Yes, It’s Okay to Google “Leaving my Religion”

You may have stumbled on this blog simply by searching the phrase “leaving my religion” or “leaving the church”. Just asking that question in your head took a lot of courage. I know, because I have been there (and I was a Pastor with my entire life built around the church).

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When it comes to asking questions about leaving your religion , it’s a snowball effect. Questions multiply pretty quickly. Once you start a 100% honest internal dialogue, the conversation rolls and the questions get bigger and more interesting. It’s not easy but, in the end, it’s worth digging for answers.

(Click HERE or on image for a digital download.)

To help you along your journey, here are five questions I asked myself when I was considering leaving my religion. They might help you feel less alone and help you make sense of what you are feeling.

What is the real reason I keep going to church?

I always feel that the intention behind an act is as important as the act itself. It’s a simple but good question to ask yourself. Why do I go to church? Is it because of others’ expectations? Is it because of fear, guilt, duty, or shame? Once we understand our motivation, it’s a bit easier to recognise if that motivation is healthy or not. When we let the negative emotions go, we can build a new and healthy way of relating to ourselves first, then others, then, if we want, a church. Rather than being motivated by guilt, fear, shame or duty, we can be motivated by love and free will.

Is questioning my religion really so wrong?

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Unfortunately, for many people, questioning their faith isn’t even allowed and therefore never contemplated. To question a deeply embedded idea is seen to be rebellious, heretical, and therefore punishable. People do not ask questions because they are afraid of being judged or punished - by God or by the Christians who claim to represent Him.

What other possible truths could there be?

When leaving your religion (or just questioning it) it helps to contemplate other possible truths. For example, what could be an alternative to the particular belief or “fact” that I am struggling with? This doesn’t mean that you have to replace, say, resurrection with reincarnation. Rather, you could replace resurrection with questions such as, “What could this have meant?” “Why was this important?” “Does this point to a deeper truth?” “Why would someone or something want me to believe this?” “What would it mean to me if I let this belief go?”

Am I afraid to leave my religion or the friends who come with it?

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Before I made the decision to move on from the church, I knew it was a possibility that I would lose all my religious friends, and the thought scared me. It may have been why I hung on so long in a religion that did not sit well with my soul. Could it be possible that you are doing the same?

The reality is that many people are very uncomfortable hanging out with people who are not similar to them, especially in beliefs. They just don't know how to be, how to talk, how to relax and how to relate to someone very different from them. On the extreme, some Christian people refuse to fellowship with people who do not share their faith. They are taught by the church that it will cause them to sin if they mix with non-believers.

(Click HERE or on image for a digital download.)

Leaving your religion might be hard and you might lose friends, but who wants to be friends with people who do not support your personal growth? Real friends want you to grow. Take comfort in the fact that you will make new friends and meet people who love and accept you for who you are, regardless of what you believe. You will not be alone.

Will I ever find peace again?

Waiting for truth to come with its attending peace is sometimes a serious test of patience. But if you wait long enough and trust in love to reveal itself, a deep and abiding truth will slip in and overthrow your fears. This truth is not just another informational fact. Rather, it’s love and peace that transcends intellectual formulations. It’s the mind finally at rest. It does come!

Sure, I’ll admit, occasionally there's still some emotional residue of fear that I’m wrong and will pay for it eternally. This takes a while to depart. It’s like the echo that resounds long after the originating sound is gone. But when I remember that perfect love casts out fear, that residue eventually loses its power over me, no longer crippling me in my own growth.

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