This week’s guest is Audrey. Audrey spent her childhood and adolescence deep in American Christianity.
In college, she took a course in “biblical perspectives,” and she had many questions. She would shelve the cognitive dissonance for years, though, pretending that everything was fine.
After years of experiencing church from the inside and working around more “secular” people, the uncertainty could no longer stay buried. “Something just wasn’t right.”
Audrey is an atheist now, but deconversion is fresh. The past guilt and shame still come up at times. She’s reconnecting with her body and mind, though, and loving the woman she is—the woman she’s always been.
“It’s so incredible how once I stepped away from christianity, how I was able to gain a better understanding of how to actually take care of myself.”
“All I wanted to do was be a Woman of God. I had my future planned out: I was going to find a husband at college, be the perfect godly woman, and he was going to be the man that was going to lead me in Christ.”
“I was so oblivious to the bubble that I grew up in.”
“Those things I’d buried started to rise up again.”
“There was so much cognitive dissonance that I don’t think I could verbalize to you what doubts I was struggling with. It was just ‘something wasn’t right.’”
“Fuck being equally yoked!”
“To be able to off-load all of the things that I had been dealing and also find solace and comfort in mutual doubts with somebody—and not just somebody—my husband.”
“In my upbringing, from my perspective, being a good Christian was the ultimate for my parents. That was the definition of a good child—a good Christian, so I was like, Okay. That is what I’m going to be.”
“I have never felt more free in my whole entire life…I was walking around without feeling guilty for every little decision I made.”
“The last year of my Christianity, I feel like it can be boiled down to: I am just believing this because I’m scared of the alternative.”
“I can be a decent human and it not be connected to a deity.”
“I really, really love the person that’s underneath [all the layers]. The confidence I have found in myself, owning my femininity, owning who I am, taking up space in the world, no longer subscribing to that dialogue…of a ‘sweet Christian woman.’”
“I have control over the information I care to share. I have control over how I present that information. I have control over my reactions and the words that come out of my mouth. I have zero control over what that person on the other side wants to say…I don’t need to concern myself now with what they think of me because it’s none of my business.”
“Well-being is not ‘your relationship with the lord.’ Well-being is how you’re taking care of your physical body, how you’re taking care of your mental body.”
“It’s so incredible how once I stepped away from Christianity, how I was able to gain a better understanding of how to actually take care of myself.”
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“Waves” track written and produced by Makaih Beats
NOTE: This transcript is AI produced (otter.ai) and likely has many mistakes. It is provided as rough guide to the audio conversation.
David Ames 0:11 This is the graceful atheist podcast United studios Podcast Network. Welcome, welcome. Welcome to the graceful atheist podcast. My name is David, and I am trying to be the graceful atheist. Please consider reading and reviewing the podcasts on the Apple podcast store. You can rate the podcast on Spotify, and subscribe to the podcast wherever you are listening. Thank you to all my patrons if you too would like an ad free experience become a patron at any level at patreon.com/graceful atheist. We are trying to create a safe place to land to ask questions to doubt to deconstruct in our private Facebook group deconversion anonymous. Please join us be a part of a community so that you do not have to go through this alone. You can find it at facebook.com/groups/deconversion Special thanks to Mike T for editing today's show. On today's show, Arline interviews Our guests today Audrey. Audrey is one of those people who was fully dedicated completely within the bubble. She went to camp every year including becoming a counselor and began to see how the sausage was made. She also participated in ministry and her experience working at the church also caused her to begin to doubt. It turns out that her husband had de converted ahead of her. And there was some tension there. But when she finally told him that she was having doubts, she felt much better. She felt that her and her husband became closer. Audrey talks about telling her parents her mom specifically and how hard that was. I think you're gonna love Audrey story here is our Lean interviewing Audrey. Arline 2:21 Welcome Audrey to the graceful atheist podcast. Audrey 2:24 Hi, thanks for having me. Arline 2:27 Yes, I'm excited. You and I connected shortly after I did my episode on the podcast. Yes, I heard you. Yes, you and I had some some church things related. And you and I were able to talk and so I'm excited to hear your story. Audrey 2:44 sYeah, for sure. Yeah, I heard I heard you on the podcast. And when you talked about where you lived and where you came from, I just thought I'm gonna reach out to her because I feel like we have some similarities. And I was just at a point where all of this was just starting to unfold. And I knew that it would be or I thought it would be beneficial for me to just chat with somebody who had been through it because it was all so new. And I just didn't even know I don't know, it was felt kind of like the rug had been pulled out from under me. And I was like grappling for something to hang on to somebody to give me some kind of advice. I was like, I'm gonna reach out to Arline and you were kind enough to immediately respond. So thank you, because that was very, very helpful for me. Arline 3:30 Oh, you're too kind. Yes, I, I enjoyed it. It was my first experience. Like I had talked to David during my episode. But there was no deconversion anonymous Facebook group yet. I had maybe found some other podcasts. But I had no idea that other people near where I lived. Were also going through this. So it was it was good for me. It was good to have that conversation. So yes, we usually start tell me about the spiritual environment that you grew up in. Audrey 3:58 Yeah. So to your point. The reason why I wanted to reach out is because you were from the old state of Georgia. I was like, I want to talk to a fellow southerner. It's been interesting, born and raised in Georgia, born and raised in just a small suburb north of Atlanta. I guess not small, pretty big, pretty big. Metro Atlanta is pretty big. But I still live here just further north. So not in the same suburb that I grew up in, which I'm very thankful for. Because I am the kind of person that does not like going to the grocery store and see people that I know and I got to a point where, you know, growing up in the summer working in the same area, I worked at a church in the same area. So it's just every single where every single place I went, I saw somebody I knew and I'm so happy that my husband and I are now 20 minutes further north because I don't run into those familiar faces in in the grocery store, um, but yeah, so fake background, I guess. Well, where should we begin? Definitely, I'm born and raised in a Christian household, from the very beginning pretty much popped out a Christian, I guess. I remember, I'm the youngest of. So I guess I'll just start with my family in the background. I'm the youngest of three brothers. So I, there's my family definitely. sort of formed who I am today, by being the only girl. Both my parents are still together. My mom and I grew up really close to just being the only girl in the family but born and raised into a very, very conservative household I was. But I didn't really realize it, you know, because when, in when you're in the bubble, or when you are born into a conservative family, you tend to hang out with other conservative families. And yet, homeschooling is a whole thing in and of itself, which is its own bubble. So you don't really realize this until you get outside of it. But I was homeschooled until about fifth grade. And then my mom put us all into school in the same year. So we're all two years apart. So I was fifth grade, my brother above me with seventh grade, my brother above him was ninth grade. And then my brother above him was 11th grade. So I'm not envious of my eldest brother, who was homeschooled pretty much all the way through. He did a few schools here and there. So wasn't it was definitely split up. And for the majority of his high school, he was at a private Christian school. But for my brother and I are the two youngest kids. So me and my brother, who's two years older than me, we got put into a very small Presbyterian Christian school. So it was basically, if you can the equivalent of like homeschooling, but the church version where you actually go, it was like, the place where other people that were homeschooled, went to school. If that makes sense, the graduation from homeschool. So still very, very sheltered environment. It was a Presbyterian school. I think the name covenant was in the name. Yes, very much. So. And I should mention to go back just a second, I went to a sort of a one day a week hybrid program in the third and fourth grade, which was also it was a classical school. And it was also Yep, it was also Christian. So education thus far has been all entirely Christian. And then, in eighth grade, when my brother graduated from the school that we both went to, it was only up it was K through eighth. So he went to a bigger private Christian school down the road, which was, you know, entirely a new experience for him, because going from homeschooling to just to give you an idea, the school that I went to in middle school, fifth through seventh grade was there was about 20 people in my grade. And we were divided into two homeroom classes, you know, 10 and 10. So very, very tiny. Yes. And then, so he, when he was finished with eighth grade, he went on to the bigger private Christian school that had, you know, probably like 8200 people per grade. So that's, even though people listening to this that might have gone to a public school, that seems so tiny, I actually ended up going there. The plan was for me to follow him and go there in high school, but I just, I wasn't having the greatest experience in my middle school environment. So I just went ahead and transferred. And that was a completely new experience for me again, all the while. Christian, Christian, Christian, Christian school, Christian, small school, bigger Christian school, throughout this whole time period of mine developmental years. I was in this bubble, that it was cool to be a Christian. And like, the more the more Christian you were, the cooler that you were. So it was definitely there were incentives outside of just what the Bible said to sort of walk the walk, if that makes sense. And I'm trying not to get too much into the nitty gritty here, but I feel like it's kind of important to bring some con Next up sort of my developmental years, because I'm in my later 20s Now, but that was, you know, elementary, high school, early college, you know, all of that was in this bubble, and it was all it was cool to be a Christian. Right. So, um, anyway, so that's kind of my schooling and into high school. Definitely the, the vibe, I should say, at the bigger Christian high school that I went to was, you know, it's cool to be a Christian. You know, definitely in a group of friends where, you know, the kids that maybe didn't, didn't follow the way if you will, or kind of rebellious work, gossiped about, you know, rumors were started that kind of thing. So, I definitely set myself up in the group of friends that was not rebellious, but also, you know, not super uptight, but just in that comfortable, sort of, I guess, it's hard to bring vocabulary to it. But it was just this element of, we're all Christians, we talk about it, it's cool if you're a Christian. And if you're not, you're going to be gossiped about, or if you choose to do things that are quote, unquote, like against what the right way to do things is, then you're going to be considered rebellious or a black sheep, or you're gonna get a rumor mill started about you. So God forbid, quite literally, you know. All throughout elementary, middle and high school, my parents, you know, wanted us all to be involved in church wanted us to be involved in the youth group. And I one more aspect, and I think this is probably the most one of the most important aspects of my sort of developmental years for forming my faith was I was a camper. So I went to church camp every single year, and it wasn't affiliated with my church, so to speak, it was can I say the name? Is that okay? That's, I feel like it might, some people listening might even resonate, but I went to camp called Kanak in Missouri, and not super popular in my state of Georgia. But so many people from Texas, Arkansas, Colorado, all the surrounding states were Frequenters there, and this camp was, you know, the best thing that ever happened to me in my elementary school mind, it was just so cool. I remember going there the first year. So I started going there when I was eight years old. Yeah, yeah. So the way that camp works is that it's one you know, the big name, but with the big name, there's several camps spread out in the same area in Missouri, that based on age group, and duration that you want to go and sort of your focus. So I went started out in like the elementary age camp, then went to the middle school age camp, and went to the high school age camp, and then was a counselor. So all in all spent about 13 summers, wow, my life at this camp. And, you know, the more and more and packed that the more and more issues I have with things that I learned at this camp. But I remember going when I was eight, and talk about it was cool to be a Christian, you know, this camp, it was an app like a sports camp, but you know, all under the guise of evangelical Christian ism, I guess, if you will. So the whole goal was you know, how many people can we get in the doors and how many kids can we get to pray the prayer and then like, fire them up to go home and then spread the gospel and all that, you know, whereas now I just, it blows my mind really, and some of the experiences that I had there I quite frankly, look back on it and I'm just like, there was a coat it was it was a cold. It was so secluded, you know, when you go there, you don't have your phone. You can spend I was at Canberra one summer for a whole month. So as a high schooler being at a camp without your phone you know, it's it's weird because you go and you know, it's healthy in a way to you know, but just be out in nature and there was parts of it that I loved. The now looking back back on it. That was so it was like every summer I would go and it would be like a reboot to my fate that reboot to my bit the reboot to my bit. So every year it was, you know, I get reminded of why I believe in this. And this is so incredible. And not to mention, all the while and I'm trying to get to sort of a very vital part of my story was that, you know, my mom, my mom and I, and I had my dad really, I had this incredible desire to please my parents and what they wanted me to be and I knew that my parents loved you know what I learned at camp and I remember my mom saying something to me in high school, just she goes, you're just when you get home from camp, you're just better I don't know how to explain it, but you're just better. You know, I don't really know exactly what she said. But how do you interpret that you know, as a, as a high schooler, she said something along the lines of You just have this better demeanor, you seem just more kind and all of this stuff. And I'm thinking in my head, all right, well, better try to be exactly the way that I am. When I get home from camp all year long. I don't know what that even means, or how to interpret that. But it just kind of became this thing of all wrapped up in I left camp. But I also loved the fact that my parents loved that I went and it was like this, this whole toxic feedback loop, I guess, of just wanting to please them, but also, you know, enjoying the camp in and of itself. But that is sort of where my I would guess people might remember this term, you know, my fire for the Lord was sort of kick knighted, you know, and you see the counselors, the older Christian college girls and how awesome they are. And you're just like, I want to be just like that. And then you know, you get on the other side of it. And I worked at the camp for four summers as well. And it kind of de romanticize it it sighs did a little bit for me. D romanticized it a little bit. For me just being on the other end of things and seeing how things were run by the leadership and seeing the attitudes of people behind the scenes, that kind of thing. So with a little bit of a bad taste in my mouth, and maybe if I could pinpoint sort of, I don't know how to say it. Where I started maybe asking questions, but but I didn't want to admit that I was just kind of seeing the other side of things, you know, and then, you know, reshelving that not wanting to get into it, it like I could feel something and I don't even know if I knew how to verbalize it. But and I don't even think I could pinpoint when this happened. But maybe towards the last summer so I was probably I guess this would be summer going into my sophomore year of college. Okay, I have no summer going into my junior year of college would have been my last summer working there. And I would say you Yeah, questioning a little bit. I'm just I left with a bad taste in my mouth is what I would say. But if I could really so, you know, I feel like I'm skipping around here but that's my long intro to elementary, middle school high school, then I go to college. You know, still camper Audrey still coming from a Christian high school, all I wanted to do is just, you know, be a woman of God, you know, had my future planned, I was going to find a husband at college and, you know, be the perfect godly woman and he was going to be the man that would lead me in Christ and all the things and didn't really think about like a career much. I know that sounds so cliche, but I knew that my quote unquote, heart's desire was to just be a mother. So that's what I was paying attention to working at a summer camp, working with kids, I was a nanny, you know, it just it makes me angry. And I don't want to be angry. But I think back on it, I'm just like, if I had just had a little bit more of my own opinions that my own drive and I didn't try to morph into what the Christian community wanted me to be. And I'll get into that a little bit, but I'm trying to be concise with my background here. So I feel like if I could pinpoint sort of when the beginning maybe that first thread you know, got pulled from from the stitching I took Biblical perspectives class in my freshman year of college. So I should mention that I went to a Christian college that I was going to. Yeah. So I went to a Christian college called Samford University, you might have heard it in Birmingham just for a year, though, I went for my freshman year. And that was where, you know, my heart was set. It was basically like my high school but bigger. Basically, like the the college version of where I went to high school and looking back on it, I'm just wondering why in the hell, I wanted to do that. But anyways, did it went and I took a biblical perspective class at Stanford. And you know, still remember where I sat in the class, I remember my professors name, it was just the first time in all of my years of education, that someone took the time to teach me, it wasn't just biblical perspectives of just a Christian perspective of the Bible. But this class taught me perspective, other religions and other people's perspective of the Bible. And that was so eye opening, and I am so appreciative of that professor, because the way that she chose to teach the class was from a completely unbiased place. You know, I think that she is a Christian, and I'm not really sure where she is today. But she was, she had a grace about her. That was never, she never came from a place of condemning or laughing at other people's perspectives. And that was very different for me, because I actually came from in my high school courses, we were required to take Bible classes every year, but also our junior year, we took an apologetics class. And my professor, I guess, teacher, was very, very, very biased and very judgmental, and kind of like, would give the perspectives of other people for the sake of teaching us the arguments. And he was very good, he was very good at teaching us how to argue and do it well, but it's funny, my husband and I were actually just talking about this is a very good app, because we went to the same high school, but we took the same course, actually, I'll get into him, he's also part of my story, but it was just always from a place of look at what these other people believe how silly is this, how ridiculously stupid of them to have this perspective, and of course, as a malleable, you know, 16 year old, and not to mention, that teacher was like, the Cool Teacher, you know, that all the students looked up to, so if it comes from Him, you're gonna kind of if you're a robot that follows what you're told, You're gonna mimic his sort of attitude about other people's worldviews and perspectives, which is so toxic, and there's so many things wrong with that, which I could spend the whole time venting my frustration about that. And my issues with teachers, you know, pushing their own, not teaching but pushing their own opinions on to a very impressionable aged students. But so then to go from him to the professor at Stanford, that was very much so this from an unbiased teaching place, was just very helpful for me. And at the time, I maybe wouldn't have said the word helpful, it was very confusing and very frustrating to sort of deal with that, and not understand what was happening, but the reality of it was my brain was actually starting to work. And I was maybe seeing things from the other side and being frustrated with the fact that, you know, on one hand, this is how I was born and raised. And this is what I was trained to believe in, and this is the stuff that I was robotically, you know, told to spit out when people would ask me what my faith was in the God that I served and whatnot, and then on the other hand, I would see other people's perspectives and be like, that doesn't really seem all that weird or silly to not believe in Christianity or even hearing, you know, people that might be Islamic or Buddhist in coming from their perspectives of the Bible and seeing the core relation between, you know, their religious upbringing and what their perspective is in seeing how there's lots of commonalities in religions across the world and things of that nature. But when you're born and raised in good old Georgia, and there's a church on every corner, of course, the religion that I believe is the right one, right? How could it be any different, right? It's so silly to believe in anything else. Obviously, I'm kidding. But that is just, that was the first the start of it. And then it became one of those things where, so this was probably 1920 year old Audrey, and I just, I shelved it, I was too frustrated, and too confused, and probably a little bit too immature to actually wrestle with it. And it was a lot more comfortable for me to just pretend that I found closure, but I really did it, if that makes sense. So I came to a point in my faith where I told myself, well, look at your life, Audrey, look at all of the things that you have been blessed with, look how fortunate you've been to, you know, grow up in a family that could afford to send you to a school like this, or, you know, afford to send you to a summer camp, that that wasn't even, you know, something that I mentioned, but of course, it was predominantly a white Christian summer camp. So if that is any, and it also was not free. So that's any indication of the camp campers in the families and the kind of people that were there, and the kind of people that ran the camp. So I just, I was so oblivious to the bubble that I grew up in. And I, you know, I used to be embarrassed to admit that, but life is a journey, and I'm, you're learning every day, you know, and I can't help that. I can't help the background that I came from, but I can proceed in a different way. So Arline 27:24 we know better, we can do better. Audrey 27:26 Exactly. When you know better, you can do better. And so from all that, I just realized that. Okay, look at my life, look at all of the things that I've quote, unquote, been blessed with and how things have quote unquote, worked out like, of course, that's the sovereignty of God. Of course, he exists, of course, you know, how can he not and that sounds very naive, you know, saying that from where I was to where I am now, but that was kind of what I fell back on. It's like, okay, I have a lot of questions. But it seems like God has been utterly faithful in my life. So I'm just going to cling to that. And I'm just going to sort of bury all of the concerns that I have that cognitive dissonance, right. So that went on for a while. Flash forward, took a little bit of a break from school. My junior year decided that I wanted to pursue songwriting, which is kind of a hobby of mine, but I for a year took just a break and moved out to Nashville and was on my mat. Yeah. During that time, I reconnected with someone who went to my high school and we actually started dating. We were not I actually dated one of his good friends in high school. And then we reconnected later because I transferred from Sanford to Kennesaw, which is a school near close to where I live now. But during that time, started dating Mason, my husband. And then I took a break from school, went to Nashville, highly recommend anyone who is of college age to just take a year and do it completely on their own because I feel like even though at the time still a Christian still trying to pursue my faith with the Lord but just to kind of be on your own it. You know, some of those things I buried started to rise up again. Being a waitress out in Nashville writing songs being in a completely secular world, you know, going from a Christian High School to Christian College, then transferring to a massively secular or university was the best thing that I did, but at the time didn't know. Right? So slowly starting to become way more ingrained in the secular world, and having secular friends and all of that. So maybe those things I buried might start to rise up again. I remember just still dealing with some questions. And I actually when I saw I was in Nashville for a year. And then when I moved back, I decided I wanted to come back to where I'm from. And when I came back, I actually got a job working at a church as a, I guess my title was intern, which I have issues with, because I was paid. But I was, but not that internships can't be paid. But I was an intern, I think it was youth group intern was maybe my technical title on my contract. However, I called myself the student ministry coordinator, because that was, quite frankly, I was the student ministry, there was it it was a very small church in the student ministry, it was very small, and they just needed to hire someone part time to sort of establish a ministry, it really and I, so that was very, I was there. My contract was for two years, it was part time. And the job itself was very administrative. So it was kind of, you know, that typical female church role of, you know, they females work on the staff, well, they work in the children's ministry, and they do admin, you know, or the same thing for the student ministry, I was admin, I was never considered, you know, the pastor or anything like that, because I didn't have those credentials. However, it was required of me to teach lessons every Sunday and leave Bible study, but I was just strictly, you know, the coordinator. Arline 32:11 The requirement of having testicles, really does put a damper on things are some of this Audrey 32:18 exactly, and unfortunately, I do not have balls. So I was the intern or the coordinator or what have you. Um, but this church is very small. I was. At the time I was working there, there was only four people on staff. So including that. Yeah, so it was a pastor worship, Pastor me, the student ministry, and then another person who was definitely the church wouldn't have run without her. The admin gal that was pretty much the pastor's right hand, everything, you know, fell on her pretty much is what I would say. And I never knew what she was paid, but I bet you wish she was undefeated. But, so that was ultimately very unfulfilling. And I just, I would never have said that, you know, when I was in it, but looking back on it I felt the whole time that I was there, that I wasn't doing a good job. Because I it didn't come natural to me to you know, part of being a student ministry coordinator or leader or what have you is, you know, showing up to things for the students on random weekends and going to their homecoming and sort of being in their life and I'm sure people listening to this can resonate with that, you know, that cool youth group gal or guy that showed up to your homecoming pictures or went to your high school events just to say hey, and you know, be in your life. And I was very much so I would that was not natural for me, you know, going to grab a coffee with a student. It's just it wasn't I didn't love it. And I always felt very conversation felt very forced. I don't think anybody that was on the other side of those coffee dates when we would have said that but it was never I was never I never felt fully comfortable. Doing those kinds of outreach things. It felt forced, it felt in genuine like, the whole purpose in meaning behind me meeting for coffee with you is to really, you know, how's your heart? Arline 34:48 It's not I like this person. We're friends. Let's hang out and do a thing it here is part of my job and part of my job is hanging out with these kids but I've checked off this box I did this I went to this soccer game like that, that isn't loving, it doesn't feel loving. Audrey 35:05 Absolutely, I couldn't have said it better myself, it just being on the other side of it, having that church paycheck, you know, all the things that you do seem very and genuine. And I use this word before, but just like working at the camp, kind of de romanticized camp, for me, working at the church completely de romanticize the church for me. And that really was where the threads started pulling a little bit more and a little bit more. And I the whole time that I was there, I was wrestling with this, you know, I feel like I'm pouring out and pouring out and pouring out, but no one is pouring into me, I feel completely drained. I'm not really connecting to what I'm doing here, because I feel like it's coming from a place of engine Uranus. Yes, while I did form relationships with some, you know, high school girls and students that I still today, you know, think of in love, I don't reach out to them just because I don't think that that would be appropriate, just for where I am. And I don't have no idea where their worldviews are. And obviously, they're all older, probably college age now. But it's just looking back on it coming from this place of how can I lead you in love and guide you in love if I don't really feel connected to what I'm supposed to believe in? I was just impostor syndrome, like I, this is not. I'm not connecting here to what people are telling me to connect to. And then on top of that, I am required to now teach it to these people that I are young and impressionable. But I'm not really connecting to it. So how am I even supposed to teach it to them? So I got to the end of my contract, and I that was it, I was just like, Okay, I'm gonna leave all the while I had been getting my personal training certification, this was back in 2017 2018, getting certified as a personal trainer. So Little did I know that would completely set off the trajectory of you know, what I do now in my career, but fell in love with that whole industry. So that's kind of what I pivoted to after working at the church. And I had been training part time because the job at the church was also part time. So two part times make a full time. I was a busy gal. But all that today, the contract ended. Right around it. August of the pandemic of 2020. Oh, wow. So yeah, so I did the whole youth group thing from March to August, like virtually, which was a disaster. I was trying to pivot and figure out, you know, how to navigate that. And then of course, came to the end of my contract. And that was it for me, and, to be honest, took quite a long hiatus from going to church. And I knew when I my contract was up that I would I wanted and needed a break for myself almost like my own sabbatical. Because I had been pouring out so much. And I was just like, I don't even want to go to church. I just want to take a break. I'll listen to the podcasts, I'll listen to sermons, what have you, but I don't want to set foot in church for quite a bit so it was throughout that process, that things kind of changed a little bit foggy for me, I guess is what I would say things became a little bit foggy. Arline 39:17 And what do you mean, what does foggy mean? Audrey 39:20 I would say I, I feel like a huge frustration and almost like a burden is that I, I always carried around so much Christian guilt. And I hated that, that during that period where I took time off from going to church, I was wracked with guilt for doing that. And dealing with that frustration and feeling like starting to feel disconnected. But not minding. Not good Going to church was a chore for me. And so finally it got to the end of those eight months or what have you. And I was like, okay, Sunday's the day, I'm gonna go, we're gonna go to church, I'm going to try something new, I definitely didn't want to go to the church that I had worked out. So I actually tried to go to the Woodstock City Church, because my husband and I are actually moving close to the church, not for the church. But we were in the process of moving out of our apartment to a, we were building a new construction home. So I knew that we were going to be in this area. So I started just perusing seeing what kind of churches were out here and started going there. My husband actually never went with me, even though, I asked him if he wanted to come, but again, never wanted to pressure him. So again, that was what I was wrestling with kind of like, maybe he doesn't, you know, want to do this anymore. I'm a little bit confused, because I thought, you know, I had this whole idea that we were going to be, you know, the Christian family and our kids in the church and all this stuff. So I was kind of dealing with a little bit of fear that I didn't know where he was. And so you know, months go on, I would infrequently visit the church, but I guess foggy just meant, I started dealing with frustration and doubt and almost jealousy of, you know, he sleeps in on Sunday, and doesn't feel bad about not going to but we weren't really having conversations about it, but I was jealous I want to sleep in but I have this Christian guilt. So I have to drag my ass out of bed, and you know, get up and go and then not really feel anything from what I just heard. You know that that whole you want to emotionally I'm uh, I was very much you know, I'm a singer and, you know, creative. So worship was a big thing for me and you want to feel that Holy Spirit, you know, rush of fire and you know, what have you but just stuff wasn't sitting right for me. And so I eventually, I remember distinctly sitting down with him at dinner. And I keep I keep using the phrase stuff didn't sit right with me and not really getting into the detail. Because at the time, that was all it was I it was so much cognitive dissonance, that I don't even think I could verbalize to you what doubts I was struggling with. It was just something wasn't right. So I feel like once I get past this portion of my story, I'll be able to explain the things that didn't sit right with me. But at that point, it was just like that feeling of something's not right here. Arline 43:06 Something's not right. Audrey 43:08 Something's not right here. And I don't know what it is. But I remember we were at dinner, my husband and I and we had just come to see our house for like, the last time before we like moved into. It's very, it was definitely like the closing of a chapter the newness it was very timely, but we were at dinner. And I remember going into the dinner with this. This plan to sort of ask him where he was in terms of his fate. And you know, how he was what that has turned into, because I've noticed that you haven't really wanted to come to church with me and that kind of thing. And I don't really know what happened, but it was like, I opened my mouth to start to say that. And then it was it became a conversation of I've actually been really struggling like, is this something that I want to do? And he was like, eyes wide like, Oh, finally like, Oh, yes, talk about this, because he was all the while Little did I know having his own deconversion and didn't want to say it to me, because, you know, every you know how that goes. One person's a Christian one versus not what's that going to do to our relationship? This is something that really matters to her, you know, and I don't want to I think ultimately his heart and I so appreciate and love him for this. But he didn't want to persuade me he didn't want to be the reason why I decided that I wasn't a Christian anymore. My husband Arline 44:47 was the same way like he told me we had what we called our one on ones because that was like our like time to talk about the hard stuff happening in you know, marriage, parenting work, whatever. And he told He could not believe anymore. And multiple people have said on the podcast, you don't suddenly decide not to believe you just realize, I don't think I believe the same. And he told me, but yeah, he didn't want to tell me anything more or keep having conversations because he was afraid he didn't want me to go through because it was very important to me to go through what he went through. He didn't want to talk to the boys about it, because they were young and impressionable. And he did. But because he loves us, He cares about us. Now, we did fight, because I was like, if it's not true, then you need to tell us because I was not I did not take it kindly. Whenever he then led me that, you know, that's my own story. But yes, I understand. You don't want the other person to go through what you know, destroy the thing that they love. Yeah, Audrey 45:49 exactly. Exactly. And I think I still relate to you in that way of, except for the fact of the matter of I was already kind of unraveling when we had that conversation. So thankfully, I will i am just, I'm very, very, very happy with the timing of that, because I feel like spirit, serendipity right. That we were able to sort of both open up? Well, I don't want to say both of us, because he obviously had been going through silently for a couple of years, which I you know, that that I feel for him in that I can't I don't know what that's like, so I am. I'm so grateful that he's stuck around right? Here. I am like working at a church all the while I'm like, you want to come to church on Sunday? He's probably like, Hell, no, I don't want to go to church. But I love you. So I guess you know, but again, he would, thankfully was not super open at the time. Because I couldn't have handled it, I really don't think that I could have handled it. And he was wise enough to know that it was not the right time. So when I opened my mouth to have a conversation about are you a Christian? Because I am actually turned into a conversation. Are you a Christian? Because I actually am not sure I am either. Which I just I don't know, it was almost like, I think it's kind of interesting to think about. It was like one side of my brain knew the conversation that I was supposed to have with him. And the other side of my brain knew the conversation that I needed to Arline 47:33 have with. That's interesting. Yeah. Audrey 47:36 My mind knew that something wasn't right. But the Christian side of me, the Audrey, you have to be a dedicated what godly woman like you need to talk to your husband about where he is in his faith, because this is this is going to be an issue in your marriage or whatever. And the fact of the matter. No, it's not, you guys need to just get on the same page here, because both of you are going through it and you're not talking about it. So that just kind of the floodgates opened. And I would say that Mark did a very significant date for me, but also like, my relationship with my husband comes in, completely changed in the best way. Because, yeah, because I no longer was like dealing with this. Oh, we're not, you know, equally yoked or that. I hate that term. Now, just like wool makes my makes me nauseous, really. But like, there was no longer that. Okay, how do I phrase this in the Christian bubble that I was born and raised. And most a lot of people listening to this might relate to this, there's like a standard, there's a way that your marriage should look like and the way that you should portray yourself to other fellow Christians. And if I was looking at our relationship, outside looking in, did not meet that standard. So I was the word is concerned, too, go from a dinner, being concerned and then to leave a restaurant being like, oh, my gosh, I have a peer, a fellow person that I can finally like, unburden all of my doubts to and not feel condemned or judged. And I'm also you know, fuck being equal to whatever that means. Like, I love this man. And there's nothing It was almost like for me there was this like barrier between us. And you know, he's gonna he's probably gonna listen to all of this first time, but there was like this wall that that I was this wall of concern. And that's the only way I know. And then it was like once I was able to eliminate that wall of concern, there was no longer a barrier between us. And I just felt it's so interesting because you didn't have that Bible verse like you. You become one Arline 50:17 that you felt that happened, Audrey 50:19 right? It was in that moment, that I finally felt like, oh my god, this is my person, and it had nothing to do with a deity. It was just like, Oh, finally, I feel like I can take a deep breath. And that was amazing. And that was like, I would say that conversation was, you know, I've been referencing like a slow thread unraveling. Or people have said, you know, the statue has crumbled, or the foundation starts getting chipped out, shut down, shut down, and then once it crumbles, or once that scarf unravels, there's, it's quite frankly, impossible to put back together. Right? Yes. So, after that night, I would, I would say that was the statue crumbling for me. I have felt like the past year of my life, I have met myself for the first time. And the Audrey that existed underneath the I am an onion essentially, like referencing Shrek, I feel like my whole entire life, I had been putting on layers of myself to fit a mold that everyone in my Christian bubble wanted me to be, especially my parents. And what are reference? A huge part of my unraveling was the realization that I didn't choose this belief system, this belief system was I was born into it. And it was quite literally force fed to me from the time that I could talk. And then not until I'm 28 years old, or 27, I don't even know how not into my upper, you know, upper 20s had this realization of not only was I forced by this religion, but it was so wrapped up in pleasing the people that were in charge of me, even after they weren't in charge of me anymore. How twisted is that? And obviously, I love my parents and I did the best they could, they really did with with their worldview. They loved me in the best way that they knew how to, and they still do. But I think it's very important. And it was very important for me to recognize and find out through therapy, etc. that a large part of what I was trying to be back to that onion, that those layers, I was trying to appear to be the person that they wanted me to be. Yeah. And because of that, those layers hid the root of who I really am my opinions, what I care about, you know, what I actually think is right, and just, you know, it was almost immediately after having the conversation with my husband, I was like, Okay, no more sermons for me, I immediately started looking up, you know, atheists podcast, Arline 53:53 you just jumped like, Audrey 53:55 immediately, literally, I have not listened to a worship song or a sermon since that dinner. So I immediately jumped. That's actually how I found this podcast, which I am so thankful for, because that's been a big part of my deconversion as well, but I started listening to it's called Voices of deconstruction by Steve hilliker. I don't know if that name sounds familiar, but I quite literally found the podcast just I think I typed in like deconversion in the search bar, and Spotify is how I find a lot of my podcasts anyway, just like a keyword. But I typed deconversion in my search bar, and found his podcast and I started listening. And I remember the very first girl that he interviewed or the very first podcast that I listen to, um, he interviewed a bisexual girl and she was talking about, you know, just with her sexuality and how she said the phrase, I couldn't subscribe to her religion. That didn't allow me to love all people. Oh, wow. And I was just like, I was running, but I almost stopped. It was just like, holy shit. What have I been doing? Like, just wanted to weep because that's that. That's it for me. Like, if I could boil it all down, I don't want to subscribe to I mean, there's a million other things at this point now that I could say this is it for me this is it for me this is it from that I think we all can relate to that of there's just a slow unraveling of in this in this in this and I, I think I felt shared full transparency before we started that I was like, a little bit unprepared because I feel like there's just so many things that I am gonna forget to mention. And it might take me a while to get to the point of my of my deconversion. But I remember hearing her say that. And, you know, she was sharing how she, you know, had struggled with her sexuality. And then when she, you know, obviously was able to go through the process of de converting and accepting herself for who she was, and being bisexual and all of that. It just was so eye opening for me. And honestly, I doubt a little bit for a while of just feeling horrible for subscribing to a worldview that as much as I said, it didn't matter. At the end of the day, there's that rhetoric, it does depend on what set of religion of Christianity that you belong to. But there's that rhetoric of that I don't even want to say it because it makes me want to throw up but the love the sinner Hate the sin. The phrase, it's like, That doesn't even make sense. Like, if you're hating a part of who someone is at their core, then you're hating them. Like it's not, you can't separate the two. And so I think that was a huge thing. For me. It's like, okay, I immediately know to be a Christian. I just like had this moment of Yeah, that's not who I am anymore. Absolutely not. And I have never felt in the week of like that dinner with my husband and the week following. I felt like I was floating on air. Like I had never felt more free in my whole entire life. To get to a point where I was walking around and not feeling guilty for every little decision that I made or questioning. I think for me, a huge thing was I always wanted to you know, be in the Lord's will and do what he wanted for my life. So every single every damn decision was prayed about, you know, and gosh, that is tiring. It's exhausting. Arline 58:07 I remember when I consciously I didn't I didn't know I was deconversion. I didn't know you don't know what's happening. You just, you're just you're just asking questions or whatever. I remember when I was like, I don't think I'm gonna pray about stuff anymore. And I don't remember exactly why I decided that. But it was like my brain like my I have ADHD. So my brains already busy. But it was just like, my brain just slowed down. And I was like, Have I really been causing this this whole time? Like, the just constant hamster wheel inside my mind of I need to pray about this. Is God gonna answer? What's God's answer going to be? Do I need to read in the Bible? Do I need to look for signs? Do I need to ask them? I mean, like, and then it was just like, I'm done. And my brain just slowed down? Absolutely. Yes. Audrey 58:55 I feel like when I made that decision of, yeah, this isn't working for me anymore. I felt like I was able to take a deep breath for the first time in my whole entire life. Like to really know, it was like 100 pounds had been on my ribcage and I didn't know the difference. You didn't know. I didn't know what it felt like to walk around without 100 pounds on my ribcage. And so when I was able to take that deep breath, it was like, I was just realizing so many things about my upbringing, so many things about my past so many belief systems and neurological pathways that I had, like, two that started to unravel. That's a huge one. I'm just like, catching yourself in these thought processes of guilt and then being realizing, Oh, I don't need to feel guilty about thinking that, you know, or doing that, you know, and also I think for me, it was at the end For the last kind of year of my Christianity, I feel like it could be boiled down to I'm just believing in this because I'm scared of the alternative. Yeah. And I shared that with my husband. And he said something to me at that dinner. He said, I said, You know what, what happens when we die? That's really scary. What if, you know, I don't want to go to hell. And he was like, what if when you die, you just die. And that's it, you're just dead, you pretty much disintegrate and you lived your life. And there's nothing that happens after. And I was like, that sounds really good actually. Like, I like that. And whereas a year before, that might have terrified me to think God, eternal life doesn't exist. And then to be in a place with where I believe now is that, you know, I don't claim to know everything, I know that there are things that we can explain. And that is, I'm happy to just kind of leave it at that. And I will never say that, like, my belief is the absolute correct belief, because I just don't think that anybody really knows. But I'm happy to believe that when I die, I just die. And I am okay, I'm satisfied with that. And honestly, it's super free, because it just is more motivation to live a life that I really am, I love and enjoy. I agree. It's like now Arline 1:01:31 this life is way more important. So let's, you know, whatever the things that we value, let's be sure that we do them. Exactly. Audrey 1:01:39 And I think a huge thing for me was that realizing, I, there's this sort of this dialogue, and this way of thinking, as a Christian, at least from my background of like, life is just a drudgery, life is something that you have to kind of get through to get to the good part, which is heaven. Like, we're servants, we're bond servants of Christ. And this is just the, this is like the time we have to surf in order to get that mansion in the sky. And so, first of all, it's a horrible, sad way to approach life my opinion, because then you're just living your, you know, 75 Hopefully yours that you have on this planet in this sort of mindset of I'll just get through it, you know, just get through it. And now it's like, no, I have, I have maybe 55 solid, good more years on this earth, and I'm going to try to milk it for all it's worth. The other thing that I was, quote unquote, scared about was that argument you always hear of like, what it's making you be a good person, if you're not a Christian, you know, it's like I can, I can be a decent human, and not be connected to a deity. And I can also there are aspects of Christianity that I can value and that I can teach to my kids, not the religious aspect of it. But you know, I think it is a wonderful thing to be a person of integrity. I think it is a wonderful thing to be a person who, you know, is honest in the in in his kind. But I don't have to say, you know, this is the Bible verse that tells you that you need to do that right. Arline 1:03:43 Now we we still use the phrase, love your neighbor as yourself. And that's why you have to brush your teeth, children, like you're going to be around your friends and you love them. Please brush your teeth. It's Jesus. Like, this is why we love our neighbor. Audrey 1:04:04 Yeah. All right. Um, so all that to say, I'm definitely spent about a year sort of detoxing, I guess, if you will, from the Christian garb. The Christian diet that I had been on for my life, really, honestly, that's the best way of saying it. Like I put my Bible in a box in the attic when we moved in. Haven't gone up there since. Like, I don't maybe I'll get to a place where I want to go, you know, from a different perspective, sort of read and just for information sake, but I have just been, you know, eating up all the podcasts and listening to all the things that I would have felt guilty for listening to before are, you know, really just diving into everyone else's, everything outside of the bubble has been for the past year. And it's just been super enlightening. A bit disturbing. To realize the brainwashing that I went through. I know that sounds that that term is kind of thrown around. And it seems like harsh, but in reality is a little bit brainwashing, you know, to be, you know, put through. And so that sort of crumbling started last October. And I, I knew I wanted to come on this podcast, but I because I had this, this community has meant so much to me. And I felt like, maybe I'll share my story, because I feel like there's a lot of people out there that might have a similar one. And just like a lot of people that have been on this podcast have said the same thing. And I've related to a lot of people. So I was hoping that, you know, maybe someone would hear this and say, Oh, my gosh, I went to summer camp to and that you never know. But I wanted to take a year to just sort of, like I had mentioned earlier, unwrap the onion, D layer myself and figure out who I actually was the center of all of the outer clothing and layers I had put on to fit the mold that people wanted me to be. And I really, really love the person that's underneath all of that. And the confidence that I have found in myself back to how I was saying I needed to take this year to detox. I took a whole year to process because I knew that I want to tell my mom, but I didn't want to tell her as it was happening. I wanted it to be this has happened this is where I am now. So take that and process it how you will because Arline 1:07:15 yeah, Audrey, you are not responsible for how they respond, which is something else. So I have had to learn as a full grown adults. Yes, that is my responsibility. Audrey 1:07:27 That has been such a huge source of battle for me and realization that I have control over information that I care to share. I have control over the way I present said information, I have control over my own reactions and the words that come out of my mouth, I have Zerbo control over what that person on the other side wants to say how they want to react, also their own thoughts that are in their head that I don't know, I don't need to concern myself of what they now think of me because it's none of my business. I have had two best friends from the time I was in eighth grade at that private Christian school until now. And I told them as kind of like my prep to tell my mom, I also waited a year to tell them and that was really difficult. At least in my story. That was what I was the most terrified of doing. Because I had grown up in this bubble and every, every my community, everybody was a Christian. So I got to this point of like, what do I do? You know, how do I move forward? I know that the second that I tell my two best friends, it's going to completely change the dynamic of our relationship. Because we are best we have been best friends. But a lot of that friendship has been deep talks about our faith in our Christian unity. And that was sort of the thread that connected us. But telling them I was like, Okay, once I told her, I felt like I could be my authentic self. The reason why that was this is such an important part of my story is because my relationship with my mom, very much so really correlates with my relationship with God because it was like, Oh, wow. We've been very close, but a huge sort of foundation of our closeness in our relationship with our spirituality. And I think she and I connected because my dad's not super outspoken about his faith, and none of my brothers really We're and so for us to have that mutuality and connection there. And then also to see, you know, always hear from her, like, you're just the daughter, I always wanted, and I love you so much. And I'm so happy that you're the person that you are, you know, hearing that my whole life and then sitting down to dinner with my mom and saying to her, you know, how do you tell somebody something that you know, is going to break their heart? Yeah. Without a doubt, it's not like, Oh, I hope this doesn't affect her. It's, this is going to affect her in a major way. And it is going to affect our relationship, it's going to affect the dynamic that I have with my parents right now. So I sat down with dinner with her. Well, I had it all out, laid it on the table. I had, I went into the conversation, trying really hard to not have any expectations of the way that she was going to respond, because I didn't want to sort of set myself up for disappointment and failure. You know, I'm so sat down with dinner, waiting on the table. At first, I remember her saying, you know, it just seems so saddened to me, you're not one to make a rash decision, you know, like, like, Mom. It's been a year. Since I have decided I want to tell you, so it's definitely a year of me mulling this over officially. But it's been about three, four years in the making, I'd say. So this is where I am now. It was probably the most emotionally draining conversation I have ever had in my life. I told her that in this is just all because of the closeness that we shared. And the foundation of our love, I guess. And I remember, there was two pivotal things. One of the things that and maybe someone out there listening to this is struggling with knowing how or when, or if to tell their parents if that's like a difficult thing. And this is true, just for me, it might be true for someone else. But my mom loves me, my dad loves me. I had to come to a realization of, okay, I know my mom. And I know that I know her heart. And I know that once I share this with her, while it will change our dynamic, she's not going to stop loving me. So there's really and you know, if she does it, my business is none of my business. So I kind of had to had that, quote, unquote, come to Jesus meeting with myself, to use that terminology. And I shared it with her. And at the end of the conversation, I'm a big apologizer I understand that I'm learning that to apologize to Yep, that word sorry, has been a battle for me my whole entire life. And something I'm trying really hard to only say when it is appropriate for me to say. And at the end of the conversation, I said, you know, mom, everything in me right now wants to say sorry for something. But I'm not. And I hope that we can move past this. But, you know, I know you're going to need to take your own time to sort of process and it's new for you. Well, it's not new for me. So that's kind of where we left it. I asked her that she would tell my dad, because I didn't really feel like I felt like I owed it to tell my mom because of our relationship. My dad and I had never really had a super close spiritual relationship. So I didn't really feel like I and I also knew that he would not react the way that my mother did. And he is very my dad is very conservative, very, this is the way that you do it. And if you do it differently from this, then you're wrong and you're stupid. Yeah, so So kind of close minded there. I haven't asked her how he responded. Ultimately, my family's pretty conservative and it is interesting to go from being the perfect child to now kind of watching the vibe of I am the black sheep which I've never been in my whole entire life. But then also, I came to the realization that like we had been saying earlier that night after I shared with my mom, I thought that I was going to immediately feel this sense of like, relief. And my drive home, of course, I was bawling, because I just like, it was like a release for me, but a work home and I was like, why do I still feel just kind of icky. And it was because my brain was diverting to those neurological pathways of I want to please her, I want to please her. And also, I caught myself thinking, I hope she doesn't think a BNC about me, I hope she doesn't think this about me, I hope she doesn't think this about me. And then I got eyebrows like, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, it doesn't matter. It does not fucking matter what she thinks about me anymore. I'm my own woman. I am really happy with the woman that I have started becoming right. I love my mom. We love her so much. I love my dad, I love my family. And I know that they loved me in the way that the best way that they knew how. But now I have to kind of remove myself, take a step back and accept that their perception of me has now changed. And it's not in my business, and I can still love them. And I can accept the the secret elbow nudges in the side eyes, and what have you, and what might come when we start having kids and the problems that might, you know, ensued from that dynamic. But I'm so happy with the trajectory of this deconversion. While it has been incredibly challenging. I don't know, I just would encourage other people that if there are things that they're afraid to sort of tap into or unravel because of fear. Just do it bit by bit, you know, go in a little bit. And you might find that, okay, this is scary, but I'm feeling better. I feel like I'm finding clarity. And it's just interesting to I'm trying to wrap up here, but I think a huge part, not only mentioning, you know, the development of self confidence and just becoming sure of who I am, but my whole 2022 I set out to reconnect with my body. Because there's such a disconnect when you're, quote, unquote, living that Christian in that Christian perspective of, you know, that verse like the the adorning of your body or whatever. The you know, there's so much a highlight on you or your soul. And that's it. And I have lived my entire life in my head. And I I should have mentioned this earlier, but I'm a wellness specialist, I'm I said, I'm a trainer. So my my profession is very much so in the body. And I also just recently got my yoga certification. So I would say yoga has been a huge, huge lifesaver. It's so incredible, how once I stepped away from Christianity, how I was able to gain a better understanding of how to actually take care of myself, because beforehand, taking care of myself just meant working on my relationship with the Lord. Arline 1:19:14 Anything more be selfish. Audrey 1:19:16 Exactly, exactly. And now that I am in, or self care is selfish, you know, that kind of mindset, that kind of dialogue and now that I'm on the complete opposite spectrum, where I actually tell people all day or on how to take care of themselves and remind them to take care of themselves. It's just been it's been great. What else say and it's just, uh, you know, I am every day, sort of unraveling bits and pieces of my past and dealing with them as they come and taking deep breaths and trying not to be angry you And, you know, learning who I am, and tragically beautiful. Arline 1:20:10 It's amazing. And that was 28 years. It's been one year, you know, it's a journey. And there's so much to grieve so much to be angry about too much to move past. So I mean, it just, there's not a here's the timeline. And this is how things will work out. Audrey 1:20:24 Exactly, exactly. And I am thankful though, that it, it has happened when it has happened because my husband and I don't have children yet. We might kids. But I'm really happy that I am going to be able to, you know, right from the beginning, not have to deconstruct or not have to teach them something that I don't really, you know, believe in anyway. And also, I'm excited to give them the freedom to decide whatever they want to Arline 1:20:55 leave it. We homeschool and it's been fun to see like, I used to be really scared of like, Greek mythology, Roman mythology, indigenous wisdom, you know, these ancient stories, because they were so similar to the ones I was supposed to tell them are true stories. Oh, yeah. So we would just kind of like say, there are other stories, and then we would just move on. And now it's like, we can just read anything and talk about it. And it's so fun. And we can we can, we can love all these stories of how the birds used to talk and the animals used to talk and all you know this, God ate this other god and then spit out humans like it's so fun, like, and we can just enjoy it without having to be afraid of any of it or thinking of it's true. We can just and the boys of course, you know, they're going to like anything that says, you know, one God ate another god and then spit out? Audrey 1:21:46 Yes, I mean, absolutely. I can't wait like some of the things that I was sheltered from as a child. I cannot wait. Like one thing. This is kind of silly. But Harry Potter not allowing me. Yep, I so to this day, I'm almost embarrassed to say like, I have never watched a Harry Potter movie, maybe one. And I've never read a Harry Potter book. But the reason now I'm holding out because I want to like read them to my kids and experience that for the first time and like, let them love it. Because obviously, it's a great series from everyone and their mother. But he's like that. And even this is, again, another thing that I'm embarrassed about. But I've learned evolution for the first Arline 1:22:31 time. I did to I'm a decade older than you Yes, I Audrey 1:22:35 understand. That is how sheltered my education was in I was that made me angry. Because how can you choose what you want to believe in if you're not even taught the other part? So that's huge for me is like I am definitely my kids education is going to be well rounded. It's going to be from a Christian perspective, because I think that'd be some damage. So that is another thing that I'm just like, Okay, I went to the museum. I think it's like the Natural History Museum in Georgia. I can't remember it's in Atlanta, but they have like, a fun Fernbank yes, they had this event called Night at the Fernbank. And it was so fun because it's like, they shut down and they serve alcohol. And so it's like you go and you can walk through the museum and just get a drink at each station. I went with our group of friends but I was there like reading everything like guys, this is amazing. And they're all like yeah, pretty cool stuff. We learned it back and didn't know about this faultline in Georgia. How I know that that is someone who's probably listening to this thinking this girl is completely sheltered. But it's true. Like I I didn't have the opportunity. And nor nor did I have the confidence in myself to go and seek out the other people's perspectives. It was I only knew one way and I was too afraid to veer from the one way that I knew. So yeah, all that to say, teach your kids evolution, folks. Arline 1:24:24 Audrey, this has been so lovely. I have enjoyed this so much. Thank you. Thank you for telling us your story. This has been wonderful. Audrey 1:24:33 Thank you for letting me I hope that this might be helpful to maybe one soul out there. So I I do appreciate thanks for dealing with my ramblings. Arline 1:24:44 There will be lots of people who can relate to to a lot of your story. It's it's wonderful. It's always amazing to me. Everybody's story is unique and so many things overlap. So many things. So, thank you again for being on. Thanks for having In my final thoughts on the episode, Audrey was an absolute delight to speak with. I know her story is going to resonate with lots of people who she's becoming now, realizing that the person she is now is the person she always was. But she was unable to be that woman able to be that little girl. She had to cover up in layers, like an onion, like an artichoke, but like it's being peeled back. And she's realizing who she is. And the confidence she's gaining, exerting her presence, no longer apologizing for just existing, but being able to be her whole self, her true self like, this is an absolutely beautiful thing. And I know that there are so many men and women, women, especially, but also men, who know what it's like to spend decades of your life being somebody else, because that's what God's will is for your life, or that's what your church says is best for you. That's what someone else has put on you. And being able to have the freedom to change and to I guess, unlearn so many things to reveal your true self. That's a good thing. It's a beautiful thing. And the world needs more of those people. And so, again, Audrey, thank you so much for telling your story and letting me be a part of hearing it. David Ames 1:26:45 The secular great start of the week is about radical acceptance. I've been thinking about this from last week's guests, Taylor Yoder, this week's guest Audrey and my discussion on the beyond atheism podcast with Nathan Alexander and Todd Tavares. A lot of the conception of secular grace comes from some of my experience with 12 steps when I was very young, and my mom was in early recovery. And it was about watching someone tell their story. Sometimes horrifying stories, sometimes stories that talked about really, truly hurting people. And then washing that group of people love and accept that person. And what I'm not saying is that they condone it, they weren't saying it was okay. They weren't saying it was right. They were saying that they loved that person. And they were gonna love them through their recovery process in that context. I'd been pulling that out into secular grace, in the recognition that we as human beings need to feel accepted, to feel loved. And a couple of things that Audrey and Taylor said, Taylor last week said, after she d converted, she realized that, you know, there was no one following her around judging her. And Audrey talked about just the guilt that she felt that constant guilt. And it is letting go of the Christian conception of sin and the guilt and the sense of being judged constantly, not just by God up above, but from the community of faith that you belong to. The experience of coming out of that and being authentically yourself. And this doesn't mean that you don't make mistakes, To err is human. To forgive is also human. It is the human experience that we are not perfect, and that's okay, and we can embrace ourselves and our humanity. Everything about this podcast has been about embracing our own humanity and bracing the humanity of others. Once we have come to a wholeness for ourselves, we can give that away we can be the person who hears the story from someone else and loves them through it. We have some great episodes coming up. We've got community members, and as well as Stacey who goes by apostasy, which I just absolutely love. And then in early March, we have Jennifer Michael Hecht, and we're going to have our four year anniversary podcast where we're going to talk about movies we like that talk about secular grace and deconversion. In fact, if you're out there, send us your recommendations on movies and TV shows that have a element about secular grace or deconversion. Until then, my name is David and I am trying to be the graceful atheist. Join me and be graceful human beings. The beat is called waves by MCI beats Do you want to get in touch with me to be a guest on the show? Email me at graceful email@example.com for blog posts, quotes, recommendations and full episode transcripts head over to graceful atheists.com. This graceful atheist podcast, a part of the atheist United studios Podcast Network Transcribed by https://otter.ai