I Used To Be A Nazarene...now I Am An AtheistI started questioning some things from the bible when i was probably 13. My family is extremely religious. I was in church at least 3 times a week and heavily involved. I was brainwashed to the MAX. It was never about happiness for yourself, it was about being happy when "god" was happy with how you were living your life for him.
I was the perfect little christian girl involved with every part of the religion and i was even going to be a missionary and help all of the poor savages learn about god so they would not go to "hell."
I was involved in bible quizzing, christian plays, musicals and skits, I sang in duets, trios, choirs and cantatas, and I went to sunday school, youth group, vbs, church summer camp, and went with my parents when they did children's ministries in other states. We prayed at every meal, religious conversation was prevalent in our household, I was homeschooled in a christian homeschool group, and my entire family is composed of pastors, retired pastors, and hardcore christians. I tithed and gave offering every sunday, I tried really hard to do devotions every day, and my mom would do devotions with us on the week-days. I was only allowed to listen to christian music and every piece of media I read or watched was censored and the majority of my schooling was biblically-ba
It was never about, "How can I be a better person, or student, or friend?" Or, "How can I reach the goals that I have set for myself?"
Instead, it was about, "How can I better serve god? How can I get closer to god today? How can I honor and worship god with my actions today? How can I show god's love and share god's word with someone today?"
I had small issues with some bible verses and stories growing up but they were calmed by the mere, empty assurance that "We are not supposed to know everything. god knows and that's all that matters. god works it out for the good of those who love him, etc." I started really "straying from the path" when I was about 17-18 and I was getting ready to go away to college. I chose a nazarene college to attend, thinking it would "get me back on the right path" and in the "right mindset."
It actually did the opposite for me. When I was at the college, my real turning point came. I discovered my sexual orientation that I had been in denial about because "those" types of people go to hell and I wasn't going to go to hell and I just never, ever, ever let the thought enter my mind that maybe I was one of "those" people. The idea that I could not be true to myself and be happy and still get into the magical heaven was what pushed me away from the religion. I dropped out of that school and have not been to church since.
Then, I read an amazing book that changed my life. Happiness Is a Choice by Barry Neil Kaufman. This may sound silly but - I had never, ever thought of this. As I previously mentioned, growing up in my household, personal happiness was supposed to come from serving god. I had no idea that I could simply choose to be happy. It was a brand new concept to me and I was overwhelmed with this eye-opening emotion. As I read the book, I decided that I was going to live my life the way it made me happy. I was convinced that life was about happiness, not about guilt and sin and heaven vs. hell and believers vs. unbelievers. It's not about prayer or church attendance or hateful attitudes and condemning people to hell just because they disagree with you. I decided that it is okay to be lesbian, it is okay to choose my own beliefs, and it is okay to feel happy being myself and choosing my own path instead of being bogged down! :)
I wasted 18 1/2 years of my effing life believing that goat ****. It breaks my heart into a dozen pieces every time I think about how much of my life I missed out on because I was too busy looking down on everyone else who believed differently and preaching bullshit and feeling guilty about my sinful thoughts and so on and so forth, etc. It makes me wonder if I need counseling. (Does brain-washing count as abuse?)