From Godless in Dixie
I don’t typically share highly personal stuff on this blog because my life is intertwined with many others, and they would not want their personal matters to be put on public display. But earlier this week a reader asked me a question which I think deserves a post of its own because it’s about a matter I know many people are facing every day. People who grew up in relatively secularized cultures won’t identify with this issue but anyone raised to be religious will know it all too well. If you were raised to be a devout Christian and later left the faith, you will get why this question touches a nerve. The reader asked:
After you changed, did you ever feel desperation?
My answer likely went in a different direction than he intended because for me, there have been several stages of stress, loss, and pain associated with my leaving the faith, and they started long before I finally let go of those beliefs which had so characterized my life up until that point. I can think of a couple of particular seasons in which I seriously questioned my faith, and those questions never really left me. I posted about that struggle yesterday, and if you haven’t read that yet, please stop and go read that now. It gives you a peek into the mind and heart of a young man sincerely wrestling with his own rationality, trying to reconcile it with his faith. I can still feel the angst from those days emanating from the words on the screen, and for various reasons this still feels so fresh to me. The fallout from that struggle continues for me today.
Most of all, however, I want to draw your attention to the fact that I wrote the journal entry linked above a good six years before I began to honestly face my own questions. If you read the brutally honest things I say you may find yourself asking “Why on earth did you cling to your faith so long after this? How could you? With no satisfying answers forthcoming?” The simple truth is that the cost of leaving my faith was too high for me to allow myself to go down that mental path. Again, I must acknowledge that anyone reading this who has never lived in a highly religious environment (I’m looking at you, Europe, Canada, and the “blue states” within the U.S.) will scratch their heads and wonder what the fuss is about. But anyone from a context similar to mine will “get it” immediately. More…