Story of Recovery: Christine

Whenever I feel the urge to testify regarding my former life as a born-again evangelical fundamentalist Christian, I head to my blog and throw a little piece of my former self onto my Hot-For-Jesus Former Fundie site. After over two years of blogging from both a satirical and serious angle about my Jesus days, I realize over and over again that no matter how much I write I have barely put a dent in my story. However, the testimony/story-telling helps me deprogram as my christian past continually loses its power over me.

Currently empathetic atheist with an appreciation for human wisdom whether pagan, christian, or buddhist (et. al), I grew up in a born-again household. We attended many, many churches, but were most comfortable among the Evangelical Free and Baptists. I'll never forget the spurt of going up over the Canadian border every Sunday to attend a Mennonite Church. (wonderful people, btw)

I went forward and was baptized while in late elementary. I started singing for Jesus about that time and eventually became a camp counselor at a Baptist Bible camp, leading children to Christ. I faced doubts and strengthened my faith while at an Evangelical Lutheran college.

After college, I quickly left behind my English teaching career to pursue music and theater in the Big Cities. But there was a catch. I filtered every artistic endeavor through my belief system. More than once I turned down artistic opportunities because the message conflicted with my theology. I wrote and performed Jesus music because I truly believed that my talent/curse was to be used to praise him. Never one for witnessing to total strangers or even friends, I found my music gave me a way to tell of Christ's love and salvation without having to interact one on one. I was semi-shy offstage, but loved being onstage. I was determined to use my gifts for the glory of God and thankful that he had given me a platform on which to praise him.

Then about 8 years ago, a veil lifted. I got in a car accident that woke me up to my priorities about Life. I left my faith behind almost immediately. There was little to no in-between stage for me, and I pity, and am in awe, of Christians who spend years and years agonizing over the "should I stay or should I go" question. I got out and have no regrets.

I know how believers respond to my leaving the faith. Who hasn't heard the "you were tested and failed miserably" or "you were never a true believer to begin with" or "once saved, always saved?" The list goes on and on and on.

I blog about Jesus to help myself deprogram. I also encourage all de-converted to not be afraid to actively seek professional help or find a healthy support system of nonbelievers. After my accident, I knew I couldn't go back to Solomon's Porch, an Emerging Church I was beginning to Love. I knew I couldn't explain why I no longer needed to be immortal to Chrisitan friends and family. I needed to talk and found a therapist who has been there for me when I need to talk.

A non-judgmental ear goes a long way. Never be ashamed to ask for help. There is no need to remain stoically silent, repress flashbacks or live in fear or pain. I know what it's like to lose the sense of community that belonging to Christianity, a church, a family provides. Though my accident fast-forwarded the experience for me, I know what it's like to experience vertigo while taking the leap from faith to solid ground.

Transitions and growth can be uncomfortable, but there is no need to be violent internally or externally to yourself. What I like about my yoga study is that I am constantly reminded that emotions and discomfort come and go - but I allow the struggle. The struggle is a blessing. I am alive. You are alive. It's a good place to start.

I went from constantly censoring and double guessing every creative instinct to allowing myself to say pretty much anything I want. To some my attention to the sexual attractiveness of Jesus is pure blasphemy. I would like to say that being hot for Jesus is merely a shtick. After all, every good entertainer knows you gotta have a gimmick. But, honestly, though I'm quite familiar with the theology that questions Jesus' historical hotness, I also want to publicly embrace with humor and honesty the fact that without a sexy god like Jesus, Christianity would have been SOL.

I could yack for many more paragraphs about "hottie Jesus eye candy and in-depth analysis of life before, during and after JC and company," but everyone has a story to tell, and I'm glad to see people have the courage to talk about their lack of faith and what it was like to break up with Jesus. Thank you to the Recovering Fundamentalists site for creating a safe space for some of us to once again tell our story, chin up, loud and Proud.

Here's to hoping that we not only remember to be compassionate - to others and to ourselves - but to remember to laugh out loud at our former selves.
Christine Vyrnon