Have deliberated about posting this for a while, as there are quite a surplus of testimonies on here...but what the hell...this is my story!
Growing up surrounded by Christianity, to me it was the only way. A life without God made no sense.
My entire pre-teen and teenage life was a cycle of the following steps repeated:
1. Knowing I should be close to God but not really feeling like I was
2. Going to the Bible to find scriptures to bring me closer to God, stumbling upon scriptures of an angry God, feeling confused, and then turning to the familiar comfort of Psalms, which with it's passion-filled writings of a loving God, I knew was sure to make me feel like I could worship this loving creator I had had described to me my whole life…but still not really feeling the passion I had seen the adults around me displaying.
3. Trying to overcome my insecurities of what people thought of me and putting my whole heart into worshiping on a Sunday- feeling so great through the emotion of the music and having moments of clarity and making private promises to God to be closer to him and follow him with my whole heart
4. The next day losing this feeling completely-burning out and feeling guilty and unworthy
Sometimes step 3 would last longer than a day…and when that happened it was amazing. I felt so confident in myself and felt I knew that I was closer to the person I wanted to be and the life I wanted to live. But it was only a matter of time before the clarity disappeared and I was back where I started.
I fell in love when I was 19 with a boy who had the same issues as me. We were both confused about God's relevance in our lives and concerned with finding the truth. For the first time, I started considering looking outside the Bible.
My boyfriend's de-conversion seemed to happen quite quickly. He devoted a lot of his time reading all sorts of sources from both sides and began to seriously doubt the God that he thought he knew.
He told me that he was looking for the truth. That he wished that God was real because without him the world suddenly became so much more complicated, but that he would keep looking. We both continued to attend church every week despite our lack of faith.
My boyfriend's de-conversion was emotionally painful for him, but as he came along, everything became gradually clearer and easier.
Seeing him walk away so quickly and being so sure of where he was at was hard for me. My mind was less rational than his and while I couldn't really feel God's presence in my life any longer it was still almost impossible to imagine that He wasn't real. All my beliefs and my understanding of the world was based around him…if he wasn't real than everything I was certain about would fall out of place.
I struggled with extreme anxiety about death and hell. I was caught in between two worlds. My whole life was controlled around this horrible, crippling fear of my boyfriend going to hell. No matter how happy I felt or no matter how many good things were happening around me, he was still going to go to hell. It was constantly at the back of my mind. This is what I was taught my whole life. I would have panic attacks and horrible visions of him being tortured and felt so extremely helpless.
I would pray numerous times a day begging God to something, anything at all to make him believe again. I fasted a handful of times, but nothing would ever happen. There was no change. He was happy. Everything made sense to him and he wasn't going to leave his newfound clarity.
Even though I could see that he was happy where he was I couldn't shake my fears and anxiety. It turned me into a manipulative controlling person. While I didn't really have a relationship with God myself, this fear that I had ingrained into me my whole life was the only thing keeping me attached to 'God.' I thought if I prayed enough, had enough faith, that I could convince God to save him from an eternity of torture. I knew I was only using God in an attempt to soothe my fears but it was an addiction. If I forgot to pray one day and he died in a car accident, he would go to hell and it would be all my fault. I was confused because so many horrible things were happening in the world all around me constantly; it was like the world was a death trap. Surely, the girl who I saw on the news who had been raped and murdered had had somebody pray for her safety at least once, so why did God allow it? Was it like a game, like a lucky dip? Or did he give mercy and immunity to those who prayed the hardest?
The responsibility weighed me down for a year. It was beginning to tear us apart. Our beliefs were the only thing we disagreed about. My only reason for holding onto God was as a drug to soothe my anxiety and I knew this, but it was so hard to let go of. I was so angry with God for putting the weight on my shoulders. I felt like God was telling me I had to break up with him because he wasn't a believer. I couldn't do it- I was far too in love with him. I felt like God was telling me it was either I stayed happily in love with him and he went to hell or I broke up with him and he would have a chance. Christians who I confided in told me it was the only way to save him.
After a while it all became too much. I began to do my own researching. I had avoided this previously because it would make me feel guilty and fearful that if I looked outside of the Bible and the church, that God wouldn't protect my boyfriend or me. Looking back now, it reminds me of a blackmail situation. After looking at both sides evenly, I started to really begin to question if God was seriously real. I figured that if he was, the unhealthy relationship revolving around my anxiety that I had with him was not what he would want.
I found so much evidence on the other side and not much to support what I had always believed. I began to test the waters by letting go of my obsessive praying slowly…and nothing changed. Nobody died. Gradually, I became so much more at peace mentally. I just let go. Previously, my way of controlling the situation had been to pray all the time, which put the responsibility on me. But after I just began to let it go and stopped always praying, there was no more control. There was nothing to control. There was no more responsibility. There was nothing I could do. And that was so comforting. Whatever would be, would be and I didn't have to feel responsible any more. There was no hell, no God. Everything was so much simpler.
Some people have asked me how I can not believe in a creator, why I would want to believe in nothing, how I find can meaning and purpose? My response has been that I would rather believe that nothing was created, that there is no higher being and no God-ordained meaning in life than believe that there is a creator who creates beings consciously knowing that one day, he will send them to place unfathomably horrible. Who knows as he creates a human being that while they are on earth they will have unspeakable things done to them. How can this make any sense?
I am now 21 years old. It’s been a couple months since I deconverted and I feel like a different person. While I still have very occasional pangs of anxiety, I feel like my life is completely in my hands. Ironically, it’s like being ‘born again.’ I feel like a newborn. My future is mine to create and this makes me smile.