Safe Exit Ramps

I spent most of my life believing that the God of the Universe had sent his son to die for my sins, that I was a born-again member of God's chosen family, and that he had called me to be one of his spokespersons.

I became a believer at the age of nine during a year of reading the Bible from cover-to-cover. I was a good boy who made my parents proud. When the time was right, I admitted I was a sinner and gave my life to Jesus.

I learned to sing hymns like "Amazing Grace" in which we each proclaimed that Jesus had died for "such a worm as I." It was a great paradox of belief: God loves me. I am special. But I'm also a worm. I'm broken, flawed, and hopeless on my own, but Jesus has fixed me, no, is fixing me. Wait, will fix me. No, has fixed me. Yikes!

And part of my Christian mindset was that since the way of Jesus was a narrow road, since "many are called, but few are chosen," and since God's ways often transcend human logic, other people would not always understand the faith I had chosen to live by. In fact, those of us who were true believers might even be persecuted for our beliefs. So I would need to look to God for courage to stay true to him, no matter how hard that loyalty might be and no matter what the cost.

I said goodbye to Jesus thirteen years ago, and I've never doubted my decision to say no to any brand of religious faith. A burden was lifted from my shoulders when I stopped engaging in the mental gymnastics of trying to make reality fit into the way of thinking and living I had found in the Bible. I've found a new freedom in my disbelief.

As a Christian, I saw myself as a member of an oft-maligned minority. I was perpetually braced for rejection by a secular world. But looking back, I'm not sure I ever experienced anything more than some mild rejection by those who did not agree with me. Actually, the strongest oppostion came from other Christians who interpretted the faith differently. Now I am truly part of a minority. I am one of "those people" who is "without theism," an atheist. If I tried to run for a public office in my home state, the legitimacy of my candicacy could be legally challenged because of my disbelief. Hundreds of people I once considered friends find ways to avoid me, and most of those who do stay in touch seem to have trouble accepting the new version of me.

I don't regret my new course, but I've learned this lifestyle requires courage. It's better not to do this alone. It helps to gain insights from others who've taken a similar path. It's important to find safe exit ramps from a life of faith.

That's what this website is about, providing insights, resources, and support for making, processing, and living with the incredible life change from faith to non-belief.

Tim Sledge Copyright © 2021 Insighting Growth Publications

Note: Thanks to @FreyrLord on Twitter for introducing the idea of safe off ramps.

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