Image via WikipediaAlthough I grew up with agnostic parents, they believed it would be better for me to have some exposure to religion by sending me to a Catholic school. Their teachings and my Presbyterian aunt taking me to weekly bible studies began to "sow the seed," so to speak, of the "gospel."
During that time I realized that the songs and bible stories that these people were so attached to meant something deeper to them. But, already I had began to question them about things like Judas having two different deaths in different gospels as well as the issue of seemingly different genealogies.
My neighbors then added to more by bringing me to a Bibleman concert and giving me a bible. As I read through it, I began to become very afraid of this god and started wondering about salvation. Was I really doomed to hell? Could the world really end at any moment? It was impossible to sleep or even eat. When I did sleep I would have dreams of God throwing me into hell.
One day, filled with fear, I decided to accept Jesus into my heart. Believing that I now had been saved from all those things I felt, I had a deep obligation to tell my family and friends how to be saved. A few Christian friends brought me to their church, and I was soon immersed in the doctrines and beliefs that they held (they were Pentecostal). I was so passionate that my youth pastor told me that I was the strongest Christian he had ever met. During that time I also spoke in tongues and was baptized.
Over the next few years I alienated just about everyone I met, losing friends by constantly attempting to get them saved from their sin by accepting Christ. I look back on that time sadly as I could have enjoyed relationships with some very good people, but instead I threw them away for a fantasy. My grades suffered, because I saw no purpose for such "vain philosophies," and I believed the only thing that really mattered was preparing the world for Christ's return and bringing people to Him.
My next step after high school was going to a Christian college to train as a missionary. My parents were uncomfortable with my decision, and my atheist brother and sister kept their distance, and I knew that they felt I was wasting my money there.
At that school I participated in two different street evangelism teams and brought many people to Christ. But, listening to why many people didn't believe generated questions in my own mind about my own beliefs.
And, I witnessed and experienced some of the worst hypocrisy imaginable from fellow Christians.
In time I became so miserable, that almost every day I was begging God to kill me. Although I didn't turn against God because of my problems at school, I did to start questioning my faith objectively instead of dismissing rational arguments, believing they were from the devil.
My struggle with faith left me crying many nights over whether god would throw me into hell if I chose not to believe in him. I began to wish I were never born because then there would have been no possible way for me to go to hell. I even begged God to kill me. That year was the worst in my life,
One night I was walking, thinking about everything that had happened to me the last few years -- how much more satisfying my life could have been. I knew I had wasted so much: all the girls I rejected for God, all the friends and even family members I had hurt, the fear I had felt...
At that moment I let out a deep breathe and let go...
It was the most peaceful moment I can remember, and I'm so glad I did. I'm happy I gave up my beliefs after just five years, as I know many people end up staying with their beliefs for decades or even their entire lives.
That was two years ago and my life is better than it's ever been.
I'll be graduating from another college (I transfered) with a double major in math and economics.