Testimony

After 15+ years of unbelief, I’ve begun to believe in Christ and wanted to share my story. This is long, but I wanted to get it off my chest.
I was raised in a nominally Christian household. My mom took me to Church somewhat regularly for a few years while I was a kid but, we stopped going for some reason. I decided around the age of 10-11 that I didn’t really believe in Christianity and it was probably untrue. Learning more about world history and other world religions convinced me that since all religions couldn’t be true, that must all be lies. My parents weren’t strongly Christian enough to really seem to notice so I never got “in trouble” or yelled at for my unbelief.
During my high school years a teacher introduced me to Ayn Rand so I went through a few years of being an arrogant Objectivist jerk. I thought technology and humankind’s intellect could save the world. My fervor for Ayn Rand died down, but I was still really into the idea of humanism. I associated Christianity with hating and disbelieving science.
Throughout and after college one thing that kept growing was my cynicism. I lost faith in human progress, human nature, and human institutions. Even if you give people new technology and science they are still the same old people. And institutions always become corrupted over time (something that history affirms). I entered a phase of existential nihilism where it seemed like the universe was a cold dead place. Couple that with my views on people, and I didn’t find much hope in the world. I reached a point where I wished some religion could be true but felt they were all lies. I wasn’t depressed (during this phase I also met my wife and was pretty happy) but I got down in the dumps if I thought much about it. My wife told me that if she had my view of the world and people she would probably commit suicide. She believed in a benevolent God, although she had fallen away from Christianity at some point in college.
At some point in college, I had abandoned my like of Ayn Rand’s ideas. Science lost its luster as I realized I didn’t find it that interesting anymore. I was much more interested in literature, art, and philosophy. As I grew older, the selflessness and humility that Jesus preached made sense to me. I just didn’t think he was divine or anything besides a great teacher. I really enjoyed the album The Black Halo by the band Kamelot which was about a character who wanted to believe in God but just couldn’t (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QDubchjrz1I).
Towards the end of college I encountered two authors that would cause me to think about some things. Fyodor Dostevsky and Gene Wolfe. If you haven’t heard of Gene Wolfe, he’s a science-fiction author whose work is highly literary and often influenced by his Christian beliefs. His Book of the New Sun provided a fresh take on various Christian concepts for me. Wolfe’s work said that everything humanity had ever done to establish a utopia would always fail and would always be doomed to fail until a savior came. The idea of Original Sin and its view of human nature made a lot of sense to me. I found the worldview both authors presented as accurate, but it didn’t prove the existence of God to me. I also wondered how God could have made a world filled with so much evil.
A couple of years ago, I watched what is now the first season of the HBO show, True Detective. It really helped crystallize some things for me. One of the main characters, Rust, advocates a view that says we are all automatons cursed with self-awareness and that we would probably all be better off not having any more children and letting the human race come to an end (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A8x73UW8Hjk). I went into a tailspin of melancholy for a few months. I realized that with my current philosophy, there was no way that I could logically disagree with him. As time went on, I felt happier, but every few months I’d have some days where I felt pretty sad and would navel gaze about the meaning of existence a lot during my alone time.
During this period I read Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis. I found it interesting but didn’t feel it was true due to the Problem of Evil. A year later I read it again. I realized after the second time that Lewis, combined with Dostoevsky and Wolfe, gave me the logical groundwork and worldview I needed to sustain a belief in God. God gave us Free Will and the ability to make this world a Hell if we chose.
I also don’t want to underestimate the influence my in-laws had on me. They were highly intelligent, trained in medicine and science, and serious about their religion. Their kids (my wife included) had all turned out great and they seemed pretty happy with their lives. They are two of the best people I have ever met, and it seemed like whatever they were doing worked. They knew I wasn’t religious but never treated me with anything except kindness, love, and acceptance.
Ultimately, particularly while at my wife’s grandfather’s Catholic funeral, I decided I wanted to believe. I had the logic I needed. I had exemplary people who showed what being Christian could be like. I felt a historical, cultural, and moral connection with Christianity that I didn’t feel with any other religion. It was easy for me to say “Christianity is the only religion that has any hope of being true to me.” It was time to go to Church, pray, and hope God would provide the feeling. One conversation I had carried with me for years was when I told a Mormon co-worker I didn’t feel that God existed and that I didn’t feel as if He was listening to me. The co-worker told me that he believed if a person prayed with an open heart and mind, God would take care of the rest.
So far it seems to be working. I’ve been going to Church every Sunday and have really enjoyed it. I went to an Ash Wednesday service, and I felt a sense of homecoming. I find hope in the idea that a creator cares about us, and I pray that He will forgive me for denying him, my arrogance, and the anger I’ve felt at people over the years. I still have questions about God and His will, but I am not afraid to ask and seek out the answers. I’m ready to leave my days of hating people and being angry at humanity behind me and to leave judgement to God. I will instead focus on making myself a better person and helping others. I am hoping to be baptized soon.

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