My Security Blanket

November 21, 2007 at 1:10 pm 22 comments

Baby in a blanketIt’s getting nasty weather-wise where I live. Running into the grocery store this morning, I was struck with an overwhelming desire to just go home, curl up on my couch, and wrap up in this huge old blanket we have around the house. And then the Bam! Out of no where the reason came to me on why I’m struggling so much to give up what I know as “religion.”

Religion has, with all its issues and shortcomings, become a sort of security blanket in my life. Because I’ve been in “the church” such a long time, religion has in essence stripped me of being able to find comfort in real, authentic relationships. Somehow, manufacturing pseudo-friendships that go only so deep (like a Sunday morning) fill my heart with the warmth and comfort enough to “take me through the whole week,” while anxiously anticipating my next dose. Like a sick love addict, religion panders to my need for someone to love me, but only gives me enough to keep coming back to “the building” for more.

Wow. Since I’ve stepped out of my dependence on “the structure” to fulfill my needs, I’ve actually remembered what true friendships are about. I’ve grown closer to my husband (remember, by the way, he’s a pastor) the further I get “out of the church”. However, I’ve noticed that some people — especially those in leadership — do not like this new-found freedom I’ve experienced. On some levels, I’ve been kind of ostracized. People look at you differently when you’re “clean,” you know? And they would like nothing better than to drag me back into the crack house of organized religion.

For years, “going to church” was something that filled me with anticipation. Then, as I got closer to the leadership, I began to notice that there are not many “pure in heart and motivation” left at the top. They also use the blanket the church provides, not for the comfort, but to cover up their actions that go against what they preach such as giving manufactured comfort to the cold and heart homeless. They send smoke signals and confusing messages so that they do not have to be authentic or accountable. Are there good people there? Sure, but there are good people everywhere, and sad to say, the percentage in the church building isn’t any higher than those outside.

However, even though my old blanket at home is ratty and full of holes, it still brings me comfort. For many years, I would rationalize the church in the same way. Look to the positive! Look at what we’re doing that makes the world a little more right. And to be honest, I still do that sometimes. But only when the structure is doing the right thing — like feeding families over this holiday season.

But my attachment to the religious “blanket” is over. Sure, I still go, and I do have some “true” friends there. However, I think I’ve already thrown the blanket out to the curb, and the real blanket is beckoning me from my dark, cold blanket. “That’s all I got to say about that.”

- lostgirlfound

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22 Comments Add your own

  • 1. the chaplain  |  November 21, 2007 at 2:09 pm

    This is a great post. Now I’ve got a picture of Linus van Pelt stuck in my head!

    It’s really difficult to let go of those blankets we’ve carried around for years, decades, lifetimes. Even when the blankets become tattered and threadbare, the colors become faded and the holes get bigger and bigger, there’s just something about those blankets that make them so comforting.

    You’ve given me some food for thought regarding the church as community. I’ve been trying to sort through this one for a while and am still cogitating on the matter. This post will into the data banks too.

  • 2. lostgirlfound  |  November 21, 2007 at 3:50 pm

    No problem … glad to help!

  • 3. bipolar2  |  November 22, 2007 at 4:02 pm

    Self-assertion, and doubt is just a form of it, takes on the character not of honest questioning, but of insubordination and rebellion. With characteristically combative verve, Kierkegaard grasps the nettles of fideism only to fling them in the face of all the “insubordinate” who employ reason:

    “They would have us believe that objections against Christianity come from doubt. This is always a misunderstanding. Objections against Christianity come from insubordination, unwillingness to obey, rebellion against all authority. Therefore, they have been beating the air against the objectors, because they have fought intellectually [against] doubt, instead of fighting ethically [against] rebellion. . . .So it is not properly doubt but insubordination.” (Lowrie 122) Thus, Kierkegaard.

    Once you’ve made a “leap of faith” into hyper-religious space there is no return except by self-assertion. It’s not surprising that even attempting to leave a religious culture which demands ’subordination’ or ’submission’ to someone else’s interpretation of an alleged “will of god” adversely affects the psychological well-being of the “apostate.” Prometheus v. Jesus —

    Irrational self-assertion dominates the popular culture, the “secular” culture. Tolerance, that wide band of rational behaviors, lies between inhuman anarchy and inhuman puritanism. Trying to navigate in that band requires years of training and making a lot of mistakes. And, there is no end of learning until life itself ends.

    Most people never become individuals — they remain gregarious credulous apes.

    bipolar2
    copyright (self)asserted 2007

  • 4. LeoPardus  |  November 22, 2007 at 4:43 pm

    bipolar:

    Good post.

    I’ve never liked Kierkegaard much. I’ll just add your quote to the reasons why.

  • 5. bretmavrich@ihop.org  |  November 22, 2007 at 7:39 pm

    This is so tragic.

    That you’re experience of God in Christ has only gone as deep as building’s and services means you’ve not encountered the God of the Bible.

    The Church isn’t sunday school, potlucks, and a few humanitarian activities. I applaud your effort to escape Religion, the wrote practice of activities without substance. But this whole site is a grandiose exercise of throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

    Neither Religion, Skepticism, or Reason will arrive at truth. God has revealed Himself in Christ, and there is simply no other Way.

  • 6. LeoPardus  |  November 23, 2007 at 2:15 am

    Bret:

    It does seem tragic from the Christian believer’s point of view. I know that I saw people leave the Faith when I was part of it, and thought it was tragic.

    But it is so clear now that it was and is all untrue. The God of the Bible certainly, and thankfully, isn’t real. Neither are the Gods that the various splinters of Christianity make up.

  • 7. the chaplain  |  November 23, 2007 at 9:38 am

    Bret:

    If you’ve read any other posts by this writer, you must know that her experience of God was far deeper than buildings, meetings and pot lucks. I’m sorry that you think so little of this contributor.

    You are not the first believer to chide us to the effect that “whole site is a grandiose exercise of throwing the baby out with the bathwater.” I fail to see how you can read the posts here and come to such a condescending conclusion. If you disagree with us, that’s fine. That’s your right. But it’s rather rude of you to come into our space and insult us.

  • 8. Grace  |  November 23, 2007 at 11:18 am

    Hello LostGirlFound :)

    While not a Pastor’s wife (big hugs to you on that position, btw), I was in lay ministry myself when I walked away from the church. Having held both paid and volunteer positions over a couple of decades, I had an insider’s view of what happens behind the scenes.

    I also had an outsiders view, from a couple of different angles. Without going into all the gory details, I would just like to submit that one of THE biggest reasons I walked away was because of what I saw and experienced at the hands of ‘leaders’ in the church. My own pastors….the elders…even some really big names in the Business of Jesus. The hypocrisy…the deception…the out and out greed…pissed me off to no end. “What do you mean we can’t help this welfare single mom with her electric bill while she looks for a job? We can pay YOUR housepayment, YOUR car payment, YOUR salary…” (I was head of Women’s Ministry and co-head of the Food ministry at the time).

    ANYWAY….

    Here’s what I think MIGHT be happening today which is exemplified in the Great Exodus out of Organized Religion (Particularly Christianity). :) We’re tired of being lied to. We’re tired of ridiculous ‘justifications’ for some of the stuff that is taught from the pulpit, and demanded by Men. We want – we NEED – a spirituality that makes sense in our present world. And most of the crap being taught doesn’t.

    It’s time for spiritual people to GROW UP. It is time for us – all of us – to recognize the Divinity within every single one of us. The “old” is passing away – including mega-churches run like businesses, and SuperStar leaders (even those littler stars).

    We are to grow up – connect to the Divine Creator as grown ups. We are to allow our own spirits…our intuitions…to guide us. We don’t NEED “church”. We need an awakened Consciousness – the Mind of Christ.

    This IS the Second Coming. Not in flesh. But in spirit.

    Frankly, I think Jesus would be appauled and horribly upset at the things done and said, In His Name, these days.

    If it ain’t love, it ain’t Jesus.

    Period.

    (a perfect example would be Bret there :) ..)

    PEACE

  • 9. societyvs  |  November 23, 2007 at 1:32 pm

    Great Post LGF – I think you speak for a lot of us who have left that cold structure for more pressing matters – and for finding the way faith actually does work.

    Grace, great points!

  • 10. lostgirlfound  |  November 23, 2007 at 2:06 pm

    BretMavrich … the Chaplain is right … I believe pretty firmly that “Christianity” has very little to do with what people consider the church. I honestly believe the church has become clueless as to how to even approach “living like Jesus,” which cracks me up, because, like Grace said, we start at love. Not proving we’re right. Not being “holier than thou,” but we start at love.

    My experience in “the structure” has simply shown me this “truth” for my life. And, I’m right along side Grace with the thought that we can often reflect true faith away from the organization. Not without friends; not without accountability; but without the thing we know as “organized religion”.

    One more thing — bi-polar is right. Christians will say we are “unique and designed by God,” yet they think “en mass,” with their fear of being turned on by their local church congregation keeping them from truly being individuals. Those that do step out are usually made fun of by other “good” Christians behind their backs … something I’ve seen over and over and over again.

    I think, while I am a part of humanity, I am who I am for a reason; a purpose. And while I’m still working out “the details,” I know I don’t need the approval of a religious organization to reassure myself of my faith in God or what I’m suppose to be doing to reflect him among other travelers in this world.

  • 11. bretmavrich@ihop.org  |  November 23, 2007 at 10:30 pm

    Chaplain: I didn’t mean to come across as rude. I was trying to be succinct. I’m sorry.

    Grace: What gave the indication that I value anything over love? My suspicion is that you equate doctrine with Religion. Nonetheless, I’ll venture another direct comment: your post is precisely the kind of reasoning that concerns me. You’ve grown tired of hypocrisy, but your response is to adopt language that sounds more New Age than anything. The mind of Christ is not the same thing as our intuitions, and the second coming is an actual coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh.

  • 12. Lyndon  |  November 25, 2007 at 11:07 pm

    Thanks so much for sharing. I greedily devour the stories of others for much the same reason that you and I both used to go to church. They bring comfort, if only to assure me that I’m not alone nor completely losing my mind, but these kinds of blankets are much warmer than dogmatic quilts. I hope in turn to carefully stitch my own story together one day at a time.

  • 13. lostgirlfound  |  November 26, 2007 at 10:13 am

    Lyndon … no problem. Society in general is crying out for community of ANY kind. “Structure” (i.e. organized religion) could be a great place for this, but they seem to be more interested in fulfilling their doctrinal or financial goals. I still go occasionally, for the relationship. But I’ve found that my questions are unacceptable, unwelcomed, and unanswered. So, I’ve begun to rely on self study, conversation, reading, and lots and lots of “prayer” (conversation with the Creator). OK, friends, stop giving me that patronizing smile! :-)
    We are creatures of relationship. Naively, I wish we could be pure about providing that for one another, instead of simply wanting to “use” each other for the furtherance of our own selfish desires. But I definately don’t see that purity in organized religion.
    But I do believe the community we find — even on-line — is crucial to helping us seek wholeness. I’m glad you found this “quilting circle,” and I trust your journey will be beautiful!

  • 14. suddenlylost  |  December 7, 2007 at 2:22 am

    i found this site just recently and i suspect in the midst of going through what a lot of you have, or are still going through. i haven’t been a christian all of my life, but converted about 3 years ago because my life was spiraling out of control. i was struggling with depression, anxiety, alcohol abuse, sex, and all while being a young, single mother. i woke up and found the Lord, and quite honestly my life was changed – no question about it. i turned away from all of that and i still don’t believe i would have been able to without the strength of faith. however, here recently many doubts have arisen about my christian faith and even admittedly…the existence of God. i feel like i’m spiralling once again…and in a sense mourning, because i no longer feel that reassurance (?) that i once did while believing in Christ. the depression and anxiety has definitely unfolded within me again, but more because i really don’t want to believe that there is no God. i found hope in my faith, and i’m not really sure why people want to take that away from someone…as far as people who try to “de-convert” others, that is. there is no denying that christianity made me a better person – better mother, better friend, better person all around with more love for people than i ever thought possible. i am currently very involved in my church – leading a youth group and a lifecare minister, but i feel that with this sudden growing doubt i need to abandon that altogether because i can’t be a charlatan. i’m currently working on a degree in social work and my goal was to open up my home to foster children and teach them the hope and love of Jesus, but, all of a sudden that seems a bit pointless now…this is all very difficult and confusing for me. can any of you “contributors”, perhaps provide some insight as to what has helped you in this process? this may sound silly but as much research as i’ve been doing lately i’ve now come to call myself an agnostic theist – i don’t know if there is a God, but i sure hope there is :) and i still love the teachings of Jesus…and believe that i will continue to abide by them. is that so unreasonable and irrational?

  • 15. HeIsSailing  |  December 7, 2007 at 7:04 am

    suddenlylost –

    Oh, I understand your plight – at least from what you have written. Coming to grips with the natural world and leaving Christianity was at times very painful and difficult. It is not something I ever asked for, and the fact that I had to drag my wife along for the ride did not make things any better.

    I agree that Faith can have many life-changing effects. My dad, who converted to Mormonism about 20 years ago, also quit drugs, drinking, etc, to be a truly happy and content man. As kooky as I find his religion, I will never criticize his faith.

    Speaking for myself, I do not contribute to this site to “de-convert” Christians. But I have found that leaving Christianity is a reality in this world. It happens all the time, to people who are generally very quiet about it. We are just here to spew our thoughts because it is sometimes very difficult to do in person with family and friends.

    I love many of the teachings of Jesus too. I just don’t think he is divine. And that is not unreasonable or irrational.

    Here is an article I wrote back when I was really questioning my faith. You might find it useful:

    http://de-conversion.com/2007/06/15/a-confession-i-want-to-believe/

  • 16. Erin  |  December 7, 2007 at 12:00 pm

    Thank you very much HelSailing…I think I’m pretty much at that point myself. (This is suddenlylost, without the psuedonym).

    I know this isn’t a counseling site or anything, but I have found great comfort in a lot of the postings and contributor’s writings and I want to thank all of you for it. This is probably one of the loneliest times of my life. Literally all of my friends are devout Christians and since my initial converting I led all of my family to the faith as well. Not even verbally, but they just noticed the positive change in my character and it turned them on to joining the Church. Therefore I really don’t have anyone to talk to about the fear and confusion that I’m going through right now, because they simply wouldn’t understand. They would chalk it up to an attack from “the enemy”, and my mind partly wants to think the same. I’m sort of envying their “blind faith” right now…I’ve cut myself off from everyone, because I can’t fathom telling those I’ve led that I all of a sudden have doubts. If they are happy with their faith then I don’t want to take that away from them.

    I’ve read some of “lostgirlfound”s stuff and I can somewhat relate to her, although her situation may be admittedly even more dificult than mine. Being a single mom, I found love and acceptance in the Church as opposed to what some of you may have experienced. This has been my “security blanket”, and right now I feel like a child whose just been stripped of it altogether.

    Again thanks HelSailing, I would love to hear more from you if you can, as well as lostgirlfound and Leopardus…from what I’ve read they seem to keep an open-mind as I would like to.

  • 17. LeoPardus  |  December 7, 2007 at 12:40 pm

    Erin:

    Wow does my heart go out to you. You are in a hard place. Glad you found this place though. A lot of us don’t have much of anyone to talk to and it does help a lot.

    The Faith has truly been a good thing for you. And I sure do understand your envying the blind faith of others. In a way I’m actually sorry you’re not still “blind”. I’m sure you feel the same.

    Right now I still go to church. I don’t teach anything or get into any position of authority or responsibility. When there’s a need for clean up, I jump right in. If the youth need an adult escort or a driver for some activity, I’m there. The people there are wonderful and I do still love the service (Eastern Orthodox, so it’s quite transcendent).

    Only my wife knows, though I think the priest may have figured it out. I see no reason to disturb others. Occasionally it’s a bit tricky to know what to say to some questions, but I’m getting pretty good at “politician type” answers.

    Given what you came out of “depression, anxiety, alcohol abuse, sex, and all while being a young, single mother” I don’t think there are any really good non-church places for you to get the support you need. So *my personal opinion is* that you should stay there.
    -You may want to back out of ministries if you haven’t already.
    -If anyone asks, you can say that you need time to work through some issues.
    -If they press for details or suggest counseling, you can say that you have counseling and insist that you’d like to keep it very private.

    Like you I’ve experienced church as mostly a loving, caring, place. I don’t really want to leave it either. I just can’t share in their belief.

  • 18. Erin  |  December 7, 2007 at 4:16 pm

    Thank you so much for your responses. One question I have, for those of you who have children, is how do you handle that? My dream and prayer has been that my precious daughter (whose 4 :) would grow up to be a strong woman of God. So that is how I’ve been raising her…we usually have devotional time and we pray together. Now that is very hard to do with my new skepticism. A part of me really wants her to grow up in a church environment, you know what I mean?

    Leopardus, I agree with you and am already in the process of backing out of my current ministries…but I will have to ween myself from the church as a whole. They truly are some of the best people I have ever known, but (like you) I don’t think I can share in their belief system anymore. I don’t say that to mean that I have an out to start living immorally again…I couldn’t even fathom turning back to my old lifestyle. I’m honestly very thankful to the bilblical teachings of Jesus for that reason.

    I know I will be okay. But right now without my “crutch” of religion I feel a bit hopeless. There’s so many questions that are running through my mind that I can even sort through them right now. I am one that loves science and that is where the clash first began, because in so many ways science has disproven God – or at least discounted the need for Him. I’m not completely closing my mind off from there being a possibility of a Creator, and at this point I feel the driving need to discover this for myself. If there is a God I don’t think He can be defined in a book…or by any feeble human mind for that matter.

    Thanks gentlemen for your friendliness, I look forward to reading more of what you both, and everyone else has to say….

    Erin

  • 19. karen  |  December 8, 2007 at 12:56 am

    Erin, there’s a new book that has just come out called Parenting Without Belief. I have read most of it and think it is wonderful.

    There is no reason you can’t raise a moral, loving and kind daughter without religious belief. The book gives all kinds of perspectives on how to do that, how to teach your child to be open-minded and respectful, etc. I highly recommend that you get it.

    In terms of church, I attended for several years after my serious doubts began. I found that though I tried to continue believing, the services only intensified my questioning. So many of the “absolutes” that I had taken for granted previously began to seem silly or untrue.

    I did wean myself out of going to services, but by the end it wasn’t a big sacrifice personally – though it was a conflict between me and my husband who is still a Christian.

    Believe me, you’re probably in the worst throes of the problem right now. It DOES get better. If you really enjoy the community and fellowship (boy, I haven’t used that word for a while!) of church, you might consider a more liberal Christian church or the Unitarian church, which doesn’t even expect all attenders to be theists/deists.

    It’s not for me, at this time in my life I have no desire to return to church, but I do know a lot of former believers who swear by the UU.

    Hang in there, and I hope you continue to use this group as a sounding board.

  • 20. HeIsSailing  |  December 8, 2007 at 9:49 am

    Erin, I don’t have any children, but I have heard nothing but good things about Karen’s book recommendation, “Parenting Beyond Belief”. CHeck it out here:

    I also still attend church (catholic mass), because like you, I love the people and sometimes get intrigued with the mysticism of it all. I also like some of the ministries they get involved in, especially the ones that focus on mentally retarded children. But only my wife and one or two friends know of my unbelief. That is ok by me – I am very content with my life, and at peace with my lack of belief.

    Erin, one thing I have learned since leaving Christianity, is that there are LOTS of people, right there in your own church, who secretly do not believe. We are quiet about it, just because it is not a good idea to light a fire around so much gasoline. But please remember, you are not alone.

  • 21. Erin  |  December 8, 2007 at 4:21 pm

    Thank you Karen for the book recommendation, I will definitely check it out.

    HelsSailing, I really appreciate everything that you write to me and to others on this forum. I wish I had someone like you and others on here to talk to personally about these things…

    Oh and I was going through some of the archives and came across the post with you and your wife, “Rosemary”, and I must say it brought tears of much needed hope. At this time, I don’t have a husband, it’s just me and my sweet daughter. But, your post brought to mind the hope of a love that I wish to have some day in marriage. Quite honestly my prospects were narrow because I would only consider marrying someone who shared my beliefs, but now I feel the door is open much wider to love someone beyond the scope of like-minded, religiousity. So thank you and “Rosemary” for posting that.

  • 22. LeoPardus  |  December 8, 2007 at 7:05 pm

    Erin:

    You’ve got a bit of an advantage in some ways over me. You have no believing spouse, and your daughter is only 4. So it will be fairly easy for you to redirect her upbringing. And it sounds like you’ve got a good head on your shoulders as far as the kind of person you’d like your daughter to be.

    It’s a bit tougher if you, like me and Karen and others, have older kids and a believing spouse to deal with. I’m still trying to work out how to let my kids know. ‘Tis not something I relish doing.

    HIS:

    It’s good knowing that you and others keep your de-conversion secret from most folks. Gets rid of the ‘lonely’ feeling a bit.

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Attention Christian Readers

Just in case you were wondering who we are and why we de-converted.

de-conversion wager

Whether or not you believe in God, you should live your life with love, kindness, compassion, mercy and tolerance while trying to make the world a better place. If there is no God, you have lost nothing and will have made a positive impact on those around you. If there is a benevolent God reviewing your life, you will be judged on your actions and not just on your ability to blindly believe in creeds- when there is a significant lack of evidence on how to define God or if he/she even exists.

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