“I don’t believe in God, but I miss him.” – Julian Barnes

Over the last 2 years, I’ve recognized patterns, behaviors, theologies, ideologies, and beliefs within the church that perpetuate harm and abuse to many marginalized people and along the way I decided I could no longer be a part of that system. The biggest outset of this began when the statistics became known that 81% of white evangelical Christians voted for Trump in the 2016 election, in addition to experiencing a fairly traumatic ministry experience at the exact same time. This spun me downward into a drastic faith crisis that would eventually destroy my faith for good. The following months and years would be some of the most difficult of my life.

In that time, I went searching for many answers. I was what Sarah Bessey calls in her book of the same name, Out of Sorts. She describes this as,

“A state of being in one’s heart or mind or body. Often used to describe one’s sense of self at a time when you feel like everything you once knew for sure has to be figured out all over again. Nothing feels quite right. Nothing is quite where it belongs anymore. Everything moved…or maybe you moved. Either way, you feel disoriented.”

I sorted through my beliefs, throwing things out altogether and shifting or changing others. I was pointed toward progressive Christian authors and leaders who would play an integral part in saving my faith for a time. I identified as a progressive Christian for a while. I hung onto Jesus, his character as a political figure and justice seeker, someone who cared about marginalized people and would stand up against systems that harm them.

Soon I discovered that I had feelings for a female friend. As you can imagine, this threw another complicated layer into my already struggling faith journey. As I began to embrace who I was as a queer woman, I continued to see the harm that was perpetrated by belief systems I used to subscribe to. These beliefs were not just harmful, but deadly, to women, the LGBTQ+ community, people of color, and any other marginalized group of people. The church wasn’t just unsafe for other people — it was now unsafe for me too, as a person who, without choice or notice, had romantic feelings for a female.

At the height of my disbelief, I found a community online called #Exvangelical. (To learn more about this community, watch this recent CBS special on deconstructing religion.) This community is where I found support in a very difficult and lonely time of my life and has been where I’ve met many great people, some of whom are my closest friends today. Since I lost so much of my community, and because these people had similar experiences within the church and now together, we were processing our shared disillusionment, this was a place I quickly called home. I no longer identified as an Evangelical Christian and soon I found myself rejecting the label of Christian altogether.

I figured if I were to ever find true faith in Jesus, I needed to step away for a while and rid myself of the baggage of my former beliefs. If Jesus were real he’d catch me. If he wasn’t real, what was the point of holding on?

From that point, it would be 7 more months until I came out publicly as bisexual and also someone who no longer was a Christian. (Non-believer, non-Christian, whatever — I haven’t found a good word I like. Heretic works. 🙂 ) See my coming out post here. 

I imagine that many people were surprised and devastated when I walked away from my faith, but one thing I can guarantee is that no one was more surprised and devastated than I was. My faith was my world. It defined everything about me. I took more seriously than most people I knew and I was completely genuine in following a Jesus I grew to love deeply. I never expected to be one of those kids who walked away from the faith after college. That was never going to happen to me.

I believe that the sincerity of my belief was ultimately the reason I ended up rejecting it altogether. I saw the harm, the pain, the destruction and it didn’t line up with what I was taught about who Jesus was. I couldn’t pretend I didn’t see the discrepancy. I’ve always leaned toward empathy and compassion for people — and I believed with all my heart that God did too. I’m no longer sure that that God exists and I’ve yet to find him.

Because I took it so seriously, the loss was great. The disillusionment was vast. The anger, bountiful. As Rachel Held Evans says, there are numerous support groups for various different needs, “but no one really teaches you how to grieve the loss of your faith. You’re on your own for that.” (Searching for Sunday.)

Many people remain on my Facebook page who consider themselves Evangelical Christians and may read this blog. Family members, old friends, former fellow church members etc. If that’s you – hey! You’re welcome here. With the simple caveat that this blog may make you angry at times. It may make you frustrated, hurt, offended and more. But this blog isn’t about you and it’s not for you either.

This blog is about me. It is for me only.

I’ve spent so much of the last two years angry and stuck. Trying to find my way forward. I’m finally in a spot in life where I’m beginning to grieve what I’ve lost. It is painful and it is hard work. But I’m accepting the reality of my situation and I’m choosing to face the grief in order to move forward. Finding a life for myself on the other side of religion and finding peace with that. 

This blog isn’t a place for arguments or for changing people’s minds or telling me what you believe or ensuring that I’d be safe in your church. I’m open to discussion about topics, but not arguments. This is my journey and experience, which is not up for debate.

I used to blog a lot and I loved sharing my experiences and things I’ve learned and my journey in life. Two years ago, I found myself in a place where I couldn’t be fully transparent in what I was feeling, experiencing, and believed. So I stopped blogging. It wasn’t worth it if I couldn’t express my full truth.

This blog is about me speaking my truth. I believe writing about my journey is an important part of my healing, toward a more full life at peace. I share ultimately for my own healing – but hopeful it can help others along the way. 

The person I’ve found within myself the past two years is who I’ve been all along. She was hidden, but is now finally breaking free.

This blog is about my journey in discovering Who I Have Always Been.

6 thoughts on ““I don’t believe in God, but I miss him.” – Julian Barnes

  1. Thanks so much for writing this. I can’t fathom the pain you go through to realize your childhood faith isn’t what it used to be, not to mention realizing you are Bi. Can’t wait to chat more in depth with you.

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  2. So much of this resonates with me too. I believed so passionately, so the loss is felt deeply. I guess I’m largely at the Progressive stage, with one toe dipped in atheism, but pulling out of the church completely is still difficult to contemplate.

    Like

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