darkestgarden asked me to describe my spiritual transitions: how did you transition from one spiritual phase to another? what thoughts and questions and feelings sparked those transitions? were the individual transitions easy difficult, painful? have you suffered loss of any kind because of a transition? have you faced someone else's anger and/or disappointment and/or scorn for changing? has a change ever destroyed relationships? have you ever felt angry or disappointed or foolish for having believed in something, once you've transitioned away from one set of beliefs?
The first transition between one belief set and another happened when I went to my pastor and gently, respectfully inquired how they could reconcile their "witnessing (getting people to convert) is the most important goal in life" with what Jesus said, that love is the most important goal in life. There was no good reason but they were invested in their evangelical attitude and so rather than reconsider, they attacked me. They told me that everything about my life was wrong and useless and I wasn't really a part of their church, because I wasn't part of a small group. (I had tried several small groups but they were all just interested in socializing so I kept trying to find one that would actually be growthful. Essentially I had not failed, the small groups had) I had been attending for about 13 years, always sang and usually danced in worship, took notes during the sermon and often talked with the pastor afterwards to process it; I always took everything profoundly seriously. There was no possible way to actually doubt my devotion. This pastor just wanted to maintain their bad doctrine and was willing to eviscerate my soul to do it. At one point their spouse came up and tried to get them to stop and they silenced their spouse rudely (also the only time I'd seen them be rude to another person). Eventually they told me that they were not my pastor. This is the equivalent of being disowned by your parents, if you loved them. I kept their photo on my wall: that is how important they were to me. So I left, crying my eyes out, and didn't go back for a while, because it hurt too much.
That church had been the one thing between me and giving up on the institution. I admired how they did anti-racism work and how the pastor used to say before each sermon "this is just my human interpretation: check with God, your own spirit, and the Bible to be sure it is right." They sure turned their back on that. I have visited every once in a while to see if they've gotten better but they have descended into worse and worse blasphemy, advocating that women put up with spousal rape, advocating that you use violence to 'save' your children, being violently anti-queer, hanging a bunch of flags instead of doing anti-racism work outside the church building, etc.
Anyway, for a while I had no spiritual community and I missed that so much. I looked and looked. I began exploring other ways of connecting with deity, since I couldn't do my old methods. I came to realize that the perception of Godde presented by the church was wrong. I studied things alone and realized the intense levels of sexism and hierarchy that were imbedded in the worship music, which had always been a haven for me and now I couldn't have that either. I studied other religions but they all had something wrong with them: sexism and/or codes of ethics that included things I could not agree with. So I started the lonely road of creating my own belief system.
There have been other transitions, but gradual and natural ones based on new experience or understanding. I moved from believing in a male 3-in-1 god who sometimes wore other faces to a gender-neutral Godde and male Jesus and gender-neutral holy spirit, to a life that is all things and manifests as various deities sometimes which are no more or less important a manifestation than are planets or oceans or humans or fish or ants. I have transitioned my belief in ownership of an eternal soul to a belief in a transitory experience of beingness, upon realizing that the former did not make sense in light of my understandings about who "I" am. That was a realization that shook me intensely, as it was foundational, but it wasn't painful. It was a little uncomfortable as I know it moved me further from the possibility of fitting with a larger spiritual community, since so many are based on an eternal soul, an afterlife, and/or an inherently "more important" deity. These transitions happened as I learned more about the universe and myself, and integrated what I learned.
I've lost many things in transitions, but most were illusions. For instance, the profound sense of unity that comes with believing the same thing as another person: inherently an illusion, since no two people believe the exact same thing even if they have the same belief set and religious/spiritual education. I feel nostalgic for the comfort of those illusions sometimes but I don't miss them.
I've never felt angry or embarrassed or anything for having believed something spiritual that I don't anymore: my old beliefs are the fertilizer for my new ones and I don't think it would have been possible for me to get to where I am without having believed those things. The only things that I have been ashamed to have believed are the ways that I reinforced oppression in my religion many many years ago, but I always feel a little removed because those were things I never truly believed, yet accepted because I couldn't find a way to resist them.