The Day I Deconvertered
As a child, I never questioned Seventh Day Adventism. It never occurred to me that I should; the sky is blue, the SDA church is the true church of God. I started to question the church when I hit middle school. I started to serious study the Bible, and I became enamored with my faith. I was baptized at the age of 13 – earlier than my parents would have liked, but I was dedicated to it. My non-Adventist friends could see it in the way I talked and the way I acted. I both loved and feared God. He was not an immortal teddy bear; I was in awe of him, and in awe of his true church.
High school was what tested my faith – and ultimately, I failed. The UK is not very religious, and my teachers were not afraid to teach me about evolution and to question my religious beliefs. My friends were very intelligent and would pose all sorts of questions to me; I did my best to answer them, and I put up a great fight. But ultimately, it became increasingly difficult to defend my beliefs. Evolution was obviously true and when my friends started to actually research Ellen G White and started asking hard questions, the Ellen G White Estate wasn’t able to provide me with adequate answers.
Despite this, I stubbornly held onto my beliefs. Occasionally, the arguments and logic would get to me and in my head I would wonder; “what if it is true? What if Seventh Day Adventism is wrong?” But I would not get very far. Every time I began to question the church, my heart skipped a beat and I felt sick. I would quickly reassure myself – “no, it is OK, it is definitely true” and I would then take any excuse to find a defence for it. When I argued with others over my faith, I was so proud of the fact that I had an “open mind”. I claimed that I had studied other faiths – which was true – but I also claimed I looked at them with an open mind. I honestly tried to learn about other faiths, ideas and theories; but I was too terrified to truly criticize Adventism. I knew the repercussions would be disastrous, and mentally I just couldn’t go there. But my stubbornness could only hold out so long, and my day of reckoning was coming.
And so it was. I remember the night so clearly; and I don’t think I will ever forget it – I was about 16 at the time. It was Friday night during Sabbath and I was having a shower as I found it a great way to kill time. I was severely conflicted. The arguments against Adventism had become increasingly convincing, and only my fear in embracing them was holding me back, and I knew it. But this fear was no longer enough; I had started to have dreams of pursuing something that was not in-step with the church. To pursue it, I would need to leave. And in one moment of clarity I realised something that startled me;
I no longer believed in the church anymore. I didn’t believe in Ellen G White, and I was no longer an Adventist. I could no longer cling to this identify to avoid the fallout with my family; my desire to pursue my dreams had pushed me to accept the reality I had known for a long time.
And as I realised this, I physically crumpled on the floor. I let out a huge sob, and fell to my knees. I started to cry, in deep, heavy sobs. I cried for a long time, very much alone. I got out of the shower, and I continued to cry. I looked in the mirror, with my red, swollen eyes. I was confused and shocked; this person looking back at me – who was she? I lost my identity in one fell swoop.
That night, I mourned the loss of my family. I was a great child; I excelled academically and artistically. I had a good relationship with my parents. They were very proud of me, and they told me this a lot. But in that moment, I lost it all. I knew that my parents would forget my achievements, they would forget my personality and they would forget how much I tried to be a good person. When they found out my beliefs, I would be branded as part of “The World”. I was horrified at my new reality.
Life After Deconversion
When I deconverted, I remained a Christian for a short time. I gave up the health food laws, something I had always been skeptical of regardless. I kept the Sabbath for awhile – I will never forget my first Sabbath as an ex-Adventist. I sat in my bedroom, looking out the window. I was scared and lost, but also at some peace. I spoke quietly to God, as I contemplated my new life and new identity.
But eventually, that fell aside too. The reality was, as much as I wished to believe I was speaking to God, it became apparent that I wasn’t speaking to anyone at all – it was all in my mind. When I had that realisation, I felt deeply foolish and very lonely. And so as the fear of leaving no longer kept me in, I had nothing to hold onto. I will never forget the first day that I openly defied Sabbath. I snuck out on the basis of going for a bike ride in nature, and I instead went to a local fair. There, I purchased a burger that had bacon in it and I tried it for the first time. It was good, though I was underwhelmed. I kept looking over my shoulder; terrified an Adventist would see me, that they would catch me.