Image by fionnaigh via FlickrMy life never started off on a religious fore-front. My parents were both heavily into drugs when I was very young. They divorced when I was two or three. I went to live with my grandma. My grandma grew up in a Catholic household. Her father was Catholic and her mother was Mormon.
Growing up, I had a lot of questions for my grandma about reality. She wasn’t affiliated with the church because she always thought that all of the “politics” and corruption in the church was never good. She taught me to be a free-thinker. She believes in choice. That you make your own destiny, and I believe the same. She is extremely tolerant of other religions (just as long as you don’t go knocking on her door).
Growing up, I asked her what “religion” we were, and she told me “You can believe in anything you want, or you can believe in nothing at all. It’s your life, and you need to find out what you think for yourself.”
I did just that. When I was in 7th grade, we decided to move to a mid-western state in the “Bible Belt.” We’d lived on the west coast, and my grandma knew a friend that moved to the mid-west and she thought the mid-west would be a good place for me to grow up.
Since we lived in a very Christian community, all of my friends in school went to church. So, I started getting involved with a youth group and going to church. I went to church for years, and then I met a guy while I was in high school.
This guy was a Pentecostal and VERY involved with his church. I came from a Methodist church and I couldn’t believe how dedicated people were to this church. His family would give a tithe when they were struggling financially. He had 6 other siblings and his family still went to church every Sunday and gave money for offering. His eldest sister, who was 22 at the time, didn’t have a driver’s license because her father didn’t want her to drive for some reason. His younger brother wasn’t allowed to have a portable CD player, (not sure if it was financial problems or what!) and the parents would read excerpts from the bible every night to the children and ask questions and talk about it. I was scared to ask any real questions about anything, and I felt uncomfortable every time we went to visit.
During the course of our relationship, I began to doubt religion. When I would voice this concern to him, he would tell me “That’s just Satan trying to take you away from God! Don’t ever doubt anything the church says.” He would tell me things about Hell and Satan that would literally give me nightmares. When I was in college, I told him that I wanted to take a philosophy class and he freaked out on me and said “That’s blasphemy. That kind of thing demoralizes God! You can’t take that class!” As our beliefs began to differ, and I was growing more independent, we broke up. But he wouldn’t let me go without a fight. When I broke up with him, he slapped me, pulled my hair, dragged me across the floor, and shook me. Then he left threatening voicemails on my phone and stalked me over the internet.
This really left me looking for answers. I was homeless and broke. This all happened just before the holidays my freshman year of college. I remember sleeping on my mother’s couch for a month and having $11 in my checking account. I was depressed and felt like there was nothing I could do.
I reached out to the church, and a few close Christian mentors from my college helped me through everything. To be honest, everyone always talked about hearing the voice of God, and feeling a connection…but I never had any of that. I couldn’t force myself to believe in something that I didn’t feel.
Ever since I stopped buying into all of the Christian non-sense…my life has been so much easier. When I was in church, I felt like something was wrong with me because I didn’t “feel” it all I “felt” was doubt. Now I know that there’s a reason I didn’t “feel” it, because it’s all made up. It really is a luxury not to have faith in Jesus or God. I feel good now. Better than I have ever felt in my entire life. I can’t believe how much I talked myself into following something I knew wasn’t true.
Now that I am an agnostic, I am facing new challenges. Non-believers are minorities here in the U.S. I have been told that I will burn in Hell by many Christian people for my beliefs. One night, I went to a party and the girl who lived in the apartment told me to get out of her house, or she was going to “punch me in the face..” because I don’t believe in the Bible. Actually, she and her friend were the ones who started the conversation of politics and religion with me, and I had never met them before! If she’s Christian, I don’t know why she had tattoos and was getting drunk at a college party! These kinds of things just prove to me how hypocritical Christians are.
To me, religion is like the WWE wrestling on television. When you don’t know better, it’s easy to believe it’s real. Once you start using your brain, it’s hard to comprehend how people can believe it’s real.