When I look back at my life I guess you could say I was a typical Christian, in the sense that I was indoctrinated as a child, defended my religion rigorously, and believed wholeheartedly what I was told. My family was a Christian family, it was expected that my sibling and I would attend church every church day, which was Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and twice on Sundays. I got baptized at the age of 7 and lost my innocence and childish wonder, which were replaced with fear, deep personal loathing, and depression.
The moment I became a Christian I tried to be perfect, to be without sin, I wanted God to see that I was good, that I loved him, therefore he would bless me and I would go to heaven. In my childish mind with childish understanding I tried every day to do nothing 'wrong', I critically observed what I did, what I ate, what I wore, who I spoke to, who I listened to. I even tried to monitor my thoughts, because I was told that thinking something bad was just as sinful as doing the thing.
I started hating myself when I realized that regardless of how hard I tried, I could not seem to stop myself from doing things that were considered sinful. Everything I did was scrutinized and every little fault highlighted; the guilt I lived with was heart wrenching. Even the most trivial of things would cause me great guilt and shame. I felt horribly when I ate because I was told that if I ate too much it was a sin, if I was eating something and I no longer wanted it I felt horrible to throw it away because waste was a sin. Things only became worst when I hit puberty. My body started maturing and I began to feel sexual urges. I was horrified, after all sex is dirty and wrong, especially thinking about sex when you are not married! God forbid! It never much mattered to me that this was a normal body function; I thought that I was feeling urges because I was doing something wrong, because I was allowing the devil to use me. I prayed and asked God to take the urges away, to make me pure. Whenever I had urges I would read the Bible and tried to pray them away. I was ashamed of my weakness.
I think self-hate turned to depression on the day I heard a man cursing God. He was saying the most vicious, blasphemous things about God, Christianity and the Bible. I tried not to listen but in one instant something that he said came into my mind, for one moment I thought about what the man had said, and in that moment I realized that I had blasphemed. You see I was taught that thinking the thing has the same consequence as doing it; therefore in my mind just thinking what the man said was akin to me saying it... I was distraught; I could not believe that everything I had tried to do in order to go to heaven was for nothing. Now I most certainly will go to hell, because blasphemy was the unforgivable sin. I could not bring myself to accept this. From that moment I tried extra hard to be good in hope that God would see my intent and my love for him and find some way to forgive me for thinking what I really didn't mean. The next years were mental torment; the relentless thought of being damned to hell caused me to live constantly in a state of perpetual repentance.
My entire childhood was filled with incidents like these. I could not be perfect regardless of how hard I tried. I thought that God hated me for it, because maybe I wasn't trying hard enough. I grew up into a teenager that hated herself, lived with perpetual guilt and suffered in silence with chronic depression all because of my religion. When I look back I can honestly say that I had many questions about the things I was being taught and whenever I attended bible study I would try to ask these questions.
When I started high school and studied science I realized that many of the things I was taught in church did not reconcile with the things I was taught in school. How is it that the Bible never mentions the dinosaurs? How could God have created plants and trees before the Sun? How did all humanity originate from two people, doesn't that imply that all humanity is a product of incest and inbreeding, and if so, how can incest be considered wrong today? How can a virgin have a human child with a spirit that doesn't have sexual organs? How can spirit burn in hell, and feel pain if it does not have a body with a nervous system? Whenever I asked these questions I was treated as if I was being mischievous. Those who did not tell me to be quiet, told me to have faith, to just believe. They said that God works in mysterious ways and is all powerful so he can do anything he wants. I cannot forget the day when I asked a church mother: "if God created all things and evil exist, doesn't it mean that God created evil, and if God created evil doesn't it mean that God can also be evil?" I was pulled aside and told promptly that I should not allow the devil to use me.
In 2007 when one of my best friends died at age 26, I was distraught and inconsolable. At the time I did what might be called soul searching. I shut the world out, I shut the church out and for the first time in my life I started thinking for myself. I spent weeks just thinking about my life, my belief, everything. At the end of it I renounced Christianity, I stopped going to church, I stopped praying, and I finally gave myself the permission to admit to what I have been struggling with for many years. Everything became clear, I learned to accept and love myself. I trusted my own thoughts and intellect. The guilt I lived with all my life gradually went away, and I was finally free. I had no idea what to call this new found freedom. I had no idea I was living a Deistic life. I didn't know there was even a name for what I was living. In 2009 when I tried to explain my new freedom to someone and was asked: "so what do you call that?" I didn't have an answer, so I decided to research it. I went to the internet and typed in a search engine "I do not believe in religion," I learned about Deism that day. The next day I found the website www.deism.com. I spent time reading the information, and researching Deism. In 2010 I officially called myself a Deist. I found truth! I found mental and spiritual freedom! I am living it, and I love it.
(Savanna is our WUD Deist Contact for Jamaica and the Caribbean and can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org)