When I left the church, the feelings of aloneness started to come down on me. As I have stated on this blog multiple times, friends left wholesale. It was a time filled with tears. I had lost my community. I started reaching out to friends and trying to keep my friendships, but most all were done. Loss of community is the biggest fear that people who are losing faith have. I have spoken to many now about how that very issue is the one keeping them in the abusive situations at the churches they now attend. They would rather be abused and/or pretend they still believe than be alone. I understand.
Last week we talked about how spirituality was something you could create yourself as an atheist. One of the key components to spirituality is mental health. With a solid healthy mind, we can make the choices we need to make with clear, rational thought. One of the key components of mental health is connection to community. Over the centuries, churches have cornered the market on a grand false dichotomy: “There is no connection to others outside of the church.” Your choices were, a ready-made set of people willing to be your insta-family or nothing. I see it in the faces of people who can’t stay in church but who also won’t leave. I had one lady point blank ask me, “How do you make friends? How do you know that you will have your needs met if you get sick and go to the hospital?” I will answer by saying, “You say hi to people and treat them nicely.” Ok, there are some other things, too, but that is a good starting place.
In December of 2015 I was completely alone. My old church small group were doing Christmas parties and my marriage was crumbling. A friend suggested that I look on Meet-up.com to find a local atheist group. I did. I found the Lafayette Tippecanoe Atheist and Secular Humanists. I am really starting to enjoy their company. Yesterday, they came over to my house to do a crochet/knitting/fellowshipping “Stitch and Bitch” for charity. I had inherited a stash of yarn and some knitted squares that needed to be sown together into afghans. We sat around, talked, laughed, and spoke about ideas for future charity works. Two of my mental health needs were met. I had a great time with my friends and we are reaching out to help meet the needs of others in our community. A healthy mind is a connected and charitable mind. It was a lovely day and it felt spiritual without all of the baggage of a belief system of false guilt.
There are many ways the ex-churched community can reach out and connect with each other, with those of like convictions or hobbies. Meetup.com is a great place to start but honestly, it is as easy as just saying hi!
This week’s theme comes with exciting news! I am starting an ex-church facebook group. Membership includes access to the group, extra content from me, one weekly group coaching session on zoom, and the ability to make new friends. Cost is $10.00 USD a month for the first 3 months. Message me today if you are interested!