My Conversion and My Fall from Grace Introduction
It’s been a long time coming as I’ve been mulling over my de-conversion story; ever since my last post to be exact! I’ve been rigorously trying to deconstruct and reconstruct my faith; trying to figure out where it all began and where it all ended.
When I was in 1st grade, my mom decided she wanted my siblings and me to not be led into the destructive lifestyle that she engaged in throughout her teenage years. One way to help curve this forgone conclusion was to have us participate in an AWANA program at a local church (that just so happened to be the same place where she went to Christian school growing up). I was thoroughly indoctrinated participated in AWANA’s for the next six years, memorizing all 66 books of the Bible and several hundred Bible verses along with it. I was awe stricken in my young, naïve, impressionable state of the idea of serving a mission. At the same time, I was coming to a fuller understanding of what it meant to have my own testimony†. I was taught that my testimony essentially had to contain a few details such as:
What my life was like before Christ.
How I found Jesus.
How Jesus changed my life.
I plan to do a Christian testimony post in the distant future, but for now, a cliché moment-of-brokenness testimony will suffice:
“I used to be so unhappy. I stayed out all night; I talked back to my mother. Since coming to [church] and accepting Jesus as my Savior, I’ve changed. My mom and I are like best friends now!” ††
But as any Christian would tell you, there’s much more to it then that! There’s hearing and believing God’s will, acknowledging sin, being sorry for sins, repenting, being baptized, praying, changing one’s conduct, being obedient, etc.†††
De-conversions, perhaps DOUBLY so, aren’t simple either. As far as I know, there’s no readily available resource that explains how to become an atheist or tells a prospective de-convert what they should except from the process. There’s not a unified, hierarchal body to help along the way. There’s no instruction manual. It’s a long, arduous journey that goes beyond merely hearing factual arguments for atheism and simply being convinced.
In attempting to wade through my de-conversion, discarding beliefs that no longer fit while trying to figure what *I DO* actually believe and why, I find myself swimming in a mire of confusion while trying to articulate both past and current perspectives on Christianity. My thinking, searching, writing, stopping, taking a break, deleting, reminiscing, etc. have brought to the forefront welcome questions, but also memories accompanied with a lot of overwhelming emotions – sometimes on the verge of tears, other times in fits of laughter.
I have been casually sneaking religion in to conversations with my siblings and asking a lot of questions of my unsuspecting mother in the last few months – questions that fill in some of the empty gaps. I had to ask her about certain things that I had either forgotten, or those strange mysteries that I had always wondered about but never dared ask. Like: When I got baptized with my brother and sister sitting beside me and all of us on my dads lap, why do I so vividly recall the baptismal font appearing like an oversized casket???
Thankfully the years have not passed so far as to make me forget many of the names, places, and details of fellow church members who watched as myself and three of my siblings got our blessings in front of the congregation, or who laid their hands and prayed over me at a church sleepover when I banged my face on the side of the pool. I’m lucky my memories haven’t yet begun to slip away.
The record of my youth is vivid and robust. There is so much to recount! As such, my de-conversion posts will not necessarily focus as much on arguments per se††††. Instead I’ll be focusing on my story – my conversion and my fall from grace. This is mainly for my benefit; drudging through the sometimes toxic sludge of religion has been, at times, overwhelmingly interesting and depressingly necessary. It’s been scary but liberating.
It’s to help make sense of the massive change for myself. It didn’t happen overnight, and it didn’t happen in any neat, logical order, but it has happened, and my series of posts is a poor attempt at an explanation before, during, and after the event. I’ll be reliving all those suppressed memories – the good and the bad – bringing forth the many details that are so hard to clearly articulate.
Generally when I write I always have an end in sight. I start somewhere in the middle, and simultaneously work my way to the beginning and end; fleshing out the details as I go. Titles are always the last thing I add. But my de-conversion story? I can’t pinpoint when it actually began. While it’s been less than a year since I actually stopped calling myself a Christian, I can see seeds of doubt that had been planted prior to my adolescence. What I once referred to as my spiritual quest for fulfillment has now become a journey – one that has not ended upon my fall from grace but will continue for the rest of my life.
Is there really a beginning, middle, and end? For when I get to the end, isn’t that just a new beginning? I quickly realized it just won’t work that way. I’m doing the terrifying – typing my way through uncharted waters with nothing but a scant outline and pre-written gibberish. I hope to make it comprehensive and concise, but being that I’m still working through many of the emotions of leaving my faith, I expect at times it may be incoherent.
My aim is to write with honesty and brevity while providing the details that led to my conversion and my fall from grace – my path to ATHEISM and beyond! While I hope to provide some sort of logical progression – both being in-depth and at the same time avoiding the sense of clutter and babbling that plagues me – after I click ‘Publish’ all that remains is the reminder that I’ve reached the end of this post, but the beginning of the long road to finish my de-conversion story and beyond.
† Testimony – my own personal story of my born-again experience and subsequent relationship with Jesus and of what God had done in my life (it’s used prominently when witnessing to others)
†† For those that didn’t catch this, this is a quote from Prayers for Bobby, the 2009 Gay film based on a true story. The quote begins at about 19:30 (or 4:50 if it’s broke into six parts like it is on my phone).
††† I was taught these were expressions of an inward profession of my faith in Jesus to save.
†††† There are plenty of good posts already on the arguments against faith and its resultant claims (resurrection, fall, existence of God, etc.).