origination, and when life as we know it ceases. Christianity holds almost absolute control over those who follow its dogmas. It controls its adherents by removing their human potential in a real world. From its early beginnings up to this present time, it has employed ways and means of inducing fear and guilt into its followers, to create what is today a powerful belief system. Indoctrination is so intense, the follower is forbidden by his own conscience, to examine truth as presented from any other source. This imprisonment of the human mind crushes self-acceptance and fosters intolerance of those who have not yet suffered indoctrination. This intolerance exists within itself, and each denomination and or cult is wary of the other, even though they all profess to be Christian. This belief system teaches that you are depraved, and that you need salvation or redemption from eternal doom (hell). This type of belief creates a negative self-perception of the individual and it awakens an emotion of fear and guilt necessary to justify its conclusions. Their leaders relate that it will cost followers their salvation to look anywhere else for assistance or understanding of life’s problems. They teach that the bible contain all of the answers that they will ever need. They believe that knowledge from other sources is useless and dangerous, since it creates doubts and confusion, so they should surrender unconditionally to the supposed " Word of God" and to preach it to others at every opportunity. In nearly all cases adherence to their doctrine stops all questions and closes the mind, bringing to a close the rightful exercise of human freedom and reasoning.

webmdave said...

Dear Lorena,
As a fairly recent convert to atheism (+- two years) I can so identify with your rationale! I can't wait to get myself a copy of Dr. Aron book, The Highly Sensitive Person. Thank you for clearing my mind on this one - I've suffered in silence long enough, believing I'm some kind of freak for being a HSP!
Like yourself, I was one of those all-or-nothing christians which, more often than not, left me with a massive guilt feeling that eventually lead to me falling into a terrible state of depression, eventually causing me to consult a psychiatrist! Altough the treatment that followed helped me to deal the sharp edges of christianity and life in general, somehow I never really managed to completely rid myself of this guilt feeling . . . until I discovered this and similar sites some two years ago. This was when I gradually managed to wriggle myself out of the stranglehold of christianity.
Thank you for helping me along another step of the way and also a big thank you to the webmaster for a wonderful job! Keep up the good work!
Swanie

webmdave said...

Dear Lorena,
As a fairly recent convert to atheism (+- two years) I can so identify with your rationale! I can't wait to get myself a copy of Dr. Aron book, The Highly Sensitive Person. Thank you for clearing my mind on this one - I've suffered in silence long enough, believing I'm some kind of freak for being a HSP!
Like yourself, I was one of those all-or-nothing christians which, more often than not, left me with a massive guilt feeling that eventually lead to me falling into a terrible state of depression, eventually causing me to consult a psychiatrist! Altough the treatment that followed helped me to deal the sharp edges of christianity and life in general, somehow I never really managed to completely rid myself of this guilt feeling . . . until I discovered this and similar sites some two years ago. This was when I gradually managed to wriggle myself out of the stranglehold of christianity.
Thank you for helping me along another step of the way and also a big thank you to the webmaster for a wonderful job! Keep up the good work!
Swanie

webmdave said...

Lorena, It is obvious from your writing that you are an HSP, and it must have been doubly difficult for you to remove yourself from that quagmire. Like you, I felt that either we had to follow all the commandments, or none of them. There is no half-way.

Fortunately I found the one commandment that solved it all for me. Deuteronomy 23:1 states (my paraphrase) "Any man whose testicles are damaged by cutting or crushing may not enter the house of the Lord".

I survived testicular cancer 20 years ago, but lost one of them in the process. So I am commanded by God not to enter His house.

You won't believe the satisfaction I get in explaining this to Christians when they ask me why I don't attend church. It is their God that forbids it, so I am obliged to stay away.

Look carefully - I am sure you will find something that forbids you as well. If any of your ancestors in the last 10 generations was born out of wedlock you are also forbidden from entering the Lord's house. That is a great catch-all and includes almost everyone.

Good luck as you rebuild your life.

webmdave said...

I believe you are correct.Church for me has been a source of guilt,worry,obsession and unhappiness. I could never meet their standards and I would analyze confessions,sermoms,mortal vs. venial sin,commandments and prayer. I believeit,in part caused me stress,nail biting,smoking and other undesirable traits not to mwntion an elementary education by neurotic,guilt inducing nuns.
I am in the process of leaving it all,,,,,,,,,a journey. I AM YOUR POST. Thanks

webmdave said...

I believe you are correct.Church for me has been a source of guilt,worry,obsession and unhappiness. I could never meet their standards and I would analyze confessions,sermoms,mortal vs. venial sin,commandments and prayer. I believeit,in part caused me stress,nail biting,smoking and other undesirable traits not to mwntion an elementary education by neurotic,guilt inducing nuns.
I am in the process of leaving it all,,,,,,,,,a journey. I AM YOUR POST. Thanks

webmdave said...

heres a favorite quote of mine God is a democrat and shes pissed. I think if there is a God its nothing like the judeo-christian-muslim God that people percieve

webmdave said...

Lorena,

I enjoy reading your thoughts and find myself feeling right at home with much of what you say. I think Piprus expressed it all very well and I would like to second those sentiments.

Glad you have made your way out of the mental pit of christian contradictions and condemnations. Be free and be well my dear!