I don’t know if I want this published or not right now but I really want to be able to talk about all this stuff with someone whose been there. I don't in any way want to talk about it with Christians and though it's OK to talk about it with non-christians it's something so alien to them because of course they who've never been subjected (or more often in my case subjected themselves) to Christian brainwashing. Besides half of them I've spent half of my life trying to save. It's a pretty long testimony so don't worry if you don't get through it all!
Image by kirkh via FlickrI was born into a Christian family but my Mum and Dad didn't have me christened because they felt it was my own decision to make. It was a decision I made at about 3. Since then I was always a very spiritual child, when I was old enough to think about it more I always prayed hard and tried to read the bible as much as possible. My Mum especially was very into her faith. She had been an atheist but had felt that there was something missing in her life. But when her friend's mum got cancer she made a deal with God that if he cured her friend's mum she would believe and the cancer shriveled up miraculously. Her and my Dad became Christians together, of the evangelical variety. Cancer had a significant role in my faith too. Just before I started at senior school (September when I was 11 years old, I don’t know what the system is in countries outside of England sorry!) I found this lump on my tummy and it turned out I had cancer on my left kidney. It was a really, really rare cancer in children, only normally found in 50-year-old male smokers; there was only one other child in the world that had this cancer, and not only that but it was caught really late. It looked on the scans like it was attached to all my other internal organs. It had also spread to my spine and before I had found out that I had cancer, though after my mum had found out, a boy ran into me with his bike and it collapsed my vertebra where the cancer had been eating away. Though it looked hopeless and a doctor said I was going to die, all that my mum read in the Bible said I was going to be OK, as did everything people praying all around the world for me heard from God. We weren't scared at all, we just believed. A doctor was found who had operated on this cancer in adults and now specialised in children's kidney cancers was about. The cancer in my kidney was removed in an operation that should have taken 12 hours but only took 2, turns out the stuff wasn't attached to any other bits - it all came out in one, the size of a football. The cancer in my back was removed too and though it was meant to recur it never did.
Since having given up my faith I feel free. I worry less. I am learning to not judge myself for my imperfections. I can experience and enjoy the life that I have now rather than squandering it on an unproven eternity and take advantage of all the amazing things that I used to stand by and watch my non-Christian friends enjoy. So I had one hell of a testimony. Every time God was questioned, or there was a time that I was called to be a witness I would whip that one out. I had some damn fine friends at school, none of whom I would class as Christians though many of them viewed themselves as such. They hadn't accepted Jesus into their lives had they? They weren't doing everything they could to get closer to Jesus or focusing their lives on him. I was trying though. I went to church every week, I read two/three chapters of bible per day - I frigging took it camping and on sleepovers with me. But none of my friends had been saved. For me I never judged my friends for being non-Christian as I was entirely surrounded by non-Christians - no one was truly into their faith in the same way as I and a few of the people I'd seen at faith camps were. They were real Christians who were trying so hard to do what was right for God – how people be real Christians if they didn’t do that, after all if the message in the Bible was true then nothing else mattered except saving people. I was so afraid. I loved my friends so much but when they died they were going to suffer forever, not because God sent them to hell as he was kind but because it was they only possible bridge God could provide for a person to be saved from the consequences of sin. So I would cry myself to sleep because I did not want them to die. I wasn't praying enough, wasn't witnessing enough - otherwise they'd have been saved. I read books and books on saving people, fasted lots, decided that the time I spent playing guitar which I loved should instead be spent in prayer, only bought Christian CDs, actually genuinely prayed during assemblies, read bible passages to my friends when they got scared or lonely or depressed - even when they asked me to stop. But debate was never my strong-point and I could never argue convincingly, my friends all either believed in God anyway (as I was at a Catholic school) or they were Muslim or Wiccan, no one was in that 'oh I didn't know anything about God' state of mind that everyone who'd converted people said they'd been in. I thought I could speak in tongues but I wasn't sure, it had been prophesised at a camp that I would receive the gift that week and then I started saying something but I always kind of felt it came from me rather than God. I didn't have the gift of prophesy though I'd been told by people that God gives these gifts to everyone; I was never 'slain in the spirit', rather I kind of lowered myself gently onto the floor. Anything I displayed I felt I brought out in myself rather than God giving it to me - why was this? Obviously my faith wasn't strong enough. In fact I had these little doubts which I'd push to the back of my mind, even though I was well-studied in reasons for things in the bible like putting down women (mistranslation) and wars in the old testament (those were different times before Jesus changed everything). I tried to get rid of them entirely but couldn't. I wanted to be happy for my friends who'd got with a guy even if they were having sex with them, and I wanted to say being gay was OK, I wanted to not impose my beliefs on my friends when they were down and to laugh at crude jokes; generally to stop being left out of things and to be kinder to people but I thought this was better than the alternative of hell. I also didn't understand why God advocated so many terrible things in the Old Testament and why I always had to fight to justify my beliefs to everyone including myself.
I changed churches around 15 years old. This was a church with proper, real Christians. They put their hands in the air, worshipped with electric guitars, and really cared about God. I was paralysed in front of them, mainly because they were actually much cooler than me and I had an inordinately large crush on one of the guys - the only guy who was actually accessible to me because obviously I couldn't go out with a non-Christian: even if he could wait till marriage our lives would be going on two separate paths and it would never work. So now I had Christian friends, though I wasn’t myself in front of any of them, but now I had a church to support me where they told you really powerful bible messages a youth group I could take my friends to and I could put my hands up when I sang.
Regardless of this the world was still perishing through lack of Christianity on top of the poverty and global warming and my praying for everyone on the street wasn’t doing anything for the state of the nation. My doubts were getting more extensive. I needed more faith. So I decided that what I needed to do was to put my doubts to rest. Time to logically prove that Christianity was true once and for all! I'd start off with reasons against Christianity… oh wait a second; the arguments against Christianity were making sense - a lot of sense. On the other hand all the arguments for Christianity were emotional, hole-in-the-heart, testimonial things. I never finished my spiritual quest as I ran out of time but since I felt it didn't make sense and both ethics and logic worked against Christianity, I soon fell into agnosticism. The person I felt closest to at my charismatic church soon did the same too.
Since having given up my faith I feel free. I worry less. I am learning to not judge myself for my imperfections. I can experience and enjoy the life that I have now rather than squandering it on an unproven eternity and take advantage of all the amazing things that I used to stand by and watch my non-Christian friends enjoy. I don't regret my Christian life though. It gave me a hell of a lot of issues but I do feel that I'm a better person because of it - I certainly have more of an understanding about people with strong beliefs - but I think it taught me to look at other people's perspectives more (in order to find out how to convert them) and that I am not a slave to aspects of my personality but can change them to some extent. I still keep a fair few Christian principles and I'm still hesitant about a lot of things that would be sins. There are still a lot of people I haven't told about my change of beliefs. The one Christian friend I told about it just used the same arguments I'd told everyone else before and got really worried about it, so I told her I was OK now and I didn't tell another. I didn't want to be wrong about my change in beliefs either and after telling all my non-Christian friends I'd been wrong destroy the vital witness I'd been building up for so many years and send them to hell. I told my mum about my change of beliefs and she didn't understand that it was my own decision, felt it was probably a result of my Dad having left a few months ago (his fault, I won't go into it) - I'm sure it had some part in my decision to be sure about things but that's as far as it goes. Though she's calmed down about her beliefs too she still thinks that I'm going to come back to Christian beliefs. She still talks about her beliefs candidly like she used to do with me when we'd discuss it together and damn does it feel uncomfortable. Most of my non-Christian friends know now that I don't believe anymore and anyone who has heard much of it knows that for me it's been a damn good thing for me. I feel lucky that they stayed with me despite my fanaticism, one friend told me that they knew I was trying to convert them all the time and that it was something really difficult to deal with about me. One day I'll carry on my search, but I won't go back because I know what it was like before. I don't know answers to a good number of things about my place in the universe but now my deeper thoughts don't involve a denial of the truth or of happiness. The way is narrow for a Christian because the ultimate way to continue a religion is to breed fanatics too afraid to doubt because disbelief had such terrible consequences. I would rather go to hell than be part of the movement of the hateful God the Bible portrays. But considering it's far more likely that people would invent a god to support their nation rather than that a just, good, god would tell a nation that they are supreme and should go out and kill the men, married women and children of the neighbouring nations but keep the virgins for themselves, I reckon that I'm safe from evangelical Christianity and the threat of eternal damnation. Isn't that lovely?
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