Looking back now at all the years I spent as a Christian, I would have never imagined that I could ever come to describe myself as an atheist. My journey out of religion and ultimately into atheist was one that was perhaps several years in the making. Considering that I am a minority and a college-age female, a demographic of people that is likely to be religious, I am something of an exception.
Though religion was not really discussed among me and my mother and siblings growing up, I nonetheless has a fair amount of exposure to Christianity. I often was tagged along with my mother and relatives into Baptist or apostolic churches. I would remember not really paying much attention at all in the service. As soon as we walked out of those church doors, anything pertaining to religion wasn't really discussed. My mother was at best a nominal Christian. As I became older, I also had some exposure to Catholicism since many of the family members on my grandmother's side are Catholic. For a short bit I had recalled my mother trying to force Catholicism down me and my siblings' throats. I didn't take any of it seriously. The idea of praying 40 different times multiple times a day to some saint and of confessing your 'sins' to some guy wasn't cutting it for me. I thought it was all really silly. Luckily, my mother came to her senses and a few weeks later wasn't busy shoving Catholicism down my throat.
I had been in and out of the foster care system tons of times, yet each foster family I went they were always Christian, and of either the Baptist or Apostolic variety. Around 11 I had really begun to pray, yet at the same time I wasn't entirely unsure of what to think about 'God'. It was also at this point that I had suddenly become skeptical of all of the bible stories. Ultimately, my skepticism would later prove to be the undoing of my faith. At 12 I simply could not fully believe in all of the things in the bible, such as Jesus walking on water, Jesus also being God and the Holy Spirit, Jesus' Resurrection and him turning wine into water to name a few examples. Each of these claims seemed contrary to reality. It is ironic that children are taught that Santa and the Easter Bunny are make-believe when they reach a certain age, yet it is also acceptable for people to hope in a being that no one has ever seen or can be sure exists.
I had a fairly rough upbringing my teenage years, with my mother constantly moving and me being picked on at school. Yet through it all I still continued to be as faithful a Christian as possible. Around 14 or 15 I had gotten suckered into supporting many of those Tv preachers. I have to admit some of them did have really good messages, and one well-known one in particular had such a good, watered down version of Christianity that even a non-religious could appreciate, so as long as this concept of God is taken out. I had continue to go down the path as a Christian and even giving up all forms of entertainment that I considered were bad for a Christian. It wasn't until I was 19 that I had found a rather extreme church (or cult if you would rather) that I liked. For about a year I went to a Pentecostal Church that goes by a few names depending on the location. My old church believed in speaking in tongues, they fasted so that they could 'hear from God' better and went on countless outreaches that cost heaps of money, something that isn't easy for a college student.
My faith began to dwindle more throughout my first year in college. And for a bit I even quit college because I had thought it wasn't God's will for me to go where I was going. I also sacrificed other things in order to 'please God': A good military career (I purposely suggested to a counselor that I be sent home from bootcamp because I really believed that God didn't want me there), time I could have spent going to college (it'll now take me a little longer to finish), certain friendships and almost...my dream of becoming an artist. It was when I realized that when the pastor and several others in the church decided that it apparently wasn't in God's will for me to pursue a career as an artist that I had woken to my senses. Suddenly, life no longer became appealing. Everything I had to do...it had to be something pleasing to God. I got absolutely no support from that cult church on pursuing my childhood dream. I would sacrifice a lot in order to become a successful artist, but no way was I intent on giving it up completely like the others suggested. Also, nearly all the women quit their careers in order to become housewives, and since it was discouraged that I make opposite sex friendships (most of the friends I make happen to be male) for fear that something more could happen (by the way I am asexual and I've never had the desire to sleep with my friends). So I was stuck talking with those boring housewives every time I went to that cult church.
As time went on I had stopped going to church outreaches and events. Not only was I financially struggling at home, but all that darn time I wasted at church I could have been doing something productive, finding a job and learning practical skills. In October of this year, I had mad the conscious decision that I would no longer be attending church. And at that moment I had realized that the term Agnostic fit me better. As time went on I read into atheist forums and blogs and I began to question many of the things I once believed. It all eventually lead me into becoming an atheist.
Now I feel so much more liberated. Even though I am still financially struggling, I realize that fate is in my own hands. I plan to join the military, go back to college and pursue friendships with all kinds of people, irregardless of what they believe or what their lifestyle is like. The only difference is that I will not be putting all my hope into some being that never really came through for me. I have learned that living for now is the best thing to do and to make the most of it. Practical solutions and reasons are much better to me than blind faith, and being too easily swayed by fairy tales.
Thanks for reading! :3