Sent in by Rachel
I grew up as a preachers kid. My father was the pastor of our local church and was always taking us to other churches where he was invited to preach. My mother was the perfect Pastor's Wife, and my brother looked like he was going to follow in her footsteps.
My mother tells me that one night when I was four, I approached her and told her I wanted to give my life to Jesus and 'be saved'. I only remember one thing from this encounter: kneeling by her bed and waiting for SOMETHING to happen. My four year old mind fully expected a light show, a feeling... anything would do. Of course nothing happened I was four years old, not many sins to be cleaned right? By six I was drowning in our church's philosophy. I went to bible camp, started kindergarten in a Christian school, I was witnessing by the age of nine and won a soul to Christ by age ten. I look back and cringe at myself now.
I was an annoying little holier than thou brat, and I admit it with a lot of guilt and sorrow for the people who had to put up with me. I had no friends to speak of, I had been put in public school in second grade because we couldn't afford to put me in the private Baptist school, and my little mind could not comprehend people with different beliefs. (not that there were many in my little southern town, but they did exist even if I wasn't aware of them)
Then it happened. My father, the loving Christian patriarch of my family died. I recited the platitudes, God loved my daddy so much that he wanted him to be in heaven with Him. And all that other shit. But something died in me, the brilliant flame of God's love went out.
By high school I was so deep in a depression that I could not explain, that I had begun hurting myself. I punished myself for every bad thought, every wicked deed. If I touched myself at night, I scratched my arms. If I thought lustful things about other girls I pricked myself with pins.
I was certain that God was coming back soon so why care about anything? Why study, why go to college, why get my driver's license? I wouldn't need them in heaven right?
I started cutting myself with razors and knives, punishing myself even for being depressed and angry. I especially punished myself for reading the books I loved, but couldn't stop reading them. Many of the books had a distinctly unchristian spin to them, many of the characters in the fantasy novels I adored worshipped goddesses or other gods. When I finally did go to college I met some people who actually believed that there were other gods. That there were people who believed god was not vengeful, that hell did not exist, that I was not a bad person for being bisexual.
While I still battle with depression and anxiety, I have a much better foundation to fall back on, while I believe in the god of the bible, he is not my god, and his word doesn't concern me or my life. It is amazing how much freedom I have now... Freedom from fear being not the least among them. Fear of god, fear of hell, fear of reproach from Christian family and friends.
Became a Christian: 4
Ceased being a Christian: 18
Labels before: Southern Baptist, Freewill Baptist
Labels now: Pagan
Why I joined: Grew up in a Christian home
Why I left: had a reality check