Sent in by Marie
I don't know how to summarize my story. I was raised Lutheran, and then moved into being a Baptist. I went to a Lutheran private school for several years of grade school, and then went to a private Lutheran High school for the entire 4 years.
The first time I started having doubts about my faith can be pinned on the first religion class I had of my freshman year. The teacher thought he would be really clever and came in talking like a neo-paganist, talking about how we can worship the trees, and don't take the Bible too literally. He was messing with our minds to, I suppose, open our minds and prepare us for the future. Someone I had trusted had exposed to me ideas that weren't Christian. From that point on, I struggled between labeling myself a Christian and an atheist.
All of my friends were greatly concerned for me, and I became a source of a lot of drama. Everyone wanted to save my soul. I was so frustrated and cried at night about my doomed fate to hell. I had my ups and downs throughout high school, Christian-status speaking, and converted back at one point when I saw a giant hand knocking on a door. I felt that was God.
My senior year I started getting rocky again. I decided I wanted to work at an orphanage in Mexico after graduating. But just then my sister returned from her trip to India with Youth With a Mission (YWAM). I noticed she had changed so much for the positive and decided I wanted that. So I went to a YWAM school in Mexico after I graduated.
I don't even want to go into the details of how they attempted to brainwash us and make us will-less creatures submitted to their authority. But the whole time I tried SOOOO hard to believe everything. I felt like I had to get this Christianity thing. I felt only by being a full-time missionary could I maintain my status with Christ. The school, in the end, left me in a spiritual place where I was happy.
So I decided to come back after 6 months to work at the school. But shortly before I left, I found myself in another bought of atheistic thoughts. I decided to go anyways. I gradually told the director of the school where I was spiritually and asked him if he wanted to send me home. He said no and placed me as a group leader for students and an outreach leader for a 3 month trip. This time on staff was TORTURE. I tried so hard to believe it all. But at the same time, my intellect wouldn't let me. I became so emotional about it all.
During the outreach, I revealed to the students that I wasn't Christian right now. I was so embarrassed and felt pressured. At one point, I was overcome with emotion and spirituality and found myself converting back to Christianity and crying like a maniac.
I left the school, returned to the US and found myself committing to work in a starter school in Mexicali. I only joined because the guy who asked me to come, I had a huge crush on. I worked there, and found myself committing to go under training at the original school I worked at to eventually commit 2 years to this new base in Mexicali. I didn't have any spiritual problems at that time, and felt peaceful (looking back though, I was a nut).
At the end of the training, I was to return to Mexicali. However, I found that my reason for being at the base, this guy, was now dating a chick and I wasn't getting any, even platonic, attention. I become depressed and realized the errors of my motives of coming back to the school this year. I realized I had to leave and get my motives in check.
I left the school. I got on a bus in Mexicali and drove all the way to Minnesota, giving myself 48 hours to ponder the last 2 years of my evangelical living.
I immediately settled into depression for the next 2 years, dealing with what happened in Mexico, and what has happened my entire life with wanting to be Christian, but having such a hard time.
I have finally found myself in a much more comfortable position, spiritually. I consider myself something in between a Unitarian or a Quaker, but I don't associate with any religious organization. I am now just trying to come to grips with what really happened in Mexico and throughout my life, since now I am finally confident in the custom faith I have created for myself.
Its a really painful issue to have to consider all that I have chosen to believe and do for the sake of avoiding hell in these last years. Whenever I start to think about my spiritual past, I feel ill to my stomach and find myself curled up in the fetal position. It is really hard for me to deal with. I feel extremely bitter towards the religion (but strangely enough, not the God) and everyone else who has excommunicated me because of my choice to trust myself over anyone else.
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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)