Deism found me early. I learned about it as a sophomore in high school, in World Civilization class, an inter-disciplinary course that combined English literature, world history, government and other disciplines to better understand the world. We studied the major religions and their place in history and thought. I realize my teachers provided me the perfect vehicle to compare and contrast these thoughts on life, nature and death. During coverage of the Enlightenment, teachers first mentioned Deism. It buried deep inside me and nestled comfortably, never to depart. It jumped at me off the pages of history, philosophy, science, etc.
As a child, my parents took me (I say me, but indeed, mean we, me and three siblings) to Sunday School and Church. Each summer I visited my parents hometown and often accompanied relatives (very religious) to Sunday School, Church and even Vacation Bible School. Even though my parents quit taking us at some point, my summers still filled with religious fervor. Theirs, not necessarily mine. But still, my upbringing provided every chance to morph into a "believer".
After World Civ, as a junior I moved to American Civ. Same inter-disciplinary concept but tracking American history. Here I listened with attentive delight about Thomas Paine, as well as the enlightenment (therefore Deistic) views of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and most of the free thinking founding fathers. I learned in great depth about Deism and the "Clockmaker" concept.
I found a few of my friends became devoutly religious during this time. One even announced to us one day he would strive to convert us. My closest friend fell for a very religious young lady and this meant spending considerable time with her, listening to her views. I vividly recall going to Christian Rock concerts and other religious functions out of friendship.
I had an Egyptian friend, a Muslim, who converted to Christianity while a big group of us spent a long weekend at a lake house of another friend. A zealous devotee literally dunked him in a mountain lake after hours of discussions. He came to the cabin a completely changed man. For many months thereafter, talks about religion dominated each and every conversation as he attempted to return/bring me to the flock. He became a devoted disciple and sought to pay it forward.
Again, my upbringing, school years and even close friends all exposed me to traditional and conventional religious thought. It provided me chance after chance to proclaim a revealed religion as my spiritual path in life. But, by 16, I became a committed Deist. I never wavered in the intervening years.
On the contrary, as an amateur historian, I read a great deal about many eras, cultures, and religious practices. I also live and work abroad, experiencing firsthand the Christian, Muslim and orthodox worlds. I continually noticed the impact of revealed religions on life everywhere. Devastating wars, persecution of minorities and other innocents, torture, accumulation of worldly wealth with promises of an afterlife beyond measure, inciting acts of violence (throughout history), and all the rest.
My devotion to Deism started almost from the first day I heard and understood its tenets. It continues unabated until today's headlines and tweets.
In the last 10 years, I studied more about Deism, and considered my personal relationship to it.(As I get older obviously.) I read the collected works of Paine. I spent more time perusing Deism.com.
I also talk more openly about religion and my beliefs than I used to. For the 25 years after high school, people (me too) approached it as a taboo subject. But lately that changed for me. Opportunities to espouse my beliefs and explain Deism to others appeared, and I took them. I still received blank stares at the mention and explanation, but I felt better.
When I go "home", I sometimes attend the Unitarian Universalist Church in my small town. They offer interesting and insightful talks about the community and issues of the day. They get involved in the community. Last summer I wore my Deism T-Shirt and got several compliments. I feel the serenity and peace that providence gave me the reason to both understand but also to utilize effectively.
I came to Deism at an early age. My maturation and personal ongoing journey and exploration merely strengthened my belief in reason and natural laws.
I hope I live to see a day when more and more people recognize the power of their reason, and take advantage of the greatest gift the creator endowed us with, if we care to grasp it.