I wrote this story just over a month ago on my 33rd Birthday after contemplating suicide. Today is August 23rd and I am happy to say that my desire is not to attend the University of London and get a B.A. in Philosophy.
July 20, 2010
Image by aussiegall via FlickrMy heart is pounding and my pulse is beating hard as I write this story. You see, one year ago today I was spending my birthday with the love of my life and planning to get married. Today on my 33rd birthday I am reading other peoples testimonies about leaving Fundamentalist Christianity. I am questioning everything that my heart, mind, and soul believed passionately for twelve years. I was going to be a Pastor.
I hold no hatred in my heart for her or her family, my hatred has turned into empathetic sorrow for them. I am sick inside from all the hatred and confusion that has come from my heart, and I blame Christianity.
How I was raised
I grew up in a small rural town in Utah dominated by Mormons. My family from both sides came to Utah pushing handcarts from Iowa in search for Zion. I was not raised Mormon and I was viewed as a rebellious outcast by the community. My Father and Mother married in their teens and went through a bitter divorce when I was very young. I grew up listening to eighties heavy metal and started using drugs at a very young age. I dropped out of school and moved out on my own at the age of fifteen.
At the age of nineteen my Grandmother died and my brother kicked me out of his house for good reasons. I was strung out on crystal meth and alcohol. I was wandering the streets suicidal when a friend from work invited me to church. Little did I know that twelve years of my life would be zealously committed to fundamental Christianity with no intentions of ever leaving.
I spend six months at a hyper-Pentecostal church, every time the doors opened I was there. I was taken in to a discipleship home by a radical youth minister and ex drug addict. All I did in those months was work, read the Bible, and watch Evangelists on Christian T.V. I had a hunger for knowledge that I never had before and I felt better then anytime in my life because I was able to stop using drugs and smoking. I was visited by an angel in a dream and told to become a Pastor. The Pentecostal church I was attending became to weird for me. The Pastor actually pushed her daughter in the face while she was praying in the spirit, they were constantly casting out demons, and claiming that amputees should grow back limbs if they had enough faith. When I started going to two churches at the same time the Pentecostal church told me that if I did not commit to there church I had to leave, so I did.
I spent the next twelve years reading systematic theologies and debates between Christians and atheists. I worked on staff full time at a church and as a lay youth councilor. I led many people to Christ, preached sermons at rescue missions, went to school in Mexico, and distributed bibles on the streets of Major cities in the U.S. I had a burning desire to pray and defend the Bible at all costs.
I spent twelve years of my life believing that most of my Family and most of the world will burn in hell for eternity if God did not save them through the preaching of his word. The last few years of my fundamental journey ended in a reformed orthodox Calvinist church. Calvinists pride themselves with intellect and claim the teachings of the Protestant Reformation. In most reformed denominations you cannot even be an ordained minister without a masters in theology, and you must be fluent translating scripture from Greek, and Hebrew. If you are not chosen before time you are going to burn in hell for the rest of eternity.
This belief is supposed to lead you to fall on your knees weeping in repentance because you were chosen by Grace alone and did nothing to earn or merit being saved. I still believe that if you take scripture literally and you believe it to be God’s word you are forced to believe the doctrine of eternal punishment, and if you really truly believed that you would say and do anything to save people from that torment
Bottom line for me:
I spent twelve years of my life believing that most of my Family and most of the world will burn in hell for eternity if God did not save them through the preaching of his word. I memorized scripture and believed that all things work together for my good. I spent ten years begging God for a wife so I could raise Children to glorify his name. I finally met that woman and she was beyond anything that I could have ever imagined. I was headed to Seminary without a B.A. and all my dreams seemed to be coming true. Then it all came crashing down on me at once. I started having chronic neck pain, panic attacks and severe anxiety, so bad that I would lock myself in the house for day’s at a time quaking in fear. The anxiety levels felt like I was in Hell, I would not wish that torture on any human being ever. I now have very much empathy for someone who has panic and anxiety attacks. Through it all I still battled by praying and memorizing scripture to no avail.
Why?, Why?, Why, would the almighty sovereign God of the universe that directs and controls all things punish me in this way? I was not hiding some secret sin, I was not being a hypocrite. In the end I felt like a little kid in a desert dying of thirst and God was standing there with a cold drink of water. Every time I would get close for a drink to save my life and quench my thirst he would pull the glass away and tease me.
Of course the Right-Wing Evangelicals will tell you that I was never saved in the first place, or God will bring me back into his fold. I confronted one very good friend of a decade before I left with these thoughts. He was going through the same thing, major depression, and anxiety. After a few hours of him quoting scripture and arguing with me I witnessed the hurt in his face. He finally admitted that sometimes he wakes up in the morning thinking that Christianity is all just a cruel hoax. Yet he cannot leave because he has no ware else to go.
The Reformers would also say that according to scripture and God’s plan my faith is being tested and I have to trust. Well I did that for twelve years before I finally said enough is enough. I would have rather had my stomach ate out with cancer then to go through what I went and am still going through. Of course the Calvinists make these kinds of statements to you as they drive off in their fifty thousand dollar Suv’s back to their half-million-dollar houses. When you are going through hard times they treat you like you are a lazy bum. What happened to community? What happened to helping your neighbor?
Filed Under: Testimonials