Deconversion: Vanessa’s Story, Part Three

Screen Shot 2013-10-12 at 11.36.58 AM

HA note: Vanessa blogs at Fiery Skull Diaries. She “recently uprooted [herself] from kentucky to florida,” where she enjoys “fresh springs, the magical fragrance of orange groves, and copious amounts of sunblock daily.” Vanessa considers herself “an exchristian, atheist, and antitheist, unapologetically.” This post was originally published on August 26, 2013 and is reprinted with her permission.

< Part Two

it’s difficult to talk about the abuse that went on in my home in the same breath as my deconversion process.

based on the nature of their beliefs — the foundation of their beliefs — believers are quick to pounce on this as evidence that i turned from god because of a hard time i went through; that my faith was, apparently, weak.

language falls dreadfully short at encompassing how cruel an insult that is.

because i have first-hand understanding of why they say this, i am never caught off guard or react angrily when they dismiss a real and substantial part of my life with such callous ease, citing that i was never truly one of them (1 john 2:19 they went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us);

that i was the seed that fell on stony ground (matthew 13:5-6 some fell upon stony places, where they had not much earth: and forthwith they sprung up, because they had no deepness of earth: and when the sun was up, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away).

my faith was indeed nothing short of real to me, and for many years, i viewed god and my faith in him as the underlying force that got me through those painful times of abuse, abandonment, betrayal, fear, uncertainty, poverty, and loneliness.

i held onto the bible verses i had already learned by heart, thanks to awana (see part 2 for explanation about awana).

i searched the bible, especially psalms and proverbs, for more comforting verses. i clung to the verses my friends and church leaders would write down or point me toward. i heard, “god won’t give you more than you can handle” more times than i can count — and i believed it. i didn’t understand why god was letting all this hurt and confusion happen to me and my family, but i trusted that he knew what he was doing and was with me through it. he’s the one that can see the big picture; every piece of the puzzle; every thread of the tapestry. his ways are higher than ours; his understanding high above ours.

he was in control and he had a plan.

jeremiah 29:11 for i know the plans I have for you, declares the lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

when my dad left, i was reminded endlessly by my friends and mentors (all christians) that god was the true father of us all; that god could be my daddy. in fact, in one of the many diaries/prayer journals i filled in my teen years, i addressed every entry to “daddy” (god).

*****

To be continued.

Deconversion: Vanessa’s Story, Part Two

Screen Shot 2013-10-11 at 3.44.30 PM

HA note: Vanessa blogs at Fiery Skull Diaries. She “recently uprooted [herself] from kentucky to florida,” where she enjoys “fresh springs, the magical fragrance of orange groves, and copious amounts of sunblock daily.” Vanessa considers herself “an exchristian, atheist, and antitheist, unapologetically.” This post was originally published on July 22, 2013 and is reprinted with her permission.

< Part One

i cannot overemphasize how indoctrinated i was.

in addition to attending church three times a week from before i can even remember,

going to church preschool at ages three and four,

and being homeschooled as part of a christian homeschooling group from kindergarten through 12th grade,

i started attending awana at age seven.

awana is a highly developed scripture memorization program originally modeled after the boy/girl scouts, that starts kids as young as two years old. in my eleven years in awana, i read the entire bible twice (many parts of it much more than that) and memorized over a thousand verses.

a thousand.

memorized. by heart. word for word in the king james (sometimes new king james) version. recited in reference-verse-reference format.

i attended awana camp for five consecutive summers, starting my eighth grade year. it is no exaggeration to say that the awana camp experience is overwhelmingly similar to jesus camp.

awana taught me far more about the bible than any other source in my life. it grounded me, rooted me, solidified my faith more than anything else.

my name is engraved and hangs proudly on a wall for all to see inside the awana headquarters in chicago because i earned the citation award, the highest award awana offers. it takes ten years to achieve.

awana accomplished its mission with me.

2 timothy 2:15 study to show thyself approved unto god, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

*****

Part Three >