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It was the fear that started it all...

By Elly  

"You're worthless in God's eyes and deserve to burn in Hell."
"God is meant to be feared."

It was those two concepts that continuously haunted me during my otherwise enjoyable stint as a born-again Christian. While I was experiencing doubts in the religion's validity, the ever-growing sense that my relationship with God was one-sided and volatile didn't help one bit.

Eventually I was reading atheists' arguments debunking the Bible, desperately trying to find an excuse to get away and be free of this constant threat of the disappointment of God and resulting banishment in eternal "And I Must Scream" torment.

sign tacticsImage by SoStark via Flickr

In the beginning of my Christian spirituality, I was filled with joy and peace. I just KNEW that God was real and couldn't understand why some people didn't. Then I went through what my fellow believers told me was "the dark night of the soul", in which my faith was tested with an inability to stay in touch with the Holy Spirit's communication.

God soon became little more than something to be dreaded, like an easily-provoked abusive parent, and the more I became unable to hear his responses during prayer, the more fearful I was of damnation due to potentially falling away from the faith. I was slowly ceasing to believe in the Resurrection itself, and as we know, it's that story which is the cornerstone of Christian belief. Trying to hold onto it was like trying to keep sand from falling between my fingers.

Eventually I did stop believing. It was on an evening just over two years ago, I believe, and it felt like a huge weight had been lifted from my shoulders. I might have broken down into tears.

You know... if believing in God and the Holy Spirit gets people through life and brings them joy, then hey. I know that first year as a Christian contained some of the best times of my life, and was a major turning point for the better in my personality besides. I'm thankful for it. But I've decided to move on.