It's been a long, slow conversion from god-fearing religious crazy person to whatever it is I am now. I had been "saved!" for most of my life. Now I'm leaving all that bad behind and now I feel lost. Not spiritually lost, but socially lost. Kind of identity-lost as well. It's not a bad thing. My main motivations in life are to learn and have fun. I'll get my bearings eventually.
It's just that I never had a casual church life. Growing up I typically spent 3-4 nights a week in church, in addition to Sunday mornings. Sunday morning wasn't just an hour-long thing, either. Church lasted all day. I had no social life outside church. All my family are devout believers in God.
When I finally admitted to myself that I'm better off not believing any of that religious stuff, I didn't know what to do with myself. I expected to be relieved, nothing more. All my religion had ever done to me was stress me out. I was exhausted from trying to force myself to accept teachings that did not make sense. Surely walking away from that headache would be a cinch.
I was actually depressed for some days. I had devoted so much time and energy to getting closer to God. I had done some crazy shit - fortunately nothing that brought anyone harm (I hope) mostly just making an idiot of myself - to get God's attention.
My entire life, having been consumed primarily with churchstuff - had a been a total waste up to that point. So it was time to start over.
But how? I'll figure it out.
I love and respect my mom and my mother-in-love very much. They are devout, gentle Christians who are more about loving people than anything else. They'll share the gospel with you, but they'll do it respectfully and only if you are willing to listen. Every chance they get, they actually help people when they are able (feed the hungry, etc). They disapprove of homosexuality, but they will warmly accept my gay friends into their homes, serve them dinner, get to know them better while awkwardly avoiding any mention of gayness, and give them hugs and say, "I love you sweetie. God bless you!" as they leave or something like that. Then my moms would go and pray - on their own time - for my friends.
If I came out and told my moms that I don't believe in god anymore, they wouldn't disown me. They wouldn't preach at me; after all, I've been fed the Bible for all of my life, what more could they say? They wouldn't ostracize me. But they would be very, very heartbroken.
I don't want to do that to them.
I'll delay coming out as long as I can. I did ask my husband what he would think if I became an atheist. He held me close and assured me he'll never leave me or stop loving me, and neither would god. I left it at that.
My husband rarely has Sundays off from work. When he does, he likes to go to church. I enjoy going with him. We go to the park afterwards, feed the turtles in the lake, and watch them fight.
I don't mind going to church with my husband because he chooses churches that are vastly different from the ones I had to go to growing up. We visit First Baptist and Presbyterian churches - guaranteed to be done in 55 minutes or less.
I was raised by a wild pack of raving charismaniacs. Church lasted forever. The music was loud and insanely repetitive. The offering - instead of baskets being politely passed from person to person - consisted of row after row after row of people getting up out of the pew, marching up to the offering table, and putting money into the basket up front. Everybody noticed if you didn't get up out of the pew. All the ministers could see if you got up out of the pew and marched around, but didn't put any money into the basket. The "altar call" took forever.
"Is there anyone who would like to receive Christ into your hearts?"
"Is there anyone who would like to receive prayer?"
"Mmm....Baba sha ta. Somebody in here needs a fresh anointing."
Anyway, attending church with my husband is much preferable to attending the church of my youth. It's short, sweet, the music is at decent volume, I get to practice my sight-singing and harmonization by singing hymns I don't know that well from the hymnbook, and they keep flashy, manipulative antics at a minimum. Most importantly, it is important to the love of my life and he appreciates it when I attend church services with him.
I am unsure of how I feel about the ethics of being a closet nonbeliever. I am knowingly allowing my loved ones to assume I still am something I am no longer. I don't know how long I will be able to tolerate that from myself, but for now, it's comfortable enough.