Everyone has a story. This is mine.
I grew up and still live in a part of the country affectionately known as the Bible Belt. Raised in a traditional denomination, we were in church every time the doors opened. It was little surprise that I was baptized before my 8th birthday.
As I got towards the end of high school, my view towards church started to change. It was more chore and tradition than anything real or meaningful in my life. There was no more acceptance, or feeling of belonging at church than there was at school. It was basically just another extracurricular activity.
The Falling Away
Around this time, a friend gave me a book called Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand. This is not a small novel, but I burned through it over the summer. Many of the ideas resonated with me. Ayn Rand was a staunch conservative in most things (free market, taxes bad) but way left on others (marijuana should be legal, abortions legal), and without a doubt, she hated God.
I became intrigued by her writing and eventually read everything Ayn Rand had written. She was an avowed Atheist. I liked her ideas and I wanted to integrate them into my World View, but I was struggling with the whole Atheist thing. I began to research. I discovered many of the solid intellectual arguments against believing in God and following the Christian faith.
When it came time to finally go to college, I had abandoned the faith, church or even calling myself a Christian. I claimed Deism, then Agnosticism, and then full on Atheism.
I found the social life in college that I had missed in High School. I majored in Wine, Women, and Song and partied my way out after only two years. Around this time I started exploring New Age, and Eastern Mysticism. Fascinating stuff, really, Ying Yang, the great Brahma.
I wound up in a Tech School back home and eventually dropped out of that too. I rented a run down little apartment, got a minimum wage job at a Video Rental store, and basically started living my life.
The Turning Point
I had already met the person who would become my wife. We actually met while I was at college and we were both seeing other people at the time. But I was immediately attracted to her and would flirt with her constantly. It was so bad we had to be separated into different work areas at one point.
We had kept in contact over the years, and when she discovered her boyfriend was cheating on her, I let her know I would be there for her when she was ready to date again.
She was a Christian and in order to spend time with her, I started going to her church. I knew all the intellectual arguments, and being in the building wasn’t going to hurt me or affect me any – or so I thought. I can almost hear God chuckling.
As we grew closer, I was amazed at how God worked in her life. I started to look around me. The people I liked and respected were all active Christians. I said to myself, I still don’t know if its true or not, but regardless, it makes ‘good people’.
God kept working on me. I came to the point that I wanted in my life what these people seemed to have in theirs. But I was pretty sure that once you renounced the faith, that was it, you were done, thanks for playing, we have some lovely parting gifts for you.
I talked to people I trusted who assured me that I hadn’t done anything that God couldn’t forgive. Apparently, he was ready and willingly to forgive me, even for my Atheism.
I hadn’t had all my intellectual arguments satisfied. Ultimately, it was more about people who I respected and who took an interest in me as a person that convinced me there was something to this Christianity thing.
I made the decision to return to Christ, if He would have me. If not, at least I would try to keep people from making my same mistakes.
I eventually found great Christian Apologetics authors. Christian Apologetics is the intellectual defense of the Christian faith. My favorite was probably C.S. Lewis. In time, my intellectual a arguments were satisfied. Each answer solidified the faith that was growing inside me.
I’ve wondered sometimes if my conversion at 8 years old was real, but ultimately that doesn’t matter. Today, I claim to be a follower of Christ, and I pray that my life both online and offline reflects that. I’m continue to grow and learn.
I’m far from perfect, and I mess up more times than I can count. But I know that God loves me and He sent His Son to die for me, and that if I ask, He is faithful and true to forgive my mistakes. He sees me as he sees his own Son, perfectly acceptable to him.
That same opportunity is there for you. God loves you. The Bible says that He doesn’t want anyone to perish, but wants everyone to come to Him. No amount of good deeds, or being a ‘good person’ will do it. He offers the free gift of His Son to you. I know it isn’t popular to say, but really it all comes down to your decision. Get on the journey.
If you’d like to talk to someone, contact me or you can call 1-888-Need-Him.
Ted,Great post! I would like to echo Lauren's comments as well.I did not follow the path as far as you did, but I turned away from "church" and "religion" around college age, even though I still believed in God. I did not know what it really meant to be a Christian and I never knew Christ until I started attending an evangelical church. Funny thing is, I started going for the wrong reasons (I thought that my kids should learn the Bible stories!), but God had a plan and drew me in. Now the whole family is saved and our lives have changed dramatically for the better!For anyone else reading this who may be skeptical, God will ALWAYS accept you as you are right now. You do not have to fix yourself and then come to God; come to him now and he will fix you in his own way, gently and with love.
Thank you. I felt pretty exposed putting it out there. I've always thought it was a fairly typical journey, bit I guess each one is unique.
Ted, I'm very impressed with your story here. I have such a hard time stepping out and sharing my faith with others. I'm perfectly willing and able to talk about it if someone asks me, but something like this has always been outside my comfort zone. Maybe this will inspire me to write something open and honest about my own faith.Thanks so much for sharing!
@Angelique Welcome to my little corner of cyberspace! Glad you enjoyed my story.