It took me some courage to join this website. Living in a 'Christian' (only my parents are now) family, I was always afraid of being shamed for believing anything different than them, especially my father's viewpoints. (Mom is more lax and understanding, wouldn't murder me if I told her the truth, but that'll come later. Dad doesn't need to know.)
Starting out very early as a Christian, I prayed the sinner's prayer at the wee age of seven. Mom held a black sheet of paper and as I 'converted,' the page was flipped and it was white. Being a child, I didn't question it further, and took what happened to be the real McCoy. For the next three years or so, I was vibrantly enthusiastic about Christianity. I would attend our church's end times sermons and dig the eschatological themes like they were cake and I was hungry. Revelation was the most fun book to decipher in all of the Bible, with Paul's epistles coming in second.
When I became a teenager, things turned south though. I stopped caring much about God and I started to indulge in sexual fantasies. This began to get really bad as soon as I embraced pornography and began to abuse myself sexually. This would go on for years, still going on in a way to this day. It would forever shape my life, in good ways and bad. I would feel this lingering damnation over my 'soul' every time I partook of these 'evil lusts' that invaded my mind. I would feel the implied shame from my parents knowing they would punish me relentlessly if they caught wind of my pornography use and (future) sexting addiction. Of course I strategically told them parts of the truth to make myself look better so I could get away with it more.
Dad would constantly make me feel condemned for every different view I had from his. He could never be wrong it seems, and I couldn't be right if it disagreed with him. I felt threatened by his presence and he would constantly mentally manipulate me to 'get back into the Bible' which meant 'get back into his mind' and become his accomplice of sorts. I felt like a little Dad for at least a couple years and even would deliver a sermon or two beside him for Church group. (We were overseas in Saudi and had Church groups in another villa or some other place.) It felt so unusually weird and it was as if I was just being toyed around for my Biblical knowledge. (I wasn't naive about the Bible, read a good half of the book at least, especially the New Testament, which I probably read next to the whole thing.)
Ironically, as the teen years became my young adult years, I started to grow a deeper, albeit academic, interest in Bible doctrine. I would research systematic theology to piece the Bible together, as I'd say. I would connect doctrines together into this one solid framework. That's when I departed somewhat from Dad's views on the faith and became a hardcore Calvinist, at least in thought and in theological position. Calvinism was the true Biblical system and I felt a lot of self-satisfaction in discovering what the Bible actually taught.
While all of this was going on, Dad was having illicit affairs with at least one woman I know. What an example for God he was. I still couldn't disconnect God from Dad and saw God as this cosmic, omnipresent Dad. That struck fear and disgust in my heart, and I tried to create a new image of God that suited what the Bible said, not what Dad was. But the fact was, the God of the Bible and my Dad weren't too far apart, double-minded and always contradicting h/Himself. I found that I was losing faith in God altogether.
Trying to keep a hold of the Calvinism I previously espoused, I asked people on the ChristianForums to pray for me and my soul... that the Holy Spirit would invigorate me with a newfound vigor for Christ and that I would be this Calvinist soldier of God. I sincerely hoped for an answer from God in that way... I sought revival... I sought revival that wasn't steeped in the Pentecostal nonsense that everyone else was getting into... I wanted a change of heart... a change of will... a true evidence of God I could embrace and cherish.
It never happened. Worse, my belief kept slipping. I became less and less hostile towards the LGBTQ+ community and especially became less hostile towards people outside the faith. I found myself thinking about how I was uselessly hating a group of people that deserve love, not hate... That I found more in common with atheists and ex-Christians than the more crazy Christians. (Yes I found quite a bit in common with Calvinists since we're literally 'atheist Christians,' not believing in any active supernatural happenings in life. Calvinists believe in a powerless God most of the time and it's quite sad, in my opinion.)
Eventually I came to the cliff and I couldn't walk back anymore. There was a huge wall behind me and it was as if it said, 'Christian, it's time to move on. Jump off the cliff into the unknown.' I thought Hell was down the cliff and was afraid. Every day, I inched myself closer to the cliff, feeling uncertainty tug at me in every direction. But that was okay... Eventually one day, I realized that I indeed lost my faith... There was no belief in Jesus anymore... no belief beyond thinking a certain 'Book' came from some divine source that possessed humans... and even that belief started to fade... eventually it did of course.
I ended up tripping over. Instead of panicking as I fell, I accepted it. I knew this was going to happen anyways and I let myself fall faster. The further I fell from Christianity, I got happier and happier, and more joyful inside... Free from the chains that claimed to be freedom in Jesus. No, I had freedom in myself now.
And, honestly, I am still falling to this day, further away from 'God.' I am diving into myself, actually. 'God' never wanted me and I believe 'God' never was real to begin with, just a mind control took to control people with the fear of hell. It's no different than the Jehovah's Witnesses, honestly. Same brainwashing, same nonsense, same hypocrisies, same lies... and they claim to be enemies.
Me then: Hardcore Calvinist, 100% pro-life, anti-LGBTQ+, hateful of atheists, even more hateful of Pentecostals and Wiccans and such...
Me now: Panentheist, pro-life with exceptions, pro-LGBTQ+, welcoming of atheists, slightly disdainful towards Christians, especially welcoming of Wiccans and such...
It was so freeing to know that I don't have to hate lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and transgenders. Spread the love.