Sent in by Jessica
I have never sat down and actually written this in its entirety. I can imagine it to be pretty therapeutic. Anyway...here is the shortish version :)
I am 18 years old and currently in my first year of university. I have been brought up in a fundamentalist Christian environment where the family's core is the bible. Everything within my parents' lives is based on 'the word of god'. My dad was an elder in the church until they made the whole family up sticks and move away in order to start a house church. The thinking behind this was stripping church back to its old testament roots. A number of other families moved away to embark upon this venture with us. Needless to say this resulted in a closed, tight, little Christian community. All my parents friends were Christians, all of my extended family were also of the faith.
This way of life was completely normal to me and I was actively involved in church life. I enjoyed the social aspect of it and having a massive support network for me there. This all happened when I was about 11 years old. However as I grew up I started to notice things about this set up which were not good. The community was very shut off to the point of intimidating any newcomers, the members of the church were very judgmental and seemed to take it upon themselves to make those judgments heard. I just took this as normal and carried on with my life.
It wasn't until I was about 17 that I started to have many doubts about Christianity and ultimately my entire belief system. I found myself entering debates with friends and losing. I had always been openly Christian and therefore people liked to question me. I got to the point where we would be debating and someone would come up with an excellent point about evolution, or sex before marriage, etc. I also found myself arguing mindlessly and saying what I had been taught to say rather than because it was what I believed.
The negative thoughts and doubts were pushed to the back of my mind as the implications of them were too scary for me to contemplate. However over a period of a few months I could no longer ignore these niggling doubts... I had to face them.
Over the last 6 months I have done endless amounts of thinking, researching, reading, praying and talking to the point of exhaustion. However it has led me to what I believe to be the truth.
All of the evidence was pointing me towards a conclusion that I didn't want to believe. I turned to the Bible to save me, wanted it to reassure me and for me to read something that would make all the doubts go away. However it was the proper reading of this book (something which I had never done before, despite claiming to live my life by it) which broke my faith.
I came to one of two conclusions:
1. The bible is a book which was written by some good men, many thousands of years ago but is not the word of god, therefore I do not need to live my life by it....or.....
2. The bible is absolutely the word of god and represents him exactly as he is. If this is the case then the unloving, devious, revengeful tyrant presented is not someone/something I want to spend my life trying to serve.
I think I would describe myself as agnostic these days: I am in the middle, undecided, I don't know!! However one thing I am sure of is that I cannot invest my life in Christianity and the bible when I do not believe it to be true.
My friends and boyfriend all know about my journey however my parents, nor the rest of the church know about my walk away from the faith. The day that they find out terrifies me. My parents are good people and I'm sure they love me but I know that this news will break their hearts as their lives are completely devoted to Christianity. I don't know that I'm ready to see that disappointment in their eyes.
However I do know that I have found the truth, or lack of it. I am now grown up enough to make my own decisions and life choices. I just hope desperately that when I do feel ready to tell my family, the will do their best to accept them.
That was much longer than I thought it would be, but thanks for sticking with me :)