“Don’t Give Up on God” — My Deconversion Pet Peeve

The way you make such a fundamental decision as how to view and interact with the world around you is a long, involved, personal process.  Deconverting is hard, especially when you’re deconverting from a totalitarian system of belief that dominated every waking moment of your entire life.

So you can imagine my frustration when, once I finally clawed my way free from the culture I’d been brought up in, I was bombarded by a chorus of voices saying, “Don’t give up on God! Don’t drift away from Jesus!”

I’m sorry.  None of the people who said this to me had had much contact with me for years, nor had they known me all that well before I “started to stray.”  So what gives them the right to weigh in on this most life changing decision when they don’t even know me?

Fundamentalism is a sick little world, in which people try to take authority over each others’ lives, all in the name of love and community of course.  Privacy or personal boundaries are seen as an indication of sin.

I had a really rough teenagerhood in which I was desperate for help, for someone to talk to me and ask about what was really going on in my mind.  I didn’t know how to reach out for help and everyone around me made it totally clear that I was just a huge pain in the ass that they didn’t really want to be bothered with.

What kills me now, every time someone contacts me asking how I’m doing and then launching into the whole “don’t leave God” spiel, is that these are the people I wanted to reach out to me when I was suffering so much in high school.  So all those years ago, when I was depressed and my life was pretty much a black hole of pain and loneliness, to the point that I considered suicide, you couldn’t be bothered to say even one kind word to me, but now that I’m happy, fulfilled, making good friends, doing good things, you’re terrified because you see I’m doing it without God and so you feel the need to stop me.  Take your concern elsewhere.  If you couldn’t give it to me when I was in desperate need of it, I’m doubting it’s sincerity now.

Finally, what makes a person who barely knows me think that they get to weigh in on this huge life change that I’ve, by the way, already made? That’s the most annoying thing about conversion/reconversion pleas by Christians.  Somehow they have convinced themselves that they, yes, each and every individual Christian, has not only the right but the responsibility to get all up in everyone else’s spiritual journey.  To me and to many other human beings, spirituality or lack thereof is a very person decision. You can practice and grow in community with others, but the decision what to believe or what not to believe is informed by the totality of one’s life experience.  And what could be more personal than that? It’s a decision one makes for oneself because nobody else has all the appropriate information to make that decision.

If you want me to go back to your belief system, here’s a hint: I’m not going back.

You can’t require or force anyone else to live out your religious beliefs.  So quit being worried about someone else living them out, and live them out for yourself.   Meanwhile I’ll live out my lack of religion, and if it bothers you to see me living a happy, fulfilled life (in which, mysteriously, my mental and physical health have much improved since deconversion), you need to sit back and reexamine your fucking priorities.

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2 thoughts on ““Don’t Give Up on God” — My Deconversion Pet Peeve

  1. Wow, this resonated hard with me. Speaking as someone who was raised exactly like you, in a strict, fundamentalist belief system that dominated every aspect of my life, and as someone who spent nearly 10 years unscrambling my brain from all of the religious programming, let me just say, I feel you completely.

    It’s been a few years since I officially let it all go and, trust me, it gets better with time. Those people fade away and stop harassing you, because, in all honesty, and as you pointed out, they really don’t give a shit. They just don’t like that you stopped believing the way they believe and that somehow personally affects them for whatever obnoxious reason. When they realize you’re a “lost cause”, they’ll leave you alone and go back to being superficial wanks.

    Personally, I don’t care whether a person does or does not believe in god or supernatural hocus pocus or whatever. That’s a personal choice, an opinion, and you’re free to have it, but just keep it to yourself. As soon as you start telling me how to live my life then you’ve crossed the line.

    When it happens again, and it will, just keep in mind that the biggest reason they do this is because something is broken in their own life but they can’t figure out what it is or just can’t face it, so they try to fix someone else instead. You’re not a pet project though, so just thank them for their concern but kindly remind them that they have their own life they need to sort out and that you’ll take care of yours.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us!

  2. I share this same frustration! I dropped Christianity almost a year ago, and I’m still battling strangers who are Christians popping up out of the woodwork, telling me to not give up on God. It is maddening.

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