sent in by Ellie Nonner
I was 16 years old when one of my best friends confronted me about finding something that would change my life. She knew that I battled with depression ever since I was a young child. She professed a religion, a commitment, a relationship that would change my life for the better. She believed that her god would provide a complete healing, that I would finally know the peace I so desperately longed for. In the middle of the courtyard at my high school, a scared 16 year old girl broke down and tears and believed that she had finally found an answer to her problems.
Belonging to a church gave me instant friends. I was the teenage girl that had done everything most of the others hadn't...I had overcome a drug problem, I loved to party, I could even give sex advice to the other girls that were too scared to ask their parents and had no other friends that new anything about the subject. I was looked up to because I had made the decision for myself instead of being brought up in the church like everyone else. I loved music and started a praise band. I got other people motivated to "spread the good news" in a way so that people like me would stay and listen.
I continued being a passionate Christian for 6 more years. I led worship in large churches. I made Christian music cds, one of which was under contract negotiations when I de-converted. I was a spiritual leader among my friends and around my college campus. I led bible studies, witnessed to my "lost" friends, and worked as a missionary for a summer. I poured my life out toward Christianity. I believed it with every part of my being.
Of course, just like every other Christian, I found myself doubting at times. And, just like every other Christian, I recounted the story of Doubting Thomas to myself. I gave myself the same line that every other Christian does..."Some things are just not meant to be understood until we get to heaven." And for a while, this was enough.
When I was 20, my depression hit again. It was a very hard time. For a while, I was being transferred from institution to institution. I could not function on my own. I never got out of bed, never brushed my teeth, never showered, never ate... I could not understand why the god that was promised to me when I was 16 years old decided he wanted to take a shit right on my head. My religion was very important to me. All my friends were Jesus-freaks. I worked out of a ministry on campus. I read my bible, I went to devotions, I WAS A GOOD CHRISTIAN.
When I got sick again, my boss fired me. I believe his exact words were, "We cannot have anyone around here who is doing the things you are doing. We are a Christian organization and you cannot act like you have no hope around here." I was banished from the ministry, and along with the ministry went many of my friends, my work, and my passion.
Ah yes, you may say... She is one of the ones that converted to Christianity on the basis of emotions, just as she de-converted from Christianity.
I love to think. And I was not going to give up something that important to me on the basis of emotion or on the actions of someone else. I fought with my doubts for a long time before I even allowed myself to entertain the thoughts.
"Well, if God is all-knowing, why was there even an old testament. Why did God let all of those people die without having a chance if he knew he was going to have to change it in the first place? Why would god make a faulty plan to allow people to get into heaven?"
"I really don't understand how a 'loving' god can murder people in his name for no good reason at all."
"The bible says that everything will work out for the good for those who love the lord, but yesterday I sliced my wrist open and now I'm sitting in restraints. It sure as hell didn't work out for me. I should have died."
I tried to find more and more information about both sides of the argument. I read information for the Christian who is doubting. I read information on proving the existence of Christ. I read up on all the reasons why Christianity is completely ludicrous. At first, I was praying about the way I was thinking. After a while, I decided I was going to make my own decision and no other being (imaginary or real) was going to make this decision for me.
A month after I turned 22, I told my friends (who were all passionate bible-thumpers, I might remind you) that I was an atheist. I told them I was tired of doubting, I was tired of second guessing, I was tired of my emotions being played with, and most of all, I was tired of not being able to use my mind.
Some of the accepted me anyways (although they take every chance they have to try to convince me otherwise). Some of them remain my best friends who know they religion is an off-limits discussion with me. Many of them do not talk to me anymore. It seems that in many of my relationships, the common ground was what was brainwashed into our minds, not a true friendship.
At times, I find myself missing those friends. I admit that sometimes I play praise and worship music on my guitar just because I miss the feeling of being part of something, of being loved, of being important.
I refuse to step inside a church again. I tore the pages out of my bible, one by one, and burnt them. I gave away all my Christian cds. I WILL NOT go see the passion of Christ.
The best part of all is that I'm finally happy. I know that I have a serious disorder and I will not always be happy, but I am very happy with what I believe now. I do not feel "wrong" about things that I used to consider "sins." My time is not caught up in church (I never realized how much of my life was centered around church until I left it). But best of all, I can use my mind. I CAN USE MY MIND!!!!!!
Became a Christian: 16
Ceased being a Christian: 22
Labels before: Baptist
Labels now: atheist
Why I joined: Emotion
Why I left: Tired of fighting with doubt
Email Address: schmigida at hotmail.com
Online Reading List
- An Outline of Intellectual Rubbish by Bertrand Russell (1943)
- Bible Teaching and Religious Practice by Mark Twain
- God is Imaginary
- Is there an Artificial God? by Douglas Adams (1998)
- Skeptics Annotated Bible
- The Age of Reason by Thomas Paine (1795)
- Which Way? by Robert Ingersoll (1884).
- Why I Am Not A Christian by Bertrand Russell (1927)