I was sitting outside and listening to the fountain in my courtyard this morning and reflecting, reflecting on my life as it is today. At the beginning, I remember writing that I just wanted to get to the other side of everything and say “Wow, what a ride!” It really has been quite a ride, but at the lowest point of it all, in the darkest of days and they were very dark, I still remained hopeful. The truth is I had no idea how things would turn out for me and sometimes I have to pinch myself to make sure I’m not dreaming. Changing one’s beliefs, heck, changing anything is difficult and for some reason, it seems to be most difficult for those around us–especially when it is counter to their own views. When the change is really big–like when I rejected Christianity–I won’t lie; it is costly. As I reflected on the past few years, I revisited some really painful times: The loss of so many friends, the betrayal of my own sister, and the rejection of my mother–broken promises from people who I loved and trusted. It really was so devastating and I found myself despairing at times, but deep down I also just knew that a better time was coming. I don’t know why; it certainly wasn’t the Holy Spirit :-), but I had this excited anticipation for a new life. Maybe it was simply a survival mechanism, but what ever it was, it worked.
As I reflected on the dark times this morning, I began to think about how things are now–today. I love my life. Even though my Christian indoctrination will still rear its ugly head at times, it happens less and less and I recognize it more quickly now. I have to say that the life I am building now is so much better than I ever could have imagined. I have met so many awesome people and have made many dear friends. The best part is that they are my friends simply because they like me, not because I love Jesus. They like the real Barbara, because I can be real now and I like them too. They are such a wonderful and diverse group of people. Some believe in god, some do not, but we all respect each other’s beliefs and it really is not a big deal to any of us. Having been a fundie, this is amazing to me. Also, I feel so lucky to have a man in my life that loves me like I never thought anyone would love me and treats me better than I could have ever imagined and guess what? He’s an atheist…go figure. How can that be? He’s loving, kind, honest and loyal and he’s all those things because that is who he is. It’s not because of some rules a god laid down in a holy book. How refreshing is that? The best part is I know he loves the real me, the me without a mask…you know…the good Christian woman mask. I live openly and authentically and there is someone who actually loves that. Ahhhhhh, how great is that?
Am I bragging? Well, yes, just a little, but there is another motive here. I want people who are leaving Christianity to know it will get better and it is very possible to have a better life. I know I would have wanted to read success stories while I was going through it and although I am a work in progress, I also believe that I am a success story. If I have any advice to give those who are anticipating, or in the process of leaving the Faith, I would say this: Remain strong, remain positive, and never lose hope. You now have the opportunity to build a new life from scratch and it will be what you make it, so build well. I’m going to post about how to do that practically over the next couple of weeks, but for now I want you to know that it doesn’t stay awful, in fact, it gets better…and better. It will not be such a huge part of your life; you will move on.
Believe me, I’m not special. If I can do it, you can too.
Be hopeful and remember: You are not alone.