I have lost God

(105 Posts)
whatshapeisthisnow Mon 14-Oct-13 18:02:44

Everything has just gone. Almost overnight. I can no longer believe. Nothing happened to make this happen it just sort of occurred to me that it's all made up confused

I am feeling sad that this has happened. I miss going to church. I feel hollow and empty. It is quite a depressing state to be in.

I am not sure of the way forward now. I want to believe but I don't see any way back.

DioneTheDiabolist Tue 15-Oct-13 00:33:38

Perhaps not praying and going through the motions would be good for you right now OP, as it seems to be compounding your feelings of loss.sad. If you feel you can't completely go "cold turkey" quite yet, just chitter to him as you go about your day.

What do you miss about having faith?

schwertz Tue 15-Oct-13 07:24:22

Agree with lots of other posts on here.

Main think I would add is definitely do not throw anything away.

You may not progress in your faith for weeks, months or even years. But whatever you do, and I cannot emphasise this strongly enough, is do not throw everything you had away.

headinhands Italy Tue 15-Oct-13 07:39:08

Ghetto. I'd personally love to answer your questions but think we should probably start a new thread for people to answer them.

whatshapeisthisnow you are going through something very normal and is a sign of developing and maturing faith. Think about a toddler learning to walk. The parents hold onto their hands but there comes a moment when the parent lets go and the child learns to walk alone. It doesn't mean the parent has gone away; they are still there. This is what a maturing faith is like. The early certainty goes and is replaced by doubt and prayer is harder. This period of dryness in prayer and a feeling of the absence of God is sometimes called 'the desert' and has been familiar to Christians as long as we have practised our faith.

Some churches are better at helping people through this than others. There is a lovely book by Alan Jamieson called 'Chrysalis' that describes this process from an Evangelical perspective. I found a book called 'When the Well Runs Dry' by Thomas Green(I think) really helpful from a more Catholic perspective.

So as other posters have said, don't throw your faith away but be prepared for change.

LadyBigtoes Tue 15-Oct-13 09:04:45

I totally agree this may be a "stage" and you may return to your faith - and if that makes you happy that's wonderful. But I would be wary of attempts to tell you that feeing loss of faith is just a normal part of faith and you will inevitably come back.

That might be the case, but it's also important to have your feelings recognised and understood, and to get reassurance, if you really have lost your faith.

I understand that you can't really know for sure at the moment, but I think starting out religious and losing your faith as you get older is also normal, just as normal as having a rough patch as part of continuing to believe.

After all most religious people don't automatically have a set of beliefs that suit them - it's an accident of birth and the place/culture/family you grow up in. If, as you discover what you really think, you find it doesn't suit you, you have to seek out an alternative that does and that is a common process for lots of people.

nooka Tue 15-Oct-13 09:06:45

I lost my ability to believe many many years ago now, and really it's not changed my life at all. My basic core beliefs are really all the same (that fundamentally the world is wonderful and people are generally good) I just don't have a 'god shaped hole' to fill. I don't think that you can fake belief, it's something you have or don't have.

My mother keeps telling me that you can have faith and doubt, but I don't doubt, I'm really pretty certain that the god I was brought up with was created by people, and really if he wasn't would either be a pretty awful being or else oblivious to us. She recommends me books where great academic Christian thinkers have expounded on belief and doubt and persuaded themselves intellectually that god must exist, but I'm really not interested. I don't think you can find god academically in any case.

We have two priests in the family too, so lots of belief swimming around, and I assume I'm prayed for on a regular basis but it's all just irrelevant to me - feels very alien.

I do remember feeling very lost for a while when I realised there was no one listening to my prayers, but then I adjusted and it was fine. I suppose I could have a moment of grace at some point in the future, but I can't imagine that would be the case. I don't really get the 'don't throw anything away' comments here - what is there to throw? It's not as if you need anything other than faith to be a Christian.

chocoluvva Tue 15-Oct-13 09:29:01

I feel for you. I lost my faith at uni. I talked to a close Christian friend but she explained that you either have faith or you don't, ie you either believe or you don't.

For me it was reading about evolution and studying philosophy.

I still see it as a loss. I understand your feeling of pointlessness. I felt like that too, but it passed. The secret to happiness is in doing things - fulfilling your potential, raising your DC as well as you can, helping other people, trying to be good. I have no less conscience as an atheist. I know I have to do things I don't want to because I'll feel guilty if I don't.

But now I see the value of giving strength to others by being generally positive. Some people have unwavering faith in the capacity of humans to make things better through science.

Mindfulness might be the way forward for you.

If you think about it, even God is pointless - what IS the point of him? Organised religion acts as a force to keep people behaving in a way beneficial to society as a whole, but it's not necessary.

You can still believe in love, be loving and be loved whatshapeisthisnow smile.

ButThereAgain Tue 15-Oct-13 09:42:36

I often have what I am sure is a version of this loss of God. I have never believed in God but I am pro-religious because it seems to me that there truly is an experience to be had of something divine, of which the idea of a God is kind of an allegory or metaphor. It seems to me that religious practices and attitudes are a way of capturing and conceptualising this divine. When (almost always) I am not in an kind of contact with the sense of a world (and a self) that is infused with a kind of unity, creativity, value, I do think of that as an experience very like (or even the same as) the one that is called the loss of God. I don't mean that at all as a way of saying that there is no truth in religion. The opposite, if anything. It's just that the idea of a transcendent God who may or may not exist just seems like one among several religious ways of conceptualising the absence, disvalue, and sense of separation from an absolute, that religious practices seek to overcome.

It is a very blank way of feeling. But the consolation is that you are actually apprehending, perceiving, the thing that you seek even while you yearn for it. You experience it, even if only as an absence.

KatyPutTheCuttleOn Tue 15-Oct-13 09:48:55

OP, I have had a similar experience as well. I am going through a very anti religion/God phase at the moment, I am hoping that it will settle down and lead to acceptance at some point in the future.
thanks Buffyp, sorry for your loss.

Hi WhatShape, I think, however much of a change in your thinking and feeling these recent changes seem like, maybe try to see it all as part of your life, and even spiritual/faith, journey. Many people have travelled the path you are travelling, as well as a variety of other paths people have been talking about here.
So, there are many people you can talk to, and experiences you can read, which may help you feel less lonely - as well as talking here.
Personally I moved from being a member of an evangelical church in my twenties to find myself feeling very at home with the Quakers. Quakers are probably the most liberal faith community with roots in the christian tradition. There is much more room to explore freely what you personally really believe than in many churches - advice given is to "Follow the promptings of love and truth in your heart"
I do like that advice .... try it and see where it takes you ?
There is even now a recognised branch of "Non-theists" (or atheists) within British Quakerism ... so you can see how liberal we are grin
There's a book you might find interesting (edited by David Boulton, one of these Quaker non-theists) called "Godless for God's sake" (a collection of thoughts from several writers)
- The title in itself gives food for thought I think ?
All blessings to you for your future path x

If anyone's interested in what the Quaker path or community might offer then there's a very good website which will help you explore things further at quaker.org.uk, and can for example help you find your local meeting.

LadyBigtoes Tue 15-Oct-13 10:34:32

I was also going to suggest mindfulness which I am doing a course in a e moment. It's a completely non-religious, evidence -based form of meditation and approach to daily life that helps you deal with stress, pain and difficult thoughts/feelings - or in fact all thoughts and feelings - in an accepting/non-judgmental and kind way. The course also features poetry and stories that help to explain the approach - its very beautiful, gentle and spiritual in many ways.

I am the most atheist, anti-woo, non-group-joining person you will ever meet but it really suits me. It meets my need for a calm, accepting approach to stress and worry and it makes me feel connected to beauty and spirituality - all without any god, belief or religious proscriptions.

It is actually increasingly being used medically for stress, depression and PTSD and it strikes me that it may actually meet a need that can also be met by religion.

ButThereAgain Tue 15-Oct-13 10:36:16

Yes, I used to attend Quakers. It is a brilliant space to reflect on these things. And it gives you a rest from the business of belief, which doesn't need to be at the centre.

One other thought ... even if we have created God (and religion) rather than He creating us ....it is still all equally amazing !
The universe is still full of miraculous wonders ... like the stars in the night sky, or a beautiful wayside flower, such as the beautifully named "Heartsease" that I discovered on a walk in the Highlands this summer.
So many wonders, from big to small.
And religion too, even if a human creation, the sacred writings of the world faiths still contain some of the greatest expressions of human wisdom and poetry and understanding of and teachings for life, passed down from one generation to the next through the ages.
It is not all gone, even if it may feel like a loss for a time.
It is all still there waiting to be re-discovered (in one way or another)

Perhaps God becomes less an old man with a grey beard sitting on a cloud (Michaelangelo style ?) and more "Mercy, pity, peace and love" residing in the human breast .... and "There God is dwelling too" (William Blake)

PicardyThird Tue 15-Oct-13 11:19:23

Solidarity, Whatshape.

Going through an extremely agnostic phase myself after a series of very difficult things happening to me and others.

My faith was never on the particularly strong side, and I think a lot of my clinging to it was out of fear. I am still afraid of God, I think, if he exists. I can and do pray for others, but since something particularly painful happened to me I can no longer pray, or ask for anything, for myself.

I'm an Anglican living abroad in a place where i can't attend Anglican services regularly. Have stopped going to services of the local denomination. The rites of Anglican worship still mean a lot to me and I go whenever I can, but saying the creed is perhaps not a comfortable experience atm.

I have no idea where this is going to take me, or whether I will ever turn down one path (that of atheism) or the other (that of renewed faith). I suspect I may remain a doubter.

PicardyThird Tue 15-Oct-13 11:20:47

(Lovely posts, btw, Juggling)

Thanks Picardy flowers

chocoluvva Tue 15-Oct-13 11:27:06

YY to the lovely posts.

OP - you can still enjoy beauty, the security of the cycle of nature, the feeling of pride/happiness in seeing children put their hearts into their best efforts, become broody at the loveliness of tiny babies etc

I still think the birth of any baby is miraculous.

TBH - even the way a plant grows from a seed seems miraculous.

I don't mean to be trite - it's very comforting.

madhairday Tue 15-Oct-13 11:43:34

This sounds so difficult for you. As a Christian, what you are going through resonates with me, as a similar thing has happened a couple of times to me. The first time, I remember being bewildered and very, very depressed. It just felt like there was nothing there. I went to church, went through the motions, prayed. Everything - but nothing. It felt like a literal brick wall.

It was one of the most difficult experiences I'd been through, as my faith had always been so deep, and for me had been incredibly experiential and emotional. So I decided to go with it, and almost as a cerebral exercise to see whether my faith could survive through a more rational way of looking at things. I studied theology at a secular uni, and if anything would turn me away, that would grin.

But instead I found, as greenheart referred to, that this was a much documented human condition, and something that happened over and over, often referred to as 'the dark night of the soul' or 'a desert experience.' It certainly felt that way to me. I couldn't see a way back. But studying turned it round for me - I found a rationally robust basis for my faith, and found that it could be more than an experiential thing. I realise this doesn't work this way for everyone, but this was my experience.

I asked myself if I could still believe these things when exempt from any kind of feeling or sense of the presence of God. And for me, I came to see that I could. Of course, without the emotion and the experience it is incredibly difficult, and I have times like this occasionally, where I remind myself that for me, my faith is founded on a rock of reason and evidence that I have studied and accepted, and at times this has had to be enough.

At those times, it can be good to take a step back from all the 'trappings' - prayer, worship etc etc, and almost embrace the desert experience to see where it goes. I can only say this having come out of it the other side, I know that it is not that easy - but for me it led, both major times, to a deepening of faith that changed me profoundly.

I hope you can come to some peace with where you are, and have a glimmer of hope as to how things could be. I'm very happy to talk more via pm if you would like, as I remember the cold feeling surrounding me. Thinking of you thanks

I think it's not so bad to be an agnostic or fence sitter Picardy.
It's quite a reasonable position to take really. And quite humble ?
We don't know all the answers to the questions of the Universe. And we don't have to claim we do!

My dd helped me realise I might be an agnostic. She has recently decided she is an atheist (due mainly to the scientific arguments such as evolutionary theory) Well "not an atheist, a Quaker non-theist" - she is very supportive of me and my faith (slightly idiosynchratic though it is) and values our faith community too. She's 14 and I'm very blessed by her - and DS(11)
But anyway she said "You're an agnostic Mum, you're always on the fence about everything, and see both points of view. In fact when I'm trying to remember what agnostics are like (such as in RS she means) I think of you!"

Hmm, seems from the number of posts from me on here this morning I may have become quite an evangelical agnostic grin
A slightly strange thing to be ?!

madhairday Tue 15-Oct-13 12:03:23

grin Juggling

Well you do write so beautifully, you have a natural evangelism gift grin

I do love reading your posts.

Wow, thanks mhd - that's very nice of you.
I hope you don't mind me posting on the christian prayer thread too.
I do appreciate the thoughts and prayers over there too, such as that beautiful prayer Badvoc shared last night.
That was just perfect for me then (as feeling rather weary)

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