SDA Deconversion Story Part 5: The Day I Left

The day I left the Seventh Day Adventist church

Adding to the noose around my neck was the pressure of attending youth outreach meetings (aimed just at me!) every Monday. I decided to use these meetings to my advantage. I knew my father would call me, and ask me if I wanted a ride there. That was the spark to my plan I had concocted:

  1. Have my father call me, and ask me if I wanted a lift.
  2. I would then say no, no I don’t want a lift.
  3. He would then ask why I did not want a lift, how was I planning on getting there, it is very far away.
  4. I would say because I did not want to go to the meeting.
  5. He would then ask why I did not want to go to the meeting.
  6. I would then come out with it, and tell him it was because I did not believe in the SDA church anymore.
  7. After that… I was going to wing the rest of the conversation.

So it came around, and it was a Monday that my father called. I had gathered my friends in my apartment, to act as my support group. They were all nervous and excited; they couldn’t believe that after years of talking about it, that I was actually going to leave. Neither could I. My nerves were ruined, I couldn’t move a muscle and my heart was sitting firmly in my throat.

When the phone first rang, we all jumped. I stared at it. It rang some more. My friend kindly encouraged me to pick it up. It rang again. I whispered no, no I can’t. It rang some more. I said again, I can’t, I can’t, I can’t, I can’t. I burst into tears, and I started to physically shake. It let it ring out, sobbing. He called back, I avoided it again. He then texted me, and asked me why I wasn’t picking up. After several texts, he rang again.

I do not know what did it. Something in me snapped. I suddenly went cold, like stone, and I clicked answer. My frazzled friends gasped and went instantly silent.

The conversation went pretty much as I had guessed. The end of it is blurry. He told me that he was deeply saddened (but not surprised). He told me all manner of things:

  • He was deeply disappointed in me
  • I was not raised this way, he mused on the phone about what went wrong with my upbringing, what did they do wrong.
  • It was because of my friends
  • It was because I wanted to engage in worldly behaviour like sex and breaking of Sabbath, that I wanted to disobey God
  • Satan had taken over me, I was in his grip
  • I was destined to hell (by Adventist standards)
  • He informed the other family members (still living at home) and he told me that they were crying
  • That he didn’t know what would happen next and that things in our family would never be the same again
  • But, of course, he did still love me.

Truthfully I didn’t pay attention to what he was saying, and at some point my mum came on the phone to talk to me. I had lost my composure the moment I told him I was no longer a Seventh Day Adventist and had been in absolute tears. It quickly became too much and I held the phone away from my ear so that I could only just hear it, sobbing “yes” and “mmhmm” into the phone. My friends were shocked at some of the cruel things being said of me, but by this point I had stopped listening and still don’t know what was said.

Fallout Shelter

Almost immediately after I told my father I was no longer an Adventist, I gave my friends “the nod”. Our plan was multi-phased. The first step was for me to tell them my terrible secret. Then immediately, head to the “fall-out” shelter – i.e. one of my friend’s house. I purposely picked a friend who lived in a house that my parents didn’t know how to get to. So all of my close non-SDA friends gathered there, and we hung out for the evening, as they attempted to distract me from what I had just done.

Initially when I arrived I was a sobbing mess, inconsolable. I just sat on a chair, crying my eyes out. I did this for about half an hour. After that, I just felt an incredibly deep, painful sadness that went through my whole body. I then joined my friends, and we hung out for the evening, doing nothing much but talk, joke and eat pizza. I was a miserable sod for the rest of the evening. If a car parked up outside I would run and hide, and I could not bring myself to get too close to windows.

The reason we had the fallout shelter, was because I was terrified that my parents would come around to my house to try to reconvince me to join the church again. So I had put a plan in place, to couch-surf for 3 nights and avoid contact with my parents altogether. They rung around in search of me, and I avoided their calls for about a week. That night I crashed on the couch of my dear friend. I thought that I would never be able to sleep, but to my surprise I instantly drifted into deep sleep, exhausted from the day.

The next day I left, my bag in hand, and hitched a ride to the house of my next dear friend that I had arranged to crash with. On the way I had to partially walk on road, and I was always looking over my shoulder, paranoid that I was going to run into them. That night I got a bed to sleep on, which I was very grateful for. Finally, on the third day, I hitched my ride to my third and final destination. I slept the night there, staying with my dearest friend of all. I will never, ever, forget the kindness of all of my friends in my greatest time of need. I have never been so vulnerable.

My Deconversion Story

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6

1 Comment
  1. People that have been indoctrinated since day one into authoritarian, dogmatic and insular religions/churches such as this one have been conditioned to see nothing wrong with it because everyone around them is reinforcing that “this is how it is”. That’s especially if outside influences aren’t present to help a person see that there’s more to life than living according to some religion or church’s dumb and restrictive rules, restrictive lifestyle, irrational dogma, and strain on your life. I’m lucky that I was raised by a mother who wasn’t a crazy, strict conservative Adventist. In fact, she wasn’t interested in living that lifestyle. She raised me in the church to please her grandmother. I’ve heard all of the nonsense rules: “Jesus is weeping while you watch that T.V. show”, anti-Harry Potter or anything else related, “dancing is sinful, especially with the opposite sex” from an Amazing Facts study (even though not all dancing is twerking), etc. I grew up in a church in which the older, conservative members’ (and not youth’) point of views had a stronghold. These are people who’ve been a part of the church their whole lives or most of their lives; they grew up with all of the rules and they’re used to it.There was a time when, during undergrad in college, I wouldn’t watch a movie in the movie theater because I was led to believe that it was sinful to visit the movie theater; I sacrificed many Friday nights and Saturdays to waste time listening to boring sermons in church and only doing church-related activities instead of going out with friends, exploring the city, trying new activities, or doing anything except church/Bible-related stuff and homework after Sabbath. I avoided playing UNO cards with roommates and friends on a Friday night because I thought I’d be sinning. The closest thing to “worldly music” I listened to was Christian rock or Christian rap during freshman or sophomore year of college because of something I read in the 28 Fundamentals of the SDA Church. Being super committed to that mentality and lifestyle gave me a sense of purpose and happiness, at the time, because I had been indoctrinated to think “I’m going to heaven; Jesus has forgiven me; I have purpose.” It never occurred to me the fact that I was missing out on all of the other important things in life due to letting religious experience overshadow everything else; I wasn’t the well-rounded person that I am now who’s concerned about important things like getting jobs, traveling/exploring new places, going to concerts, learning about everything I can or just going out having fun on a weekend doing whatever makes me happy like a normal person. I may have been putting God first according to devout Adventists, but that’s not a balanced life when that’s all you do and neglect everything else important due to irrational thinking. I may have been misguided back then or even misinterpreted some things, but I didn’t realize it a the time; if I had had a fulfilling social life and experiences outside of the church activities with people who made me feel accepted and respected, I wouldn’t have been so drawn to wanting to find purpose or social life through church; I didn’t like anyone in my old high school, didn’t make friends and didn’t have a meaningful social life that involved visiting places and doing fun, normal things on the weekends. I wasn’t driving at that point, didn’t have anywhere to go, and found belonging and purpose in Jesus. Though there’s nothing wrong with that, I don’t think it should be the most important part of my life, especially when it neglects other things and requires me to live an unnecessarily restrictive lifestyle that doesn’t make me happy.
    My roommates were part of an intervarsity club, heading to a, sort of, Christian retreat on the weekend at a beach. I heard an SDA preacher take ten minutes, within a sermon, to pretty much say “Don’t ever miss church unless you’re sick, dead or the weather won’t allow it”. He said “You better be in church”. Of course, I thought that supported the Biblical text your grandmother always loves to quote, so I thought I’d be sinning by missing church to head to a beach for a weekend and that I would possibly be tempted to break the Sabbath. I used to always avoid joining my brother and his family for Myrtle Beach trips when it meant I’d be missing church on that Saturday. So I never went out on Friday nights; I listened to Amazing Facts and didn’t go out on Saturday nights (even after Sabbath was over). I wouldn’t have been caught dead at a party where I thought I’d be tempted by “worldly people.” An old roommate invited me to her birthday party on a Friday night. I read a Bible verse concerning Sabbath-keeping, called a friend from my home church, and asked “Would I be breaking the Sabbath by attending this party? I don’t think I should go.” Some other things were said but, long story short, I didn’t go.
    When I met a guy and we became friends, I started to get a taste of real social life that I had never experienced since childhood, adolescence, or during the first few years of college. I woke up one day, only to realize every experience I’d be missing out on due to pathologically socially isolating myself, staying away from those “worldly” people who’d be a bad influence, and being narrow-minded and heavily committed to the what I perceived as the doctrines of the church or at least its’ older, conservative members.

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