I have memories from when I was very young (3 or so), being in a united pentecostal church and seeing a vision of while I was sleeping on a pew in church. The women were praying to cast out a demon from a man at the front of the church and I saw a man leave this man’s body and the women follow him all the way outside while they were “casting him out” and caused him to leave. I asked my mom about it later and she had no idea what I was talking about.
At about 5 years old, my mom and father got a divorce and my mom “backslid”. fast forward to age 13. On my 13th birthday party I had a few friends over and we got drunk, watched “thriller” on the television and looked at porn mags (pretty normal, I think). Sometime after that, before my next birthday, my step dad woke me and my step siblings up (they were visiting for the summer) and said we were going to church. He was not a good man (as far as most people would judge) so this was crazy talk to us. We had no idea what was going on. He had no idea where we were going, just that we were going to church. We ended up going all the way through town and parked in the parking lot of a united pentecostal church. My mom knew what it was and told him that he probably didn’t know what he was getting into. Of course, because of the way this all happened, my mom and step dad felt it a sign from god and later I did too.
So, from about age 13 until about age 35, I was in religion in some way or another. Some time around age 24 or so I became fully vested in my desire to please “god” and went all in. My life went from knowing and practicing what was told to me as the truth to trying to find the truth for myself and studying to find that truth. I spent the next 10 – 11 years fasting often, praying three or more times everyday, looking at life through a different set of eyes than most will ever find. I would be considered a radical by most outside of the united pentecostal and considered a good god fearing man by those in the religion.
During my life living in religion of some sort or another, I experienced many things that would make most people never question their faith and indeed, I never did. I knew without any shadow of doubt that I was following god truly and that I was doing the best I could to do what he wanted me to do. Sometime around 24 I began studying the bible intently. I bought other books to help me get to the root of the scriptures so that I knew for sure that it was translated or transliterated correctly. I was constantly listening to god and trying to follow his voice (which I did, actually hear a voice). I kept discovering more and more things that the bible said we were supposed to be doing to please god that we were not doing. So I kept changing myself to further align my life in such a way that it was as he told me it was supposed to be.
During this time of introspection and change. I experienced miracles that most only hear about. I have prayed for someone and they were healed, instantly. I have prayed for help with a physical tool that I had lost but needed it to be able to do my job and it miraculously appeared (trust me, this is the skeptic speaking to a real memory. It happened and there are no explanations). I traveled from Quinlan Texas to Flathead Indian reservation in Montana without any money to pay for gas and we made it there and back because “god” provided. I prayed for many things and experienced many things that happened in my life that would keep most people under the veil of deceit that is woven by religion. All I can say is that I still know that those things happened. I know that they were real and that they can happen. However, I now know that they were not the god of my religion that made them happen but myself. My connection with the universe on a level that most will never experience because they don’t know it exist, is what brought these experiences to me. I am sure that these things are still possible and probably even more possible since I am not restricted to those religious rules and paradigms any longer.
So, fast forward through all of those experiences to a fateful day sometime in 2005 (I would be 35). I had been using this tool I found online for studying the bible easily. It made looking things up really easy and had any version of the bible as well as the greek and hebrew along with Strongs concordance and many other tools. You could pull them up and have multiple windows open side by side and see it all easily. I was using this tool to share some “inspiring” scriptures with some guy online. I go over this elsewhere in a post called, What were they thinking?, if you are interested. This was the initial clue that something was wrong and it led me down a path to discover that it was all wrong. From “What were they thinking?” the next step was a serious study on the very origins of christianity, jesus’ birth. I wanted to start from the beginning and verify that things were like I thought they were. That study took me less than 15 minutes to discover that I had been following a lie for the last 23 years of my life. I talk about that study and realization in the post “A Hard Question”.
Now, imagine if you will. You have lived you life in total, complete surrender to pleasing a god (or make it personal, make it a person you truly love) only to find out that that person is a complete lie. That that person doesn’t even exist as you thought they did. Now, continue your imagination journey and add in that you have experienced all of these wonders (as in, how are they possible.) and then also add to that that you made choices in your life that quite literally could have changed the course of history for the world (it’s possible for any one of us). You don’t go to college because you were told if you do you would back slide, become a heathen and end up in hell. You don’t enlist because of the same reason. You don’t experience friends, television, going to things that are fun, wearing clothes you want to wear, seeing people you want to see, marrying people you want to marry or find attractive, even though you are connected and a match, because they are not in your branch of religion or because you are already married or engaged to be married (Polyamory is a natural human behaviour, by the way) all because of the same reason. Your religion says you will be lost. You will displease your god (which I loved with my entire being and wanted to please).
Now, imagine yourself, seeing that everything you gave your life for for over 20 years is a lie. Tell me, how do you think you would feel?
I felt like my heart was literally torn from my chest. The pain washed over my body in waves, almost so unbearable I thought I would physically die from the pain. I cried and screamed in pain. I cried and pleaded with the god I thought I had been following and dedicating my life to to explain it all away. I have never had someone really close to me die but I can imagine that it was like having a loved one suddenly die, right before your eyes, with no justifiable reason. Like maybe being mugged on the way back from the grocery store to your car and your spouse of 20 plus years is killed right in front of you and that person just vanishes. I’m not sure, but I would think it was similar although I don’t think that would be as horrific as what I experienced as most people do not give their every waking hour to their spouse in thought and desire to please. Along with worship and adoration with undying unwavering dedication to do whatever they tell you to.
For the next few months I desperately tried to reconcile what I saw and I tried to make it work but the more I looked the clearer it became. It was all just lies. Lies on top of lies. Too many discrepancies to ignore the obvious for me. no one told me it was wrong. No one convinced me of the errors. I saw them myself, through study, by myself.
When it became obvious that there was no going back. No sky daddy to make things all better. No religion to soothe my pain. I began the initial stages of grief. Each stage was real and took some time to go through (about five or six years, I would say). Lora and I both went through years of depression. We were numb for several months (maybe even more than a year. It is hard to remember that time.) Not knowing what to do, who we were or where we were going. it took years to be able to come out of the depression and we had no where to turn. At some point during the acceptance phase but still somewhat unbelieving that it actually happened. I started the group on Facebook called “Recovering Ex-Christians”. I didn’t know for sure but expected that there were others out there that had or would be going through something similar to what we were/had gone through. It wasn’t long until I realized I wasn’t alone.
Over the next few years we began to explore and discover who we are. Trying to figure out what life is all about (you know, that thing that most people do in their early years. Sometime between teen and 30.) Our journey has been full and rewarding. We are happier now than we have ever been and we know who we are. It took us longer than most but we are here. We are 40 plus year old 20 year olds. We are confident in ourselves and know what we want and our life experiences have given us an insight into life that many will never find. We are grateful for each day and we live each moment that we can in awareness that it is special and ours. We embrace life. This is your only life, you should live it and enjoy it for you. Fuck the world and it’s expectations. Only you are responsible for you. You be happy and do whatever that means, as long as it is not hurting others. 🙂
Because of the journey I took and the pain I experienced when I discovered it was all lies. I have shut out and boarded up that door in my life for the last 10 years. I now know that it is ok to open that door again and to get back in contact with the universe and experience that power again. My fears are that I will deceive myself or be deceived again, into believing or following after something that is restrictive or manipulative. I think and I hope that because of my life experiences that I will be more sensitive to that now and that I will hopefully steer clear of anything that might try to enslave me or strap my thoughts into a paradigm that keeps me from experiencing freedom.
I am finally to a place that I am willing to venture back out into the unexplained. The area of woowoo. That place where most just shake their heads and assume that it is all bullshit or crazy people talk. My goal is to stay grounded in reality while still experiencing a complete and true connection with the universe… with everything that is. Not a god, not a religion, not anyone’s ideas or teachings. No, never again. I have found my way to being a complete person. A person that I am proud to be. I value my life experiences and the journey I have taken to get where I am. It has made me who I am and I like who I am.
I hope that life has brought you to a place that you know who you are and that you are enjoying life, as best you can where you are with what you have. It is a state of mind. A state of mindfulness. An acceptance of what is and an expectation of what can and will be.
I believe and know that there is much more to our existence than our senses allow us to observe. I have experienced, first hand, things that are not explained away. I don’t care who (or if anyone) believes me when I talk about those things. I was there, they were real for me. I don’t need anyone to approve or accept them as real. 🙂
I know that I am connected to all things on some level. I don’t know to what extent or how that benefits or affects me but I know it to be factual for me. I look forward to my journey to the end of this timeline. I expect many things will happen and I look forward to the people and experiences I will have along the way. If you are a part of my life, I value you and appreciate that you are in my life. You are part of that connection to all things. Sometimes, I think that I feel you thinking about me. I wonder if you ever feel me thinking about you.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could learn how to tap into and identify those “feelings”. To recognize when someone we care about is thinking about us. To realize it, return the feelings and just know that they know. 🙂
Thank you for reading. Thank you for your time. I wish you all the best. 🙂