Why I had to leave church

In one of my early sessions with Marge, I had a ‘penny drop’ moment about my reasons for going to church and believing in God. That penny dropped so hard, I had to leave.

In my previous post, I talk so much, because I don’t feel safe, I talked about the controlling characters that have been present throughout my life, and how their behaviour has caused me to constantly worry about what others think of me. I often use the example, that if there were 20 people in a room, and 19 of them agreed with me on a point, I would still need to check out why the 20th disagreed. Just in case I was wrong. Just in case there were consequences for being wrong.

I gave Marge that example, and on my way home my mind was ticking away (I have precious few sessions with Marge, so I like to do as much ground work between sessions as I can, to use her time and skill efficiently).

I had an initial soft ‘penny drop’ moment. Before church, I was open to every opinion presented to me, which was exhausting and quite frankly impossible to keep up with everyone else’s ideals. Even if I gain the approval of those 20 people in the room, I was back to square one if a 21st walked in, because I’d need their approval too. Believing in God removed that problem, because He’s a big almighty God, above us mere minions. Believing in God meant I didn’t need to check 20+ opinions every time, I just had to check one – God’s.

Then I got the ‘frying pan to the face penny drop’ moment. I hadn’t swapped 20+ opinions for just 1 at all, I had in fact replaced them with 20+ Christian opinions. Opinions that now had greater influence over me than the previous, because they also spoke on behalf of this almighty powerful God.

Oh….[insert your choice of creative swear words here] !

That was a horrible moment. I very much so love the people of my church, they were the most loving and welcoming group of people I had ever come across. Going to that church saved me from an emotionally abusive and controlling relationship. I have learnt many life lessons that stand strong regardless of whether there is a God, that I am grateful to be able to teach and equip my children, my family and my friends with. But God, the bible and His people, had become another form of controller.

[more swear words]

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You may or may not have glanced at a bible before, mine was around 2,000 pages. That’s a lot of pages, lots of instructions, rules, wisdom and lessons. That’s a lot to live up to. It was just a whole new world for me to fail in.

I’ve been asked “so did you ever actually believe in God?”. The answer to that is yes of course, I didn’t just pretend for 6 years, that would make me a knob. And for a time the idea of this big beautiful God protecting me was wonderfully comforting. But I always doubted it, and the doubt only got bigger and bigger as the years went on. Until the ‘frying pan to the face penny drop’ day, when I realised I’d believed it so much, because I had to. I needed it. God made me feel safe, because I was so damn anxious about everything.

My pastor has been like a father to me, and still is. I felt awfully disloyal to drop this penny on his ears. But once I’d heard myself say out loud “I just don’t believe in God anymore”, I couldn’t ignore it. A bit like when you first find out its really bad to feed ducks bread, once you know, you just can’t feed them bread any more (you’re welcome).

What do I believe now? No idea. Or rather, right now I’m not bothered. There may be a God, there might not. So if you’re the praying type, throw one up for me just in case.

 

9 comments

  1. God. Trouble is which one ? Everyone believes their God is the one God (or many depending on the faith) and honestly it’s always felt like a deferral of responsibility to me – ‘it’s not my fault it’s Gods will etc’. I’m a firm believer in cause and effect. If I have a happy and positive attitude in the morning people will reflect that attitude back to me. If I have a lugubrious attitude people reflect that and so on. How do you recognise controlling behaviour and to what extent do you think people attempt to manipulate you ?

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    • Indeed which one, that always bothered me. The deferral is what started to annoy me, there was always an answer for why something did or didn’t happen and if it didn’t go as hoped it was because it wasn’t in Gods timing, or the prayer wasn’t right, or didn’t pray enough, or some other sin blocking Gods access. And if something hoped for happened, of course it was God. Just too convenient.
      Controlling behaviour in the church has been both intentional and not. Mostly not, or not maliciously anyway. But someone who is confident in their faith saying “I’ve prayed and God said…”, “the Bible says…” holds a pretty strong influence. If I’m believing that there is a God, and this person has got years of faith on me, I didn’t feel in a position to argue. Like they had a degree and I was still in nursery.
      Controlling behaviour in general, I can see the similarities between each person I’ve experienced it with. Generally they are smart, confident, dominant in their social circle (that one person that everyone felt they had to involve or wait on them for direction), condemning comments that were cleverly delivered as though it was with care and concern, gossiping and leading opinions of others down a certain path, sewing seeds of doubt about supportive loved onesto disconnect them.
      To what extent? I think each person has wanted me close, but not to do better than them, and so they have played as many mind games as they can to keep me down and believing I’m inferior. That makes them feel secure and better about themselves

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      • Temet Nosce Means: “Know Thyself” (Latin) The key to finding a purpose and fulfillment in life begins with knowing and understanding yourself. We are each born with this knowledge but finding a purpose and achieving fulfillment requires the sharing of knowledge, wisdom, and support. – I read this and reflected upon it, because it’s exactly the journey we are all on, to deepen our understanding of ourselves, everything else- religion included, feels like a distraction. This could include damaging relationships that drain and deter us from knowing our own minds, exploring and deciding for ourselves what is right and wrong or what can or cannot be done. On a alighter note

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  2. I like the way this blog is written . When I was a teenager I read the bible a few times , all beit in slight confusion . I found the book something to look up to , the size of it , the thin paper with small text was like no other book. My parents were not religious but my grandmother found strength in the faith during the war as many soliders did . This is where I got one of the first addition bible translations. You could say I was turning myself to Christianity. This however stopped once I started reading another bible addition . I had no idea that the were so many different editions of the same transcript rewritten from different views ( mainly this started hundreds of years ago ). I wanted one book for one god. Maybe that was me being young and inexperienced in faith. Anyway when I stopped reading the bible , I explored simple science and nature facts, how things work ,evolved, the history of humanity . I looked back on those years in which I would find the answers in a bible ,placing me in a box and I simply excepted it without question.
    And this is my very long winded point, we must question ,look at things from all sides, good,bad ,scary,safe. The most intelligent people in the world have been wrong and the most challaged people have created extraordinary things.
    Change for me is hard , but I’ve learnt not to put myself in the box asking for help ,rather looking for advice from others that have already learnt.
    Quite a rant I know and proberbly not that relivant but ,there it is.

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  3. Ooh I’ve only just seen this! I was intrigued reading it because I’ve never been religious but I understand how your religion would have been a comfort to you. I also understand how you might feel you had a lot to live up to and feel not good enough. What a tough mixture of feelings!! Maybe when things settle a bit you’ll be able to find something more in the middle? Xx

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    • It was such a massive relief, now I could almost liken it to trying to attach myself to something secure! Such a massive conflict and mix of emotions, another one of my versions of living in the middle! I needed to pick one, really really believe or don’t believe. I never had a desire for religion, I didn’t decide to go and try it out, it was introduced to me when I was struggling. At the time it was the only thing that started to feel like healing rather than coping so I naturally went for it. I feel really comfortable with where I’m at right now, would never say never, but I don’t feel like I need to replace it, which is nice xx

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  4. I’m a little late to the party, but that as an interesting post. Thanks for sharing that!

    I don’t really understand the appeal of the Christian deity, but I can understand why He appealed to you for awhile.

    I’m kind of an apatheist myself. So far as I can see, god is an unnecessary hypothesis — there is nothing that requires us to posit a god in order to explain it. And the Christian God is a bit absurd on top of that.

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    • Haha no worries thanks for coming!
      I questioned a lot and had to ignore it really to be where I was, to be able to get the good out of it. I didn’t decide to just join church one day, I approached a friend when I was at a real low point and was introduced to it from there. It always clashed with my mind, I’ve never felt so free to be able to let go of it

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