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Agnostic, God and Faith

Discussion in 'Introduce Yourself' started by The-Agnostic, Oct 10, 2018.

  1. The-Agnostic

    The-Agnostic New Member

    United Kingdom
    I am twenty one years old and am currently studying a BA Ancient History degree at a Russel group university. I have always had an interest in religion but have grown up in a more or less atheistic household, with my father being completely non-religious and my mother being spiritual and a firm believer in Jesus but not participating in organised Christian worship. My younger sister is also completely secular in her beliefs and due to being a Lesbian is also highly critical of Christian teachings.

    In my childhood I attended two Church of England schools at both infant and primary levels. I remember primary school the best as being where I developed my first opinion on religion. I engaged with Christianity through the occasional school trip to a nearby church as well as having religious teaching days where a women would come to the school and speak at assemblies as well as do activities that taught us about Jesus and other biblical stories.

    In primary school I held an extremely cynical view on religion and was in truth very hostile towards Christianity, seeing it as something to make a mockery off. I remember being put off by the ardent religious belief of some of the teachers at the school. My education up until college was not the easiest as I struggled initially very hard and I was not the most engaged in my studies as a child. My dyslexia prevented me from being able to read till the start of secondary school, and as a result I did quite poorly in my SAT tests.

    Even now being a university student I rarely read for pleasure and mostly listen to audio books, despite my ability with reading and writing being very good despite my dyslexia.

    On attending secondary school religion or any interest in it disappeared completely, and while I still had a hostile attitude towards it my only exposure to religion was in the compulsory Religious Education lessons I would have once a week. At secondary school due to my poor educational performance at primary school I was put into the worst sets for all my courses, and whereas I came from a relatively wealthy middle class background all my peers were from working class backgrounds and were extremely ambivalent towards education, as was I at the time.

    To put it bluntly my classes within the early part of secondary school were the rubbish heap, while other classes made progress we were the problem children, and while the teachers made an effort most the time, many of the people in my class were disruptive and I spent most my time talking to a friend and doing the bare minimum of work… not that there was much work to go around.

    For the first three years of my secondary education this is how it went and, I had a very poor educational experience. Also while I made friends with some of my class mates the differences in our backgrounds singled me out to them and it did make it hard for me. I struggled to get along with a number of the people in my classes, and my two most long lasting friends from school were made outside the classroom via our mutually shared hobby of Video Games.

    What eventually got me out of my educational hole was not my school but the diligence of my father who invested a large amount of time in helping me overcome my difficulties, tutoring me in anything I needed extra help in. So as things steadily became more serious and it came to undertaking my year 10 GCSE mocks my performance was much better than expected, and I was moved up educational sets which gave me a better foundation to spring board to a reasonable set of GCSE’s at the end of secondary school.

    But during the latter years of secondary school a much darker chapter of my life started, and for reasons even now I struggle to understand I slipped slowly into a crippling teenage depression. I felt lost and hopeless, feeling there was very little meaning to my life and ultimately feeling trapped by the pressures of society. I withdrew somewhat from my friends (or at least we lost understanding for each other) and disengaged again within the classroom.

    I slowly lost myself completely in depressive ruminations and it was during this time I created a very large journal in which I explored my darkening feelings, and my unexplainable sadness fuelled an increasingly nihilistic outlook. I began to question my morale principles and begun to feel that if life was pointless, and nothing mattered that I might as well die.

    I got very lost in my journal and my ruminations led to my depression getting rapidly worse. I struggled to talk to those close to me and hid my feelings from my family and despite unloading onto my friends they did not know how to help me. I knew I was falling into a very dangerous whole and a part of me left knew I had to seek help. After informing my form tutor about my feelings and secretly seeing my GP by lying to my parents about doing after school revision I was eventually referred via my school to NHS CAMHS (Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service).

    The help I needed took a long time to kick into action, and as I was restless and consumed with suicidal ideation I took a small overdose of pills and had ChildLine call me an ambulance. I cynically knew this planned action would expedite my treatment plan, and the seriousness with which CAMHS would view me.

    I started on cognitive behavioural therapy but my therapy moved in circles and it quickly became clear to my therapist that I needed treatment which would explore my unconscious thoughts. I was offered one year of psychodynamic therapy with one appointment at the same time each week and was put on antidepressants (Zoloft). My psychotherapy was a long journey and was itself extended by another year after an admission I made to my therapist a few months into treatment which is too sensitive to say here.

    While all this was going on I finished my GCSE’s and passed all my subjects except Mathematics but it was good enough for me to do what I wanted at college so I went on to study World Development, Sociology and Philosophy, while also doing a mathematics retake which I passed the following November after leaving school with the help of my father. While I continued my CAMHS treatment in college, I did begin to feel much better and my interest in education had now become much stronger and I was much more engaged with my friends and hobby of Video Games.

    Traditionally my only hobby had been video games, but during my depression I discovered a passion for walking in the countryside. During the darkest times I found it incredibly calming to walk along the rights of ways and stunning ridge walks in my home county. The views of the English countryside provided a window into the beauty of nature and the majesty of the natural world which alongside my treatment is no doubt a huge part in my recovery. It also gave me great quality time with my father and together walking became a shared hobby of ours.

    College was a time in which I thrived both educationally and emotionally and despite being traditionally shy and unsocial I think the intensive treatment and the Zoloft suppressed my social anxieties enough to help me come out of my shell a little bit. I even had the opportunity to go to India with the college for a two week period and this was one of the greatest experiences of my life thus far.

    India was such an enriching experience and was so different to what I was used to back home. The coach ride after my flight was one of the most interesting experiences of my life, it was such a world away from England seeing the bustle of the people and the huge urban sprawl of Delhi. The highlights of my trip for me were seeing the Golden Temple with its mesmerising Sikh music, the Taj Mahal with its stunning architecture, the beauty of the Himalayan foot hills and the rough desert of Rajasthan. At the end of college I achieved ABB with my A in philosophy.

    As I had not wanted to rush into a decision of what I wanted to do during college I had early in the second year made the decision to take a gap year. My plan was to spend my time playing games, walking with my father and volunteering although I didn’t know in exactly what (it would be a hospice). The ultimate goal was to visit and eventually apply to five universities through UCAS for Ancient History as I had a fascination in history and really wanted to learn about the great Ancient societies.

    There was however a turn in my life straight after college that caught me completely off guard. At the start of the summer after having finished my A levels, my father cooked a BBQ for us as a family much like he had done many times before. It was during this meal that my parents told myself and my sister that they had bad news to break. My mother broke down and told us that a few months ago she had been diagnosed with Stage 4 Breast Cancer that had spread to her bones. The reason they hadn’t told us straight away is because they didn’t want the news to adversely affect my performance at A Level.

    It was devastating news for me and while I put on a brave face when they told me, that night when I was by myself I cried. Now it has been roughly three and a half years ago since that BBQ and I can thankfully say my mother is still with us and is doing very well. Her treatment is keeping her alive and while she will never be cured I hope beyond hope that she still has a great many years left with us.

    After my mother’s diagnoses I felt an intense need to spend as much time with my mother as I could, and while today we have settled into a more normal routine at the beginning with the amount of free time I had much like with my father me and my mother developed a mutual hobby of visiting the National Trust properties in our local area. I enjoyed the gardens the most while she enjoyed the properties. Alongside this my mother and I have developed a fondness of visiting all the old churches within the towns and villages we visit on our trips of exploration.

    It is through these trips I have developed a real appreciation for the Churches we visit, and for me they are symbols of community and history. I love reading all the various inscriptions of those who have lived and been buried within them and I often wonder what those people were like and how their lives were. One time when we were exploring the Candover’s in Hampshire, my mum and I stumbled upon a beautiful church that we decided to visit and as we approached it we could hear singing from inside.

    It was Sunday after all so I shouldn’t have been too surprised that a service was taking place but I didn’t want to intrude so wanted to leave, but my mother insisted we go inside. To my embarrassment we had stumbled in half way through their service and the people inside were not expecting us.

    Despite this a lady came up to us and passed my mother and I a hymn book and told us what hymn they were on and not ever having attended church properly I inquired as to what page that was, too which the women gave me a puzzled look, and simply repeated the hymn number. Not wanting to interrupt the service anymore than we already had I went into the aisle my mother had went too, and soon realised the book was navigated by the hymn numbers as opposed to page numbers.

    My mother really got into the service singing the hymns alongside the others but I was reserved and felt intensely out of place. It also felt hypocritical of me to participate and while I now have great respect for Christianity and other people’s beliefs I certainly did/do not believe in the teachings.

    Despite this I did really enjoy the experience and the feeling of community that the people had. At its end we gave our hymn books back and while I cannot speak for my mother, feeling out of place I left quite quickly and my mother followed. If I am honest after the service a part of me is now drawn to the experience, but despite my mother having asked me on a number of occasions if I’d be happy to go back for another service I haven’t said yes.

    The history of Christianity fascinates me and during my degree I had the opportunity to learn about its foundation and the theories on how it spread through the Roman Empire and was adopted eventually by the Roman Emperors. I don’t want to get into the specifics of why I don’t believe, but I do feel torn and it makes me question but there are many problems in my mind with Christianity and its teachings as with all organised religions. I don’t discount the existence of God but at the same time I am not convinced that there is one, I would like there to be but my like does not make it so.

    But now I think I shall leave it here, I have found it very cathartic to put these thoughts down to paper and while I don’t know what I hope to achieve by posting this, it as at least comforting to know others have seen and considered these thoughts and experiences of mine.
    We teamed up with Faith Counseling. Can they help you today?
  2. FutureAndAHope

    FutureAndAHope Just me Supporter


    we are all at different stages of knowledge, and over time we become exposed to various ideas. Some of these ideas are true and some are false. I am not sure where you are on your journey. If you are interested in hearing a little of my faith journey see my youtube video at it was put up a few month back.
  3. David Cabrera

    David Cabrera Well-Known Member

    United States
    Howdy! :wave:
    I love walking during the night too, that way I feel I allow my thoughts to go through without any disturbance. I also listen to music that relates to how I feel during that time too.
  4. AvgJoe

    AvgJoe Member since 2005 Supporter

    United States
    Hi The-Agnostic & welcome to CF!

    You know, the Bible is the textbook of Christianity. If the Bible is true, then Christianity is true, and God, who is described within it's pages, is true. If you'd ever like to look into that, here's a good place to start~~~> http://www.apologeticspress.org/pdfs/e-books_pdf/idobi.pdf , especially pages 25-59.
  5. ~Anastasia~

    ~Anastasia~ † Servant of God † Supporter CF Senior Ambassador

    United States
    Eastern Orthodox
    Hello and welcome to CF. :)

    It's funny - I don't quite know how to say this, but I read your story with great interest. I teach teens and Church and I've long been most comfortable working with teens and young adults in different contexts. (I'm also a teacher and when I was hired to run the class for early ed at a private school some years back - I still ended up with the teens lol). Anyway, that's part of the reason I was interested. Also because several of the things you talk about crossed several of my career areas.

    But what strikes me is that you've been brought to that place where many people begin to be aware of God - in so many ways. For some it's through history. For some it's through needing help with depression. For some it's through being faced with a potentially devastating diagnosis. For some it's through nature. For some it's the sense of community. And so on and on ... what strikes me is that it seems you've been bumping up against those kinds of experiences for much of your young life.

    I know for a fact that God is real, and I also know that He loves every person and wants them all to come to know Him, and He will work with each of us through our unique circumstances. So to me - what you describe is very exciting (though I recognize challenging as well - I don't discount that - I was diagnosed with cancer a couple of years ago and had to tell my daughter who I'm guessing is near your age).

    I just hope for you that whatever your path is, and wherever it takes you, that you will have unfolding revelation of whatever you need yourself to find. Your spirit is beautiful, and I'm sorry to read of the difficulties and darkness you've faced, but so glad you've come through them. :)

    I hope none of this is too personal to say. I just really appreciated all you shared and I hope all the best for you and for your family. :) I hope you don't mind that I am praying for you and your mother and the rest of your family.

    Again, welcome to CF. :)
  6. Tolworth John

    Tolworth John Well-Known Member

    United Kingdom
    A couple of suggestions.
    If you are looking to explore Christianity there is a website called 'christianityexplored' where you can find churches in your area that run an enquires course of the same name.
    It gives one the chance to discuss set issues of Christianity in the neutra\lity of someones home and doesn't commit one to attending a church.

    have a look around your campus asa there are usually student christian groups meeting somewhere they or the churches they attend give an opertunity to meet and ask questions about Christianity.

    When at home why not go with your mum to a local church, or see if you could go as a family. This would certainly please your mother.

    Lastly research your questions on line. sites like coldcasechristianity, reasonablefaith and answersin genesis have articles about Christianity. ( AIG is young earth creation, but has many articles about the authority of the bible. )

    Who knows you might surprise your self by what you find.