Image by Meredith_Farmer via FlickrIt’s been a while since I’ve posted anything here though I receive and enjoy reading the articles and de-conversion stories that appear nearly every day. I recently celebrated my own de-conversion anniversary about a month ago and could hardly believe that four years have passed since that heart wrenching and fateful decision.
Realizing the gravity of comfort that this site has brought to me over the years coupled with knowing that everyday there are many who are crossing the bridge of uncertainty and are located at differing places along that trail to their own de-conversion, has inspired me to write a little something from my current perspective for those who just starting this process.
First off, I think it is important to state that the “road” out, is a bumpy ride and my heart goes out to all who are brave enough to make their personal declaration and stay the course. Though every de-conversion is as unique as the individual who is making it, it is obvious that there are certain elements of the process that seem to be found somewhat in common amongst the many stories that get posted here. The overriding factor that needs to be emphasized is that no matter how difficult your situation is with all its complexities, the road does become progressively smooth. The peaks and valleys of fluctuating emotional responses seem to level themselves out, and like any wild adventure ride, it is difficult to comprehend much about it until we are able to look back on it with some room for reflection. But the over-all direction is a virtual ascending from the bowels of depression and anger to the platforms of peaceful, compassionate understanding, which seems to be the rewards of so much diligent soul searching and knowledge seeking that we are prone to indulge in during this time of putting the pieces of our shattered lives back together.
The tendency to adhere to anger toward the Christian movement is loud and clear. There exists, as a result, the desire to eradicate the movement all together or at least its element whereby it seeks to perpetuate itself through evangelism. I too have spent time in this camp; however it has become apparent that this is an absurd resolution to the problem. One thing that has plagued me intermittently over the past four years, is the struggle with depression and anger, which of the two, anger was the dominate factor. I believe this is due, in large, to the fact that my wife has remained with her faith and struggles viciously to enable her beliefs in our children. Of course, there are many other factors that contribute to the perpetuation of anger toward Christianity; this fact alone exists daily in my face.
Many of us are taught within the Christian community that “Christianity is not a religion, but a relationship”. This relationship, though it is virtual, is still made valid emotionally. Experiencing loss in any relationship, which we apply value, ushers in a natural period of depression and anger, amongst other emotions, during the grieving process. I believe that to certain degrees, this is a healthy process by which we are able to sever our physical and mental attachments, which at deeper levels, provide for psychological securities.
What I have learned about myself during these last for years, is that one can become attached to these emotions and carry them for extended lengths of time causing unnecessary levels of emotional stress. The problem can be amplified when the anger is seen to be caused by exterior circumstances. When this occurs, we tend to generate the emotion of anger at every indication of the presence of this association thereby perpetuating the emotion.
I bring this up only because I have realized its effects in my own life and have sensed its theme again and again in the trove of writings that occur here on this site, as well as many others. The tendency to adhere to anger toward the Christian movement is loud and clear. There exists, as a result, the desire to eradicate the movement all together or at least its element whereby it seeks to perpetuate itself through evangelism. I too have spent time in this camp; however it has become apparent that this is an absurd resolution to the problem.
Many of us would expound that freedom is one of our highest values. Freedom from religion should be on equal ground as freedom of religion. Freedom is having a choice and the cost is living with the consequences of those choices both of our own doing as well as those choices made by others. We are relentlessly integrated as a whole in dealing with these consequences made by all whether we like it or not. The idea, that any Christian carrying the gospel message and offering it to society, is the culprit of seemingly criminal acts is as absurd as blaming the drug dealer for your own addictions.
Christianity was first brought to me as a choice, a choice I alone chose to make. Adhering to its tenants was also a choice I made and, as a result, I am living with those decisions on a daily basis even well after my reconsideration. If we are dedicated to preserving our freedom to make choices in life as to how we choose to live, we must preserve the right to allow ourselves and others to make their own choices even if these choices appear to be wrong. It is the beauty of life to experience the ability to experiment in all directions and to overcome the consequences of such experiments. This is how we evolve and create dynamic expressions for which we admire and celebrate throughout our historic existence.
I used to dwell on the idea that I had lost so much during that specific time period to which I gave myself to the Christian lifestyle, but now I see it as a beneficial element of my past informing the present as well as directing the future of my existence. Armed with this realization, I have become free of regret which triggers those negative emotional responses which had such a terrible death grip on me for the first years of my de-conversion and has afforded me the luxury of compassion towards those who either exist or have the potential of entering into the Christian realm.
It can be argued that it is our duty to inform our peers of potentially hazardous conditions, which may cause them pain and I totally agree with this point. An example would be that you would not allow your children to play on the freeway knowing that their life would be endangered, however fighting to remove the freeway system in order to save the life of the child is an equally absurd position. Instructing the child to maneuver through life cautiously is a better tactic, though the reality is that the child is forever in danger of wandering onto the expressway and subject to those consequences. As terrible as that may sound, it provides the fabric of delicate existence from which we achieve the preciousness of life.