Ex atheists. What was it that caused you to change your mind?(20 Posts)
Exactly what the title says. Are there any ex atheists on here who ended up finding god at one stage in their life? If so, what was it that brought you to god? I've been an atheist all of my life but just recently I am feeling a pull towards 'god' I can't explain it really. Anyone have any stories for me to ponder over?
I am feeling drawn to God, specifically becoming a Quaker (see my thread last week), but I was never an atheist, agnostic I suppose. How are you feeling drawn to God?
I was an atheists then agnostic, now discribe myself as spiritual. I don't follow any particular religion. I wasn't looking to become spiritual. I first of all looked into Mindfulness for stress, then started listening to Eckhart Tolle, what he speaks about makes total sense to me and something just clicked in me, I got "it", I then had an experience/awakening. It changed my life, I have a totally different outlook on life, I'm still human of course , things aren't perfect but the underlying, peace, knowing and love is always there. I try and meditate twice s day.
OP, have you got any ideas on how uou would like to kove forward?
Slippermaiden I think I may have spoken to you on your thread. The peacefulness of the Quakers meeting does sound great.
Hello, thanks for the replies. I can't really explain this pull I feel towards God. I'm so confused and conflicted about my feelings right now. My sister died 4 years ago and she was baptised before her death, she would clutch an holding cross and pray in her final months. I would pray with her but not really know what I was doing. Even in the Church during her funeral the words never really resonated with me. I kept her holding cross after her Death and 4 years down the line I've been wanting to hold it, and pray. I went to Church last night. I stood around outside not really knowing what I was doing or feeling. Before long I was invited in for a 'Closer to God' segment. It was lovely and uplifting. People were standing up and saying prayers and thanks to God. I didn't sing along to anything but I did say Amen. I feel like going back again. This is a very confusing time for me. I'm 27 and have always shown such ignorance towards God. I am taking my children to the Harvest Festival next Sunday and I can't wait.
It sounds to me like you have been through a lot, sorry to hear about your sister. If you enjoyed going to church yesterday then it sounds like there is no reason not to go again. You could just go along a few times and see if you want to become more involved then talk to someone at the church about it. Sometimes things come along when we need them most.
My experience is different, I haven't been through anything traumatic or sad but feel strongly drawn to the Quaker faith in the last few months. I have read so much about it that I agree with, and going to a Quaker meeting last week was so natural and 'right', I am looking forward to attending meeting each week and taking it further and eventually becoming a Quaker.
Why did you first define yourself as an atheist?
My grandpa became a Christian at 60 from being an atheist. It's a long story but he'd had a tragic childhood and been a bit of a force to be reckoned with as a young man.
When he was 60 he felt drawn to read the bible and would pray each evening after reading. He started to go to church and by the time he died he was an incredible preacher and such a great man of God. He'd always have people coming to him for wisdom which he had in abundance. He was incredibly clever, he was a maths professor among other things, he led a colourful, fascinating life. He said the smartest and most exciting thing he ever did was choosing to follow Jesus.
Man I miss him.
I'm sorry it it sounds like you are still dealing with the grief of your sister dying and mixing it up with the religious rituals surrounding her death. Maybe some grief counseling would be better than displacing it?
Userwho thanks for the reply but I think you are wrong. I have dealt in full with the loss of my sister, although one never truly gets over the death of a loved one. She had CF and we knew that death was inevitable. My pull to God does not feel in relation to my Sister, as bad as that sounds. It feels like something personal.
I'm an ex-atheist. I was brought up in a family of atheists and for most of my life considered myself to be one. I had a bit of a churchy thing as a teenager - it was a way of rebelling against my atheist family - but for decades was reflexively atheist. Many of the things I read atheist posters on here saying are things I used to think.
Then, gradually, I began to change. There were some external contributory factors. For the first time in my life, I knew some Christians. They didn't try to convert me - not at all, I can't remember any significant conversations with them about faith at this stage. But the way they lived their life really made an impression on me. Not because they were holier than thou, but because their lives had an integrity, and despite their often incredibly difficult lives (I can't go into this, but really awful things) they were people it did you good to be with. So that was one thing. Then I had difficulties with one of my children that I didn't know how I could cope with. I wasn't the practical side, it was my own feelings of despair and hopelessness - feelings that I couldn't land on friends because there is only so much weight that friendship will bear. I found myself praying in my hardest times because there was nothing else I could do. And finally I had a conversation with DH (who was, and remains an atheist/agnostic), who said something like 'it must be extraordinary to take that leap into belief' - and that gave me permission to admit to myself that almost without realising it I had gone from not believing to believing in God.
It took ages and ages before I did anything about this. I had months where I did a kind of internal shudder of 'I can't have joined those weird, weedy, grinny religious types, those uncool religious people' (to be honest, I still have those internal shudders!). I couldn't tell anyone about it. But I couldn't stop either - God was there even though I didn't want him to be. And I kept on praying, often just saying the Lord's Prayer in times of difficulty.
Finally I gave up and went to church. Urgh Yuck! It was so horrible and I felt so out of place and awkward. But somehow it felt right as well. A few weeks later I went back. And back again. I started to read. The first thing I read was Karen Armstrong's book about the Bible. A few books later I came across Rowan Williams's Tokens of Trust. Reading this was the moment for me when everything changed, and I knew that I'd crossed over from being an atheist who was secretly dipping a toe in the God-water to someone who wanted to go into the river and come out again the other side into a new way of living. I asked the vicar if I could get baptised, and there I was ... a Christian.
I still find it bizarre sometimes. Sometimes I still think, oh, how did I get here? Will the old Niminy come back again? But actually most of the time I have a powerful sense that yes, this is who I am meant to be, and how I am meant to live.
Niminy Great post, thank you for sharing. I can relate to your story quite a lot. I went to Church again last night and did the Evening Prayer. It does feel awkward and unnatural to me at that moment but I couldn't stop myself going. I don't really know how to make sense of it all at the moment but I'm just gonna have to go with the flow, see what comes of it. I'm tempted to give those books you mentioned a read. Thank you all for the replies.
The other book I read which really changed things for me was How to Pray by Stephen Cottrell. I really, really recommend this - it was life-changing for me.
I get the feeling awkward and uncomfortable thing, I was worried about talking to my husband about it incase he thought I was mad, he did ask me something about Jesus sandals but otherwise thought it was fine. I don't think he will be joining me at Meeting anytime soon though.
Again Slipper I can relate. My DH isn't religious although baptised as a child. He fully supports my going to Church though. He said he's proud of me for following my gut. He's more agnostic so he doesn't have any strong views for or against God. He's being really supportive, he's going to buy our DDs new Autumn outfits for the Harvest Festival on Sunday at the local Church. I've decided to go to a meeting on Thursdays which is held at the Vicarage, it answers lots of questions no matter how wacky. The two times I've been to Church just lately I've been asking 'is it ok for me to be here?' And 'what should I do?' Everyone has been lovely and welcoming though.
Rachampearl, you sound like you have found your place in the religious world, I'm pleased for you! I have been reading some Quaker guidance books and feel so full of enthusiasm and joy for this new part of my life, it's so exciting.
It's great to be soul-searching and having lots of questions! Try the Alpha course - you're encouraged to ask questions, no-one will think you're being difficult, you'll get loads of Bible-based information, and you usually get fed as well! You should be able to find an Alpha course close to where you live. Pentecostal, Baptist and Community churches usually hold them once or twice a year, but many of the Christian denominations run them so you'll probably have a choice of where to go. The actual information will be the same though as it will be the same materials used. My boys are starting the Youth Alpha at our cuurch this Friday and are really excited about it. Hth.
I keep meaning get to reply to this and then not getting round to it. For me, there wasn't a big change with lots of belief. When I was an atheist, I thought that Christians all had a firm, unshakeable and probably quite literal belief in God. But that isn't at all what it's like for me. I didn't really change what I believed so much as I changed my understanding about what it meant to live a religious life. A lot of the time, I don't really believe in God in the way that I used to think was important, but actually that literal sort of belief isn't a big part of my faith. Instead, I chose to live my life as though the god I sometimes believe in is real.
Broomstick how did you think Christians believed in God, and how is it different from what you believe now? Do you feel invigorated by finding your religion?
This happened to me. Atheist upbringing became a Christian in my late 30s. It was just a pull I couldn't explain. I started attending church because of that pull. Took about 2 years and I was baptised. I have difficulties with my church. Left for a bit tried finding one that fit better but couldn't. Went back for the worship and the community but get bible study help from a childhood friend whos a pastor who has a bit of a different approach to my church. It's not easy finding your feet with what exactly to do with that pull. But faith has been a huge blessing in my life that I'm thankful for every day almost. I don't fit well into my local church offerings bug I am a Christian. My spiritual life grows slowly and it comforts and guides and gives me joy in ways I never thought possible. Just keep going. Think of it like a plant. You will need to work out how to feed and nurture it on a way that chimes with you. But I don't think you'll be sorry.
And any half way decent Church should feel welcoming. It doesn't matter what exactly you believe you can attend. Don't feel anyone there thinks you shouldn't be there. If they think that they are wrong.
Just let God work in you and you'll know what to do. Each step gradually become clear to me as time went on.
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