Both my parents were raised Catholic, and just like most Christians I've met, had never thought twice about it. It was always 'the way things are' even if they didn't quite live according to the doctrine. Like all children, I believed what I was told, and when any question regarding how the Earth was made or why we were here, or why something was the way it was, I was immediately referred to the Bible by my mother.
I had gone to a Catholic church until the age of 5, when my family then started attending a Christian church. I became very involved with the church the older I got, but never really felt the spiritual aspect. I would go to a youth group on Sundays and felt it more of a social gathering than anything else. I played percussion in the worship band and attended weekly bible studies, but only to see cute girls, or to hang out with friends. I had always felt too old for my age, and although I didn't have very many friends at school, I felt like I fit in better with the older kids at church, who accepted me and made me feel like an equal. I still never questioned the validity of the teachings or the faith, but I did very often feel guilty about things I did: lying very frequently (especially to the older kids at church, to seem cooler), and worst of all: masturbating. I had a very strong sex drive starting in elementary school, but I knew that God looked down upon lust, and that to look at a girl with lusting eyes is just as bad as having sex with her.
I guess the guilt factor was one of the things that kept me in church, even though I felt even guiltier about being a "Sunday Christian" than anything I had actually done. I would go to school and curse with the other boys and even (at times) deny I was a Christian for fear that I would be laughed at. I would try to pray in my room at night, but after hearing no response from God, I would feel like maybe he didn't loved me, or looked down on me so much because of my sins that he couldn't even talk to me. I had never felt his presence in my heart, or ever heard his voice during a prayer. I would see the folks in church who would lift their hands up to praise this god and I wished so badly to have that kind of faith and to really feel the presence of god. But I never did. I felt like maybe it was a test, and so I was baptized in the church, mostly (although unconsciously) to gain attention and acceptance from the church community and my parents, but I really did want to dedicate myself to god so that I might feel his presence like everyone else did. I continued sinning, even when I would try with all my might not too, and begged for forgiveness every night.
By the time my parents got divorced I felt things were changing. When my parents started dating other people and my dad would have his girlfriend stay over and vice versa, I became very resentful and would call him a hypocrite. He eventually would stop coming to church with me, and would just take me and pick me up (often times picking me up half an hour late). Because of this I ended up not going to church again until I got my drivers license. I drove myself to church the first weekend I had my license, and have never been back since. The next few years I forgot about Christianity more or less, until some big problem or event came up and then I would pray to god for everything to be ok....for him to be there and help me....and adamantly apologize for having forsaken him for such a long time.
When I turned 18 I was forced into homelessness by both of my parents refusing to let me stay with them (my dad had subsequently moved 3 hours north of where I lived). I slept in my car and worked a full time job for months, in a very confused and frustrated state. This is the first time I really questioned whether or not there was a god, and whether or not the Christian faith was really what it claimed to be (I had already figured out that our society was in shambles once I smoked pot for the first time, and this mind opening allowed me to continue figuring things out). Finally I was able to admit to myself that god had never been there for me, had never showed himself to me or talked to me, and that any emotional response I had gotten from praying had been self induced.
The hardest part was admitting that there was no heaven and that I really didn’t know what happened when people died. It was very tough realizing that I really didn't know what people were or why they were here, or what this all meant. I decided to start from square one and forget everything I thought I knew about the world. Looking at Christianity from an outsider’s perspective allowed me to realize how incredibly flawed it is.
You are supposed to keep a certain level of naivety and contentedness in knowing that you have the answer and that everyone is wrong and that god loves you no matter what you do. It's hard to realize you don’t know the answer, and that no one does. But once you do, the burden is released and things seem a lot clearer.
Joined: Raised Christian, baptized at ages 6 months, 12 years old, and 14 years old (the latter two by my own will
Left: 18 years old
Now: Homo Sapien
Converted because: I was raised that it was just the way things were, and could never see past that
De-converted because: I was finally able to admit to myself that there was no god (at least the abrahamic god)
email: nonamakermusic AT yahoo dot com