I read an analogy that I found appropriate.
Being on the outside and looking in at Christianity is like being unplugged from “The Matrix”.
Everyone who is “plugged in” lives in a world where a deity rules supreme, where angels and Satan exist, where the saved mingle with the saints, and the unsaved are forgotten – or worse, they are NOT forgotten!
But outside, there are those of us who look at this complex inner life, and can do very little to change it. We can talk, we can yell. It doesn’t matter. As Cypher said, “Ignorance is bliss.”
I won’t strain the analogy by talking about pills of various colors, and whether or not it is a sign of intelligence to be on the inside, or the outside of this belief system.
But I will say that being on the outside has been very rewarding.
I am responsible for my own actions. I’m not “gifted” – no deity gave me anything. I have some talent, and some hard won skills, and a lot of luck and support from those who love me. What I’ve accomplished I can have pride in, and I can be grateful to those people who have invested in my future.
I don’t have a mental peeping Tom. That realization alone was extremely valuable to me. In the privacy of my thoughts, I’m allowed to be unkind, to be jealous, to be angry. I’m allowed to feel, and not feel guilty for feeling. I spent almost 3 decades believing that my thoughts were monitored, in a real “tinfoil hat” manner. I was being judged by a deity who knew my least charitable thoughts.
That’s gone. And it is freeing! And yes, I know that my actions are informed by my thoughts, so I do try to keep good mental hygiene. But at the same time, I’m allowed to give myself some space to be outraged, to be unkind, to throw my own pity-party. I just keep it short, and then get over it. I didn’t realize how much I stressed over this silliness.
I’ve lost my fear of Hell. That gave me nightmares as a believer. Even as someone who can lucid dream, some nightmares hurt before I could bring them under control. With that worry gone, my dreams are much less Armageddon-ish.
All in all, my life is much less stressful outside the Matrix. It is more relaxed. There is no “God-shaped hole” in my life. And there is no more fear there either.