...and the story continues. I lived my childhood and early teen years being constantly fearful of offending the invisible terrorist in the sky. School was hell--I was bullied, harrassed, emasculated, and jeered at because of my beliefs. Over time, I became increasingly introverted as a result. I had no friends. Being a straight guy, there were girls in school that I wanted to talk to, but the thought of it petrified me. I would always imagine the girl rejecting me in a very public way, and I had already taken more than my fair share of ridicule, and the fear of more ridicule overruled the possibility of getting a date.
But then, in my mid teens, something inside me began to change. For some reason, I started to develop a more inquisitive nature. I questioned EVERYTHING--even though the invisible terrorist clearly says not to in his "holy scripture". I began to ask why--why does God allow so much evil...why doesn't God heal amputees...why doesn't God show himself...why doesn't he even give one solid sign of his existence? Just after my eighteenth birthday, the answer, which is the same for all those questions, became blindingly clear--GOD DOES NOT EXIST. All of a sudden so many things began to make sense--why prayers go unanswered, why children are starving in Africa, why Adolf Hitler was allowed to run amok. That one statement explains it all. HE does not exist. Much to the chagrin of my parents and many others in the cult, I walked away from christianity about a month after I turned eighteen.
I had to leave. Logic and reason are powerful tools, and they had been chipping away at my faith for years. Now, in the cold light of reason, religion seemed like just another work of fiction. After I left, members of the pentecostal cult tried desperately to "win me back" as it were, but they failed.
Just before I moved out of my parents' house, my father came to me and told me that I would never make anything of myself because I had "succumbed to the ways of satan", in his words. That broke my heart...here was a man who, up until then, I had a deep respect for. Even though the christian side of him was out to lunch, this was the same man who, when I was a young child, taught me to hunt, fish, camp, drive a boat, and fix stuff. Now he was telling me that I was going to be a loser. His words still haunt me even now.
I set out to prove him wrong. I never made it big---I'm a powersports mechanic and I have been for many years. I have earned a reputation as one of the most proficient techs in my region. Sadly, my father passed a number of years ago, and he died still believing that I would not become any kind of a success.
In the early nineties, I read a book by Dr. Carl Sagan entitled "Pale Blue Dot". There is a chapter in that book entitled "A Universe Not Made For Us". That chapter in that book really put things into perspective for me, and it helped me to cement my relatively new-found sense of logic. I highly recommend that you read it. Being a book that's almost 30 years old, there's lots of outdated info in it, but that one chapter is inspiring.
Anyhoo, that's basically the story of me...if you made it this far, I thank you for reading. I hope I didn't bore you too much lol. Hopefully something I wrote here can help someone in some little way. Cheers