Out of the Closet
There you go. I am ‘out’ of the closet! I now dare to say I have a good understanding how LGTBQIA must feel doing a similar “dad, mom, I have to tell you something” kinda thing.
I guess I may have left many readers/friends wondering where I am at now. Some asked me directly. Don’t be afraid to ask me more questions, I have not been overwhelmed with hundreds of emails, so don’t worry to ask, vent, or just communicate some feelings. I have really appreciated those friends who said that they were sad about the results, or couldn’t sleep well after they read my blog, because that is a proper response as friends when someone no longer identifies with your core shared beliefs.
So what’s it like for me? Thanks for asking.
It feels like I have just been teleported by Star Trek’s Scotty/La Forge from planet A to planet B and am facing some interesting challenges (with apologies for non-Trekkies).
The Christian Planet
Planet A is the world of Christianity, in which I am most familiar. I know my ways, the ins and outs, the do’s and don’ts. Yet I have been forced to leave this world behind, by coming to the conclusion that the foundations of it just don’t make sense to me anymore. I could not breathe the air of this planet any longer, and had to leave. It was suffocating me, while I absolutely loved it: the people, the ideas, the mission and God himself.
Now all my accumulated brownie points there are gone; the promised heavenly treasures have vanished into thin air. Not that I just wanted to earn those credits, but hey, I just wanted to do something meaningful with my life. Now I don’t expect many people on this planet to listen to my ramblings about God anymore. Sadness it the overwhelming feeling I think, from both sides.
There is also much confusion regarding my absence now. “Why is the air we breathe suffocating you? Why did you say in your blog that you feel that the world has more color now? What went wrong? Where are you at right now?”
I feel I need to explain myself a bit more there. I don’t want to insult my Christian friends, or leave them in a state of confusion. I don’t want to convert anyone either. If you deconvert, it’s a long road that you would have to walk yourself mostly anyway, and if you are anything like me, you would be kicking and screaming the whole way that you want to go back to the planet that you love. No chance at all you would let anyone “help you” to get out!
The Secular Planet
Planet B is called the Secular World. While I used to be appalled by the stench of it all, as soon as I left the previous planet I just had to get my oxygen from there. My entire life I have believed that this world was a dark, gloomy place where the air smells of rotten eggs and your only hope is to drink a lot and party a bit until the inevitable pointless death awaits you.
So there I was, teleported in that new world… having to take my first breath. Still believing it was going to be awful… it was actually amazing! It felt like I was an asthma patient for quite some time and all of a sudden I could BREATHE again! I started reading new blogs, sites and books like an obsession. You could often catch me thinking and reading way past midnight. I was meeting new people, ideas, personalities, characters. It turned out I was FAR from the only one who was in as deep as I was from the Christian planet (being a missionary and all that) and then making the move to this world.
However it is not all a happy-clappy story. This world is very different, not just in content of ideas, but also in terms of community. This world has no welcoming ceremony, no clergy to tell you how to act now. There are no small groups assigned to you, no coaches or alpha courses. You come into this world alone, usually by birth, or through reason. Rarely do you come to this world because a group reached out to you to come and get you.
The Hidden Immigrant
Fortunately, I have quickly adjusted to my new environment. I had to let a lot of “wisdom” about this new world from my previous world go; like “life is pointless without God”, or that “there is no such thing as morality without God”. Turns out I was wrong about a lot of things. Humbling to say the least!
Now I’m like a hidden immigrant though. I may appear like a native of Planet B, but then I have to tell people that I basically only just arrived. So far I have seen nothing but positive remarks (thumbs up!!), yet it is also hard to tell others what it is like to be transported from one planet to the other in an instant. Some people (from both worlds) refuse to accept that this is what happened. “There must still be faith left in you”, I hear. “It can’t be that you became agnostic overnight”, others say.
It may also be hard for them to understand I could have inhaled the atmosphere from the Christian Planet for so long. For a lot of seculars, the Christian world smells of rotten eggs too. And while I no longer can be in that world anymore, I know from my own experience that it is (under certain conditions) perfectly possible to breathe there normally, enjoy life, people and all the opportunities and love that it gives. I was not crazy being back there. It was my normal habitat, and I enjoyed life and my intellectual faculties too.
Now To Blogging!
Where does this leave me with this blog? Although I am far from the only deconverted Christian blogger, I feel like there are still several things that are worth repeating from my own subjective point of view:
- What kept me in? How did I survive, no thrive, on the Christian planet?
- What got me out? What forces drove me away until I could not breathe anymore?
- What was “deconversion” like?
- What does Gods mission and missiology have to do with this?
I hope it will clarify things for people from both planets. That is all. No need to convert anyone. Not going into the intellectual arguments too much as this is not the actual problem that I had to deal with. I would also love good (critical) feedback on my stories, I am Dutch, so I can take a direct hit 🙂
From my own experience, for the hidden immigrants like me, we LOVE blogs like this in our early arrivals on this new planet. It was almost the only ‘guide’ that I had: other ex-Christians like me who went ahead and chartered the terrain. I still owe them much gratitude because the task is daunting, and not everything has been said yet. If I can offer any help or at least recognition, that would be awesome. Conversely I would love to hear more stories from others as well. Or if you are around, drink a beer together, or if not, have a chat. I like to dream big, but let’s just see if I can keep up a blog first!