Resolve to find groups and communities where you fit in (be careful on social media)
Resolve to Discover some new atheist content (Scathing Atheist, Hemet Mehta, The How-To Heretic, Seth Andrews – The Thinking Atheist, Aron Ra, Ricky Gervais' “Derek” and “After Life”
Resolve to explore things you were told to avoid (secular books, music, and movies)
Resolve to get past the concept of sin – make good choices, don't hurt anyone
Resolve to at least start paying attention to your own sexuality (and learn about safe sex) – It's not wrong to be interested in things that are off on the fringes either (kinks, lifestyles...)
Resolve to be OK with liking things you've been told are sinful (as long as these things don't bring harm to you or to others). This for yourself but also with other people. You've learned how to be judgmental. It's time to unlearn what you have learned and just let people be themselves.
Resolve to not go back to your abusive ex-deity – your sense of right an wrong exceeds his by a country mile
Resolve to think of others above yourself
Resolve to let others BE themselves in front of you
Resolve to form your own opinions about everything – demand proof or at least arguments that are compelling and based upon observable truths
Resolve to listen to your own intuition – it's usually right
Resolve to like yourself more – forget everything you've learned about your righteousness being as filthy rags. Forget about dying to yourself. These things only serve to kill your self-esteem. Slap those thoughts away and TELL YOURSELF that you know better.
Resolve to becoming OK with your own mortality – you're gonna die. Deal with it. Here's the thing, though: it hasn't happened yet. Don't forget to enjoy the party.
Forget about the concept of belief (in terms of your religion – sometimes leaps of faith are necessary. In situations where you know you're being fed a line or where there is little or no tangible evidence, believing is not only a bad idea, it stifles your intellect.
Resolve to understand why you got out, what was harmful about your religion, and what it did to you emotionally (and seek help if the trauma runs deep)
Resolve to forgive yourself for steering others into evangelical faith
Resolve to forgive yourself for denying your kids a normal childhood or adolescence
Resolve to forgive the people who lied to you and kept your thoughts and actions under such unbearable scrutiny and bondage for so long. Remember, it was done to them too and the people who were closest to you probably didn't mean any harm.
Resolve to become educated about just one area of science (not necessarily evolution)
Resolve to learn more about American politics
Resolve to read the Old Testament as if Yahweh was your actual father
Resolve to volunteer at a secular charity – even for just one Saturday
Resolve to learn about alternative lifestyles
Resolve to stop equating moral character with what happens in someone's bedroom
Resolve to truly, honestly, and outwardly love your neighbor as yourself
Resolve to broaden your understanding of right and wrong and ask yourself if doing the right thing would still matter without the promise of reward or threat of punishment after you die. Would you still live an upright life by a good set of morals even if you knew you'd never go to heaven (or hell)?
Resolve to explore questions you have about what the bible says when you think something might be a little off
Resolve to stop going to church, just for a month
The beginning of a new year is not a mandatory starting point for any of this, but it's at this time of year that the concept of changing and resetting are in the fronts of many people's minds. The concept of a “New Year's resolution” is very cliché, so let's just think in terms of resolve for resolve's sake. You're doing this for you. You're steering your thinking in new directions for you. You're distancing yourself from toxic people and situations for you. You are exploring a few “pleasures of the flesh” for you and you're doing it in a mature, safe, and responsible way.
And since I know it still sticks in a lot of our minds that someone is watching or even gives a shit what we do with our lives, let me tell you this much: those impulses aren't going away any time soon. You just need to stand up to them. Let reason best dogma inside your head. Understand that the only moral compass you will ever possess comes from inside you and that you are capable of making good choices. If you can't, you need to accept those shortcomings and get help managing and sorting through those areas of conflict. Other people will make sure you know if something is amiss. Take the hints as they come (but be wary of advice and criticisms that come from evangelicals, of course – they have their own agenda and it usually has little to nothing to do with improving YOUR quality of life).
Also, don't beat yourself up if you aren't able to steer clear of some of the old toxic thought and behavior patterns. Remember that this is a process and it will take time (read that as “the rest of your life”). Start reading some better books. Start hanging out with people who aren't interested in making you more like them. Start taking pleasure in things you were once told were sinful because there are so many petty, innocuous things that evangelicals tag with a scarlet S that are victimless and harmless in their execution. Their god doesn't like it? Guess what, their god doesn't like YOU either otherwise he'd be present and available and would treat you at least on par with how a loving human parent treats his or her children. All of these things will help start steering your mind in a direction that leads to YOU being happy with you, and barring any kind of sociopathic tendencies, this is ALWAYS a good thing. Are you generally kind? Empathetic? Willing to live and let live? Then live your life YOUR way. You already have a healthy and workable framework. And the more you shine the spotlight on you and the less you attribute your ability to live a good life to a fake deity (who couldn't even teach you how to do that in the first place), the more your thoughts will shift into places like personal responsibility, empathy, and compassion – all things your fake god knows nothing about.
To our evangelical friends, I'll make this short and sweet. I already know that you've dismissed every word of advice I've offered outright and I understand why. But I challenge you to think about the things that I brought up and ask yourself why you feel such unrest over simply following my lead and trying to implement some of the things I mentioned. If you are even remotely honest with yourself you'll say that all aversions to these things inside your head have the same common foundation: fear. Do keep in mind that if you believe your own book, your god has not given you a spirit of fear, but of power, love, and a sound mind.
You have the power to make your own choices. You have the ability to love. And you have the right to a sound mind. Following the leads of televangelists and failed maniacal demagogic wannabe dictators will never get you there, but considering some of the advice I just gave you can. You can't feel love without empathy. You can't have a sound mind when your brain is addled by fairy tales and conspiracy or if you refuse to use your mind for the purposes for which it exists – that being to never stop learning and to apply logic and reason to any and all situations. And you will never feel personally empowered as long as you insist on being crucified with Christ and dying to yourself, denying yourself simple things like a good movie, a good drink, or some good sex with someone with whom you aren't under a legal contract. The sense of exclusion and the constant self-denial are a recipe for toxic thought and behavior. If you aren't happy in your faith, INSIST on getting answers from your god as to why you're holding up your end and yet never feel joy or even happiness outside of the cloister of your church community (if then). And when those answers don't come, it should be obvious how nonsensical it is to live this particular brand of quiet desperation any longer.
To everyone out there, thank you again for listening and supporting all that we do here. Let's do our part to make 2021 the best “me” year yet. And let's resolve to learning more about ourselves, experiencing the things life has to offer and enjoying the satisfaction of knowing that even though life may never be perfect, it will always be just a little happier, more self-affirming, and keep us in a better headspace overall when we resolve to live each and every day unbound.