Confessions of a former, former Christian

The 4 phases of my Christianity – Pt. 2

Phase 2:

After realizing that my life had been devoted to something that made me a professional faker smothered in guilt looking to get religious experiences that everyone else seemed to get but eluded me, I entered phase 2 – Screw it (Actually, I was feeling rebellious, so it came out a little more like F*%! it).

After spending my entire life getting prepared to go into something ministry related, I proudly announced to my wife and parents that I was done with Christianity. I still admitted there was a God, but that was as far as I was willing to go. I’m not going to live a lie, I’m not going to feel guilty all the time about what I do and say and think and feel, I’m not going to attend church and watch people sell me on BS that they probably haven’t experienced either. I’m not going to chase feelings and experiences from a relationship with God that were never going to happen.

I felt like I’d been that little kid, sitting on the porch till midnight waiting because dad said we’d go fishing, and dad never showed up (‘snif’). If God wanted me, he knows where I am, and when he feels like getting in touch, he better bring a pillar of fire to my living room, because otherwise, I’m not paying attention.

A children’s story that had never made sense to me suddenly became my life story. It was The Emperor’s New Clothes, and everybody was screaming out how great this Christian life had been for them, and I was going to be the brave boy who called the emperor naked.

You want to know the truth? It was wonderful. It was great. I loved that time in my life. I had heard in Christian teaching about freedom, but this was the first time I actually felt free. I was honest about what I was, what I felt, what I wanted. I didn’t pretend to be anything I wasn’t. I didn’t have to act like I was any farther along than I actually was.

I had a group of friends at work, and we were sales people and spent 4 months of the year living together in hotels in small towns across Oklahoma. They weren’t by any means “bad” people, but let’s just say they weren’t they same kinds of guys I sat around with when I was teaching at the Christian school.

I don’t know how to describe it, but if you’ve been a Christian long, you may have some idea of what I’m talking about. Whereas I might have once sat apart from them, trying to place all their actions in the “right” or “wrong” box, wondering how much I should or shouldn’t be associated with them, now I’m jumping into the pool, both feet. I got to know them in a zero judgment atmosphere. And I found out, these were really great guys.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like we were shooting crack (do you shoot crack? Snort it? Smoke it? I don’t know…..) and burning down orphanages. We just did what sounded fun, talked about what was interesting, went wherever we wanted to. As far as I could tell, no one ever stopped and said, “Is this what Jesus would do?”, and that was fine with me.

I began to see that people who weren’t overloaded with Christian baggage were concerned less about doing right and wrong, and more by doing right by each other. And they also seemed to be under no illusion that they were supposed to have it all together, that they were supposed to be complete, whole, a finished product (and no pressure to live up to that image if it wasn’t true). There was no concept of a “finished product”. They were just living life as it came, hoping they generally got a little better along the way.

I got a lot more focused on the people, what they did, what they thought, and what they wanted to do with their lives. Everybody wanted to have good marriages and be good with their wives, but they also wanted to pile into the same hotel room together and watch the Victoria Secret Runway show every winter with a case of beer. And nobody saw this as a conflict or felt guilty about it. I know this sounds stupid and simple, especially for someone who came to Christ as an adult, but I’d never really experienced that before with other adults.

And I don’t mean to glorify sinful living, but I totally mean to glorify the notion of honest living.

And the most interesting thing was that after awhile of this, really getting in with this group of people and being yourself, we wound up talking about all sorts of things that seemed really important, and sometimes that even included God and faith and how to live (never brought up by me, mind you). And even though the talks we had would have never occurred in any Sunday School class I’d ever been involved with, they were some of the best and most honest conversations on the subject I’ve ever had.

December 15, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | Leave a comment