Being Happier Without Faith

Image courtesy of Stockvault.

Image courtesy of Stockvault.

Growing up, I’d been told a lot of things about non-Christians. They were supposed to be miserable people who were lost and in need of saving. These people couldn’t be happy without being yoked to an ancient belief system that teaches everyone they’re flawed and deserving of punishment for it. Time and time again, this message is explained in many different ways, and it got to the point where I believed it without question. Also, since I suffered from depression and believed, I thought that things must truly be awful for those who didn’t.

Then I realized my faith was actively stopping me from feeling good about myself.
Before I get into it, I have to point out that this isn’t a defect or fringe teaching of Christianity. If you believe Jesus saves people, the question becomes, “Saves them from what?” No matter how nice a person tries to spin it, the point remains that Christianity teaches people are in need of saving from some awful thing that includes their identity. By necessity, this means viewing people in a way that they’re substandard.

That conclusion stared me in the face the entire time I believed, and I was able to ignore it for three decades. Such is the hallmark of a good faith, one that survives ordinary observation and pretends that nothing is amiss. As my ability to keep believing waned, I could no longer ignore the proverbial naked emperor running around in the streets. Over time, I had to face the reality that my old religious beliefs helped protect my depressive thinking. I couldn’t fight negative self-assessments because there was this core belief I had that needed it to be true. In other words, I needed to hate myself to validate the belief that I was flawed, to validate the belief I needed saving, and to validate the belief that I was saved.

Life after faith.
I can’t stress enough that for the first time ever, I feel equipped to cope with anxiety and depression. Rather than having to take my religious beliefs more seriously than anything else, I can accept things about myself without having to blame myself for them. That difference alone is a tangible benefit from not being enslaved to an ancient idea.

In many other ways, my view of the world is less fearful. I don’t have to worry about waiting for a prayer to be answered, or whether a course of action will succeed because a deity will make it happen. On top of that, I can accept that I can make good decisions for myself that will yield good results. There’s no compulsion to reward some invisible force with all the hard work I do. I am a regular person worthy of human dignity.

I got out, and that’s a good thing.
Some of this is because I can’t afford to undo all the progress I’ve made in therapy. To the bigger point, I also can’t afford to return to unsupported thinking. Depression inherently involves delusions about the worthlessness of self, and a major tool I have in fighting it is questioning the validity of such thoughts. Christianity deprived me of those questions, and so I was struggling in a fight with my hands tied behind my back.

Most of all, there is a joy in being free from religion that I cannot adequately describe to people who still believe. Knowing that life isn’t planned makes it more wonderful and special. Each new day brings with it the possibility for new discoveries and opportunities. Sometimes, I think that I can only see these things because I was previously yoked to a religion. Nonetheless, I can see them, and they’re an important step to finally feeling a real happiness.

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10 thoughts on “Being Happier Without Faith

  1. That “lifted weight” is a really great metaphor for the absence of faith. If you get the chance you should try reading Bertrand Russel’s “Why I am Not a Christian.” It’s a speech he gave where he outlines the problems of religion and why human beings continually drift to it.

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  2. I congratulate you. I would like to respond to this statement by you ” Each new day brings with it the possibility for new discoveries and opportunities.” That is the grandest way to live life. I have done that for most of mine. I encourage you to do so also. You will find things out about yourself, you will fail, you will gain, you will succeed, you will find happiness in yourself, you will be you and be happy being yourself. That is this old man’s opinion. Hugs

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  3. Being a Christian woman who suffers from depression, I can just say that I find happiness through Christ and the Lord. “What do we need saving from?” you asked. Well, we need saving from our sins. Being a Christian isn’t meant to be easy. You aren’t going to get cut and dry answers. It’s about believing and putting your faith in God. Trusting that His plan for you is greater than we can imagine. But not trying to preach at you or anything because part of being who I am is not judging others and ‘hating the sin, but loving the sinner.’ Although I don’t agree with excluding faith from your life, I am happy that you are making progress. Continue to better yourself in which ever way you see fit.

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    • As I’ve said to several people who come here with the same line as you, oschere, there are no such thing as sins. People are human and they make mistakes. What a shame that you’ve been convinced that you need an imaginary being to get through daily life.

      That line – ‘hating the sin but loving the sinner’ is a rotten one, by the way. You – nor anyone else – gets to say what a ‘sin’ is. To an outsider, it looks like you think you’re on higher moral ground. People make mistakes, it’s how we learn.

      You must realize that, to non-believers, that sentence could read, “It’s about believing and putting your faith in little green pixies”. Meaningless.
      Did you even read SB’s last paragraph? He doesn’t believe in little green pixies or any god and he’s good, thanks.

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      • I’m so sorry you took what I said out of context. I can understand where you and other non-believers are coming from. You must understand that I am very passionate about what I believe in, as are you and what you believe or don’t believe in. I won’t try to argue with you because I respect what you believe. I was just pointing out that from a Christian’s stand point, this is what I see and how I cope with my struggles as well. Once again, I didn’t want to offend anyone.

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      • I certainly did not take anything you said out of context. I responded directly to what you wrote. Now, please re-read what SB wrote and think about it. If you really don’t want to offend anyone (like maybe SB?) then don’t try to respond to someone who has written a whole blog post (and many others) about the negative effects religion had on him by saying, “But it’s wonderful for me and I’m so passionate about my faith that I’m just going to crow about it anyway and try to delegitimize your experience!”
        It’s seriously annoying.

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    • Hey there!

      I was referring to sins when I wrote my answer to the rhetorical question you listed:

      “No matter how nice a person tries to spin it, the point remains that Christianity teaches people are in need of saving from some awful thing that includes their identity.”

      I didn’t put it in usual terms because I wanted to highlight that sin is a pretty nebulous term. Some Christians might believe that sins are only affirmative acts, some might believe they include petty thoughts, and others believe it’s just with us from conception. The only place they intersect conceptually is that people need to be saved from sin.

      Now, there are people who are fine with this state of affairs because they can find relief in salvation and other church teachings. For me, it was not the case. I’ve been meeting a lot of people who also feel that way in varying degrees. Their faith was devouring them in different ways, and all they did was believe what they were told and what they thought were religious experiences.

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  4. I understand where you are coming from. The purpose of the comment wasn’t to belittle or put myself on any type of pedestal. SB must understand that by posting this, there will be diversified opinions on the matter. I am allowed to voice mine, just as you are yours. BUT by voicing mine, if I really bothered someone then I apologize.
    I hope you have a great rest of your day!

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