Religion has been a part of my life since a very early age. As a little girl, I went to church in Illinois with my mom and was an honorary member of the adult choir. My mom always tells me the story of how I told her that I wanted to be baptized at the age of 3. She told the pastor about my request and he talked to me to make sure I understood what I was doing. They realized I was serious, and arranged the baptism ASAP. My father didn't attend because he thought I was too young to make that decision on my own--but that's another story. Eventually we moved to St. Louis and visited a number of churches, but never found the "home church" that a lot of people speak of; the church that they have been going to for 20 years and will continue to go to until the day they die. Nah, I never had that. We would join a church, but then some scandal would occur and my mom would decide it was time to bounce. Through it all, she still made sure that my siblings and I read our Bibles, prayed, and listened to that good ol' gospel music just about every day.
When I was about 18, we joined a small church where the head pastor was an older single woman with kids around my age. This was a time in my life when I was angry as hell about everything, every day, for no reason in particular. However, the pastor at this church didn't seem to be fazed by my abrasive attitude and she could usually tell when something was wrong with me. She gave me her phone number and I would call her when I needed to talk, and she gave me the encouragement I needed. Her sermons always seemed to relate to whatever I was dealing with, and I ended up in tears every Sunday (and anyone who knows me knows that I am not a crying person). It got to the point where I decided to join the praise team and sing in church occasionally, which was another big step for me because I can't stand talking or being in front of a crowd, much less sing in front of one.
It seemed that everything was all good, but of course, some bullshit had to come about. There was a boy at the church who my mom was convinced was possessed by the devil. He had this crazy look in his eyes, and was always instigating in an attempt to get under people's skin. He also took it upon himself to target my younger brother and poke fun at him. Because my brother doesn't wear pants hanging off his ass, doesn't try to holler at every girl that passes him by, and actually acts like he has common sense
Things went downhill from there. Devil Boy's mom was always giving me and my brother dirty looks as if we had called HER son a faggot, Devil Boy was still wreaking havoc in the church, then my mom was hospitalized for psychiatric issues for the first time in her life. I was lost, angry, and I started questioning whether or not God existed. If He did, why would He let things like this happen? Eventually we left that church as well, and from that point I refused to go to any church with my family. I stopped reading my Bible, stopped praying, and stopped listening to gospel music. In my opinion, none of that mattered if bad things were going to happen away.
Then I moved to Florida, came back home for a while, then moved to Atlanta. While being out on my own, I made friends with people who were either agnostic or atheist. At the time, they were some of the coolest people I had ever met. They didn't have that pie-in-the-sky unrealistic view of life that I had experienced dealing with Christian folks, and they gave the same side-eye that I gave to the dramatic people in church who are always fainting and getting the Holy Ghost every Sunday for no damn reason. But then.......they started doing crazy shit too.
So now I'm stuck. I don't want to associate myself with Christians because *some* of them be on that psycho shit like Pastor Jones, blaming an entire religion based off the actions of a small group of people. But I can't call myself an atheist, because as sarcastic and skeptical as I am, I can't bring myself to think there is no God. I don't know where I fit. I don't know what I should or shouldn't do, because I don't want to be a hypocrite like a lot of Christians I come in contact with. You know, the ones who curse people out at the grocery store, smoke a blunt after work, meet up with their married lover during the weekend, but will still be front row and center in church on Sunday morning, singing about how good God has been to them. I couldn't look myself in the mirror if I were like that, and I don't know how other people do. One thing about me is that when I make the commitment to do something, I go all the way with it.
Right now, I only go to church if my mom requests it, I drink, I curse a lot, and I'm not very nice to most people, but I'm not playing the role of Ms. Holy Roller when I get around other Christian folks just to "appear" that I'm living my life for Jesus. I feel that when (and if) I make the decision to get back to living my life for Jesus, all of that has to stop. And I can't say that I'm ready for that. I could probably go on, but I'll stop here.