I believed in Jesus for a long time. I loved God and I longed for an eternity with him. I praised him day and night and I thanked him repeatedly for all that he had done in my life. I was every bit the Christian I set out to be. Not perfect, but ready, willing and able to do the Lord’s work. I accepted the stories I read in the Bible and I shared them with others in hopes that I could reach at least one more person and bring them to Christ. Now I speak out against such things. So what happened to me? What made me leave it all behind? Five simple words: I ran out of excuses.
I was reading some of the stories on the Clergy Project‘s website tonight. For those of you who don’t know, the Clergy Project is a nonprofit organization that was formed to help support current and former leaders of religion. The Clergy Project helps people transition from a life of religion to a life without it through monetary means, therapy and job placement. It is a worthy cause and you should check it out if you get the chance.
One story that stood out to me was the story of Michal Pleban. Michal was a pastor in a Pentecostal church. His story stood out to me because I felt like I was reading my own story, except for the pastor part of course. Here are a few small excerpts from his story on http://www.clergyproject.org :
…”Why did I stop believing in God? The shortest answer would be that I ran out of excuses for him…”
Speaking of his faith in Christianity, he said:
“It is full of promises about what God is supposed to do for you, both in this life and in the next. He will answer your prayers. He will guide you. He will protect you. He will give you wisdom, strength and an abundance of everything that you will ever need. All of these promises are more or less directly derived from the Bible, which is treated as inspired and literally infallible. But when you live this kind of life for a few years, you start noticing that more often than not, these promises fail to materialize.”
“Some excuses are found in the Bible itself. Even more are just passed around in countless sermons and other elements of Christian culture. God will answer your prayers? Sure, except when he won’t because you don’t have enough faith. Or because they are not consistent with his will. Or because his perfect time hasn’t happened yet. Or because you have selfish motives for praying. Or because of countless other reasons, often made up on the spot. God will protect you from evil? Sure, except when he won’t because he wants to teach you a lesson. Or because he has different plans for you and you just don’t understand them. God will heal the sick, feed the hungry, save the lost? Sure, except when he won’t. The fine print keeps accumulating, up to the point when you are not really sure what to expect anymore.”
If you are interested in reading the whole story, you can find it here.
I just wanted to share a bit of someone else’s story to explain why I share my own story. I share because I want people to know that their feelings are normal and that they are not alone. I found this one story out of countless others written by former Christians that mirrored my own. It is comforting to know that others have been through what we’ve been through and that even though leaving religion is a struggle at times, there is still a lot of good life to live ahead of us.
If you find that you have to make excuses for God, maybe it’s time to figure out why. Why do you have to explain the reason prayers are unanswered when the Bible says they will be? Why do you have to have to make excuses for Jesus not coming back “soon” as he said he would? Why do you have to make excuses for why innocent people suffer and die, children go hungry and why there is no evidence to back up the claims of the existence of a God who is supposedly everywhere?
Stop making excuses and start making sense of the world around you. Stop trying to figure out why biblical promises go unfulfilled. Stop labeling perfectly normal human nature as a sin against God. Start living your life in a manner that gives you joy and brings joy to others. Don’t tear people down with words from a book. If the story you have been believing in has fine print that constantly changes to make new excuses for each and every situation, it’s not a fine story after all. Instead of immersing yourself in a story of endless excuses, write your own story and add to it each and every day, the words of your own choosing. The stories of our lives are much more beautiful when we create them for ourselves.