I Quixed Faith Goodbye · MBTI, WTF?

Loss of Faith and Personality Shift


I have a confession: I am obsessed with personality typing.

It never occurred to me until just recently to ask Why? without any judgment. In the last year and a half I’ve spend an exorbitant amount of time and energy trying to “type” myself and then beating myself up for spending so much time and energy on it. The answer as to the why is pretty obvious: I’m trying to figure out what “me” means.

In November of 2014 I began blogging, which I now see was the beginning of my personality change. I guess “change” is not the right word for it, “growth” is the better word. What was really happening was that I had been dying inside and decided I wanted to live.

I had become an wounded, shameful, agoraphobic shut-in and something in me decided (mostly due to my motivation to be okay for my children), “Enough!” I needed contact with the outside world and I needed to express myself in order to remain alive. I started blogging because I realized that writing was the way I best expressed myself and that I wasn’t too bad at it either.

I begin blogging fearfully. Ashamed to even assert my presence in the world in any way, even by blogging. I wanted to apologize for even being alive and for many months I had to remind myself that I had every right to make whatever impact I wanted to on the world and that to do so was actually a responsibility of being alive. Every post I’d think,

“[Quixie], don’t apologize for existing. If someone doesn’t want to read what you have to say they will just not read it and move on.”

I started making contact with other people through WordPress and it had been years since I had made contact with others outside the small group of my immediate family, in-laws, health providers, and my best friend. I found as I did so validation for my feelings, hopes, and concerns (which I had never before received). It made me feel alive and gave me the permission to explore the ideas that I had for many years shoved down out of guilt and shame.

The two ideas that became impossible to ignore were:

  1. I married the wrong person AND
  2. There is no “true” Christianity as I believe it because there isn’t evidence of it

To provide context I married my husband for two reasons: he was decent to me and I had a dream that God told me to marry him. I have now been trying to separate from him for a year, but haven’t been able to yet due to logistical reasons.

The second bit of context is that I used to be an charismatic Evangelical Christian. I was not raised that way, I had converted as an adolescent in response to the shame I felt through my childhood emotional neglect and clinical depression. It was the perfect solution because I had accepted that there was something intrinsically wrong with me and that I could be saved from it.

Additionally, it promised me something that I’ve always valued: continuing personal growth. Some of the other values of Christianity were in line with my values but, on the whole, I would discover that they are, in fact, not. I began to realize through interacting with non-believers (which I hadn’t really done since my conversion) that my values had always actually been humanist values, not religious ones.

I never blindly accepted anything that I heard or was taught as a Christian because it’s part of my nature to constantly evaluate and challenge possibilities and values. Additionally, part of my personality enables me to be able to be very adept at understanding social psychology and human dynamics as an actual science.

***

As a side, if you have the time please education yourself with these social psychology terms, which are so nicely defined in this person’s flash cards, and tell me that they are not found in religion and do not explain religious people’s beliefs and behaviors:

attitude inoculation, behavior confirmation, cognitive dissonance theory, collectivism, confirmation bias, cult behavior, de-individuation, discrimination, false uniqueness effect, foot-in-the door technique, fundamental attribution error, group polarization, group-think, illusion of control, illusionary correlation, learned helplessness, low-ball technique, mere-exposure effect, overconfidence in phenomenon, peripheral route to persuasion, prejudice, sexism, sleeper effect, social loafing, and transformational leadership

***

The so-very-many questions that would come up I’d learn to suppress by beating this into my brain, over and over:

“People suck (because they are sinners) and this doesn’t have to make sense because God is God and God is good. Just trust Him.”

After I started blogging I began to get a sense of identity and where I fit in inside the Body of Christ, and became increasingly frustrated that my role was not accepted by Christians. My out-of-the-box and empirical thinking was not appreciated and I found other Christians interactions with me to be at dismissive at best or emotionally manipulative at worse. My motives were ascribed as not being submissive.

“But don’t know you – God just wants me to be me. The Church needs me the way God made me!”

I suppose it’s more accurate to say that this had been happening for years and part of why I had become a shut-in is that because I had not felt I had a place in the Church, and thus had not felt like I had a place in the world. I had been out of church for many years and I felt like I’d never be able to connect with my people then what was the point?

I wondered how it was that as I was becoming psychologically healthier, and gaining a sense of what I could contribute to the world, I was finding that I fit in even less with the Church. This made no sense with me and I spent months tearfully pleading with God to change me to whatever He wanted me to be so that I could do His will.

“God, why is it that the healthier I become the more I move away from the Church?”

It’s not like I was intentionally trying to be rebellious. The god I worshiped, if he was indeed an interventionist god who heard my prayers, had to have known my willingness and desire to be a faithful follower of Christ.

After many prayers and pleading it came to my mind, and deep in my gut, there came a revelation (ala Occam’s Razor style) and answer to all my questions over the past 20 years and I did not like it: the doctrines of Christianity were not true.

“No, no, no, no, no, no, no…”

Without the doctrine of sin the shame I’d been battling with for 20 years just left me. Just like that, “Poof!” A miracle. Something that had been promised me as a Christian, if I only believed and submitted myself to God enough. I knew that if God existed he’d see the purity of my heart and my desire to live righteously and this was not just some excuse to sin.

Despite this incredible burden of shame being lifted I realized my faith was sinking and I tried desperately to grasp onto it. Many more pleading and tears. Wailing.

If you ever wondered how it feels to lose your faith this is how it feels (at least how it felt to me):

This was different than the doubts I’d have before. I was questioning the very existence of God, and not just in a small way. I knew my belief was leaving me. My belief in the supernatural was going because suddenly the natural made me more sense.

This losing of faith happened in May of 2015, so it’s just been over a year. As this post has gotten extremely long I will share in my post tomorrow about my search to find my new identity and how this relates to my personality typing obsession.

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35 thoughts on “Loss of Faith and Personality Shift

  1. Excellent post. I stopped believing in god when he appeared to me and told me he didn’t exist. 🙂 I identify with your being pretty much a “shut-in” and the search you have to find yourself. I find blogging helps me and I’ve met many great folks since I started my blog in 2013.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks for the compliment!

      “I stopped believing in god when he appeared to me and told me he didn’t exist.”

      Now that’s funny, but I can believe that this could actually happen. Was it a dream, a voice, or a visual hallucination?

      You are a shut-in too? I am so grateful for the internet, and specifically the blogosphere, because it’s given validity to my thoughts and a community that has enabled me to flourish.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I’m pretty much a shut-in. I’ve got pretty deep emotional wounds from years of abuse. They make it very hard for me to go out and connect with people. I’m quite grateful for the friends I’ve made blogging. I’ve pretty much always been a humanist and an atheist, though I was raised Catholic and didn’t realize these things until about ten years ago.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Approximately, eh? ::chuckle::

      Well, I feel like you just served me a huge compliment. So, thank you.

      It’s really all just part of my evil plan, you know. The one were I try to make the world a better place (ie. kill them with kindness) 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  2. A really wonderful post Quixie. I can identify with much of what you say.

    I’m a very introverted person and at times find the world outside frightening. Like you and others the internet has been {I was going to say a ‘Godsend’ – but realised that was not really appropriate} very helpful. Those of use who are introverts find this sort of communication so much easier than face to face confrontation.

    I deconverted in February 2015 but am still working through the issues.

    I really appreciate your posts and hope that things get sorted out on the personal front for you.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Try convincing a person who doesn’t find the world outside frightening, that the internet is healthy for those of us who do. I haven’t managed to yet. But it doesn’t change the fact that it’s a fact. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Aww. Thanks Peter.

      I’m learning myself that it’s going to take a lot longer than a year to figure this out especially having been a Christian for so long.

      I’m trying to remember your story and I’m afraid I’ve forgotten it. I remember you being very involved with the Church. Were you a minister?

      Do you have a blog? I’ve really enjoyed your comments (on other blogs as well as mine) and I’d love you follow your blog if you have one.

      Like

      1. Hi Quixie, you have a good memory! I had been ordained a minister not long before I deconverted. My role was not running a church but rather more like an honorary assistant pastor.

        Deconversion caught me totally by surprise, it just hit me like a light switch going on in February 2015. It was not like I was wavering in faith or belief. But what happened was I undertaken a lot of study over the previous 4 years and had come across many issues that challenged faith. But I managed to get past them all and they stored in the ‘Cognitive dissonance’ file in my mind. Then one day I was reading an article about the Old Testament and the author, a Biblical scholar, just said, as a matter of fact, that the historical accounts in the Bible could not be true.

        This caused me to ask myself a question, ‘what if all of this is not true’, I had never dared to ask myself that question before. The instant I did, the contents of the Cognitive Dissonance file spewed forth and in an instant I knew I did not believe.

        But is still took me a while to work things through. With Hell in the balance I wanted to be certain that I Christianity was human not divine. It was the experiential aspect of Christianity I found hardest to explain away. But I found Victorias site https://victorianeuronotes.wordpress.com/ very helpful in that regard as I came to appreciate more how the human works and creates religious expereinces that we interpret as being external but in fact are internal.

        My very first comment on the way out of Christianity was:
        https://aspiretofindtruth.wordpress.com/2015/02/08/what-started-my-questioning/#comment-414

        I think it is only the shared experiences of other deconverts that has kept me sane through the Journey.

        Liked by 2 people

        1. Yes! I’m happy I remembered correctly.😊

          As to your story…oh wow! Yeah, any reasonable person I think would ask themselves that very same question if they heard someone who was an expert in the Bible say that the accounts cannot be true. And I can see how that would have blown your file wide open! Did you find this to be a really emotional/unsettling experience?

          How did you end up leaving church service (if you have – I’m assuming?) What was that like? Wow, what a change!

          I’m so glad you found Victoria’s site. Not only do I adore her personally but she is GREAT at explaining what’s actually happening in the brain during religious experiences.

          I really liked the comment that you linked, especially this part:
          “If God was active directing the church it is not obvious from history, human sociological factors seem to be a far better explanation of the actual history.” Yes, that there was a main challenger to my faith.

          Sigh. I’m still finding it tough to unpack years of belief. I’d like to get to the place of understanding Christianity from an outsider’s perspective but it’ll have to wait til the chaos in my personal life calms down to make that a priority.

          In the meantime, I’m just grateful to have a place I can go where I can interact with other deconverts. What a great supportive group of people.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. The hardest part with extracting myself from my church. I continued a leadership role through to the end of April 2015. But then managed to extract myself. I had a regular meeting with the Senior Pastor and was chewed out over a few matters. Like I needed to be a more public person as a church representative in the community.

            Anyway I bit my lip until the end of the meeting and sent the Senior Pastor an email noting the six specific criticisms made of me, none of which were faith related, or doctrine related, but all came down to the issue of me as an introvert not acting sufficiently extroverted.

            The problem was that when I thought I had God on my side I could force myself to put aside my introversion. But once I knew there was no GOd there to help me out I found it harder and harder. I was OK preaching in church and the like, it was social functions in the broader community in which I was expected to attend that strained me.

            In the email I said ‘I don’t want to be a public person anyway’. The senior pastor realised they had pushed me too far and suggested I take a month off and then return. Since then I have not spoken to the pastor or attended a church service. The stress of it all caused me to go into an extreme introversion phase which I have not come out of.

            At least on these sites I find folk who understand me. My ex church folk are still trying to get me to go back.

            Liked by 2 people

        2. Peter..I read with interest the discussion you had on Aspire To Find The Truth” in 2015. It seemed to me that you’d already processed a LOT, and were very close to deconversion. Your story..in some ways reminds me of my husband’s. He had only been a recently ordained as a Baptist minister (in his late 20’s) when the doubts started to creep in..(thanks to the writings of Bishop Spong). Fortunately we were heading in the same direction…tho 30 years of christian faith does not disappear over night. His sermons started to get more liberal and controversial as they reflected his journey. The younger church members loved them..the older ones told him off.

          When we subsequently resigned from church membership and my husband from his job, we each read wrote a letter to the church, explaining why we had to leave. And suddenly 95% of our social support disappeared. I think people genuinely didn’t know how to respond to us. I’m ever so grateful we had each other, because this was in the early 90’s when internet was virtually nill.

          But observing my husband’s ministerial work, I can only imagine how hard it must have been for you as you became increasingly introverted, working in that role..especially when you no longer felt “God” was carrying you. I’m glad to hear tho that you’ve received support online since. Did you ever join The Clergy Project? Don’t feel you have to reply to that if you’re not comfortable tho. I do hope in time you will be able to move out of your “extreme introversion phase”..for your own sake…but I most certainly can relate to that (for other reasons). BTW..did you ever start a blog about your journey. Just curious.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Thanks for reading some of my story. I can still recall the moment when my faith collapsed it was on 8 February 2015. Essentially I no longer believed from that time. Though as you can see at the time of my first comment a week later I was still calling myself a Christian. In essence I prayed a lot over the period and was trying to give ‘God’ a chance, especially to help me to make sense of a Bible that I knew could be accepted literally. But no-one answered and it confirmed my view that this was because there was no god there to answer.

            I initially looked a few blogs on Patheos and was particularly taken by comments by Captain Cassidy and Neli Carter because I could identify with the description they gave of their experience. In one post Neil Carter explained how he had followed the ‘God voice’ inside him on a drive and ended up in a dead-end and then realised that it was not God’s voice but his own internal thoughts. That really struck a chord with me as even though I had thought that ‘God’ spoke to me I always had a lingering feeling it was just me talking to myself.

            I don’t have my own blog and I have not been involved with the Clergy Project. Because I was an honorary minister financially I was able to leave the church easier than many others.

            I have reflected upon why I deconverted so soon after being ordained a minister. I suspect it was partly because to be ordained I had to undertake much study and this exposed me to issues that I had not been exposed to whilst a non ordained Christian. Whilst I read much over my years prior to seeking ordination, that reading was more devotional in nature and tend to bolster faith rather thna question it.

            It is good to hear from others who have had a similar journey, especially those who have come out of it. As I recall you are Australian, I am Australian also. SO the fact I am writing this at 1:56 am says something about how I am living at present. The saving grace to being in Australia is that we don’t have to cope with the general religious community that folk like Quixie face.

            My major problem was that my social network had been church based.

            Liked by 2 people

          2. Hey Peter. I don’t have much to add to this but I wanted to let you know that I’m listening and am very interested in your story. Keep talking as much as you like.

            Are you following my private blog at quixoticfaith.wordpress.com? I talk quite a bit about my mood disorder but it is mostly deconverts who follow my blog. I’ve recently made the link between the Church’s spiritualization of my mood disorder combined with spiritual abuse as the reason why I’ve been socially isolated for many years. It had a profound damaging effect on my psyche. I’m hoping to write about it in more detail as I am able.

            Like

          3. Thanks for responding Peter. Yes, as Aussies we are fortunate to live in a country where religion isn’t constantly “in your face”. I spent 2 years living in North Carolina as a teen. But I know for sure I wouldn’t be able to stomach their religiousity now. (Kudos to you Quixie!) Mind you, on this our federal election day I’m rather disgusted to read that about 76% of my local electorate identify as religious! Welcome to conservative Western Australia (or W.A…Wait Awhile!) lol. And yes, I surely can relate to losing most of one’s social network when you leave the church. Ours never truly recovered..even 20 + years later..which is a little sad (tho doesn’t bother me anymore as I’ve become rather introverted). But there are increasing number of Aussie Atheist, Secular etc groups..on Face Book for example. The Australian Atheist Alliance is the main one I converse on..tho there are some idiots on there..as there are any group.

            Liked by 1 person

          4. Quixie

            I never got around to organising myself to follow your private blog. the issue was really quite mundane I think to do so I needed to set up a WOrdpress User ID and password which I have not got around to doing. This is why I am not able to ‘like’ anyone’s comments.

            It really is a pitiful excuse I know. I had been meaning to do it a while back so I could follow Charles’ private blog. He was a person I greatly respected.

            I think we are all emotionally complex folk, that is part of normal humanity.

            Liked by 1 person

          5. Ah. It’s OK.😊 If you ever get around to setting it up and are interested send me a request otherwise I’ll see you around here and on other blogs.

            Like

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