You’re Not Alone If You Don’t Believe

In spite of what it may seem when you scroll through Facebook, read other blogs, and look at friends’ hashtags, not everyone is feeling #blessed. Some of us are just trying to make it through the day being decent humans without worrying about an afterlife of judgment. Not all of us believe in a higher power, and we manage just fine. You’re not alone if you don’t believe.

For anyone who needs to hear this today: It is okay to have doubts about your faith, your god, and the meaning of it all. 

Single pink carnation on a light blue background. Text reads: You're not alone if you don't believe.

It can be difficult to talk about

I do not talk about my lack of religiosity often, because I have learned that when I do I am accused of flaunting it or pushing it on others, even though that is the furthest thing from my mind. Interestingly, all the Jesus memes and pray for xyz posts and yay, God coming through my social media are okay, though. 

To be clear, I do not take issue with anyone’s individual religious beliefs or disbelief. It’s not my place, it’s not my life, and—as long as you are not attempting to force {or legislate} said beliefs on me or others—it’s not my concern. 

But I also know what it is like to feel as if you are the only person in the world who has had these doubts and wrestled with these conclusions. I know what it is like to be afraid to say it out loud.

I do not talk about my lack of religiosity often, because I have learned that when I do I am accused of flaunting it or pushing it on others, even though that is the furthest thing from my mind. Click To Tweet

People will make assumptions

Most people in my life assume I am Christian By Default. They surmise that because they once knew me as someone who identified as Christian, nothing could have possibly shaken that. They conclude I must feel the same way now as I did ten years ago, or five years ago, or one year ago. Or yesterday for that matter. 

And I can kind of understand that. I mean, if I had to completely re-evaluate everything I thought about every person I know every time I ran into them it would get pretty old.

Plus, I am a middle class middle age straight cisgender stay at home mom white woman with military ties living in suburbia and homeschooling her children. Pretty much the definition of Nice Christian Lady.

Except I am not a Nice Christian Lady. I am a Nice Atheist Lady, and that gives many people an attack of cognitive dissonance.

Often even after I clarify—which I only do if asked directly; I do not advertise per se—the response is still disbelief and condescension. Clearly there must be some dearth of knowledge or understanding on my part, and if only you knew more you would agree with me.

Shadow of person with outstretched arms looking into the sunset. Text reads: Not a believer? You are not alone.

This view is valid

But there is nothing deficient about my faith—or lack thereof—as I currently define it. It just is. I don’t need to be converted. I’ve been there. I have read all the same passages, attended all the same services, heard all the same promises. I just processed it differently. 

It’s not just that it stopped making sense to me. It truly never made sense to begin with. I just gave up trying to force it to fit the mold I had created of who I thought I had to be.

This can be difficult to internalize. Especially if you’ve spent most of your life entrenched in just one of the infinite possibilities of explaining the seemingly unexplainable.

Uncertainty is okay

But, is that not what I am doing now, you might wonder? That is a common reaction, honestly. I thought I had it all figured out before, and I think I have it all figured out now, so what if I come to a new conclusion in the future and convince myself that I really have it down then?

The difference now is that I know I could be wrong, and I am okay with that. I spent an enormous amount of time believing I had The Answer, and everyone else must be kidding themselves. I am more accepting of uncertainty now. 

That does not mean I doubt my position. It is not an open window for evangelizing. It just means I am a 6 point something instead of a straight up 7 .

I am not out to turn anyone away from their faith if that is truly what makes them happy. Contrary to what you may have heard, atheists do not attempt to recruit. We won’t try to pull you to the dark side, or talk you into or out of anything. We just want to encourage anyone who feels doubtful or misunderstood or confused and to offer support without judgment.

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This Post Has 18 Comments

  1. Avatar

    It’s interesting how harshly judged we are for merely not believing a story. And what is faith anyway, but a conviction of thoughts without substance? But I’ve seen jaw drops and heard comments “but you seem so nice” and other things. Belief should be a temporary state to reach an objective. How long does religion need to show results? Losing my faith was hard then I realized I’ve got this. I’d been doing life alone the entire time anyway—with a little help from my friends and family. Great post. I don’t really think most people believe anyway. The herd is a powerful thing.

    1. Avatar

      Thank you for your kind comment. It’s always hard putting stuff like this out there, because folks have a lot of preconceived notions. I have heard the “but you seem so nice!” with utter surprise as well. You’re right; we’ve got this. 😉

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    Kate Murray

    I think it’s quite admirable of you to put your story out there. It would be wonderful to live in a world without judgement, and I think whether we choose to admit it or not, many of us go through these doubts, not just about religion, but child rearing, family, career, all kinds of doubts. Kudos to you for sharing your vulnerability and offering support to others.

    1. Avatar

      Thank you, Kate. Sharing something so personal on a relatively new blog made me feel a little woozy, so I appreciate the positive feedback.

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    Anna McCluskey

    Yes! Everything about this resonates. Thank you for sharing these thoughts – it’s a rough America for us non-Christians sometimes. I was raised Catholic and now I’m sort of vaguely polytheistic, because, as you said, it just never made sense to me. And I live in a small town and people are ALWAYS bringing up Jesus in random conversation for absolutely no reason.

    “I locked my keys in my car, yesterday, but Jesus was looking out, and I managed to get in through the passenger side window.” Really? Because of Jesus? Not because it’s a hot day, and you had your window cracked a little bit so it wouldn’t overheat in there?

    I feel so uncomfortable when everyone around me assumes I’m Christian and makes little comments like this. But I also know that it’s ingrained in the culture, and I certainly won’t judge them for their beliefs, even if I don’t share them.

    1. Avatar

      Former Catholic here, too. I have lived in 8 US states {and one foreign country} and it’s certainly a cultural thing everywhere. People like to assume things. And give Jesus credit for literally everything. It is uncomfortable at times. I generally don’t say anything unless someone makes a huge deal out of it, or attempts to Jesus Up my kids {has happened}. Then I’m just like, um, no thanks. It’s a different world from our perspective for sure.

  4. Avatar

    Funny … I am a believer, a believer in Spirit … and don’t feel appalled after reading your post. I was raised Catholic, then became an evangelical Christian, then a Protestant, then … I wanted to become a Quaker … or an Orthodox Christian … whatever would bring me closer to the God of peace and love and kindness and inclusivity. Right now, I’m … I’m not sure there is a term to describe me. So all I can say is that I’m a believer. And what I connected with most from your post is this line: “I am more accepting of uncertainty now.” That’s how I feel after my journey through religion. Thank you for sharing!

    1. Avatar

      Thank you for stopping by, Renae. I’m glad you found some connection with the post.

  5. Avatar
    Viano Dee

    It’s really brave of you to put your story out there. I want to you know I understand. I am a Christian though but I get you. I know where you’re coming from and truly speaking it’s understandable. There are so many different sects each serving their doctrines, you shouldn’t be judged for feeling confused or disbelieving what you once believed. I’ve been there before but I guess it was because I kept waiting on someone to tell me about Jesus— to give their own interpretation of who he was— believe me when I say they didn’t do justice. I decided to find him out myself. Who is he? What did he say? I picked up the Bible and for the first time read it myself while asking the Holy Spirit for understanding. I can honestly tell you that many of those who claim to know him have badly misrepresented him. I have realized that the truth you discover for yourself can never be taken from you.

    1. Avatar

      I have read the Bible myself, too. It’s a wonderful collection of stories.

  6. Avatar

    I have always been an atheist and was raised in a mostly agnostic family so I am always so impressed and in awe of people who were raised with religion and manage to move on from it. I cannot imagine how difficult it must be to let go. You are such a strong woman and definitely a “nice atheist”. 😊

  7. Avatar

    It seems we started our journey around the same time, just on opposite coasts. Thank you so much for sharing your story. Thank you so much for making this blog. Thank you thank you thank you. I needed this and you have reached me. I’m still healing from the visceral tear jerking reaction of having my entire support system ripped away from me when I walked away. Even still, I can’t go back. My daughter is 3 and I want to homeschool but everything I find is Jesus this and Jesus that and there’s hardly anything anywhere that doesn’t have something about the bible in it. I have to pick and pry at everything to get around it all. Thank you so much.

    1. Valerie

      Beth, I am so sorry you are going through that. It must be such a difficult position to be in. Still, once you realize what you thought was true is not, you are absolutely right—you can’t go back.

      I hope that you are able to find some connection with folks who understand and can provide some support. Can I help you brainstorm ideas?

      Also, I know that when you first look into homeschooling it seems like everyone is All Jesus All the Time, but there are plenty of us who homeschool secularly and are more than willing to help. If you like, I can send links to a few Facebook groups that have been super helpful with resources and suggestions.

  8. Avatar

    Re-evaluating everything as you grow up is a necessary step that unfortunately most of us fail to do, we just keeping our default beliefs.

    We should always try to re-evaluate things & improves our personality!

    1. Valerie

      Agree; I held on to a lot of my “default programming” for way too long. It can be very enlightening to step back and view what you always assumed was true with fresh eyes. Thanks so much for stopping by, Chris.

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    Ellen Best

    A nice authentic post, I always say, the Bible has some good basic ideas on how to live an honest and fruitful life. A handbook for those who need guidence. I wish I could write a book that still is a best seller in a thousand and so years time. I popped across from your facebook page. And pleased I came.

    1. Valerie

      Thank you so much for stopping by today, Ellen. ❤️

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