Religion almost ruined my marriage

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the godless side / the post-God side

When two people live together, conflict arises.  And I’m not talking about the harsh, difficult conflict that comes with arguing, I’m talking about a gentle conflict.  Just the collision of two people.  Preferences that are different.  Or desires about the behavior of another because of the way it affects the self.  This conflict comes up continually as our lives brush up with one another’s.

Shared space is almost synonymous with this kind of conflict.  One cannot share space without it.  In fact, let’s call it something other than conflict.  Because I can see me reading that word in a different frame of mind and not internalizing it in a healthy way.  Word images I’m thinking here: overlap, colliding, meshed, bumping against.  In music, a chord suspended and then resolved.  In tapestry making, threads twisted and then untangled.  The act of togetherness with another, two different beings that express their preferences, and all in vulnerability because such expression is an act of trust in the other to care.  To care not only about the other, but to care about choosing to set aside one’s carelessness in order to be more care-ful of the preferences of the other.

Relationship is defined by selflessness.  It cannot exist without it.  From the most basic, simple, and casual relationships to those formed within decades, all relationships require selflessness.  And all selflessness arises from gentle conflict.

For example, merely the act of listening is selfless.  Choosing to shut up so we can hear the expression of the other practices selflessness.  The most basic of relationships start with just a conversation, and that gentle conflict arises and falls with each word spoken by the other as the self closes her mouth and opens her ears.  Such rising and falling of expression vs selflessness continues dramatically and more pronounced as the relationship deepens.

Living with another person is a constant dance between self-expression and listening to the voice of the other.  Listening, and then choosing, always, to go with one’s preferences or to set those aside in order to appreciate and love the other.

This selflessness is where I get totally mixed up, triggered (very much so) by my past.  My marriage is my deepest relationship.  And as I have established, relationships are founded on selflessness.  But selflessness is my absolute trigger, thrusting me into dissociation and reliving trauma, mostly subconscious, so you can imagine the dysfunction that arises in my daily psyche as I struggle to normalize my life.

I have had a triune, a trinity even, of abusive power structures over my life during all of my formative years, from birth through 25.  An abusive parental structure, an abusive god, and abusive church leadership.  None of which I knew were abusive or abnormal at the time, and all of which created the MO by which I lived, functioned, and expected.

Abusive parents never lifted a finger to hurt me physically, but their complete emotional neglect coupled with total control of my life under neurotic, unrealistic expectations of perfection erased my entire sense of self.  My choices needed to please them, my expressions needed to be flawless, and my performance needed to honor them– and would only do so by perfection.

I was deeply shamed and humiliated for my mistakes.  My humanity.  My entire persona took on the role of  “Presentation of Perfection as told by Mother,” a complete self-denial in order to please Her.  This pleasing was never achieved, so the self-less-ness alongside flawlessness became the only goal to which I aspired from my earliest memories, and the one I knew I could never reach.  Shamed into compliance, I became completely disconnected from my own desires and emotions.  And I knew none of this for decades.  Instead, I thought it completely normal, formative, and that which my brain developed as the way life works.  I never even thought to question it.

The abusive god both modeled and demanded a perverted view of selflessness to me.  He was a sacrificial patriarch who killed himself/his son so that I could also spend my life killing myself (“dying to self,” the very opposite of self-actualization), all in the name of love.  So both the love that was expressed to me and the love that I was to express involved death.

I deserved death.  I basically killed god with my own sin and therefore deserved to be killed.  So the only way I could have real life was in self-denial.  Again, reject everything I want because my desires are always bad in order to be replaced by the will of an all-powerful man-god.  Be selfless or displease god.  Be selfless or be hell-bound.  Be selfless or be responsible for the damnation of others.

This same metaphor applied itself in my life in a very real way with an abusive relationship with a church leader.  Demanding I sacrifice myself, my preferences, my dreams, my daily choices, and my body for the well-being of this leader was textbook abuse.  All in the name of the love of god, so I was totally blind to it.  “Be Jesus, die to self in order to let the other live.”  This leader would engage in self-destructive behavior if I didn’t comply, and eventually resorted to a real threat of suicide, forcing me to fly across the country and abandon my entire sense of self for their salvation.

I was both the savior and the victim.  I was a prostitute, paid with the currency of reassurance that I wouldn’t crucify my leader with my selfishness.   Their last words to me were written in a letter, a message to me of forgiveness.  “I forgive you Teal, and so does God.”

This was several years ago.  I was in my early twenties.  I’m thirty now.  But as gentle collisions arise with my husband, dissociation still happens on a daily basis.  Upon the mention of any of his preferences that are different than my own, or anything I did that merits his frustration, I am thrust into subconscious trauma, displacing my husband with this trinity of horror in which all three abuses of power bestowed their love only if I complied into selflessness.

I see clearly right now.  It may not last, so I write these words in desperate attempt to convince my future self not to dissociate.  I don’t know how to define selflessness.  I don’t know how to define love.  The words are not there, because they are all stained with blood.  But I do know these images.  Suspended chord resolved, twisted threads untangled.


Proof god isn’t all-powerful

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the Christian side / the godless side

I was wrong.

God wasn’t the deepest source of the mountains of shit of dysfunction that have scarred over my psychological and emotional being, that have destroyed all examples of healthy relationships and healthy boundaries in my life.  There is one deeper.

My husband and I are starting from scratch in so many ways in our lives right now, and I always just assumed that the extreme, irrational emotions during our periodic fighting was the result of having both come from such dysfunctionally religiously fundamentally extreme backgrounds.

But something wasn’t quite fitting.

Something was happening in conflict.  Something that didn’t quite make sense.  It hasn’t made sense for 5 years since we’ve been married.

At the hint of any beginning of frustration on his end, I would change.  Immediately becoming defensive and sharp.  Like… IMMEDIATELY.  Can you imagine what resolving conflict looks like with someone that can’t handle it before it even begins?  

We had no idea that there was even an identifiable cause, let alone identifying the problem itself.  Not until this week.  We were talking through a fight we had had, trying to piece together what happened.  I told him I literally Could. Not. Hear. Him. if he raised his voice half a decibel.  I couldn’t hear.  And not only that, but when we were trying to go back, I couldn’t even remember what he had first said.  “All I said is that we should put the tape back when we were done with it,” he said.  Shocked, I replied, “You didn’t say that it was my fault the box wasn’t ready yet??”  No, he hadn’t even mentioned the box.  Not one word.  I had no memory of this.

My husband went to therapy with me this week and after explaining what happened during these fights and piecing together everything else my therapist knows from past sessions, he pinpointed what was going on.  “You are dissociating, triggered by even just the smallest hint of his frustration, and after which you are no longer really present during the conversation.  You are somewhere else.”  He explained that triggering comes from deep trauma and can be minutely set off.

What hadn’t made sense, until now, was the trauma.

There were three main problems of conflict in my life that I’ve been blaming for my deeper issues ever since I’ve started being aware of my emotional health.  Certainly not limited to this, but sort of a general context for processing:

  1. God: the effects of the evangelical Christianity in which I was raised from my earliest memories and for which I lived until 3 years ago.
  2. Abusive past relationship with a leader in my church (explained in this blog post if you want a refresher).
  3. The performance-based love from my parents.

Let’s talk about #3 for a second.  My understanding of the biggest failure from my parents was in their pressure for me to perform perfectly in all aspects of my life.  From needing straight A’s from the first test score in elementary school to needing to be valedictorian in both high school and college, to needing to be captain of the varsity tennis team, to needing to win first place in every competitive piano and dance competition I entered from when my fingers were long enough to play.  I needed to have enough friends, and a lot of them.  I needed to be popular.  And stylish.  And beautiful.  And skinny, my god, I was never skinny enough for my mother.  The body shaming and food shaming she put me through gave eating disorders a clear road in my life starting from when I was very young.

I was involved in extra-curriculars from as early as I can remember.  Seriously, that’s not an exaggeration.  I have a select few memories of an involved, active life as a 3-year-old.  And I was in kindergarten and I remember talking to my friend and saying that I couldn’t play after school any day that week because I had something going on each day.  By the time I was in junior high, I remember consistently getting 4 hours of sleep a night, never discouraged by my parents, so that I could perfect school projects and homework after getting home so late from practices, etc.

Anyway, “performance-based love” was the legacy my parents left me, and I had always left it at that.  I completely missed the “how.”

Then, this week, all of a sudden it dawned on me.  Trauma.

For most of my life, I’ve only been able to cry out of my right eye.  Still, to this day.  Why?

My mother and I spent a great deal of our relationship during my childhood in the car, because she was always driving me to my next event or practice.  And this is when she would release her wrath, and in a way from which I had no escape.  I was strapped into the passenger seat and couldn’t close my ears to her yelling at me, tearing me down, raising her voice and never stopping.  Trauma.  Her words were painful, incessant, penetrating, but I couldn’t let her see me cry so I turned my head and trained myself to only let the tears fall on the window side.  And in these moments, I remember visually creating an egg shell that protected me.  I visualized sinking into this shell and not letting her words affect me.  Much of my memory of what she said is lost now,  but the memory of the egg shell is vivid.  Dissociation.

It didn’t end there, though.  She yelled at me, all the time, unless we were in public or in front of other people.  There’s so much I don’t remember.  I know she woke me up early everyday before school because she had stayed up all night correcting my homework and made me redo it.  She would often erase what I did, even if correct, because my handwriting wasn’t perfect and made me rewrite it so my letters and numbers were straight and on the line.  These mornings, there was always a lot of yelling.  The how, the trauma.

I would often forget something important, like my bag of dance shoes before rehearsal or my book in my locker at school the night before a test.  Or even, god forbid, that I was supposed to ride with Casey’s mom to practice after school and accidentally took the bus home instead.  These moments, the names she would call me and her level of volume of anger and absolute disgust with me…. I can’t bring myself to think through the memories.  The trauma.

Her wrath and control escaped no part of my life.  Everything I did, I did for her, even if subconsciously.  I remember feeling utter shock when I was 13 and my mom asked me if I wanted to be in dance that year.  I had a choice!?!  But I didn’t even have enough empowerment to ask that question, even if just in my mind.  I did not know that word, “choice.”  I just had the emotion, that feeling — disbelief that I could CHOOSE ——-????….. was COMPLETELY new to me.

I’m still processing a lot of this.  The catalyst happened last night after stumbling across a youtube video of a young girl at a World of Dance competition.  (This is the video).  I was fine when I sat down, then as I watched her I felt myself begin to identify with her and I totally lost it and started sobbing.

Then the sobbing released a wave of thought about everything my mother took from me and did to me.  And then rage came.  the RAGE.  I was physically unable to contain it. Writhing, pacing, clinging to any surface in my living room to ground myself.  The tears, hot, hatred, hell.  How could I not know?!?!??!?!  How did I not see this for THREE DECADES?!?!

But, it seems so obvious now.  A young child has no concept of god.  God doesn’t exist in the earliest moments and memories of a baby into their first several years of life during the times they are most impressionable.  Who then has full control over a person’s most formative years?? Not god. 


Who is the face a baby first sees, clings to?  A child looks to for comfort, reassurance, and identity?  Not god.


So look, Christians, there is undeniably someone more powerful than your god for every human on this planet, past and present.  And her name is mother.

Depression for an a-theist

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the godless side

There is pressure, maybe we all feel it, to present a strength to the world.  That you are strong.  That either your life is so good it’s worth envying, or it’s so hard that we should all admire your strength within it.  That there is an inner force within oneself, a strong one, that knows things.  That figures them out.  That is the teacher and the student.  We applaud the successes or the authenticity in the challenges.

But what we never see is brokenness, period.  Just broken.  It’s not pretty, it’s not comfortable.  It’s like a dissonant chord, never resolving in the next measure.  Odd, unstable.  Like someone deformed.  We turn away.

But right now, I am deformed.  Dissonant.  Broken.  There is no inner strength to help me.  I feel lost and overwhelmed.  Depression ebbs and flows throughout different periods in my life.  And there has always been hope.  Right now, hope is so hard to find.  I love my children and my husband.  That’s all I have.  And I know that that’s enough, because it’s kept me alive and that love is my only source of joy.

I envy belief in god.  To know that through the pain, there is someone who’s got your back.  Who will give you a hope and a future.  Who will work everything out for your good.  Who can see the bigger picture and tell you— “It’s going to be worth it.”

In my worldview, there is no necessary happy ending; the ending is unknown.  Everything is uncertain.  And that uncertainty can be invigorating, but it also means these bleak, dark days have no sure upside.  I have to find it, create it, myself.  By myself.  So the failures are ever so poignant, there is no buffer.  I feel weak and exhausted, how am I supposed to create a hopeful future out of such weakness?

God could do it.  He pleasured himself on showing his strength in our weakest moments.  As perverted as that seems in logical moments, right now I wish I had that strength again.  The magic hand that dried my tears and told me everything was going to be okay.  That the instability is there for a purpose.  That I am here for a purpose.

But that voice doesn’t exist.  It is not here.

For the Christians reading this thinking, “Just reach out, he IS there!”  You must understand that just because you have an answer for pain doesn’t mean it is THE answer.

And pain is not a cause for belief.  Evidence is.  I’m not speaking stubbornly, I’m speaking honestly.  As much as I may desire for a belief in magic right now, I cannot make myself believe in something.  Belief is not a choice.

These 2 am lonely nights are as lonely as they feel.  There is no one listening.  No one to comfort me.  I am a source of comfort to my children, none to comfort me.

Life is so alone.

Religion costs me $75 per week + all my tears

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the godless side / the post-God side

My emotional and mental struggles were a bit too convoluted to solve on my own, so I started seeing a therapist several months ago.  I see him almost weekly because of the depths of entanglement within me.  His evidence-based approach is refreshing, as he uses science, physiology of the brain and brain chemistry, and research-based methods from years of experience and studies to give useful solutions.  There are reasons, there are answers, and there are tools to help solve them.

And you know what comes up Every. Single. Week?  “This comes from your strict religious upbringing that there is always a right and a wrong, a black and a white, that you are always either passing or failing.  There is always a person (god) to whom you must answer.  Nothing you ever do is just for yourself, you must always be selfless in serving another.”  –There are several themes mentioned there, but one remains:  Religion has completely messed me up.

This week, we talked about the following:

My constant need to be busy is a control mechanism I implement as a means to try to relieve my overarching anxiety in my life.  An anxiety that stems from the fact that my sense of self-worth is always, always in flux.  Why??? Because of Jesus.

I have to be constantly performing, everything I’m doing is seen as a pass/fail (usually ending up failing) because my ultimate worth IS NOT INHERENT, but is rather a result of my productivity.  Another reason I turn to productivity, always needing to fill every single moment of my day to be as busy as possible… because at the end of the day, if I wasn’t productive and intentional, I failed.

What’s interesting about this concept is that even as a Christian, I knew the upper layers of modern theology that contradicted this feeling.  Do you know how many times we got preached to (and even in deep, personal conversations with fellow Christians!) that we are enough, that God loves us no matter what, that his grace is sufficient, that nothing we could ever do would wipe away his love for us, etc.  One visual metaphor has still stuck with me:  My friend Melissa told me, “You know Teal, even if you just sat in a corn field for the rest of your life and did absolutely nothing, God would still love you?”

That imagery still moves me and actually brings tears to my eyes.  But not because I believe in god, but because it is a message that hadn’t really ever sunk in — my worth is inherent and unwavering.

So why the contradiction?  Was I just totally off-the-wall as a Christian, in the extremes of self-loathing while everyone else lived in this magical world of grace?  Was I an anomaly, and outlier?

I don’t think so.  I think that my story rang true with the vast majority, if not every, Christian, because it is a story that runs deep in the blood and theology of Christianity.   Why else do Christians fall on their knees at the altar, at the “feet of Christ” sobbing with sorrow for sin and then the joy of forgiveness they receive?  What the hell is with that sorrow?  And how is that joy only something that comes from something outside themselves (Jesus)?  It IS Christianity.

Grace and infallible worth came as a modern response to the self-depreciation that original sin and atonement brought.  There is no Christianity without the idea of original sin and atonement.  THAT is it’s founding principle.

The idea of grace is a superficial one and is an absolute contradiction.  “God loves you so much DESPITE your nasty sinful self that he sent his perfect son to be slaughtered FOR YOU.  So no, you don’t HAVE to do ANYTHING because he was already TORTURED and KILLED for you, so yeah, his blood is ON YOU.”  So much grace.  Thank you for slaughtering this innocent human to cover up all my horrible self.  I was born horrible.  And I will die horrible, without his blood.

THAT IS NOT SELF WORTH.  That is completely, COMPLETELY the opposite.  I am ONLY valuable because someone else was freaking SLAUGHTERED for me.  Otherwise I would burn in hell.  But thank GOD that I can sit in a cornfield now and be loved.  (WTH loved?????) while I have the image of a tortured human bleeding on me.  That makes me feel soooooo much better.

“You suck.  But god loves you in spite of or even because of (which is even more messed up) your suckiness.”

The worth of a Christian is not defined by his or herself.  It is ONLY defined through the sacrifice of another person.  I am not enough.  Not on my own.  Only with Jesus.  It. Is. The. Opposite. Of. Grace.

And now I’m spending $75 per week on a therapist to try to convince me I am worth it, just myself.   That I don’t have to be anxious 100% of the time and depressed 50% of the time.  That I can be happy and free, because I can sit in a cornfield and have worth.  Not because of anyone else.  Not for anyone else.  Just because.  And that is the HARDEST truth for me to believe.

Disclaimer – I’m not a Hater

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the godless side / the post-God side

I use this blog as an outlet for reflecting on passions, angers, enlightenments that I wouldn’t be able to share anywhere else.  Because of that, the personality of Teal is isn’t a complete representation of who I am in real life.

I want to remind you (especially a very select real-life friends of mine who have access to this site, and of those, especially the ones that are Christian), that I am not a bitter, saddened, hurt individual that hates Christians and the Christian church.  There are things that make me incredibly upset, things that now being removed enough from the situation that I am becoming more and more aware of — like scales falling from my eyes over time — but that doesn’t mean that these intense moments are characteristic of my life.

I have a dear Christian friend that I see only every few years.  She hadn’t seen me face to face since my becoming a-theist but had read my blog until a couple weeks ago when we shared lunch together.  She explained how relieved she was to find that I was okay and also confided how intimidating the posts on tealtomato can be.  I realized then that this post needed to be said.

For those of you who do know me but, because of life events, don’t get a chance to talk to me much — I am okay.  I’m more than okay.  As much as I stand by the posts I write here, I also stand by so many other things in my life — like laughter, joy, acceptance, creativity, mindfulness, my family, my work, having fun, savoring each moment in life.  Perhaps I’ll write more lower-key posts from time to time.  But if I don’t, I am always, ALWAYS open to communication.   You can always ask me questions and I will do the same.  We can converse.  Dialogue.  Grow together.

But I also think it’s healthy to express how we truly feel, hence the creation of tealtomato over 2  years ago.  I will continue to be brutally honest here because I need to, desperately.  But I can also promise that honesty in our relationships and hope the same from you.




Maybe god actually brought joy

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the godless side

hands-804934_1280Sometimes my experience of my life is heart-achingly sad.  It’s been over 2.5 years that I’ve been godless, and, despite my “enlightenment,” consistently I find that it is very difficult to find joy.

According to the bible, the following are the result of the holy spirit: “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control.”

Contrary to Christian teaching, I’ve found that without the spirit of god in my life, there is now MORE love, MORE peace, MORE kindness (especially genuine kindness!), I don’t even know what goodness means, and MORE gentleness. (As for faithfulness and self-control, those seem inapplicable without the belief in sin, although I find myself deeply committed to my loves–my family, and acutely aware of not causing harm to others).

But joy?  It’s hard.

Depression is dark and plaguing, painful, confusing.  Dimming the skies of my life with an overcast grey that discolors the rainbows of simple moments.  More often than not I want to curl up in a ball and cry from the despair.  It’s not because there is no life after death.  It’s not because I don’t have someone to talk to (pray to) all the time.  It’s not because I don’t have some warped, constant abusive love that I found awkwardly comforting as a Christian.  To be honest, I don’t even know why the joy is gone.  What was once one of my greatest gifts as a Christian is now one of my greatest losses, and perhaps the only evidence, though cruel it may be, that I see for the existence of god. — my absence of joy.

Dear Pastor’s Wife.. (and deep mother wounds)

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leaving Christianity / the Christian side / the godless side / the post-God side

I wrote this letter a few days ago when I had some open-ended downtime allowing for the emotions to come forth.  I haven’t mailed it yet.


Caroline* was my pastor’s wife during the church I attended from childhood through adulthood.  A mentor during tough times, a shoulder to cry on, a gentle support in times of need, she filled a role of mother in my life that I desperately needed during my teen and young adult years.  Her husband, Curtis*, was my pastor and filled a similar role as a father figure.  I looked up to both of them deeply with heartfelt love, gratitude, and a deep deep desire to be loved by them in return.  On more than one occasion they referred to me as their daughter and I cherished our interactions and their love in my life for many years.

A pattern of sacrificial love on my end was present throughout the relationship.  Some examples: As a middle-schooler, I prayed and fasted for 1 week sporadically and 3 days entirely, nearly fainting several times, desperate for them to be “re-elected” as our pastors during a tumultuous time in our church.  As a just-graduated-from-high-schooler, I gave all of my graduation money to them *ahem* I mean the church to keep their pastoral dreams alive during an especially financially grim time for our church.  And as an engaged bride-to-be, I used a significant portion of our wedding budget to fly them out to Utah so they could officiate our wedding.


Dear Caroline,

What happened?

We spoke on the phone before Silver* and I left for the Philippines.  That was 3 years ago.

Our experience with our missions sending organization overseas was traumatic, to say the least, but through brief correspondence summer of 2013 via facebook with Curtis, you seem to have been aware.

We had to come back to the states, it became too toxic for us in the PI and we felt lied to and taken advantage of overseas.  It was no longer a safe environment for us.

We were back in Utah for 2.5 months and our first little girl was born.

Despite these very major life transitions (going to PI, our life there, coming back to the states, having a baby, etc.), I still never heard from you.

This was an incredible low point in my life, but you wouldn’t have known.

Life gets busy.  I trusted you still cared, somehow.  I never blamed you then for the lack of contact, painful though it was.

Months went by and I tried to reach out, eventually using every way I could.  First I called, texted, nothing.  Again.  Again nothing.  I sent you emails.  No response.  I even reached out to Curtis, emailed and sent him a message via facebook (& perhapds other ways too, I don’t remember now), asking if you switched numbers and if he’d ask you to call me.

I never heard from either of you.

Weeks later you sent me a text with a new number of yours on or near your birthday, but that was it.  Nothing addressing me, what I had been through the past year, what I was going through at the time.  No calls.  No follow-up.  Nothing.  Gone.

A couple months later, I know that my dad reached out to Curtis with the hope that he would talk to me about a faith transition I experienced.

Wounded from the lack of contact from either of you, I was still willing to give you the benefit of the doubt and open up to you to have a real conversation, though it had been over a year since we last spoke.

If missionary trauma, moving overseas and back, having a baby, and trying to contact you several different ways multiple times didn’t move you to rekindle relationship, surely a crisis of faith that all but broke my family would.

But no, not even that.

I was shocked.

More months went by and I found myself bitter, angry, and resentful.  I was clueless as to how to explain what happened in any other way than abandonment, and honestly still am.  I thought time would help me come to peace with a broken relationship with two people that I had once considered as second parents, but it has only forced my pain to emerge in unseen dysfunction in my life.

Sometimes I want to scream at you.  I felt tricked into thinking I could trust and love you and be loved and trusted.  Again, the word abandoned.  Lied to.  Broken.

My emotional, relational, and spiritual health is not your responsibility nor has it ever been.  But for you to walk in relationship with someone only to leave during an extreme time of need without any explanation whatsoever is one of the worst witnesses of Love I have ever experienced.

I write this as a step in my own journey toward healing and peace, neither expecting nor hoping for any contact in return.  I would be foolish to hope otherwise, and I honestly don’t even know what a rekindled relationship would look like at this point.

The brokenness is forgivable but the pain unforgettable, though I still hope the best in life for you and your family.



[*names changed.]

Christianity is evil. Get it OUT.

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leaving Christianity / the godless side

(Cont’d from previous post)

My cheeks burn and my heart pounds with rage.  I seriously just spent the last 15 minutes screaming, “F*** YOU God!!  F*** YOU!!”  Words I never, ever thought I would say.

He didn’t hear me.  There isn’t a he or a she or an it that exists to have heard me.  But I heard myself.  The me that believed for so many years.  The me that was emotionally and psychologically abused and scarred by god, by Christianity’s idea of god.  And those are the only ears that matter.  My hot cheeks, the only witness to my hot tears.  The nerves in my hands the only witness to my pounding fists against the carpet.  But the anger was there, deeply rotting for years in whatever chemicals of a soul I have, and it had to speak.

Not at all coincidentally, the only other time I felt this way was when I had a clear head about what happened to me in my teens.  A leader in my church abused me.  Abuse.  That word had clicked in my mind years ago causing a cascade of anger and hatred to erupt into physical manifestations.

And here we are again.

For those of you who are Christian and think I must be delusional (because cognitive dissonance has to give you a reason to think I must be wrong), I want you to read the following as if it were written by an older, divorced man who started dating a younger woman.  Would we ever, ever in our right minds think that this is okay?  That this is healthy?  For anyone?

God to us:

“You’re not enough.  You should be dead.  You should burn.  You are a horrible person.  There is so much evil in you.  You are evil.  Don’t trust yourself.  Don’t trust your emotions. Don’t trust your judgement.  It isn’t good enough, it could be evil and most likely is.  You will ruin yourself.  And everyone and everything around you.

“But don’t worry, just be in relationship with me.  Then it’ll get better.  You’ll get better.  Then you can say you’re sorry as often as you want!   And as long as you do so often enough and really actually be sorry, then I’ll let you be close to me.  Basically, you should just be in a constant state of sorry.  Because everything you do is covered by your stench of evil sin, so I have to go back over it and smear my son’s blood all over it to cover up the horrible smell that is you.

“But don’t worry, as long as you stay close to me, you will have total access to that blood.  You can cover yourself with it.  All the time.  Actually, you just should cover yourself with it  constantly so that I don’t see you, so that I can just see my son.  See, my son I love.  And you should try to be just like him.  Because he’s the only thing that matters.  You don’t really matter.  I mean, you matter enough to be a prop for my son.  You make a great prop!  Sometimes.  As long as you don’t stop propping and start being yourself.  The best way to be a prop is to just empty yourself of everything that makes you you, and fill it up with my son.  Be him.  He’s better at everything.  You only bring destruction, he brings life.

“But omg, YOU killed my son?? How could you??  You horrible, horrible person!! You were among the crowd that killed him!!  He was the most pure thing EVER.  And you killed him?!?! Be sorry! Be sorry for that!!

“Lucky for you, not even death could hold him down.  He defeated your killing of him so now both his death and his life can cover your despicable life that should be death.

“But if you just keep being sorry all the time, and tell everyone else they should be sorry all the time, and tell everyone else to come closer to me so I can smear the blood of my son all over them too, then you can live forever with me when you die!  Yay!  Now, go thank me for this.  Thank me a lot.  Make it all about me, not about you.  At all.  Just keep thanking me over and over again.  Be sorry.  To me.  Be thankful. To me.  Then you should be good.. or, not you, never you, but you could maybe have enough of my son’s blood that you are kind of good enough now.

“Remember, less of you.  More of me.  Forever and ever.”

This is exactly what Christianity teaches is followers.  Almost verbatim.  At least every church, school, service, denomination, conversation, etc. etc. that I have ever been a part of.  This is atonement.  This is abuse.

Instead of praising ourselves (or worse, God), that our 3 year olds are praying for forgiveness, we should be shuddering and doing everything in our power to keep this nasty, horribly abusive doctrine from spreading.  Keep Christianity out of my home.  Out of my schools.  Out of society.  Keep this disease as far away from us as possible.  It is, ironically, the death of us.



All babes go to hell.

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leaving Christianity / the godless side

A missionary friend of mine shared on Facebook some of her frustrations yesterday.  “I feel like I’m not doing enough, because I’m just home with the kids while my husband works in the ministry,” she wrote.  “But then my little girl [age 3.5 years] took out her Bible and asked me again why they killed Jesus.”

Okay, had to stop there for a sec.  What horrible, horrible imagery for a THREE year old.  OMG thats so frightening and terrible.  But that’s just the beginning of the beginning.

My friend went on to explain how she told her girl how Jesus had to die for our sins.

Okay stop there again.  WTF.  I get it, I *get* it, I grew up with that.  But, from an outside-of-Christianity perspective now, does anyone else get how absolutely TERRIBLE this is to teach someone??? Let alone a child???   “You are so terrible they had a KILL and TORTURE and SACRIFICE a man for you!!!”   Do you know what this does to the human psyche?? I feel sick.

The mom continued.  “I overheard her say a very heartfelt prayer in her bedroom, asking God to make her heart clean and take away the bad things in her heart.”

The moral of her story:  See, she is doing lots of great things for the kingdom of god even in her own home because she’s teaching her kids what terrible people they are that they have to pray to the man that was tortured and killed for them so that they can be seen as okay enough to pray to him in the first place.

My friend is a decent person.  More than that.  Their family has been some of the very few people I can look back on the mission field where we served and say “hey, yeah, they are actually making a difference in the lives of hurting people.”  I respect them.  But this doctrine?? It’s GOT to go.  But it won’t.  Ever.  Not as long as Christianity still digs its claws into humanity.

Her story was so disturbing to me that I carried it with me the entire rest of the day.  And then I started thinking about myself, which is how my thoughts usually turn.  I am sorry ALL the time you guys.  Like, so sorry that I get anxiety just thinking about going out in public.  Which I do, all the time, because I love “being out.”  But the ENTIRE time, I feel like I am just making a mess of disturbances for everyone around me and everyone secretly hates me and wants me to leave.

“Sorry about my toddler, I’ll go get her.

“Sorry I left my cart in the way, let me move it.

“Sorry we bumped into you.

“Sorry she grabbed that breakable thing.

“Sorry she’s making a ruckus.

“Sorry she tried on all the shoes! I promise we’ll put them back.

“Sorry my baby’s crying.

“Sorry we took so long crossing the parking lot.

“Sorry we took so long getting into the car, I know you were waiting for our spot.

“Sorry my girl doesn’t want to get buckled in.

“Sorry I dropped my purse!

“Sorry I didn’t go quickly enough at that green light and now you have to wait behind me.

“Sorry I cut you off, I didn’t mean to.

This is just a tiny slice of what goes on in my head, if not said out loud, while I’m in public. I feel like I’m always making mistakes and will someday be exposed for the horrible fraud of an adult that I am.

This sounds melodramatic, and I know logically I’m being just that.  But the thoughts are real.  And I have to wonder how much of it is sourced from the drilling into my emotions, my psyche, my identity for 26 years that told me that me, on my own, I am terrible person worthy to be burned in hell forever.  That me, without the blood of a tortured man covering me, am never, ever enough.  They had to whip and rip and spike and nail-to-a-cross a man that otherwise had nothing to do with me so that I could at least sleep well at night knowing that if I happened to die while in dreamland, I wouldn’t wake up in the burning lake of fire.  Because without his blood, I’d be less than nothing.

I think I have to stop there for a minute and let my emotions catch up.  This is heavier than I imagined prior to writing.  I have a lot of tears and anger for my own self that need to be released before I start a deeper analysis of the effects that this has on larger people groups and society as a whole.


Catholic Clergy Abuse of Children.

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the godless side

A movie released this past November.  96% movie critics’ rating.  Well done Racheal McAdams.  Very well done Mark Ruffalo and Michael Keaton.  But the worst part about this movie was also its best — based on real facts of a real story.  Here’s Rotten Tomatoes’ summary:

SPOTLIGHT tells the riveting true story of the Pulitzer Prize-winning Boston Globe investigation that would…cause a crisis in one of the world’s oldest and most trusted institutions…abuse in the Catholic Church…one of the biggest cover-ups in modern times.


Back in our Christian days, my husband and I spent over two years doing what we felt like was the best way to fight human trafficking, specifically child sex trafficking.  In our opinion, (and this still stands), there is nothing worse than the rape of a child.

Add to this that the rape was done by an authority.

Add to this that the authority was a leader in the church.

Add to this that many many many other church leaders, including those in great power, knew about this rape and did nothing.

Add to this that not only did these leaders do nothing, but they covered it up.  For years.

I can’t even begin to put words to my rage at the deep, deep levels of destruction such abuse causes to the identity of a child.

According to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate, more than 17,500 victims in America alone have made credible accusations of clergy abuse. – Boston Globe

In addition, the end of the movie lists hundreds of other cities ALL OVER THE WORLD in which cases of child abuse from clergy in the Catholic Church has emerged.

I knew about some of these allegations a decade ago when this psychological sickness phenomenon among Catholic clergy first came to light.  It’s horrible, sad, dysfunctional, abusive.  But in some ways, I have some sympathy for the clergy.  Many, if not all, came from pasts of abuse themselves.  Hurt people hurt people.  It’s not an excuse, but it helps me to have some compassion.

But here’s what sickens me so much about this and pools my eyes with tears of pain and rage even as we *speak.*  It wasn’t just that the clergymen themselves hurt children.  It was their leaders.  And their leaders’ leaders. All the way down to the highest heights of Catholic church authority.   HOW THE HELL does a religious INSTITUTION think they could possibly be doing ANY good in this world if they are KNOWINGLY ALLOWING CHILD RAPE to be occurring by the THOUSANDS and doing LESS THAN NOTHING to help fix it?!?!?! What could POSSIBLY be worse than that?!?

Mistakes happen.  Big, deep, horrible wounding scarring mistakes happen.  Because people are human and humans are flawed.  But part of the reason that religious institutions exist is to provide accountability for the individuals.  Institutions suck for a lot of reasons, but one of their strengths is their collective knowledge, security, and protection they offer – by design – to keep the individuals within it safe.  The catastrophic tragedy of child abuse within every single level of the Catholic Church has completely shattered any faith (ironic word) I previously had in religion.