Nick, a young reader in Georgia, opens up:
I am not sure if you are still running your series on religious choices, but I feel like this topic is especially poignant to me. My biggest religious choice was when I chose to stop following Jesus when I was 24. I’m 28 now, and it is still one of the hardest and most painful decisions I have ever made.
From my high school days up through the end of college, I was madly in pursuit of a relationship with Jesus. As a Christian, I felt it my calling. I would go to church on Sunday by myself and sit in the pew and bask in the glow of fellowship with other church members who also searched for His presence and warmth.
When I got to college, I joined a “non-denominational” contemporary Christian college ministry and it was the perfect fit. All of my friends were in the church. I traveled across North America on missions to Colorado, Memphis, Mexico, and Honduras and had the time of my life seeing various cultures and feeling a closeness, a connection with God. I felt his presence in my prayers, felt it when I was in the woods, walking with Him in closeness. There were intense joys but also intense sorrows when I would fall short. But I knew I was imperfect, and that all my shortcomings could be made up by seeking His presence.
But when I was 21, I decided that I wanted to start being honest with myself and respect my wants/needs more often. I was gay and closeted and living in fear that God could never love someone so different and unnatural.