Rethinking My Beliefs about God Apart From Traditional Christianity

How Do You Relate To Someone Who Is Not There?

In Church, Deception, Freedom, Life, Love, Relationships, Suffering on March 18, 2011 at 12:31 am

Grief counselors often give a loose set of stages that a person commonly experiences after a loss. In order to get through grief, it is imperative that persons do not skip any necessary stages. During grief, we want to run and hide. We want to distract ourselves. We want to pretend that things are different, or still the same.

But the only way to get through our grief is to face our emotions, and allow ourselves to actually feel them. If we ignore our soul, I’ve discovered that it will come back to haunt us, and with a vengeance. And we certainly won’t progress past these difficult stages.

These stages can be, but are not limited to:

Shock

Pain

Anger

Sadness

Acceptance

And then finally, peace.

It’s good to know that those who have suffered loss such as from the recent tragedy in Japan have some sort of light at the end of the tunnel. But there are no shortcuts around the tunnel. The depth of peace can only be obtained through the full experience of the journey.

Facing reality after hiding behind religious belief for decades can be quite a shock. All of a sudden there was a whole world that existed outside of my church, where previously I really had no idea.

Somehow, as a Christian, I had avoided a lot of reality. I shunned the thought of death by reassuring myself over and over again of heaven. This would only last so long, however. If my loved ones were suffering in hell, or anyone for that matter, I’m not sure how I would enjoy eternal life elsewhere. Although I might still be trying to reconcile my own beliefs, for the most part, the “safety” of my heaven belief came crashing down when I really thought about it.

With so many contradictions in my religious beliefs, and especially the atonement doctrine, I was pretty much left with no other choice than to abandon the perceived security of my faith and face the big bad world, all on my own.

The first thing I noticed was that there is a lot of tragedy and suffering in this world. And God, who or whatever that might be, is without question, allowing it all to happen. In fact, God allows atrocities to happen to Christians and Non-christians alike. I’m not sure why I never faced the fact before that God didn’t spare his chosen nation of Israel, and I’ve seen Christians get sick, lose their business, lose their loved ones and die just like everyone else.

God does not spare anyone from suffering no matter how much and how hard we pray. This is reality. To live is to suffer.

The second thing about reality that I noticed is that everybody dies. It’s as common as being born. It’s even as common as the common cold. Everybody dies. I know this sounds like a truism, but I never took the time to put any honest thought into it, and I am still pretty surprised at the whole idea.

Sure, as a Christian believer I would have admitted that everybody dies. I probably even said it quite a few times. But, and this is the creepy thing, I never really thought about it. Thinking about it can be very sobering, especially while looking at one of my beautiful children and imagining them dying. But parents lose their children all the time. I can tell you now that accepting the facts of life involves quite a bit of emotions that no conceptual “truth” can relieve.

Watching the horrifying destruction in Japan on YouTube, or reading about the starvation and unclean water supply in my own backyard sparks some cue that tells me it’s time to relive all of those emotions. What if it was my own child who was swallowed up in a tsunami? Or what if I didn’t have any food to feed my kids?

It’s nearly impossible to imagine. One time when my kids were at their dad’s house for a couple of days, I wanted to know what it felt like to be hungry so I didn’t buy any food for myself. That hunger totally and completely sucked. And this was only for a short time when I knew I could make a run to the grocery store at any moment. I still can’t imagine it. I’m thinking that at some point, hungry people and especially kids just accept it as a fact of life and that is how they survive.

So I can understand why I and countless others looked to religion as an escape from reality. We are driven by our fear of suffering. “If this earth is only temporary and heaven is eternal, then I think I can handle that. I’ll just keep my eyes focused on the joy and glory of what is ahead – for me, that is. I won’t get emotionally attached to anyone in case they are not going to heaven, and I’ll make sure that my fantasy God is not emotionally attached to them either.”

Although the Bible speaks very little about heaven, that hasn’t kept Christians from coming up with all kinds of scenarios. And to hear a Christian describe heaven, you would think they were a nutcase.

I now believe that they are, and I was, a nutcase. This is because religious belief requires an abandonment of the self. One’s entire life is expected to be given to “God” via the Christian church.

This would include an abandonment of individual thought and emotion as well. Mindless concepts and empty cliches that are repeated over and over again (sometimes with different wording) in a church setting show too many similarities to hypnotism; religion with its repeated rituals is the hypnotist that deceives us. Christians no longer possess their own mind.

It’s an education that relies upon conformed tradition as opposed to the freedom of belief. I’d even go so far as to say that it resembles the difference between being dead or alive. The soul that is not allowed to think is the soul who is not allowed to live.  And that is a suspicious price to pay for a belief that promises an eternal heaven, especially at the additional cost of other souls being sentenced to an eternal hell.

The idea is void of all logic, which is why one must not be in their right mind in order to embrace it. In the stages of grief that I listed above, I think I would add “mental disorder” to the list. This is because abnormal cognition seems to be a direct repercussion of mind slavery, but is only realized after one begins waking up. If Christians are crazy, those of us coming out of Christianity are even crazier, at least until after we accept what we just went through and then learn to take responsibility for our own mind.

Just as it takes a soul-less creature to pronounce judgment upon a nation that is already suffering enough tragedy from an earthquake, so it would take a numb, apathetic or dead person to pronounce an eternal hell for God’s precious creation. Their mind simply is not there, and neither are they present themselves.

This is why communication is virtually impossible between the brainwashed and the non. One cannot hear or see what the other is saying because one is deaf and blind, at least to their opposing viewpoint. A friend of mine described it today as trying to describe a new color. If you can’t see it, it’s nearly impossible to imagine.

The brainwashed are not allowed to be open to the validity of any other viewpoint. The price of doing so would mean a crashing down of their security of heaven which, in their minds, means hell since that is the only other ping-pong option. Since the idea of hell is far worse than the idea of death, a Christian is stuck in one very narrow view whether it makes any sense or not.

And so the Christian gives up their life, and all under the deception of exchanging their sinful life for the life of a perfect Savior.

I have a sad story that is sort of funny at the same time. When I was a young child, I got attached to a blanket. I couldn’t sleep without it. Since my parents were divorced and I didn’t feel wanted by anyone, my blankie became my security. It was a special part of me because it would be the only thing that remained loyal in my life until the age of 22 years old. At that age, I went to a single’s retreat with my church. The guest speaker talked about how we have all kinds of things in our lives that are “security blankets” and they “keep us from depending on Jesus.”

So, being the good Christian that I was, I prayed and asked God what security blankets I might have in my life that are hindering me from fully giving my life to Him. I thought God told me that I had to get rid of my actual security blanket – my blankie. So after the retreat, a friend helped me take my blanky to a garbage bin in an unknown apartment complex and throw it out. I cried for days, but at least I did what “God” wanted me to do. I gave up a little more of my life for Him.

Over time I (and I had lots of friends who did the same) gave up things like secular friendships, secular music, bad words and other so-called sinful things and not so sinful things too. I didn’t want anything to come in between me and God. I spent more and more time at church, reading my Bible, praying and doing all of those things that Christians do. Finally, I had given up so much for God that I no longer had a self from which to give. My self-identity was entirely wrapped up in God, or rather the Christian religion.

It was like I didn’t even exist. And how does God relate to anyone who is not there? How do we relate to others when we don’t have a self from which to relate?

I was trying to think of the goal I am currently trying to achieve. I thought I was trying to escape Christianity and inevitably, Christians. I mean, if I could get away from the source of my brainwashing, wouldn’t all of my issues disappear? The only problem is that you can’t just escape religion. While church attendance might reinforce our conditioning, the habitual subconscious thinking stays with us long after we leave. After reading some of my own blog posts, I can see for myself that in many ways I’m still stuck in a religious way of thinking, and I probably will be for the rest of my life.

And besides, as long as we are trying to escape something, doesn’t that mean it still has control over us? Atheists do not seem to be that far removed from Christianity because, although it’s a different reaction, they are still reacting.

Once we’ve experienced something, I don’t think we can just erase it from our memory. I think we are supposed to always hold on to those experiences in our lives because they will always be a part of our existence. They make us who we are… especially since, as I pointed out above, the journey is vital to reaching the light at the end of the tunnel. The only thing is that I feel like I hadn’t really experienced anything as a Christian because I was basically a zombie. It had taken my life from me.

My loss might not seem as bad as say, a victim in Haiti. But the very depressing thought that I will never escape Christianity almost makes me want to turn off my mind again and go numb. I could easily fall prey to some other mind escapism, such as incessant daydreaming. But I don’t want to escape life again and here is why:   My soul. In other words, I don’t want to sacrifice my life for another dream world that will only fall apart in light of reality.

So as the grief counselors suggest, I just need to keep facing my emotions and feeling them, whatever they might be today and tomorrow. I have been angry, mad as hell actually, for the fact that I was deceived by religion. But there is no way around this tunnel. It happened. And it happened to me, or I made it happen… or both. Who cares who is at fault? Blame gets old after a while, and it doesn’t change the fact that I fell for a scam and it cost me reality.

I have been sad at times, and sometimes I still miss my blankie. I regret the innocent childhood I missed out on because I was always being reprimanded by my church-going mom or my youth pastor. I want so much to go back and replace my church responsibilities with an education that would provide me an income and enable me to live in the real world on my own.

I’m sad that I was so fearful of people, and kept running away from them when we could have spent so much more wonderful time together, and this includes my kids when they were very young. My heart hurts when I think about how I treated my kids and every dear and precious soul that I knew, Christian or not. I claimed to love others but in reality, I kept myself emotionally detached because that is the God that I believed in.

And now it’s time to recover, which isn’t so bad because I finally get to live my life. I can love my kids and others with all the abandon I can dare to feel. I can actually like people, even if they are Christians. I don’t have to try to escape them. Is this what acceptance feels like? All I know is that peace is such a relief, but I will never forget that it was founded upon a very personal, broken Hallelujah.

One time I had a friend who drowned in the ocean. Her friends were able to do CPR and revive her, and she was never the same after that. But when she told me her story later, it actually gave me a lot of hope and peace not only for my own suffering but for the death of others. She said that while she was fighting to hold her breath under water and could no longer do it, she finally tried breathing in a little water. Somehow it calmed her. It took away her fear and panic. She breathed in more water and even more. She thought she was breathing normally. She was in a dream-like state, and all was well.

Of course, she had drowned but her drowning was a relief to her tormented soul. This speaks volumes to me. I think our lives are so characterized by subconscious fear and torment, that to accept the reality of death is to really live. The thing that torments us is the fear itself, but I’m not sure that we have to fear life and death so much. I think that is only another repercussion of conditioning, religious or otherwise. I would also add fear to our stages of recovery whether we suffered the loss of a loved one or our own life in some sense.

In the Christian mind, in order for salvation and heaven to have any benefit, we must first see our desperate need for it. And to see our desperate need for it, we must be told that we are drowning and we need a Savior. Fear is a cheap and easy marketing tool that creates a dependency on fear. We go running to sign up for a Savior, every day. And thus the power of the institutional church is strengthened as we sacrifice one more living soul to it.

For those who believe there must be some sacrifice for anything of value, I can assure you that there is definitely a sacrifice for living in reality. And it’s much more painful than any heavenly or religious dream world. If we want to know the depth of love, we are going to have to also face the depth of pain. To relate to others in reality is painful. To lose someone we love, or to think of another person losing a loved one seriously hurts. There is no relief until we make it through that tunnel and even then, it always stays with us in some sense. We are reminded of it every time a friend must enter their own tunnel. And we truly weep with those who weep.

But at least we have our head screwed on straight. And we have a self – a self with depth – that can relate to others. We can hear people when they talk. We can feel their pain. We can imagine their story. We can also see when others have been brainwashed because we have been there ourselves. We can understand what they mean (even if it makes no sense.)

But, is a deep relationship possible between a person with a mind that is alive and a dead mind that is controlled?  The Christian religion would say that there is no fellowship between the light and the darkness, and my first inclination is to agree. But there is that “Us and Them” mentality haunting me again. As difficult as it is for me to have a normal conversation with some Christians, I refuse to give in to my fear and trepidation of their belief system. I do not want to do to them what religion teaches us all to do to others – shun them through judgment.

Sure, that belief system is a horrible regime. It feeds on souls in order to maintain itself. It swallowed me alive and it thieved 30 years of my life. In my opinion, it is doing untold damage and terrorizing many more lives with the threat of God’s hateful judgment. It tears apart relationships.

But I don’t want to give it any kind of control over my own life anymore.

So I guess my goal is not to escape Christianity, but to be at peace with it. I guess I need to be okay with breathing in a little water and even accept the reality of drowning. Suffering exists within religion but it also exists outside of it too. Religion is simply another part of our God-created world – no better and no worse.

It’s just another tunnel, but with a light at the end of it.

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  1. Loved it.

  2. Thanks Elizabeth, for putting into words the way I feel. I long for the day when I can love Christians in the same way I once loved the heathen… before I became one of them.

  3. This was wonderful. Thank you for your honesty.

  4. A LOT of food for thought!
    But to answer the question how do you relate to someone who is not there? God can do all things!! (sarcasm)

  5. […] seen the truth and promise of eternal life used in a way to enslave myself and many others to a soulless religious lifestyle. For this reason, I’ve got a lot of negative associations with terms such as, […]

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