The answer is more complicated than the question but let me open up the door here just a little.
The road that lead me here was a long one. A very long one. A decade is a long time. A dozen years is probably more like it.
There are those who suddenly (relatively speaking) wake up to unbelief and then move on. Not me, and I’m certain there are many others like me who took a very long time. Some of you are currently on the slow winding road that will eventually take you to the inevitable. You already know this is where you are headed but there is much to contend with and you need time. I understand. Take the time you need. When you finally get dizzy enough from all the circling back, your exit ramp will appear and you will know the time has come to take it. Until then, do what you must to keep your head on straight and survive in your context.
What happened? Well, that could be the wrong question. It depends on what you mean. If by “what happened” you are assuming that something negative must have occurred to kick start all of this, then you’d be asking the wrong question. Don’t get me wrong. I fully understand where the question comes from, why you would ask it, and why you would assume that there must have been a negative event. While negative events can be part of what leads someone to no longer believe, it is not necessarily so. If by “what happened” you mean “when or how did this begin” then you’d be asking a better question.
For those who are deep in the christian faith, it can be difficult to comprehend that someone could “walk away”. It is often assumed that the person walking away from faith is doing so primarily for one of two reasons. Either, one, they are leaving because something negative happened or, two, they are leaving because they want to live in some form of sin. While these situations could very well happen. I would suggest that in most cases those two reasons are not in the mix.
It’s not that I’m mad or angry. There were times when I was mad and angry. There are many things about christianity that do make me mad and sad. Yes, some of these things are part of why I’m leaving. Someone didn’t look at me the wrong way and then I decided I’d had enough. People have done hurtful things but I’m not leaving because I am hurt.
I’m not leaving because I want to do bad things! The church might want you to think that because It’s easier to discredit those who walk away in order to discourage others from listening to them and perhaps taking interest in their story.
It’s ok to think about things differently. It’s hard to do, especially when you have the threat of hell hanging over your head.
What lead me here was a process. Asking questions. Seeking out answers. Observing. Listening. Asking more questions. Telling my brain to stop asking questions and just believe. Observing. Seeking out answers. Asking more questions. So on. This was on repeat for a while.
I do not look at Christianity and say, “I know this is true but I don’t want any of it!” No, I look at it and say “I no longer believe it to be true.” Do I have all the answers to life’s deepest questions? Nope. Have I arrived? Nope. Do I think it has nothing of interest? Nope, I don’t think that.
Throughout the entire process I kept coming back to the Bible and to the authors who were put forth by my christian tradition. When their reasoning no longer made sense and my questions kept coming, I would find other christian authors from other traditions who perhaps would have a “better” answer to offer. This lead me to opening up my theology and discovering how wide Christian thinking can be but it still fell short. The narrative is still mostly controlled by those who refuse to let go of ideas that simply don’t add up and are disastrous. The more progressive and open strands of christianity are way more appealing but it often feels like they are also just desperately hanging on to the tradition while trying to contend with reality.
In reading and listening to other voices I discovered some very thoughtful and grounded people who offered better responses to my questions.
Yes, the whole process included lots of prayer and asking God for guidance and help.
Yet, here we are!