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Photo collage by architect Michael Jantzen who says, “I want to reinvent the built environment in order to extend the reach of consciousness.”

I used to carry a creed in my pocket, a bullet set of beliefs that I lived by. I knew my Bible (the sign of a well worn bible is the sign of a well fed soul…), I could pray anybody under the table as if public prayer was a drinking game. I taught Sunday school, served in missions in a foreign country, stopped cussing, drinking and smoking AND wore oversized shirts to hide my curves so as not to stumble my brothers into lustful thoughts.

Oh yeah, I was a rockstar good Christian woman. Seriously.

It is a long story, not the fairy tale or Guidepost magazine kind of story, of how I began slipping down the slippery slope into a place that the media likes to dub, The Dones.

The Dones are formerly religious people (like me) who are Done with organized, institutional faith. We are done with Sunday mornings and Wednesday nights. I once had a job where I became a source of workplace gossip when I managed to get Sundays off as a new hire, that’s how important the Sunday morning gig was to me. (When I decided I was done with church, my boss was actually a little concerned when I informed  her I was now available to work Sunday mornings. “Everything ok?” she asked.  I’m good, I reassured her. “I used to have something I was a part of on Sunday mornings, but now I am not a part of it anymore.”)

It felt kinda like a break-up.

That break-up story is another  blog post, how church  broke my heart over and over again until I finally wised up and got out of the dysfunctional relationship it had become.

I have not been to church in almost six years.

Leaving church did not mean I left the Faith.

However, once I was out of the cage and my faith was free to roam the wildlands of uncertainty, my faith started to shapeshift. For starters, I lost my creed out there in the elements. A gust of wind blew up on me and shredded my list of beliefs right out of my hands. I became mapless. And once mapless, I was forced to explore other vistas that were off the map. I became free from what author Jim Henderson aptly calls, beliefism. 

Fun fact: Merriam-Webster dictionary declared -ism to be the word of the year last year.

I have been living off the faith grid ever since.

Christianity for me became stifling. It was like being a settler in a small valley and insisting that there is nothing to be gained by exploring other settlements out there beyond the yonder. In the movie, The Village, the villagers are taught to stay within the confines of their village or else the lurking monsters nearby will attack them. If they are obedient, the monsters will leave them alone. (spoiler alert : there are no monsters)

You can imagine how much that film resonated with me as I lost my Christian creed.

And yet, despite being a heretic who has betrayed her Christian heritage, there remains in me a firm residue of faith and respect for the Christian tradition and those who adhere to her creeds. Just because me and Jesus would not be matched up on E-Harmony as soul mates doesn’t mean I am not interested. Jesus still loves me this I know, and I love him back. 

No matter what dogmas and doctrines have collapsed in my beliefs structure,  I have a rich heritage from my years as a bible-thumping-demon-stomping-spirit-filled-believer. I still speak the language fluently. I was getting a tattoo last year and during our conversation the tattoo artist began complaining how his born-again sister was driving him and the rest of the family crazy. “She will leave if we as much open up a beer,” he lamented of his devout Christian sibling.

I helped him understand that she was compelled by her Christian conscience and that once upon a time I would have done the exact same thing. “Respect her conscience,” I offered, “She is living by the conviction of her faith. Respect it.” I felt like a cross-cultural guide helping him interpret the weird customs his sister engaged with. Evangelicalism was a mystery to him. It is not to me, and never will be. I was a rockstar evangelical woman for years upon years. I know the lingo, the dress code and the rules of conduct. I sometimes feel haunted by my former evangelical self, like when I order a cocktail in a pub. The ghost of church-past  floats in accusing me of being a backslider.

I’ll drink to that.

Today, if my former Christian self were to meet my current self, she would be concernedxtianbeliefs for my soul. She would see that my current state of living does not match the checklist. I have completely abandoned some beliefs (like the doctrine of hell…. ugh…. never did like that one at all. Was a RELIEF to be done with it!)  while other beliefs remain in a state of flux in the gray. Was  Jesus the Unique and Only Son of God incarnate?

I used to say Yes without hesitation.

Now I’m not so sure what to think about Jesus and divinity, though I remain a fan of his parables and messages (forgive others, love one another, turn the other cheek, be a Good Samaritan). It doesn’t come up so much anymore when I meet people, an examination of faith…. but when it does, when I am asked point blank if I am a Christian, I reply, “I live my life the best I can according to the teachings of Jesus.”

Yes, that’s good, but Are you a Christian? What do you believe about Jesus?

Devout Christians would charge that  I am not a Christian. My former devout evangelical self would agree. But in the world of spirituality (I’m not religious, I’m spiritual)  I am considered pretty Jesus-y. I’m the woman who can drop F bombs all day long, but still will not use Christ’s name in vain or damn someone in the name of God. I do not flinch as some do when Jesus is spoken of and his words quoted.  I myself can still repeat Jesus’ words rather eloquently.

When I am faced with major life decisions, sheesh, even daily life decisions, I still pray for guidance and wisdom. I may have lost my map, but I still have my compass.

About three years ago I was invited to a Faith writer’s conference, even though I am clearly not a Christian writer .

I went anyway since I would know a few people there, people I enjoy and people who enjoy writing like I do. I looked forward to fresh inspiration about being a writer, and I was not disappointed. I still remember fragments from the talk one writer gave about tell The Story, not just the facts….  but when the worship band of young, shiny faced collegiates kicked into gear, something in me tensed up to the point that I quietly left the room and lingered for the next 20 minutes in the lobby. I like music, I really like LIVE music, so I was caught off guard why the onset of Christian praise music got such a rile out of me.

Was it the devil ?  :/

I didn’t psychoanalyze it too closely, but my best guess as to why the music affected me that way is because music is about emotion.  The dysfunctional relationship I ended with institutional Christianity came flooding back when the praise band fired up their first chords. It was like having an old boyfriend try to make out with me. Not gonna happen.

So… I am not a Christian, and yet I try my best to live my life according to the teachings of Jesus as I understand them. I do not read the Bible anymore. I do not go to church. I no longer believe you are going to hell if you don’t incite the right words to save your heathen soul. I am firmly comfortable living off the grid without a map in the wilderness of I-Don’t-Know-Anything-Anymore.

I like Oprah and sometimes tune into her Super Soul broadcasts online. I read spiritual books written by people who do not mention Jesus or the bible one single time in their pages. I use a personal tarot deck for inspiration and to tap into inner wisdom … oh yeah, I am now  a HUGE BELIEVER that we each possess the wisdom we need for our lives if we just pay attention and Listen.

And that is so very unchristian because as a church-abiding Christian I was taught that the heart is especially wicked and cannot be trusted, so therefore my wisdom and intuition are not to be trusted. I cannot begin to tell you the journey it has been to establish trust in my own divinely inspired inner guidance system. Trusting my higher self is rebellion against the Christendom that used to own my heart, mind, soul and body.

But I am not a Christian anymore. Well sort of. Kind of. But maybe really not.

 

***There is soooo much more to say about this. It is clear to me that I still have things I’d love to talk about in regard to being Done with institutionalized faith. I would really love to hear your thoughts on this one. Are you a Done, too, or do you want to save my soul when you read this? Back in the day I would have judged this blogpost as something written by a bitter, deceived woman. It is true I am scarred up from my years of church devotion, but bitter, no. Deceived? Maybe.

I’d love to hear your thoughts. 


Comments

Why I’m Sorta Kinda Still a Christian, but Maybe Really Not — 64 Comments

  1. Great Post Pam!

    The times are changing, and the American/Western church no longer has the proper tools to help us as we toil through some serious questions.

    More than ever, we are being called into deep introspection and deep understanding of ourselves and the world around us. Consistently, the church has shown it’s only willing to give out trite, antiquated, and pat answers to some of life’s most pressing questions.

    I gave up my ordination status as a pastor over this last year, based on how our denomination was handling same-sex marriage and the issue of homosexuality. As my stance on homosexuality began to evolve, the denomination began to clench it’s fists tighter and tighter and to draw up it’s walls and battlements over the issue.

    Such a shame an issue, which affects the most intimate part of so many people’s lives, should become divisive and hostile. Instead of open, honest, and warm conversation about such a thing, the church, as I see it, is choosing to stomp it’s feet harder, put it’s hand to it’s ears, and only raise it’s voice louder.

    Such a shame.

    Wrestling with this issue was the final straw for me (at least, w the church at large…locally, we still attend). It gave a glaring light to a sneaking suspicion I’d had for awhile: The American/western church is more willing to sacrifice the sacred things of God (relationship of humanity with itself and relationship of humanity with God) for the sacramental, ceremonial, and ideological functions of it’s worship.

    Yet, out of the void, God’s voice still rings:

    “I desire mercy, not sacrifice.”

    Much peace to you!

  2. I am a done too. I haven’t blogged about it yet because I have some die-hard right wingers in my tribe who would run with hands raised in horror, but you expressed this so well as to the what and why. 🙂

  3. THANK YOU new commenters who have taken time to stop by and leave your thoughts. This has BY FAR been the most responded to blog post of my decade long feeble blogging career. It has given me pause to think about the resonance so many have expressed and if perhaps there is a larger work I can unpack and write.

    In fact, I have recently decided to once again shelve my current slow-moving book project, Food Lady (about my work as a patient dining assistant at a large urban hospital) and instead begin immediately on working on a new book, Why I’m Sorta Kinda Still a Christian… but Maybe Really Not. The waves of response to this blog post planted the seed. Recent conversations with others about this topic have watered that seed to the point that I feel that familiar burning in my bones that I am meant to write this.

    Though I barely blog anymore (yay for shift work and golden handcuffs!) I will def provide updates and insights soon as I progress with this new project.

    Thank you again each one of you for taking time to respond. Whether you identify with this blog post or were concerned and voiced your concern in the comments, I appreciate the effort each person takes to share their perspective. Your perspective helps inform my perspective more than you’ll likely ever know.

  4. Just some thoughts, a little more current and up to date.

    I have a good friend who went thru a messy divorce, his wife left and didn’t want to walk with God. He moved out into the country. All his past church going so-called christian friends treated him like an outcast.

    One day he is walking in the rain, and falls in the mud, he gets up, and God speaks to him and asks him “what are you going to do now?” He says well Lord I’m going to clean myself off….The Lord replies “That is what I do for you everyday”.

    The Lord then asks him a question. He says — (Named withheld)… ” What would happen to you if there were no churches, and no bibles” he replies I don’t know Lord… The Lord says “would it change my relationship with you, if you couldn’t go to church, or read a bible…He said I suppose not…

    That day my friend saw the difference between religious Christianity, and relationship with God….

    This is the problem I think for many people, they have never experienced Jesus like that in a real way…

    All they know is a book, and a set of doctrines…The Jewish people of Jesus time, had a perfect text, from the finger of god, to scribes who were meticulous about making copies without translating the text, as we have to do for our bibles.

    Still they did not see clearly what was spoken about in the OT text.

    Jesus came and only two people in the temple were expecting him.

    Do you think our doctrines are any better than theirs…

    They knew the culture, they knew the customs, they knew the original languages, they knew all the clues of the scriptures, and some of them had even memorized the text of.

    So…WE JUST DON’T ALWAYS KNOW…WHAT WE THINK WE KNOW…

    Remember spiritual truth is revealed, NOT learned…

    Theologians can’t help you…It doesn’t work that way…

    It doesn’t come from learning, and spread from the mind of one man into the mind of another…

    Algebra does that, not spiritual truth.

    I don’t do church (we are the church), I may or may not read my bible, I don’t pray at a certain time, I always have Jesus in my thoughts, and me in His. These are all outward things. Do this, don’t do that, read your bible, go to church, go to the bible study ETC.

    Christianity is life. Period, and fellowship which is a spiritual event can only happens between certain people. In fact you may not be able to fellowship with your pastor (if you have one)…

    We have to think deeper that what appears on the surface. I mean that word Paul uses for fellowship is “YOURSELVES”… We must define who those people are or you might as well go to Walmart and try to have fellowship there.

  5. Wow! Where do I start… I don’t want to scare you guys, so let me NOT tell you what has happened to me for the last 8 years, at least not yet. Let me start at the beginning. But before I do that let me say.

    I agree with a lot of what you said, but I don’t fault Jesus for any of the disappointments I read on this web page. I fault men, doctrines, religion, habits, routines, rituals, and men’s concepts about “BEING A CHRISTIAN” (yes churchianity too).

    So let me introduce myself, and how I met the person of Jesus, the one who loves me, does not condemn me, and who has been with me even though I have done some horrible things, until he freed me 8 years ago, and he was with me while I was doing those things too, even though a lot of church people condemned me, Jesus never did.

    MY STORY:

    I came from a violent home, (drugs, alcohol, gun shots, being chased with knives, people thrown through picture pane windows), in fact I was born three months early because my father kicked my mother in the stomach.

    I was born weighing two pounds nine ounces.

    As early as 7yrs old, I was out on the streets till 3-4am, I was put in three orphanages…

    One night I remember, my father snuck into our house, he put a loaded pistol in my hand and told me too shoot my sisters and my mother, it was crazy.

    Through all of this, (which I wouldn’t change), I came out a fairly normal kid, I was involved in sports and didn’t do drugs, or drink. I thought I was a survivor, wanting only too make it through another day.

    In 1974 I started too sense a need in my life, an emptiness that I couldn’t explain. I knew I had to find God/Jesus, but who was HE.

    I had no idea where to find HIM, so I went to the local library to find books concerning world religions, God, and the occult.

    At the library I met an ex-hippie (Gary Osborn) he saw my books and decided to share the message with me.

    Gary invited me to pray in the back of his V.W. so I did, I remember saying “God forgive me for my sins, and whatever you have for me I want it all”.

    Well at first nothing happened I expected, lightening or something. Gary said, “Just go home and praise God” I said, “What’s that, mean” Gary said, “Just thank him” So I did just that.

    The remaining is sacred to me, before I asked Jesus into my heart, I never heard voices, I never drank, and I never did drugs, but one week after meeting Jesus while in the middle of my last class (during high school)

    A voice, just as clear, as someone standing next to you, spoke, and as the voice spoke it said to me, “rod tell them about Jesus” I was surprised, but unafraid, I put my hand over my mouth, since I didn’t want anyone to think I was talking too myself, I said (to whoever spoke to me) “I don’t know what to say” the voice said “don’t be afraid, I’ll give you the words to say”

    To this day I don’t remember my words, but I spoke to those kids about Jesus and salvation, their mouths just dropped open and then, class was over, I walked out of that room, feeling like I had never felt before.

    The next day was Saturday; I slept in the living room on an old couch. When I woke it was early and I decided to turn on the TV, to watch my favorite cartoon, the roadrunner.

    As I sat there watching the TV, I got up and looked outside, everything was so beautiful, (I never appreciated nature, I just wanted to make it thru another day). BUT now it was so pretty, I sat back down on the couch, and as I did I was somewhere else.

    I was sitting at a long roughhewn table. In front of me was God, the father. I couldn’t see him, to my left was Satan, him I could see (he looked like a man only very big) then to my right was Jesus.

    Three bowls appear, filled with what looked like porridge.

    Now the father spoke and said Satan dismiss yourself, Satan stood and screamed, then vanished. Three bites were taken out of the bowl.

    Then all at once I was watching myself from a distance, walking with Jesus up a grassy pathway. Jesus was speaking to me but from a distance I couldn’t hear him, I could see myself shaking my head (like I understand) then thru my eyes I saw the house where I had been sleeping.

    I didn’t know what had happened; I’d never experienced anything like that, but I knew two things, I had to find a pastor to talk too, and I KNEW GOD loved me and wanted something from me…my total surrender. My life totally under his control, every second, moment by moment, and I was consumed with this one desire, to live too PLEASE HIM.

    Let me give you an example: When a friend from school would come over and say, “Hey rod.” “Let’s go to a show” I’d say, “hold on.” Then I’d go in the bathroom and pray, “Lord should I go?” Sometimes the Lord would say “go”, sometimes “no”

    At times He was silent, when this happened I would look inside, to my heart, (Spirit), (see Colossians 3:15) if I had peace I would go, If not, I’d stay home.

    As I practiced this new desire, (surrender), I noticed the voice of the Lord became more frequent and clearer, (John 10:27). It always had to agree with scripture. The word of the Lord will always agree with the true meaning and / or the true interpretation of scripture).

    I knew I needed to get a bible. So I went to a bookstore and I got the largest family bible I’d ever seen, with pictures and everything. I was so happy.

    That night the voice of the lord said, “Read Matthew 5.” I had to look in the contents; I didn’t know where Matthew was.

    When I found it and started to read, the words became a (“Word of the Lord to me”) they just jumped off the page, they seemed to come alive, and they filled me, with hope, love and peace. Now I knew God loved me, and my sins were gone, I was forgiven…

    As time passed I grew, sometimes I’d walk into a busy office or building (like a D.O.L) and the Lord would say go sit by that guy.

    I would strike up a conversation, then say “you don’t know me but I’m a Christian and God is going to share with me about your life” I don’t mean simple things like “you have the flu” or “Headaches”, but deep, personal things that others couldn’t know or even guess.

    People would usually start to cry and ask “how did you know?” I’d say “I didn’t but God knew”.

    When I got to Atlantic City, God said “Rod, when you get to the prayer meeting tonight I want you to give all your money, to Johnnie Diaz”. I said “Lord that’s all I’ve got?” (About 300.00)

    God replied; “you take care of your brothers and sisters in the Lord and I’ll take care of you.” So upon arriving in Atlantic City, I secretly gave all my money to Johnnie, (this was to cover something for Johnnie that was very personal, so I know he didn’t share this with anyone).

    That night I asked myself “how am I going to get back to work, tomorrow? I didn’t have a penny, not even enough for bus fare, and in my spirit I knew I wasn’t to hitch hike, but instead the Lord wanted me on the bus.

    After sleeping that night and leaving the brothers house the next day, (where the meeting had been held), I started walking to the bus station.

    As I got closer and closer, I was imagining, “is the drivers going to just “know” he’s supposed to let me ride for free?” But as I approached the depot, a brother named “Chicky” came out of his house and said “rod I think the Lord wants me to give this to you.” It was exactly what I needed for bus fare!

    This has been a short summary of my life.

    Here is as dream I had a couple yrs ago:

    I was on the head of a beast, in a large body of water (Like the ocean).

    It was night and the darkness was so real it could be felt. The clouds above were very thick and black.

    The beast was thrashing as if it wanted to throw me off. I was so afraid! I was holding on as tight as I could.

    Then I looked up, and when I did, the clouds opened and rays of light came through the clouds, with the light came that voice that I had heard before and knew so well.

    He said “Rod; if I’m ever to use you, I must break you”!

    I woke, wet with sweat, and shaking…Saying as I woke, “thank you, Lord you haven’t forgotten me”

  6. I’m a DONE as well! Amazing how many of us there are. I am more at peace now, more thoughtful, more tolerant and more certain than ever that I don’t know everything – nor to I have to know. Not only peace came with the being done, but so did the loving and enjoying people for who they are – not who I thought they should be. I no longer have an agenda I am confident that I need to inject into everyone else’s life so they can be just like me.

    Life is much better on the DONE side. Happy travels to you in your journey, great things lie ahead!

    • I’m a done/none who has lost her compass. My morals come from my desire to be a good person. I’m just now willing to admit that I am an unbeliever. An atheist. A humanist.

      • I resonate with this so much. The golden rule (which is similarly stated in almost all other major religions) to treat others as I would like to be treated guides my interpretation of morality. It’s often hard to explain to others, and I know my mom shits herself whenever we get into any kind of religious discussion and she knows for sure I’m going to hell. For whatever reason, it’s easier to ignore her antics now that I know some all-powerful being isn’t standing behind her with his arms crossed in disdain.

  7. Thank you Pam. It has been 10 years years since I walked out of a service during the sermon. I was going to be going to Hell for not believing the “right” things about Jesus. I do believe differently today. But I still have the past beliefs haunt me. Thanks again, at least I know I am not alone.

  8. Pam,
    Your article/post resonated with me! I’ve been a Done for over 16 years and it was an excruciating process for me. Not only did I leave the church, but I also divorced after 30 years of marriage to a man who, although he was a deacon and leader within the church, had been unfaithful to me early on in the marriage. He’d fathered a child and helped to support the girl. By the time I found out about it, the girl was 18 years old. Needless to say, the bottom dropped out of my world.The term Rude awakening doesn’t do my experience justice, but I had been calling on God to show me the truth at all costs. And He certainly did that!
    The next five years were painful as I dumped about 95% of all the dogma and doctrine. I did this because none of it was any help to me in my crises. None of it. I realized that I had lived in a make believe world that essentially insulated me from the world and the world from me.
    Today Im feeling more like me than I have in a long time, but I also know that the real me (Parts of her anyway) are probably still hiding in fear somewhere inside.
    I’m too old for this crap. I so rue the day I entered and joined a church. Sigh.
    On with the new, and life in the real world. It’s certainly better than where I was for all those years.
    -Connie

  9. I have to say that (apart from the oversize shirts bit, because I’m a guy so that’s irrelevant lol) this post resonated with me. I’m also a “done” despite having been a pastor for nearly 30 years, having served overseas and having led a church plant at home. I’ve not lost my faith (though I’ve lost someone else’s) but it’s been completely transformed. My theology? It’s God Jim, but not as we know it! Jesus? Greatest guy that every lived – awesome example to follow, mind-blowing teaching, not God incarnate, though definitely God personified! What I’ve lost is my belief in the Church, my acceptance of Pauline ethics and doctrine (let alone Augustine’s, Luther’s, Calvin’s or MacArthur’s) and my addiction to certainty – especially about things beyond human knowledge and experience. I too follow Jesus the best I can and, you know what? That’s good enough. Christian? Yeah – well, more so than not. Evangelical? No, praise God, but I suspect that I’ve been abused for so long by that particular ism (and have, I confess, done my share of perpetuating that abuse), that I’ll always be, at best, a recovering Evangaholic.

  10. my thoughts?……..there is a lot to ponder from the blog & all the comments, but I do not want to read and not be courageous a bit here to say I am not done! My life was so crazy searching all avenues (yes things I’d catagorize under the occult)……always looking for God’s presence…….and I found it!!! ! I am a Christian……one who believes in God’s love & compassion, and to extend that to those I come in contact with……..

    • Hi Judy, I really feel you in this response! I had a similar, long journey until I found God in Jesus, and I don’t want to live without what I found. I’ve read the post and some of the comments, and I can understand how people can come to another understanding, but what I experienced on my way to God (quite as you did) has left undestroyable traces in my heart – of the love and compassion you wrote about. And just like you, my first and biggest urge is to share this love and compassion with others. So, although this comment is in a way “OT”, I hope the words will reach you to be encouraged on your journey with God. I’m glad for you and wish you all the best while you share his love with others. His love has changed me and freed me to be the person I was made to be 🙂 Blessings, Claudia

      • OHHHHH, thank you Claudia……..Yes, Jesus’ love also changed me and freed me to be the person He created me to be. 🙂 It’s been over 40 yrs now (I’m 70)….blessed. thank you

  11. Wow! You are a gifted writer. So susinct and witty and poignant.
    So aligns with my story in large part, the over arching pattern at least.
    Thanks for describing how you have found your way now so well.

  12. I have seen organized religion break up many a family thru condemnation and counselors that tell people their only allegiance is to Jesus and if your family causes you to stumble separate from them. But I must say that you are still in the church. Those of us who seek truth through compassion and love are the church, Jesus said so. As far as being the only one who can save people I do believe that. I think that we go to him first after death. “No one comes to the father except through me” As far as being “saved” by the church, eh? I think we need to show and tell people who aren’t familiar with Him, how Easy is His yolk and how light His burden. And I KNOW I have met him and yearn for him.

  13. I feel saddened by your story. There is no such thing as a kind, sorta, Christian. You either are or you are not.a true Christian is not about pleasing a church. Too many people are hurt by the church, when things don’t go as they should, or when you hear sermon after sermon, that you continuously feel like you don’t measure up to the CHURCH’s standards or expectations. And unfortunately there are some people that reiterate that feeling through constant criticisms. But I have learned the true meaning of Christianity, is to have a relationship with Christ personally. I live and breathe Christ.I search His Word each day for truths that help me in my walk with God. I pray with faith believing he will guide me and lead me to do what it is He wants me to do.Am I the perfect Christian? No, but I am striving to be like Christ. My ultimate goal is to be like Him…not through any pride of my own… but because He loves me. He has brought me through so many things in my life. He brought peace, joy, love, and life to my damaged soul. I owe Him my life! No church tells me what I can and can not do. I live how God reveals himself and expectations to me. And that is through His Word as it is preached through the man of God. If I don’t agree with what I hear, I talk to God about it with an open mind and heart. My convictions are mine and I will never toss them aside. But I can say without a doubt, I do not think myself better than other denominations, but I do work out my salvation with fear and trembling.I am a know I am ,without a doubt ,spirit filled Christian. I am sad you lost your way.

    • Don’t feel sorry for Pam, she’s probably happier now than EVER! She is asking questions rather than living under the burden of blind obedience sanctioned by the organized church, oh yeah and let’s not forget the hell threat. Funny thing is, according to the Bible, Job actually questioned not just the “organized” religion of his time but also God himself. It doesn’t look like God minds questioning and disbelief. I think God hates indifference. Any theory, faith precept that does not accept scrutiny has a problem with me. And yes, after one scrutinizes anything and decides otherwise he/she should have the right to adhere to whatever set of beliefs one can be honest about. That’s true spirituality. The fear, manipulation of organized religion makes us unavailable to hear from the source as we are too busy following rules rather than listening to our spiritual guide. How do I know? For 18 years I’ve worked with people of different religions including Muslims. The sad truth is that the commonality of all faiths is fear. I believe that love is stronger than fear therefore, as far as religion goes, I’m out!

    • Your post is a classic example of why I left the church. Do you even hear yourself? Me, me, I, I, my, my. Your opinion, your views—-nobody is ever allowed to think for themselves around people like you, churches like you.

  14. I’ve been done for a little over a year now. Which is strange complicated thing because hubby is a lay licensed minster in the ELCA. Still the distaste I feel when I hear how they spin their wheels to not commit to anything that would be taken wrong by the church re: congregation is very strong.

    Like you I have begun to explore my own spirituality. Even to the point of believing in the vibes I get about things. Prayer is still there but has taken on a whole new conversational aspect. Also much more listening then I was ever able to accomplish in the church mode.

  15. This resonated with me. It’s been thirty years since I identified as Christian. My home group leader suggested that I should leave the church for a while, or permanently, since I didn’t really love God. I didn’t seem to have the level of commitment required.
    At the time I was devistated because This guy had all the gifts of the spirit. Really big on word of knowledge. It had to be true.
    Years later I realised it was literally the best thing that could have happened.
    I realised the best thing any Christian could do was give up being one. Jesus wasn’t. Stop believing all of the bible. God didn’t write it.
    Once you have braved your way through the scary time that follows you will realise that a new Real world is there to explore, including the real Jesus. If you seek with a pure heart you will find Him/Her/Truth. Nothing in the universe can prevent it.

  16. This was so good Pam! Really liked the analogy of worship music and an old boyfriend! Look forward to reading more from you…I am for sure with you in the done catagory. 😘💟😁

  17. Hi Pam,

    I really appreciated your post! I’m kind of “the other way around” as I grew up in a “officially” catholic family that didn’t go to church at all. I was a “searching soul” during my twenties, exploring astrology, tarot and whateveter I hoped to find “the meaning of life” in (always look at the bright side of life, anyone? Although an offical new born Christian now, I still love me my Monty Python :)!). 12 years ago, I found faith in Jesus, and I still have that faith. I believe a lot of the points you mentionned (Jesus, the Son of God etc.), but I’m not afraid to question some “dogmas”

    I will admit that, because my life beame so much better when I found faith, reading your story leaves me with a feeling of loss – and a bit of anger because so often, it’s people that hurt us and drive us away from something good. I have been lucky in this area until now, but I often struggle with community because I need so much time alone (weirdo introvert author soul), and I’m just glad that I have a small church that gives me the space to be as I am. In other words: if I had happened to be in a Church where people try to manipulate me or bend me into something I’m not, telling me a “real Christian” would not do A and always do B – I would have run away pronto.

    So – although I still believe that finding Jesus, believing that he is risen and lives in me, is the greatest thing there is, I wish you the best. Perhaps you are on a journey to a more free and absolutely authentic faith that concentrates on the most important points – and as you still cling to Jesus in a way – well, there you are 🙂 Blessings to you from far away Switzerland 🙂

  18. WOW …. such an unexpected response to this post. I actually fretted when I published it whether or not it would resonate with other people. You are my people!!

    I normally respond to each and every comment, but there are so many on this one so here’s my One Size Fits all response :

    First of all, thank you to each one who took time to write and share some of your story here. Religious faith is such a personal and yet also public journey. I am mindful the struggle that some of us have with letting go and finding our way when our belief structures become wobbly or crash down on our heads. I know for me being open with others about my doubts has been incredibly freeing. Apparently the Universe is ok with uncertainty. God, in all her forms :), I like to believe, is much kinder and gracious than we realize and is not hung up on doctrines and creeds as we are. Some folks say that Love is their religion. I think they might be on to something (not On something…lol… but On To Someone !)

    I appreciate the personal details some of you have posted about your story. Thank you for trusting me and the readership of this blog with glimpses of what goes on in your heart. I am a fan of Dr Brene Brown (click here for her TED talk about vulnerability). In her book The Gifts of Imperfection, she defines spirituality like this:

    Spirituality is recognizing and celebrating that we are all inextricably connected to each other by a power greater than all of us, and that our connection to that power and to one another is grounded in love and compassion. Practicing spirituality brings a sense of perspective, meaning, and purpose to our lives.

    Where ever each of us are in our beliefs about Christianity, spirituality, beliefs, doctrines, church-goer or church-dropout, I hope we can each aspire to be compassionate with one another and especially with our own soul. This is why positive messages show up so much in my collage art (if you’re familiar with my art, ya know what I’m talking about). I have to seek affirmation on a regular basis to keep from turning on myself … and I am learning first hand the less I turn on me, the less I will turn on you.

    So thank you for not turning on me! Thank you for your comments, stories and words of encouragement. Thank you, thank you, thank you !!!

  19. I shed Xianity in 2009, once I real-eyes’d that it would be impossible to be “separated” from the Source of All Life (i.e., “God”) and still live. I had questioned “what the hell is hell” in 2007, when I read “The Shack” (Paul Young’s first public talk was in my former living room, to my former house church). I had been a pastor’s wife, and was a Christian for 30-odd (often very odd) years. I had a (what I later came to call a “kundalini”) experience in 2004, which rocked my world, and caused me to cry out for “truth at ALL cost” … it’s cost me everything, and I mean EVERY thing, and yet has bee priceless.

    I first heard about you through our mutual friend, Cheryl Ensom Dack. You resonated with my soul, hugely. I was then leaving a 25 year marriage and 8 children … hardly something one does easily — truth be told, I left much of my soul behind.

    I do not identify as a Christian … I haven’t, just can’t, since I faced that Yeshua had been taken over by the then-State, and had been used by the forces-that-be to keep us all in line.

    I relate to ALL that you wrote, and yet I’ve not been able to adhere to this system that is akin to child-abuse: “you are wicked and depraved, and the Creator that made you despises you .. unLESS you accept this person as your Savior, and repent for being as you were created to be — otherwise you shall be tormented for an eternity.” HOW could that be “love” …?

    I’ve had to face that I’ve endured PTSD for all these years … that *I* am not the one who is broken — the system of Christianity is. I could never endorse it, never identify with it, never want anything to do with it.

    And still … Yeshua and I are close.

    • Thank you, Dena, for telling your story here. So much of what you said resonates with me. When I left my marriage, my children were already adults. And yet, I still feel that I “left” them, especially my oldest who is a Christian. I know he must worry about my soul, and I imagine that he is distressed that I abandoned the God whose love I sang of in my lullabies. But I cannot assure him that my soul is saved in the way that he wants it to be. I cannot go back to that way of thinking. To go back would be to live a lie. I hope to keep the channels of love and communication open. I hope that you are not kept from doing the same.

    • Dena Lynn Brehm,
      I too, am a Done, and have been for the last 16 or so years.
      I enjoyed reading your post. I’m stirred by your kundalini experience, and would love to hear about that in more detail if you have the time or inclination to share more about it?
      If so, you can post it here or send it to me in a personal email. I’ll give you my email address later if you care to share and want to do it privately.
      Thanks for sharing.
      -Connie

  20. Thanks Pam for articulating this! I too am a “Done”. I like to call it my “Coming out” because I had felt like I didn’t belong or believe in the church for several years before I finally admitted to myself that I really didn’t believe any of it anymore. Once I could admit it to myself I know I couldn’t keep going to church and be an authentic person so I “came out” to my husband and family. It was a HUGE transition. But it was so freeing for me.

  21. Hi Pam. Years ago we used to participate on a blog that I can’t remember, but it was about issues of the faith. I remember telling you that I wished you attended my church…. still feel that way although you are probably thinking thanks but no thanks lol!!

    I had a major crisis of faith years ago, came back to Christianity and have a series of after shocks ever since. My theology has shifted some over the years. At times I feel like the team I’m playing on is ok, but in my heart I’m anxiously awaiting when my contract runs out so I can find a new one.

    I can drop F bombs all week and get up on Sunday morning and hope to God I’m still a vessel for His service. Perhaps you and I are not too far apart, you’ve just chosen this portion of your journey outside the church, while I have remained in it. See ya at the finish line.

  22. Thanks for this heartfelt blog. This totally resonates with me. I love your response that “I Live my life the best I can according to the teachings of Jesus.”
    I gave up the mainline christian church years ago and now am a “friend ” at a Unitarian Universalist Church where all religious belief systems are explored and valued. If there was a creed it would be simply LOVE. My spirituality is in line with what you said about our true selves having all we need to know –‘we just need to pay attention and listen.
    Again thanks for giving us the challenge to think about this.

  23. Hi Pam, I really enjoyed your post. I have experienced a number of similar things. There’s a great book written by an english vicar called “How to be a Bad Christian and a better Human Being written by Dave Tomlinson. I still go to church occassionally (around once every 3 weeks). I seem to be in the unusual position of being part of a small church where the Pastor dosen’t take it personally or seem concerned that I don’t get there every week and appreciate that I have a lot of life happening outside the 4 walls of the church. What your’re experiencing is very common. I live in New Zealand, but people all over the world are experiencing this. I’d dare to say you are still a Christian you just don’t fit the boring religious model that many of us aren’t interested in embracing anymore. I can’t stand most Christian music, like you it makes me feel stressed and I want to run from the room screaming (strangely enough I don’t mind the chilled stuff they play at my occassional church), I too drop the F Bomb, most Christian Culture makes me yawn. Over the last few years the one thing I have had is the beginning of a revelation of the Fathers Love and how much he loves me for me, his kid that he created and I don’t think he cares about all that other stuff either. It’s really rather freeing. I’ve always been a bit of a non-conformist and I now I understand more that God made me this way. Anyway just wanted to say you’re not alone in what your feeling/sensing/experiencing. I trully believe God looks at the heart not all that other boring exterior stuff and that you’re just fine the way you are. Blessings xx

  24. Well, judging from the length of the comments, it’s obvious you’ve struck a chord in many of us. This is one of those I’m going to have to re-read, chew on, think about, come back to, and think about some more.
    I love the line “I may have lost my map but I still have my compass.” That’s good stuff!
    Thanks Pam!
    I’m sure there’s more that will come out of my foggy Saturday morning brain, but first and foremost is thank you for the willingness to be true and put yourself out there for others to know better.

  25. I’ve been done since before I met you at Off the Map…..ahem…..some time ago. I still attend a church, but find myself arguing with people over the nature of God. It’s like I still believe, but everyone else doesn’t. Then, I talk with my Done friends, and realize that beliefism isn’t evolving

  26. —–Pam,
    I so much appreciate your honesty, struggle, rawness, & articulate posts.
    Reading this, I thought about Annie Lamott. I remember
    reading “Traveling Mercies,” and afterwards jumping up and down screaming, “THIS is the kind of Christian I am! This is who I am!”
    And Jesus still loves me. Yeah, Jesus still loves me.

    xxxx kiss and much love from MN.

  27. I think I was done when I realized that I couldn’t live up to the expectations of the faith. I was a bad at monogamy, lousy at communication and I felt the church betrayed me because of the years of shame, fear, and guilt leveled on me for a normal sexual thought (among other things).  

  28. I kinda came in through the back door of Christianity. I wasn’t ‘saved’ in the traditional way but it was a very personal and dynamic and truly born again experience for lack of better word. In fact, the first 4 years I never set foot in a church. I never need proof of God’s existence. I’ve seen it first hand. I found enormous truth in the bible and cemented my creed before setting foot in a church. My belief can be summed up in the trite but true saying ‘God is Love’ Jesus is the closest expression of that that I know. That’s about as close as I can get to being a Christian. I don’t believe in hell, or that heaven is reserved only for those who have uttered the magic words. I believe that love is for all and that while it finds different expressions in different religions, it’s available for all and in there own religion. So yeah that pretty much makes me a heretic. Religion’s purpose is to conform to ideals, to fit a mold. Well intended people have tried to press me into a mold but in reality they create a god in their own eyes claiming biblical authority. It’s sad that He is so maligned. It’s offensive to me to accept the version that God can be so petty and insecure that he can’t or won’t unless we do. Ugh.. My Dutch grandfather held a belief that I’ve come to align with that God is very inclusive, personal, and available to all. The Christian faith has become an embarrassment of hatred, exclusivity and spiritual aloofness. I feel the need to defend God as should anyone who knows the nature of God firsthand.

  29. There’s a lot of that going around. You’ve put into these few paragraphs what I’ve been experiencing and hearing from all over the globe, and from friends of thirty-plus years, and from new people in my life. Thank you for articulating it so well. I have a little phrase, “That was last century” . . . since 1999 was the year we “received the left foot of fellowship.” Like eaglets getting prodded out of the nest, it was a stomach-wrenching fall. . . but then the landscape opened up. Clarity came like never before, and I find myself on a personal and very spiritual journey in this life. I’m finding myself much more Present. More able to appreciate myself and recognize the unique wonder of others. I threw out the recipe cards, so to speak. (Tho I never was quite the perfect-church-lady anyhow.) It’s getting Real out here. And I’m liking it.

  30. “I cannot begin to tell you the journey it has been to establish trust in my own divinely inspired inner guidance system.”

    I basically agree with you. I was raised in the Lutheran church & became a “born-again” christian in college, but it didn’t last long. I was never really all that committed. I’ve been in an out of different churches & spent quite a bit of time at Willow Creek Community Church in South Barrington. My neighbor called it “the rock & roll church” because they played rock music a lot. They used to open their services with soft jazz, but they stopped. It’s all about marketing with Willow Creek. All about money. I finally couldn’t take that anymore.
    My problem though, & why I quoted that one line from your blog, is trusting in my inner guidance system has basically proven the bible is right, that my inner guidance system is deceitful & maybe even desperately wicked, as scripture says. I’ve lost pretty much everything, my wife, my 4 kids, the 2br townhouse where we lived, my apartment where I lived while we were separated, trying to put our marriage back together & now my fathers house, where I’ve been living the last few years. I’m one step away from being homeless, while I try to find a full-time job & an apartment. No one will rent to you if you don’t have income, but my mental state is such that my ability to hold down a full time job is pretty low. I’ve been able to survive without having to pay any rent since I moved here, but I’m losing this place too. Building has already been foreclosed (long story & no, I wasn’t the owner). My father passed away over a decade ago, in case you were wondering.
    I got lucky for a while, having a place to stay. I could’ve been homeless years ago, had this “luck” not come my way, but now my time of luck (I say that in spite of the fact that I’ve lost everything) has run out. If I don’t get hired soon, there’s just me & my car & a few thousand dollars with no plan in site, no future, no hope. Losing my family destroyed my soul, but they hate me & want nothing to do with me & I don’t blame them one bit for feeling the way they do. I hate myself too. My decisions have destroyed my life. My decisions continue to show me that I lack basic wisdom & understanding of life, for everyone around me somehow seems to “have their act together” & seems to know how to succeed at life. I don’t. I went from having a decent job, a townhouse, a wife, 4 beautiful kids, to nothing, but even when I had all that I hated it & wanted out. My life was in turmoil as I was going through that “mid-life crisis”. I couldn’t stand that I really didn’t have control over my life. I hated the concept of “I have to go to work today. I have no choice, because if I don’t I won’t be able to pay my bills, so I’m working a job that I wouldn’t otherwise work”. That mentality made me feel trapped, but in trying to break out of that trap I ruined my marriage & several years later, my wife & children had enough & disowned me.
    Sorry for the long rant, but I need somewhere I can vent. Can’t talk about this on facebook, cause if it got back to them who knows what they’d say. Don’t need my “dirty laundry” being exposed all over facebook, to my complete embarrassment & humiliation, but then again I’m doing that right now, aren’t I (if this gets back to them, so be it).

    My “inner-guidance” system destroyed my life. I’ve lost everything that matters to me. I would do ANYTHING to have my wife & 4 kids back. ANYTHING, but she’s re-married & I believe their lives are much better now, that I’m not in it. That reality only tears deeper into me, witnessing to me how unbelievably wrong & stupid I was to make all the horrible decisions that I made.
    Being in turmoil is hell. I’m an emotional wreck. I see no way out, but suicide is not an option (so don’t worry). My hopes have been torn down to “winning the lottery” or “somebody invents time travel” so I can go back & save my life, my marriage, my family, my soul.
    I have no confidence in myself anymore. I used to be somewhat cocky & arrogant. Still am I guess, though I was also a very nice person. Still am, apparently, as I’m told that all the time still, but every time I hear it I cringe inside. Nice person. If only they knew. I’m a pathetic psycho loon ball who’s going nowhere, has no plan & no future is on the horizon. Just ideaological dreams that aren’t based in reality, where I somehow magically get it all back & everything works out, where I’m forgiven for all my idiocy & cruelty & finally am able to live the life I’ve always wanted to live, where I have control, but the vast majority of us don’t have actual control. We’re puppets in a game, being pulled along & those who go with the flow the best are the ones who get through with the least scratches. I keep falling on shredders, while my past failures haunt me continually, as my present reality rips through me (now see how over the top mello-dramatic I’m getting. Sheesh).
    Yeah, this is my cry. Will it help? I’m sure it won’t. I’m wasting my time, thinking that taking the mentality of “oh look at me & have pity” will somehow magically “fix me” It’s just one more attempt of trying to get others to fix it for you. No one can fix it but me & I can’t fix it. I’ve tried a hundred times, so now I’m reduced to this, which only exposes how truly lost & screwed up I truly am, but I’m not deleting what I’ve written (just thought about doing that). I’ve said what I’ve said. So be it.

    • Hi Luke my best advice is for you to start volunteering to help others. This will help you to feel fulfilled and happy again and will also feed you. You will develop contacts and create a network of friends. It costs nothing to do and getss you started on a new and exciting journey,

  31. so many have had similar experiences, and it is legit. I was raised catholic, and eventually found my way thru a variety of persuasions and expressions. Each had merit, each grew me, each served their part in my growth and development. I have heard some of the best input from a broad mix of pastors and teachers and have gleaned an awful lot that still hold true today; bloom where your are planted, find truth wherever you can, the way out is through, God has no rivals and grace for the day keep resonating in my soul. These have skin on them and remind me of what I didn’t learn in my earlier church experiences. I discovered a person and let go of my ideology, that being that my life was some type of brass ring that hopefully I could grab each time the merry go round turned. No one was to blame, no one schemed to feed a group me a program, or willfully took advantage of my pursuit of my Maker. I found (and still find) humans being completely human regardless of their professed creeds or beliefs.I found that no one was going to own my stuff for me and that Jesus wasn’t going to either. I found that He entered all of my misconceptions and distortions and remained..period. And we are going forward at the pace that I decide each day, moment. Healing, redemption, goodness are all within reach should I choose them. I exchanged my ideas of salvation and life in the spirit for His, the below the radar kind, the others-centered self giving love kind. No advertising, agendas or expectations..I started dealing with the things I could effect and let go of what I couldn’t. A difficult and accurate mix of the serenity prayer and the prayer of st. Francis. My definitions have broadened and deepened, like church, prayer, and family.I have broadened my heart and received more relationally than I thought might be possible. I began to read scripture through the lens of grace and not ‘the cheap’ kind. (sorry, couldn’t resist 🙂 I discovered Jesus was better than I gave Him credit for, that His otherness wasn’t and won’t be limited to my understanding of it. I gave myself permission not to be that smart and began to be less inclined to speak and more inclined to listen. I’ve been fortunate enough to meet folks who have elevated my perspectives and assisted in the dismantling of my best versions of faith, relationship and salvation. Its our learning curve methinks and the very fiber of the uniqueness of our created selves. I discovered that the disappointments I have known were mine in the making and that no one chooses our responses for us.I will not find fault with what comprises life for others, especially if I do not agree..its not my place.Nor will I belittle the honest efforts of others in finding what resonates for them; they’ll probably figure it out much sooner than I. (a side note, I’m not closing in on this at any time soon in the foreseeable future either) Your voice is beautiful, its clear and being heard. I appreciate your honesty and your transparency. You’re a helluva writer, but it pales in comparison when it comes to your heart. You bless me.

    • forgive the grammatical errors; better errors than airs I have never said:) 2007 was when my transition began. I don’t look at it like a break up, though it had some of the earmarks of such. But growth and healing do not hold any negative associations for me..proverbs says that a wise person receives instruction; it doesn’t say in what form the instruction arrives.I think many of my previous modes of my thinking left with the aforementioned exchange (I sincerely hope). Out with the ‘either or’ mentality,and in with the ‘both and’ perspective. Out with my previous definition of the word repentance and in with a better, broader, more suited to His character/ nature of being God one. My previous viewpoints were enmeshed in formulaic, transactional /linear ways of thinking and processing. Out with hierarchial viewpoints and in with mutual relational ones. I am much more at ease to the limits of my understanding and the absolute love and goodness of my Creator.(you have my permission to remind me I said this)I also am inclined to believe that its a process of growth and healing many of us are moving in because of whose we are; we don’t embrace truth and growth by repeating ad infinitum 1st grade; we never fail a test, we just keep taking it till we pass. And us being our completely unique, absolutely wonderful selves, is it really very realistic that we can invest, expect and reduce a relationship so profound into a single, conformed expression of community? I discovered that I am inclined to see this relationship in a much more finite way than is deserving.. tell me this doesn’t deserve change.#gottagetussummadat

  32. Pam, while I read your blog I cried. Your fellow “sister-in-the Lord”. I cried because I walked away from the church 6 years ago with the intention of taking a break and haven’t been able to go back. I keep telling myself that I probably should… But I have gained so much spiritually since I left. I am not a Christian – I am a lover of Jesus. I read the Bible to get a glimpse of Him. I pray to God because I believe He is my creator and knows me best. I try to be like the Jesus I know towards others because I feel fulfilled when I do. thank you for sharing your heart and a bit of mine. – your sister in humanity.

  33. I love your writing. Your vulnerability/authenticity comes shining through giving others courage to take a risk.

    Currently, I call myself a church refugee (but that is not fitting anymore) – before that I was a church alumni. I must have been a baby when I first was taken to church. I traveled through Southern Baptist, Church of Christ, Catholic, Charismatic Presbyterian, and Vineyard Community Church…. since VCC, I tried Quaker, Episcopal, even a small Vineyard church. Nothing fits anymore.

    Reading Brian McLaren’s “A New Kind of Christian” in 1999 affirmed that I was not crazy or the only one who was wrestling with her faith. Taking a class on Stages of Faith helped me to realize the stages I had moved through and why I was now questioning everything – again – only then as an older middle-aged woman – now I’m an elder person! That was 15+ years ago.

    Where am I today? Like you, I bounce around. Now, I’m not sure I believe in God or is it we are simply One – a universal connection. When I do believe in God, she is too big to live in the church – even the megachurches can’t hold her. I like living in this uncertainty. Anne Lamont or Brene Brown said, “we’ve traded our faith for certainty.” I like wrestling with the question more. I like the ambiguity of NOT knowing for sure. Uncertainty opens space for God to show up and surprise me.

    And the Hell thing???? Well, if the only reason people are claiming and clinging to Christianity and Jesus is because they don’t want to go to Hell – then, as far as I’m concerned they missed the point. I love Jesus. He lived an amazing life. I can still aspire to be more like him or at least the him the Bible tells me he was. Whether he was really the son of God doesn’t change his goodness and example of love. I want to be love in the world. I do it because it is who I want to be, not for the possible reward of heaven. Because I want to learn to love everyone – broken as we all are.

    And maybe when I die – we all die – that’s it. Dust to Dust. I’m okay with that knowing I’ve done the best I could to bring more love into this world. And if there is a God, I think God will like it too.

    Keep writing – waiting for more. I’m grateful to have met you because of Jim Henderson and Off The Map. 😉

  34. Hey Pam, I haven’t been to church for 15 years but it hasn’t had that effect on me. I still walk with Jesus, he’s my best friend. The words on the bible keep me going ….you know I was never into religion ever. Don’t let the religious crap keep you from walking with HIm….my life is still as difficult as it ever was, but it draws me closer. I was into tarots and spiritualism before i met Jesus…it doesn’t compare in my eyes. I still drink and swear, I am who I am with Christians and with out them around. Hope you get closer to your best friend again one day. Anyway, interesting post ….love you.

  35. Well said, Pam!
    I was born but a few miles from a communist country, and it was at a time when tens of millions were literally dying – peasants starving to death daily by the thousands – from the failed policy of powerful men in charged of a god forsaken land.I’m just grateful that I was not born there.
    As for Christianity, once I realized, unfortunately, much too late in my life, that it is just another bronze age religion with exaggerated claims & over-promises, I quickly repented.

    CK
    Hongkong

  36. Though we’ve taken different paths I find myself in the same place. Kind of…. Can’t wait to see you, so much to talk about!

  37. I agree with Jim Henderson. When I first met your Pam, I’m guessing we were both ascending on the parabola of faith! Now I see, our journies continue to follow similar trajectories. For me, there was a moment of choice. I had to choose between the BIG GOD of nature, tradition, story, myth, native peoples revelation and my own sensing or continue with the ever smaller god reduced by religion to a set of rules and regulations we could control. My choice pretty much knocked by off the church pew, except for that pesky Jesus part. Encouraging to hear your voice again, friend.

  38. Sweet words, Pam! When you and I first met we were probably both ascending to the peak of the religious side of faith. Now, interestingly enough our journies continue to match in so many ways. There was a point when I decided that my choices were to believe in a God who was as BIG and mysterious as instinct and millenia of revelation reported, or believe is a god made so damn small by religion that we could fee we actually had the ability to know him. I’m opting to continue seeking something I can never KNOW,. A search that yanked be right outside the church mold— except for that Jesus part.

    • Oooops… that blog monster told me this post did not take so I did a second version. Pam, feel free to eliminate one or both. 😉

  39. Hi Pam.

    Another great post. There is a part of me that is in the exact same spot as you are, although I’m not courageous enough to step out of “The Village.” I still identify with being Christian, but I am increasingly uncomfortable at our church (that’s where I think we may differ–if I were to find a small, quiet church where they still follow the Lectionary, recite creeds, and have liturgical worship, I might be better off, but our church is loud, “on fire,” Pentecostal…you get the picture). They’re so focused on End TImes there right now that I just don’t feel Jesus anymore, not in church, and not in my private spiritual life.

    I’m back to where I was in college, trying to figure things out for myself, looking at the Bible, but also looking into other things, like crystals. And ghosts. I’ve had several encounters with ghosts in my life, and a pastor at my previous church really smacked me down about that. I’ve been trying to reconcile my beliefs and my experiences, and that doesn’t set well with some church folk.

    I don’t know where I’ll be in the next five years. Probably still searching.

  40. I am in exactly the same spot, Pam. Though I didn’t drink of the evangelical Kool-aid quite as deeply as you did, I’ve been very involved in two churches over the past decade and a half. When pushed, I end up telling people I’m Christian-ish. I still go to church fairly regularly, though I either go to a quiet, contemplative service that feeds my soul in ways the regular services don’t or I avoid church altogether and hang out in the church bookstore reading my heathen books while my husband and son attend. I am blessed with a group of friends on a similar path. We regularly explore all kind of off-the-grid practices like reiki, shamanism, tarot and other spiritual practices that tap into the divine spark in each of us. I am so over arguing about what to call the divine we encounter everywhere. And I truly don’t believe God gives a flip what name we choose. Thank you for sharing your story so honestly. Sending you much love and light!

  41. Hi pam you may remember me from hk days. Anyway what you have just wriitten strikes a chord with me. I’m not sure where I stand with God right now. I believe he loves me etc.. I am not attending church and don’t want to. I have had a lot going on over the last few years which may shape my world view at the moment! I guess I’ve had enough of ‘church’ as its called & am trying to find some direction & belief system in my life right now. That’s about all I can say at the moment as verbalising what’s happening is difficult.
    Anyway thank you for what you wrote – it’s helped me more than you’ll ever know.
    Alison

  42. I’m learning to trust my inner wisdom and intuition. Maybe it’s what I trusted all along but I used to call it God. When it’s ‘just me’ it seems harder to trust. Love your writing Pam😀

  43. Very articulate article. Thank you. I went through much the same process over 30 years ago, leaving the church, shedding layer after layer and doctrine after doctrine. Like you, I do love the stories and cutting remarks of Jesus. I am comfortable with his ‘Love God, Love your neighbor’ message. Paul is in spots inspirational, overall culturally and intellectually dated. But my final observation was that many unbelievers were kinder and more helpful to me than ‘Christians’. These days I am fascinated by the spirituality coming out of the NDE movement. Their testimonies and stories give me hope and enthusiasm again.
    Thanks again for your story.

  44. I think God loves you just as you are – Pam: unabashed. The type of Christian you describe seems to be someone caught up in legalism and all the rules that go along with it. I think legalism is the most deceitfully destructive movement within the Church. Anyway, I like your blog, I respect what you have to say and I’m glad to know you even if it’s only in cyberspace 🙂

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