Posted by: Hope | May 31, 2009

Ashamed of my disbelief

I attended a birthday party of an old friends from church…well their kids. They were celebrating their son and daughters birthday and I thought it’d be cool and spend some time. As I was there I found myself pondering the past and religion.

I remember one year they went camping, as a church (it was my freshman year in high school I think) and I had gotten plastered drunk. And I remember feeling absolutely terrible about what I’d done. I called Jeremy (the father…the persons home I went to) and told him what was up. He drove down here and picked me up and I spent the night with his family at the christian “camp” thing. Everyone knew I was drunk…they could smell the alcohol from the pores of my skin. I felt terrible and judged, but I knew I made the right decision to call him. And best of all, he was there for me. The next day we talked about how he used to party and stuff. He has been a great friend throughout the years and I miss that family terribly. I hope that before I leave for college I can start spending more time with them.

But then another lady that I used to church with flat out asked me, “Hope, are you saved?” And instantly I felt propelled to turn away. I was ashamed and I could no longer look her or the people I was around in the eyes. I attempted to play it off cooly and I built up the guts to look her in the eyes and say firmly “No, no I’m not. But hey, at least I’m honest.”

As someone with a lack of faith, should this incident bother me? Or should I really think about why I feel so guilty and stupid. I know I’m not stupid and I feel really strongly in my areas of belief. I’m agnostic, and I have no shame in that. Was it just awkward for me because these were people I used to read the Word with and raise my hands in worship as we fell to our knees? I don’t know. Maybe that was it and maybe I’m thinking too deeply into why I felt so guilty and dumb. But maybe it’s because I know in my heart the truth. I don’t know. And the sad part? I’m not even sure I care that I don’t know.

Nonetheless….it was great to sit and reminisce about the old days and how things to be. It was great to see how much the kids have grown up and it makes me feel really old. Good times, amazing memories…but it’s the past. Should I just let it go?

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Responses

  1. The fact that you were concerned about the situation….suggests that you care about and respect these people you once spent quality time with. The ‘feeling bad’ because you had likely gone against what they expected of you…..is the sign of humility. Within the natural and carnal self…humility is generally not an active emotion. Humility is present only as a reaction to the presence of the very real Spirit of God. Though an invisible encounter, the fruits are clearly seen. The humble and loving Heavenly Father is seeking you. Sounds like you are a kind and sweet spirit.

  2. Hi Hope,
    It sounds like a lot of what you’re saying goes along with graduating from one phase of your life and moving into another. It’s normal and healthy to look back, to feel a certain sense of attachment and even obligation to the people who helped you become who you are. It may feel like you need to give back, or at least be what they want you to be (a believer?). But if that’s not who you are right now, doing it for them is the worst reason. So let go of the guilt part, and hang on to the good memories. They are part of your life, and we need all the good memories we can get sometimes!

    Anna

  3. Just live in the here and now, and learn from the past. I think Anna does a fine job of summing up how to handle your feelings with outright honesty. Just be yourself, even if you don’t know who that is….
    take care…

  4. This is one of the things that really upsets me about Christianity: the emotional hooks it digs into people. I remember when I was a Christian, way back when, there was a huge load of guilt and doubt that was just dumped on me by my beliefs, a load that I didn’t even realize was there until fairly recently. And later, when I started to really break away, all that guilt and doubt just got many times worse. Fortunately, it didn’t last long, but it was painful while it lasted.

    Now I’m of the opinion that any belief that makes you feel guilty for even thinking, “Well, maybe that’s not entirely accurate…” is selling snake oil, and not worthy of any respect whatsoever. The unnecessary pain and confusion it causes to people the world over just gets on my nerves.

  5. When people ask me (once in a great while) if I am saved, I say, “yes…every day.”

    Everday I walk away from my faith, and everyday He forgives me and brings me home, like the Shepard who goes after the lost sheep.

    I know I am saved because of His promise to save me, in my baptism, and in His Supper and in the preached Word.

    if I had to rely on how I felt about it, I might never believe that ‘I am saved.’

  6. I’m not saved, Steve. I dont even believe or practice anything you do. I imagine that this is a completely different situation.

  7. Hope,

    You are saved.

    You just don’t believe it.

    That death was for you, you know. And all your sins, past -present- and future, were forgiven on that cross and that promise was given to you in your baptism.

    That’s the truth of it.

    I pray that one day, you will believe it.

    And when you believe it…then you’ve got it.

  8. Hope,

    You have to be careful when you’re vulnerable. When you’re down many people Christian and otherwise will seem like friends and that they only want to help you.

    Guilt and shame is a control tactic. I posted another note about a book called something like, “The Shame that Binds” by Bradshaw. Please take the time to read this book.

    I wish the best for you.

    Take care,
    Elizabeth

  9. I’ll check this one out as well. Thanks for your kind advice.


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