I was raised from the age of 3 by my single mother, a strong and determined German immigrant. She herself grew up in a combined family of 12 during WW2 Germany and with only 1 book in her house, the Bible.
As a small child we went to a Lutheran Church and I was always intrigued by the Jesus stories, especially his ability to show unconditional love and equality. But Church itself I found incredibly boring and I dreamed of being out hiking in the Mountains instead.
At 13 I was sent to confirmation classes and I was the first in my extended family to drop out of confirmation classes. I did the usual youth partying thing as I got older. At the same time I was always an active reader constantly searching for knew knowledge of the world.
At 29 I married my wife and at 31 had my first of 3 children. My wife also came from a conservative Lutheran German background. My wife met a Pastors wife through going to La Leche League meetings and we ended up going to her Lutheran Church when my wife began to ask questions about her Grandfather who had just committed suicide. I love how Christians get people in vulnerable moments.
From this Church after 2 years we moved to a more modern, evangelical Christian Reformed Church. I was really taken in by the upbeat music and the casual wear your Jeans and T Shirt style of worship. Our whole family became involved helping with Sunday School, Bible studies, Youth Group etc. Our entire way of life changed. I say that because my wife and I, our passion is spending time in the outdoors, hiking canoeing, skiing etc. The more time we gave the more they asked.
At 45-46, I began to ask questions. Who exactly wrote the Bible? Why exactly when people have such strong faith do they have such horrible luck, like dying of horrible diseases like ALS. I read and read and read. Books and the internet.
Within weeks I became horribly uncomfortable at Church. I felt stressed and disjointed and I started pulling out of commitments first and a year later stopped going entirely.
The first part was the most uncomfortable. Living in a small town and constantly running into people from the Church. Having to explain to my family, who still doesn’t understand.
But today, I feel comfortable with who I am. One who cares about this world. One who realizes that this earth and all the living matter came to us through chance and who realizes that you have to grab what little precious time we have here and embrace it. I feel open minded and no lover squeamish when I meet former Church members or talk to my family. I tell it like I see it and I feel this world can be a much better place without religion and superstition.
When it comes to spirituality, I embrace the Native world view the most. I acknowledge that their stories are myth but I relate to their view that we need to live with nature, not trying to fill the earth and subdue it.
I realize that life can bring huge challenges and horrible circumstances but that the human race needs to support each other rather than look for help from the illusory omniscient, omnipresent sky God created by the people and and politics.
And by the way, Jesus died not for our sins, he died because he spoke out against massive social inequality that still plagues our world today.
Best wishes for those fleeing fundamentalism.