Leaving Christianity

As a teenager I was very religious. And very is written with intent. I was one of the most religious people I knew. Every single thing in my life revolved around my Christian beliefs. I attended Highland Park, a nondenominational Christian church in Casper. That’s where I was baptized. That’s where I formed beautiful friendships. That’s where I had the opportunity to travel out of the country for the first time. Within the walls of Highland Park, I discovered self-sacrifice, meaning, and acceptance.

During that time, I went through phases when I read the bible daily. One year my New Year’s resolution was to read the bible word-for-word, cover to cover. I remember bringing my bible with me on the school bus to high school track meets. My journal entries at this time are filled with bible verses and love letters to God. I wore a promise ring on my ring finger and was dedicated to abstinence. At one point I wanted to wait to have my first kiss with my future husband until our wedding day. My senior quote in my high school yearbook is a bible verse. I was part of a bible study with a group of others I was really close with. We met regularly to discuss particular verses and chapters of the bible. We shared how Christ was showing up in our lives, what we were struggling with, and what our prayer requests were for that week. We reinforced each other’s beliefs by isolating ourselves from other people who weren’t like us — nonbelievers. We challenged each other at times but only within safe boundaries, like disagreeing about the meaning of a particular bible verse. To question the existence of God, to ask uncomfortable questions about organized religion, or to look below the surface of our beliefs was to tread waters in the deep-end where everyone around me was too terrified to explore. The deep-end was off limits.

I increasingly became more curious of the deep-end, though. The questions that lived there challenged me. They kept my brain active.