“Wait, you were a Christian?”

Short answer? Yes, for a while.

I started going to church a few years ago. I was in a particularly bad place at the time and felt like I should explore it. The first time I explored it, it lasted a couple of months and then I stopped going. I just wasn’t feeling it.

However, about a year later I started attending a different church. This church was different. It was a charismatic evangelical Christian church. It had a very American feel. The band that played each Sunday was like a rock band. The speakers were cool, confident, and lively. At first, I loved it.

When I first arrived, I was greeted at the door and introduced to one of the pastors as a newbie. He was so welcoming and asked where I lived. I told him, and he immediately took me over to a family who came from the same area as me. That family warmly greeted me and asked me to sit with them. They were so friendly and helped me navigate the first service. They became my friends. I also joined the church’s support group, to look at dealing with my issues. The group quickly became like family. We exchanged phone numbers and texted during the week. When they asked how I was, it felt like they genuinely wanted to know the answer. They were always pleased to see me. I loved the feeling of community and the sense of belonging. I felt like I’d finally found my place. I attended church twice a week, spent my spare time studying the Bible, and started making preparations to be baptised.

But there was a problem.

I didn’t believe.

No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t force my brain to believe in the God of the Bible, and I couldn’t reconcile my core values with the values of Christianity. I was a queer feminist who believed in access to safe abortion and equal rights. I didn’t believe I was powerless to control my life and that the only way things could change was if I accepted that and just prayed that God would fix me. I felt constant guilt and tried desperately to suppress those thoughts.

But gradually, the pit in my stomach grew so large I could no longer deny it.

I didn’t fit in. And I didn’t want to.

So I left. It wasn’t easy. For the first time in my life, I’d felt like part of a loving community, and suddenly it was gone. As soon as I stopped attending church, those “friends” disappeared. My support network dissolved. It was a low point and my mental health continued to deteriorate.

However, since leaving I gained access to professional mental health treatment. I came to accept myself. I am a queer feminist who believes in access to safe abortion and equal rights. And that’s okay.

Now, I look back and I realise that what I was looking for was acceptance. Acceptance that I was never going to find in Christianity. Sure, there were more liberal Christians, but the doctrine remained. The Bible is a circular hole and I’m a square peg.

I don’t know if I’ve found my matching peg hole yet, but I’m not willing to force myself to conform just so I fit in. If people can’t accept me for who I really am, then I don’t want to be accepted by them.

I accept myself.

Do you have any experience with organised religion? What do you like/dislike about it? Let me know in the comments!

 

Why I loved and then Left Christianity

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Written by hazel

mental health blogger and advocate

11 comments

  1. I fall in and out of love with Catholicism on a regular basis; on one hand it was the center of my childhood (I went to a Catholic school and wanted to be a nun) and I love my concept of Hangry Socialist Jesus, on the other hand they have no room for a hangry queer polyamorous socialist like me in our Spanish stone churches. Maybe you’re right, it’s the acceptance we crave and we’ll have to find it somewhere else.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I think if we are trying to shoehorn ourselves into something, it’s never going to feel like the right fit. Organised religion has its benefits, but if we never feel truly at home, I think it’s worth questioning. 💜

      Liked by 3 people

  2. I was raised in a Roman Catholic home, I attended private school from preschool to eighth grade. I attended both English and Spanish masses and I even continued to attend church my first two years of high school. That was more out of habit than belief. My problems arised when my questions that were science or sociological related were not satiated. Too many things weren’t adding up. Such as, if Adam and Eve were the first two humans and they had Cain and Abel, was there an uncomfortable amount of incest to populate the land? Also if we are all made in God’s image, why are so many people judged and discriminated against? I also have a problem with authority lol.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yes, I’m totally with you there, there are so many things that don’t add up to me both scientifically and morally. I love the concept of organised religion, but unfortunately the reality just doesn’t sit comfortably with me. Thanks for reading!

      Like

  3. “I accept myself.”
    That is so powerful. I’m glad you were able to recognize that and be able to walk away of your own volition. I’m kind of at odds with my faith. I grew up evangelical. It’s practically in my blood. Finally being okay with questioning things and coming to different conclusions that you didn’t think were “allowed” all your life is a very liberating thing. I find a lot of solace in the exvangelical community on Twitter/Facebook. Ironically what we all seem to have in common from our time in evangelicalism is shared trauma/mental health issues. Yikes.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. It’s a great shame that what could be such a wonderful community can be marred by dogma and judgment. I have my own beliefs now that don’t include organised religion, and I’m much happier. I truly hope you are able to find a balance that is right for you. I think spirituality can be so beneficial for us, but unfortunately organised religion can let us down in that area. Hope you’re well! x

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much. Yes, I now feel much better about my spirituality, and I have my own beliefs now, it just doesn’t involve organised religion or values that don’t match mine 🙂 thanks for reading!

      Like

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