Sent in by Jo
I was raised in the church by my mom, a single parent. We went to church most of my life, but not always consistently. Although my mom is not a "churchy" sort of personality, her faith in Jesus and God are very strong. So I was raised with an open minder parent but also a very spiritual and superstitious parent.
Luckily I was always educated at school to think for myself. During elementary school I was in the gifted program. In middle school I left this program to be a "regular student." I didn't do so well as a regular student. I became a rebel of sorts, refused to go to church, experimented with all the taboos. Finally after my freshmen year in high school I decided to leave that behind, throw away the cigarettes and become a born again Christian. I studied the bible and was very dedicated to this life, that I genuinely felt saved me.
My life was good for awhile, though I felt plagued by guilt and confusion over the things I read in the bible. My youth minister tried to explain to me that I didn't understand grace. Which is what my mom still believes to this day.
Being a convinced, determined and faithful Christian at the time helped me in many ways I am thankful for. It helped me to become more disciplined at school and also learning about faith in god helped me learn about faith in myself.
I ended up getting a scholarship to an excellent university partly because of my religion and faith. However that same University experience and time allowed me to learn and question, which is partly how I gradually moved away from Christianity.
Now I am mostly newly atheist, though their are still shreds of agnosticism in me.
My most recent experiences with atheism include reading Richard Dawkins' book, The God Delusion, which I am so thankful for as a resource for disbelief and on a more negative side receiving criticism from my brother.
When I recently told my religious brother that I am atheist, He basically told me that he believes in predestination and if god wants me to be on his side I will and if he hasn't chosen me then he hasn't chosen me. And very kindly he let me know that all I think about is myself because I am living for myself and that must be a sad life.
Right now the only sadness in my life is my grandpa who is in the hospital and my older brother saying something so inconsiderate, unthinking and heartless to me.
But I have learned to have confidence in myself and I'm tough. The only understanding of grace I was ever missing was grace for myself!
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