Sent in by Martha
I was raised Christian in a moderate (actually, fairly liberal) church by two very loving parents. At no point was anything forced down my throat; I accepted the teachings willingly and with enthusiasm. I remained very strong in the faith all the way through high school until I joined the military, where I moved far away from my family and my church. I tried to remain faithful for several years, but it didn't take long for me to start having issues.
I started feeling like God had left me, so I assumed that this was one of the tests of faith that he puts us through to make us stronger. So I prayed and prayed and prayed, but things didn't seem to get better. So I started to wonder if I had done something wrong that had made him withdraw his presence, so I carefully searched my life to find out what it was, and I prayed for forgiveness, but I still had no luck. Finally, I just gave up, because nothing I did made any difference.
I didn't understand it at the time, but I was actually suffering from depression (from having moved away from everybody I knew and being put in a radically different environment). When I realized that it was depression that made me feel bad, and not some spiritual reason, it made me start to think: Just what is faith, anyways? Everyone I've ever talked to said that their faith is justified because they "feel" that it's right. But if emotions can be affected by an imbalance of chemicals in your head, then how do you know if what you feel is actually correct? When people sing in church, they experience uplifting emotions for the same reason any other person would at a really good rock concerts. Why, then, is one considered to be communion with God and the other considered just to be purely for fun? If faith is based on such flimsy logic, is it actually worth anything?
There were a lot of other things that made me leave, but honestly, naming them all would probably fill a book. I became an agnostic just this spring, and I'm having a hard time with it. God was such a big part of my life, now that I've acknowledged that he's gone I feel like there's a gaping hole in my heart. I just wanted to talk to other people about my experience, and maybe find some comfort with other people having the same issues.