Thursday, September 6, 2012

You've Changed

A big thank you to Andrew Hackman of Hackman's Musings for sharing this recent cartoon by nakedpastor (seriously can't believe I haven't subscribed to his RSS feed. Subscribed!).

[You've Changed by David Hayward]

I've gotten the You think too much and you read too much the most when I speak to others about my deconversion. Although, I would rather describe it more of discovering my own journey than a deconversion. I was never converted to Christianity in the first place (I was one of the lucky souls born into the faith) and there was no single moment where I abandoned Christianity cold turkey. This cartoon vividly describes my departure from the church. I believe if we look beyond the snappy one liners we'll find the pain of separation beneath and in between the statements. Anyone who's left the church (or any faith) can attest it is a painful experience to wrench yourself from your community, friends, and family. Those left behind feel betrayed, and the one leaving feels alone, exiled, without a home. It's not an easy decision that many are willing to make, yet feel they must to feel true to themselves.

I remember one conversation I had with my wife about my change of faith when I had an epiphany and I freely admitted I could not pray without feeling I was somehow lying. I had convinced myself for months I could stay in the church and go through the motions only to realize in the end I would  be lying to everyone around me. This doesn't mean I refuse to go to church if invited. I would bow my head out of respect and reverence but I would not be praying to any god. I pray with my kids at night and during meals because we had decided to raise the children Southern Baptist. I keep my beliefs to myself unless asked directly.  So when I have these types of interactions with believers I don't take it personally anymore because even the beliefs and ideas I hold now are subject to change.

It is not an easy decision to step away from any community. And as someone who thinks too much I thought about this constantly before making any public declaration on straying from the fold. The fact that we ("the straying sheep") thought about the social ramifications means we do care. Our ties to family, friends, and to our community and roots are very important, but so is our personal quest of self discovery. When I left the church it wasn't because I was being led astray by the devil or that I love sin too much. I left the cackle of voices telling me how to be human and set out on a journey to experience my humanity. I had questions to ask and wrestle with and no environment in which to tackle these questions. Some would ask "why ask these questions in the first place?" and then go on to show me their bag of answers.

I'm not looking for easy answers, I'm looking for questions that will last a lifetime answering.

I'm looking to discover myself in others and others in myself.

I'm looking to simply be.


Andrew said...

"I left the cackle of voices telling me how to be human and set out on a journey to experience my humanity."


Very often too, people react as if it were this decision... that I could have chosen not to make. It simply isn't like that... it is as you said, at one point I thought I could still pray... but then realized the act was a lie.

Doug B said...

I agree with Andrew. It's not a decision but rather a progression in the thought processes. Standing where I do today and knowing what I know, I could never go back to the way I once was - even if I tried hard. That pains my mother and many friends, but I have to be honest with myself.

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