This is my story:
I was raised Catholic, in a very strict and inflexible way. I don’t hold resentment with my mother for doing so, because she was raised this way, too, and she believed she was doing it the right and only way. When at the age of 7 my mind started asking questions whose answers were a blunt rock wall called “dogma”. I was also taught that “questioning was sinful”. That I was to “believe everything I was taught by the church, otherwise I would be consumed by the fires of hell for eternity”. This wasn’t my mother, these were the priests and teachers of the Catholic school I attended. Being at that age, when everything seemed to have been already discovered by the “grownups”, I fell into their game. I even began to read the biographies of saints and the Bible so much, that sometimes I would correct the teachers at class, and they would even ask me to correct my fellow schoolmates' exams.
At age 16, I would attend to a school program on Saturdays to teach religion among poor children. But then something happened: I found out that Catholicism was really two things it disclaimed to be. It would criticize the Aztec cults for their “Idolatry”, and yet, they have those saint statues everywhere. It would also criticize other religions for their polytheistic approach, considering themselves as the prime monotheistic religion, while having altars for 10,000 saints and one for each specialty! The one who cures illnesses, the one who makes rain, the one who finds lost things, the one who will find you your mate for life. As I reflected on those two facts, I started to develop my own ideas. Out of the program that I was supposed to follow, I made sure that my pupils would not fall into Catholic idolatry and polytheism. Many years later I encountered a branch of Catholic priests, called the Legionaries of Christ, and I found out about the fears they instill in their followers, making them think that everything is a sin. At this point, all of my questions as a child came back to me, and the word “dogma” had a new meaning: “I don’t have a clue to that answer but I don’t want you to know”. The worst part is that the Church (all of the churches) claim to be the real thing, THE ONE ABSOLUTE TRUTH, with no room for error. Human error.
I came to realize that the Bible had been written by men, and not by command of God. At this point I told one of my closest friends: “We humans were sent to the world without an instruction manual, without a rule book for the game we were set to play. I wish someone came and told me: "Look, we have no idea what this is all about, but by looking at nature and all of its laws and perfection, we think there may be an intelligent Creator behind it, we don’t know what may happen to us after we die, but if this is all we got, we think that by observing rules of mutual respect and cooperation we may achieve happiness. We are not sure about this, but this is the way we think." If such a person came, then I would say "OK! So what do we do next?!” But I knew such a person wouldn’t come, and even when surrounded by friends and family, I would feel this terrible loneliness! It was just then when I found in books the minds of some wonderful philosophers that became my friends inside my mind and started accepting some of their ideas and rejecting others. Best of all, I didn’t feel alone anymore . Thus I learned that I‘m a Freethinker with a Deist approach. I believe in God, but I have learned not to cage Him/Her/It in a definition. It is humans that try to adjust Him/Her/It to their own self and image. I managed to cope with our 89% Catholic population in Mexico. I faced my mother trying not to hurt her in the process and won her respect. And most of all, I made peace with myself after being raised with the Catholic guilt feeling. I hope my story will be useful to you.