Both atheism and theism are controversial subjects and it may sometimes seem far too difficult to have a conversation about it. That's why listening––and reading!––are so essential. And it seems like more people are leaving religion behind more than ever, right?
Believe it or not, there are indeed cases of former atheists who chose to practice a religion. After Redditor lillythenotsogreat asked the online community, "Ex-atheists, what made you start believing in God/a religion again?" people shared their often intimate stories.
"Depression hit me hard..."
Depression hit me hard and I tried taking my life a few times and after the third, I was sent off to treatment. The first phase of my treatment was in the wilderness where I found God and I can't say it was this audible or clear moment but ever since then I have grown closer to Him and my faith is no longer a blind faith, but total confidence and assurance in Him.
"I thought religion was..."
I wasn't a believer. At all. I thought religion was the crutch of the weak. Until my boyfriend at the time relapsed on heroin. I found myself praying to a God I didn't even believe in. Honestly, I didn't feel better. But it opened a door for me. I started going to church with a friend. I found a new hope in life that I didnt have before. My boyfriend got clean. We got married. He was studying to become a pastor. I thought we were going to get the happy ever after. He relapsed and overdosed last month. During the first few days after his passing I wondered what his death meant for my faith. He was a much further along in his faith with much stronger convictions. Our church community has overwhelmed me with love to the point I wasnt ready to go back to church when they started in person service again because I was afraid of all the hugs and support would make me feel too much. I now believe he was brought into my life to bring me to faith so I can share the love of Jesus with others.
Not exactly an athiest, but I grew up in the church, and for a long time I just stopped going to church and stopped thinking about God/religion. Lately I've been struggling with my depression/anxiety/adhd symptoms, my girlfriend and I found out our cat has cancer, and my girlfriend's car pretty much broke right before she has to start a new job. I started praying again, and I got this thought in my head. It was a bible verse (don't remember which one, but it was Old Testament) and I cracked open a bible and flipped to the verse. I don't remember what it said exactly, but it was something along the lines of "nobody is beyond the Lord saving them." That stuck with me, and for a few weeks now I've tried to pray every night before bed, and I've been reading the Bible again. I finished the whole book of Joshua in a few hours, and now I'm on Judges
"I got sucked into..."
Honestly, the occult. I got sucked into some pretty dark and scary stuff and was helplessly out of my depth. I would have this nightly visitor that my dog sensed and always warned me of. I'd never felt an energy of such hate in my life.
In a last ditch effort, I began praying to God, begging for this to stop. On that night I was scared and closed my eyes, pleading for help from someone. The feeling lessened and I noticed it start to move away. A feeling of love and light filled my heart like I'd never felt before.
From then on, I've been a devout Christian and vowed never to mess with the occult again.
"I found out..."
I was an atheist, up until about two months ago. I found out my estranged dad had overdosed, and his odds weren't exactly great. I'd never really gotten a chance to properly say goodbye to him, and that's one of my biggest regrets, so I got down on my knees and prayed for the first time in years. He lived, and whether or not God looked down and took pity on me that day, I consider myself a believer.
"Brushing up against..."
Brushing up against real evil in youth, feeling if there is this much darkness there has to be its opposite. Having many ''high strangeness'' experiences that made me sure there is much more to life on earth than meets the eye or that can be currently measured.
"Then I moved a couple provinces over..."
I came to terms with being Jewish and learned more about my specific Jewish culture.
I grew up in a traditional Central Asian Jewish household and for a while, I lived in a city where most people from my community live and even though none of the kids in my community went to my school, I fit in pretty well with my Muslim classmates. There was occasional antisemitism but I never felt ashamed of being Jewish.
Then I moved a couple provinces over and at the time, the province was pretty white and Christian. I faced a lot of antisemitism and racism (from teachers no less) but unlike back in the old city, I didn't have a Jewish community to fall back on. The Jewish community in my new city has and still is very judgemental and very Ashkenazi-centric so we never got to fit in. I spent most of my time being the only Jewish kid and a shit*y Jew because I didn't even fit the preconceived notions of Jews (for example, I don't know Yiddish and I don't know anyone who knows Yiddish, I'm pretty unambiguously not white, I come from a working class background, I didn't have a themed bar mitzvah, I say sh*t like shabbat instead of shabbos, kippah instead of yarmulke, brit instead of bris, etc.). I became increasingly ashamed of being Jewish so I did everything I could to separate myself from Judaism and Jewish culture. Being an atheist was the answer.
I eventually started identifying with being Jewish against when I went to university and actually got to meet people who aren't Christian or atheist. That helped me feel less ashamed of being Jewish and inspired me to looked into Central Asian Jewish culture and practices. Turns out I'm not a sh*tty Jew after all, I'm just some basic @ss Mizrahi guy from a basic @ss Mizrahi family. The final straw was I started dating an Iraqi-Canadian Muslim guy and he's been super supportive and interested in my culture.
"It was hard to ignore..."
After my late boyfriend died, I started seeing more signs of him telling me it's ok, he's still here with me and he's ok. It was hard to ignore. I don't follow any specific religion, but I have since done a lot of reading about near death experiences and whatever rabbit holes I fell down from there.
"I later started reading..."
I allowed the culture to make me think it was unlikely there was an omniscient and benevolent God.
I spent the early years of my adulthood around atheists, and I found in the long run that their answers required the same amount of faith as that of someone who believed in a creator. They just used the whole, "I believe in science" argument, yet their definition of science was based on ridiculous assumptions. Their idea of logic was based on consensus.
I later started reading apologetics from the likes of C.S. Lewis and Ravi Zaccharius and started to realize that their logic was sound and the culture that screamed, "BUT WE BELIEVE IN SCIENCE" could not actually logically defend their assertion, they just used the word science as a facade for them believing modern scientific consensus. And if you know anything about the history of scientific consensus, you know that it is OFTEN wrong, therefore it can not be used as factual cornerstone in and of itself.
If you or someone you know is struggling, you can contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
To find help outside the United States, the International Association for Suicide Prevention has resources available at https://www.iasp.info/resources/Crisis_Centres/
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