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Like a ship without an anchor …

I have been feeling quite down (read “very annoyed” to “fucking angry”) these past few days. My last post has stirred up (yet again) deep feelings of anger that I still carry from my teenage years against the church.

Over the past few months I have ranted and raved and jumped up and down about the church and christianity, and seen the title of my blog change from “Jon’s Post Church Rant” to “Jon’s Post-Church Journey” and now “Jon’s Post Christian Journey.” All of this has been part of a drawn out grief process as I try to come to terms with the difficult fact that after 25 years in the church, I no longer wish to call myself a christian or be associated with the christian church.

That, along with all the very very new ideas and models I have now been reading in the New Age book “Conversations with God” has left me not sure where I am at all. I really do feel like a ship without an anchor. I don’t want to go back into the church, and although I can see a new way forward the transition is painful. Sure, I am enjoying my new “Conversations with God” reading, but it is still painful letting go of all I’ve ever known, all I’ve ever thought was the only truth. I imagine it must be a little like a divorce. You try and try to make it work, there are the bitter arguments and then moments of deep emotion, you remember all the good times,  you reconnect and want to believe so badly that it could work again. Then the decision is finally made, the split occurs, and even though on one hand it is a relief, still you grieve and hurt and feel a sense of dreadful loss.

Yes, I am moving forward, de-converting, and seeking new answers to the nature of God and Man. But don’t think for one moment that it is easy.

  1. twolimeleaves
    September 6, 2007 at 11:31 pm | #1

    I love you, Jon. You are so precious to me and I hate that you are hurt. I know you’ll find a way through it. xxxx

  2. September 7, 2007 at 3:53 am | #2

    It’s not easy. You’re right. It may be no comfort, but where you are in the journey is familiar territory to many of us. Saying that’s it’s part of the process doesn’t make it any easier, but there is light at the end of the tunnel. It’s a phase you move out of, but not one that you won’t see again. Keep moving forward. It will get better.

  3. wonderspot
    September 7, 2007 at 6:30 am | #3

    Reconfiguring yourself to match a changing set of beliefs and values is never easy. But it’s better to be truthful to yourself than not, so in the long run, I’m sure you’ll be much happier that you’re questioning now.

  4. preechaman7
    September 7, 2007 at 6:51 am | #4

    You ever watched A Few Good Men? The often repeated lines between Cruise and Nicholson, “I want the truth!” and “You can’t handle the truth!” have made more and more sense to me over the last few years. I keep saying “I want the TRUTH!” and I keep hearing “You can’t handle the TRUTH!”. Maybe so maybe not, but there is the struggle of wrestling with the “truth”. As it has been stated already, and I believe its true, even if I have not gotten there yet, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. I’m going to try to stay on course as much as I can and I encourage you to stay on yours.

  5. Sue Ann Edwards
    September 7, 2007 at 8:24 am | #5

    {{{{Jon}}}}

    In all honesty, when I felt pissed and angered by what I had been taught, I was misdirecting my feelings.

    In my Heart, I was really pissed and angry with myself for believing.

    I had been gullible.

    Because I had been taught to be that way and also taught not to ask any questions, since questioning was usually connected to ‘not recognizing and respecting authority’.

    Forgiveness is for giving. So I gave some to myself for being gullible. A gullible ding-a-ling.

    Ding-a-lings are lovable, even tho we are ding-a-lings.

    Blesss you, Jon.

  6. September 7, 2007 at 2:17 pm | #6

    Great post Jon. I love your authentic vulnerability in this one.

    It’s a great step to acknowledge your “feelings” no matter where your journey leads.

  7. Cassie
    September 7, 2007 at 2:55 pm | #7

    :hug: I understand that, Jon! Perhaps that’s the reason I’ve been so passionately against the Christian religion lately. I am really angry at all the lies that were told and all the battering of my self worth… I’ve felt truly lonely and lost at times. Being without an anchor is terrifying! I want something to hold onto, desperately. I’m still looking. Sometimes I even go back to church hoping maybe I’ll find it there again, but it just isn’t possible. I don’t feel like I belong anywhere. I know it’s not easy! It hurts, deeply!

  8. September 7, 2007 at 7:22 pm | #8

    Discovering there is more to life is a great thing. This is what you are recognizing (knowing again). You’re beginning to see, once more, the uncompromising truth in how truly loved you were, are at present, and will always be well into the days ahead. The is an enormous amount of excitment waiting for you in this moment you are experiencing. While yes, there does seem to be a fist full of anger. That anger is literally nothing compared to the vast storehouse of love in which you now find yourself. Those who wander about in confusion during these times are quite unsure of what to do with the real love you are experiencing. If you remember one thing….remember you are loved and loved right now. And, each and every decision to act can speak that message if that is what you will to do. So, it matters little where you do such…at church, in a mall, at home, at work….where you find yourself now is within the prayer you have prayed all your life….you are now, as you have always been, more in charge of your happiness. So, use it. Love using it….and love using it some more. Have fun!

    http://www.booklocker.com/books/2980.html

  9. Pastor Andrew
    September 8, 2007 at 3:37 am | #9

    Jon,
    Sounds like you have a major battle going on inside you, I can sure understand. It seems like some places (churches) are just there to be a church and nothing else. That can definitely damage people, which is sad. I have been tempted many times to send out post cards from our church that say something to the effect of “given up on church but not on God?” I do not have all the answers, but God does. I pray that He will reveal Himself to you in a major way.
    http://www.pastorandrew.wordpress.com

  10. September 8, 2007 at 6:55 pm | #10

    Jon, I believe the good pastor is right on…a few days late…but right on. In the last few days or weeks you have been catching glimpses of The One who loves you deeply and seriously….and it is cool how you have honestly revealed to everyone your experiences. All of us can address your present experiences with some measure or take on what we sense or feel…BUT, ultimately it will be your very intimate decision with The One in you to move your heart to whatever level of happiness near God you desire. As I had said previously, remember you are loved and loved RIGHT NOW. And, each decision you make to act on can speak that message to those you touch. You’re a great man! Blessings!

  11. September 8, 2007 at 8:54 pm | #11

    Hello Everyone,
    I have to say how very grateful I am that you have each taken the time to offer such encouragement for me!
    Thank You!
    I have been reflecting on “where to now?”, and the answer that keeps coming to me is that I need to stop choosing apathy and a sense of being a helpless victim, and make a new choice, a choice to move forward here and now, to create the reality I wish for myself that expresses a grander version of Who I Really Am.
    Curiously, while I accept that not every christian has had this experience, my understanding of christianity lead me to feel very “disempowered.” By that I mean that my tendency in the face of problems was to “hand it over to God, “lay it at the foot of the cross” (or whatever other phrase you like). I have been trying to “hand over” (in this case) my bitterness to Jesus re: all the years of frustration I had over the “masturbation is a sin” problem, but that’s all proved unworkable because it’s christianity that caused my problem in the first place! This approach also leaves me feeling powerless to do anything about the problem, because of the christian teaching I grew up with that says “Jesus died to heal your hurts, etc” so the result is that I have been sitting here all these years waiting for Jesus to somehow fix the problem for me. I have now come to label this “dis-empowering superstition” and see that in fact it is true that “God hellps those who help themselves”, and so it’s now time for me to help myself!
    Stand back!
    Jon
    PS: In a rather bizarre “co-incidence”, the day after I posted this I received the e-newsletter of my old church and read the minister was asking for any experiences of spiritual abuse, so I sent him a copy of this and the previous post (and all the comments).

  12. September 9, 2007 at 2:04 am | #12

    I hope you’ll post his reply, if you get one.

  13. Sue Ann Edwards
    September 9, 2007 at 4:17 am | #13

    Smiling…

    you simply never imagined pulling forth the Self from within your own Sacred Heart, that’s all…

    nor imagined ‘it’ was there in the first place…

    When taught God is outside of us and seperate from us, then we don’t have a clue to look within…

  14. twolimeleaves
    September 9, 2007 at 2:26 pm | #14

    “When taught God is outside of us and seperate from us, then we don’t have a clue to look within…

    Wise words, Sue Ann, and sadly too common within the churches.

  15. Wendy
    September 9, 2007 at 5:59 pm | #15

    Hi Jon,
    I’ll be really interested to hear what response you get from your old church about the spiritual abuse issue. I’m not quite sure why we have both reacted in such different ways to this whole discovery. I feel mildly annoyed, but you are furious, and with good reason. I’ll keep reading and thinking it through.

  16. September 10, 2007 at 9:37 am | #16

    Several of you expressed interest in seeing the reply (if any) that I might get from my old church from this, so here it is:

    “Hi Jon,
    Hey – thanks for the read. Really appreciated.
    As you can imagine defining the boundaries of ‘spiritual abuse’ is impossible – very fuzzy edges with other categories no doubt.
    At the end of the day any use of position or privilege or power or whatever that removes the freedom of others, or worse is coercive, is abusive. We might even say that any leadership (thats lower case l as well as capital L) etc that has the effect of pointing people away from grace is abusive.

    So living well today remains a challenge!!!

    Kinds regards,”

    If that’s what you get for 8 years of battling and struggling for nothing, maybe if I poured petrol over myself and lit it I might get a phone call or even an invite out for a coffee.

  17. twolimeleaves
    September 10, 2007 at 2:31 pm | #17

    Disappointing response :( In the end, Jon, some people will just never ‘get it’. They will fail to understand even a TINY bit of your experiences and how they have affected you, they will be mystified by your reaction to your experiences, and they will shake their heads and appease their own ignorance by declaring you a Backslider, destined for Hell.
    But, yet again, maybe their response is even more evidence of the need for your present journey.
    I had a chat to M yesterday. Ordered CWG from Amazon this a.m.

  18. September 10, 2007 at 3:04 pm | #18

    Disappointing, but expected. I asked for it really by bothering to reply to the “spiritual abuse” email in the first place. In this case the minister in question would not react the way (backsliding and hell) you have described (although I know of plenty that might!), but is just a rather intellectual chap who does not have particularly good people skills. I imagine he would be genuinely surprised to learn his reply did not really answer “why” I sent him the email in the first place. Indeed, he just doesn’t get it. Anyway, yes, the fact is I’m better off keeping on going in the direction I’m now going. I’m looking forward to hearing your comments on CWG once you have read through it! It contains a LOT of really expansive thoughts and ideas and models that are waaaaay cool!
    Jon

  19. September 10, 2007 at 7:20 pm | #19

    You were very correct to say “I asked for it really by bothering to reply to the “spiritual abuse” email in the first place.”

    Explaining the deeply personal aspects of your spiritual experience to another is most difficult. There will be some along your journey who will identify with it….BUT, as you have come to realize, it is best to leave sleeping dogs lie and continue to move forward on this new and exciting part of your life.

    When you asked a person to participate, mid-stream, in a very passion-filled moment of your discovering more about what Life and Love is becoming for you, their answer will always seem disjointed and disconnected. Why….because you are with them disconnected.

    As such, when we do this, we unwittingly feed more wood onto the fire of anger we harbor. Funny thing is…. eventually it will be us who will be genuinely surprised to learn their reply illuminates the first of of our challenges; dissolve the anger that prevents us from understanding, appreciating, and loving our Self.

    You are presently in a very sweet place spirtually. All of your fears, your angers, your loves and desires are on the table waiting for you to consider their merit for the life you want to live in the days ahead. The power of happiness, your inheritance, is waiting for you to choose how happy or sad you will your Self to be.

    Choose wisely…..

  20. September 10, 2007 at 8:36 pm | #20

    angll,
    Yes, I completely agree – thank you for these wise words! I can no longer look to the “old church” for understanding and closure and to attempt to manufacture some sort of connectedness – it is in my hands to choose and create the reality that best expresses Who I Am and Who I Wish To Be, and move forward with that.

  21. September 11, 2007 at 5:02 pm | #21
  22. curmudgeonchris
    September 14, 2007 at 4:28 pm | #22

    Hey Jon,

    Thanks for sharing your struggles. I have found comfort in Buddhist and libertarian teachings. “The Art of Happiness,” by the Dalai Lama, and “Healing Our World: The Other Piece of the Puzzle,” by Mary Ruwart, have given me great comfort in a strange world. For good laughs about the state of humanity, I suggest “Tricky Business,” by Dave Barry. Venting via a blog helps, too.

  23. September 14, 2007 at 5:46 pm | #23

    Curmud,
    Venting via the blog helps HEAPS! LOL That way I don’t just drive the people I live with crazy, I get to bug the whole blogosphere! (and get to benefit from their collective wisdom!)

  24. Kerry
    September 13, 2008 at 9:44 am | #24

    I pray that you don’t completely cut the rope and lose your anchor, because you never know how it will come in handy when the great storms of life come. My daughter died in January and the church could do very little to nothing to help, but the anchor of my soul got me through. Some day you will need the resurrection from the dead. I needed it before my own death and I am grateful for the anchor God gave to my soul to get me through and to take my daughter to Him. Please read Hebrews 6:19 it addresses this very post. The church is full of sinners who harm themelves and others. Don;t judge God based on the people who have used His name to hurt you. If you want to see change in the church, them begin the change by loving by the power of God.

  25. September 13, 2008 at 12:30 pm | #25

    Hi Kerry,
    I am very sorry to learn of the loss of your daughter. As a parent of two dear children, I can imagine how very difficult this is for you. If you have been able to embrace the biblical concept of God and use that in a constructive way, then this is a good thing for you and I am happy for you.
    Regards,
    Jon

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