The fear of hell or of being ostracized?

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Is it possible to ever come to our own conclusions without being influenced by anyone?  I feel terribly pulled by my dad to believe in God again, and although my husband has reassured me a thousand times that I can believe whatever I want to believe, I feel so torn toward unbelief because of him.  If I believe in God again, what will that say about him?  I’m terrified of returning to a belief that will damn my husband to hell.  But I’m terrified of how my family feels in me being damned to hell.  

Silly thoughts, though very real, for someone who doesn’t believe in hell.

But honestly, my emotions are sooo mixed up I can’t even sort my own thoughts.  Before my dad responded revealing his raw pain, I was confident in my belief, or lack thereof.  I was no longer torn or depressed; I was finally beginning to feel free again.  Free to explore my own identity.  But feeling responsible for his pain — it changed everything inside me.

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I talked to my husband about this tonight, and in trying to help me stand on my own identity and come to what I believe for myself, influenced by no one else, he asked me this question:

“If everyone you knew died, would you believe in God?”

I need awhile to truly process this.

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The Author

I'm a closet atheist christian missionary. Paradigm shifts happen frequently for those who allow themselves to think critically about currently held beliefs and openly about new ones. I’ve developed the skill, or perhaps addiction, for change but the community around me is slow to catch up -- and would damn me if they knew where I stood.

12 Comments

  1. Over the last few days I have been tormented by the memories of my own revelation (YES, I hate that “coming out of the closet” crap). Not only here in the digital space, but in my own real life, where a friend is being made to suffer for her revelation, or other friends who have to put their Truth in the cold dark of secrecy and pretence.

    My heart is broken…SHATTERED!

    I wish I could do more. Give all of you hugs and whisper to you “Even this will pass. As everything passes out of existence.”

    When I revealed my Truth, that I was leaving the church, I was isolated from everything I knew. Friends from the church stopped wanting to be around me, in case they ‘caught’ my disbelief I guess. My brother knew about my doubts before, but he became more distant. My mother, even though we lived in the same house wouldn’t speak to me for 9 months, she’d leave the room if I stayed there too long… I was suddenly inundated by visits from ministers of all sorts, uncles coming to talk me into coming back to the “RIGHT path”, even though they had never taken anything but a cursory interest in my life before.

    They denied me access to the love I needed. I wanted their assurance that, “You are still part of us.” They betrayed their own hearts, their love and for something that would not affect their beliefs, or harm them in any way.

    It was a cold place to be. I would never wish it upon anyone… atheist. theist…anyone.

    I survived that. I stood in the light of my Truth and showed the world who I was. To turn back and have to hide my Truth again was an intolerable choice. To succumb to the lonely agony of dishonouring my soul, my spirit, and become my own enemy…I couldn’t do that.

    Not for them.

    They showed me that their love was flimsy, based on “You are either with us, or against us”. The only way to convince someone you are not a threat, is to stand with your hand out in a gesture of welcome. So I stood in the radiance of my revelation… I held true to my core…I honoured my Truth and love for them.

    Today, I can share my support, give my empathy and live as an example. That experience helped me grow, made strong enough to stand with others in their fire. To empathise with my entire being and still open to be kind to those that are trying to do harm.

    Today I wrote my first “Letter of Light” to my dear friend. This is my Letter of Light to you Teal.

    ———

    Dear kind, gentle and courageous Teal,

    “You will be whole.”

    It isn’t ‘again’. For the first time you will embrace yourself fully. Discover your hidden beauty and the strength to be vulnerable while standing with an open heart… even when they drive their daggers in, the scars will be a reflection of your dignity.

    Teal, you are not responsible for anyone else’s actions, or to save them from dishonouring themselves. It is THEIR fear and self-doubt that causes them pain. They have to deal with their hurt, rather than show judgement to you, they should be showing that their love is true. If you give into THEIR fear, you surrender not to them, but to a demon of your own creation – The dark place you created to hide your Truth. You have just emerged from it… the light is still glaring…too bright to see the wonderful surprises in wait.

    Your joy. Your bliss. Your humanity and overflowing love.

    Let your eyes adjust. Give it time. Sit with the rawness and allow it to heal and become a sign of your bravery.

    You are brave.

    Hold true to your love Teal. Love will bring light to their fear, and they will see that you are still the person they love, only with infinitely more capacity to share your love with them.

    With deepest empathy,

    EMil

    Liked by 1 person

    • I want to print out your letter and hang it on the wall. You have a beautiful way with words that bring healing and encouragement. I feel like my response can’t do it justice. Reading it was like a breath of fresh air, or drink of cool water.
      Just– thank you. Thank you so much.

      And thank you for sharing your story with me. Your experience of revelation sounds just brutal. Terrible. So unloving and lonely. I relate to your pain but am so terribly sorry you went through that. You have emerged as an incredibly kind and empathetic person — and I am better because of it. Your wisdom is true and real. I hope that you now feel like you are a light in a dark world — oh the irony, for as Christians we were taught to be light in dark places.. atheists being among those in darkness. And now, oh those roles have reversed! Thank you, again, for your kindness and support. I am so grateful.

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      • I read this as the first message of my day, today. I could not hold back the tears of relief and joy.

        Oh man! I wasn’t shown how to celebrate mutual empathy lol And the more I want to type an expression of joy, the more I have this thought I’m just boasting. Remnants of a past life? 😉

        Without boasting: I am overcome with gladness that my story can give you hope.

        The letter is yours. To share. To keep.

        Teal, GooD be with you.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Amen to EMil’s words.

    You are not responsible for your father’s feelings, only for your own.

    I would recommend taking some time away from people and stress to just relax, rest, pamper yourself, and BE, not even thinking too much. Highly-charged emotions can lead to rash decisions, as I know all too well. Seek relief from the pain not by making a decision, but by escaping into comforts and distractions until you’re feeling better.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for your wisdom, Sarrah. Solitude sounds so beautiful to me. And thank you for helping me to feel released from my father’s pain — it’s a hard release, but I’m working on it, moment by moment.

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  3. Belief should not be something anyone “influences” you to do. You either believe or you don’t. If you are questioning it chances are you don’t believe.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Pingback: Revealing Truth… | The Atheist Me

  5. You say you feel pulled by your Dad to “believe in god again”. Would you actually be believing? Or would you be pretending to believe, lying to yourself and your Dad to make him feel better? There’s something to be said for a white lie that preserves someone’s feelings (“Oh Grandma, I looovvve the sweater you made for me, I’ll be sure to wear it a lot!”) but how far are you willing to take that? You could fake it, but for how long, and at what cost to you? Would you go to church, give them a bunch of your money, and have long heartfelt talks with your dad about how strong your belief is? That would make him happy, but what would it do to you inside?

    Belief isn’t something I can turn off and on like a light switch. Once a kid knows that Santa is really his parents, he can’t go back to expecting to hear reindeer on the roof. Once Dorothy saw the “man behind the curtain” she’d never be impressed by the “Great and Powerful Oz” anymore. And once I realized that the christian biblegod was imaginary, I could never go back to taking the religion seriously.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, I agree with you completely in terms of “choosing belief” — I, too, think it is impossible to choose what I believe. I wrote about that very thing here: http://wp.me/p4O3z8-m. So you’re right, I wouldn’t actually be believing again. I would be faking it. The pull is strong for me to even fake it to myself, and all for the sake of my family’s feelings. I think that price would be too high for me, but the temptation to save (ironic, “save”) my family is great.

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  6. Pingback: Revealing Truth… | Recovering From Religion

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