A few thoughts I started pounding into Twitter today, with annotations:
I had so many chances to not try to be a Christian. My conversion experience, as my Camp "Counselor In Training" leader said, wasn't very convincing, for example; I had soul-affecting conversations with so many people along the way. But instead of scrapping the faith and identity, I mastered bending and contorting the faith to fit my understanding. Sometimes it was overly abstract; sometimes I clung to tradition. Most of the time, though, I clung to the false hope that I would understand better in the future why my beliefs seemed to contradict my understanding of the world so much.
I remember, not long after he became an atheist, having a conversation with my brother, for example, and I had an apologetics-based sort of justification for everything he said. And I knew I was jumping through hoops, but I kept jumping. I couldn't seem to let go. And I got accustomed to that magical thinking in so many places in my life. This became most problematic when I justified getting married when I knew I wasn't ready: I kept saying, "This may be your only chance," "just have faith," and it will work out in the end." And as a result of that magical thinking, I'm responsible for that broken home.
When I heard and read "saved a wretch like me" sort of stuff from practically every medium I consumed, when I read messages like "you are nothing without God," or "God killed his own child for you," it gets totally ingrained that that sort of thinking is legitimate. How many times did I hear, "You have no rights?" How many times did I hear about the "God-shaped hole" or how "life is hard and it doesn't make sense, and the only thing that can help you is God?" And all the times that I clung to those hopes, I got more and more alienated from myself.
I don't blame any of those people who gave me those messages. They were doing their best to help me with my "eternal soul" and whatnot. But I took those messages, despite my reservations, and I conditioned myself to second-guess myself and never trust myself.
I thought poorly. And although I abandoned the creed years ago, I'm getting so, so tired of fighting the internal struggle over and over again.
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