I came to my own conclusions. And they are mine, not what someone else told me I must believe.
I was raised as a Christian in the Church of the Nazarene. My family regularly went to church three days a week, and rarely skipped a service. I remember loving church from a young age and when I was old enough I listened intently to the sermons both on Sunday mornings and Wednesday nights. I took what I heard there very seriously and was determined to be the best Christian I could be.
I continued with this attitude all the way to college age, where I decided, to the delight of my parents and my church, to attend Trevecca Nazarene University. Around that time I was already struggling with serious doubts, if not about the truth of Christianity, then about the strength of my own faith. As I was reaching my early twenty’s, a lot of things were starting to bother me–and I spent a lot of my spare time thinking and mulling it over. One could say I was obsessive about it. After all, I took it very seriously and believed it was really a matter of life and death that what I believed was true. Even after I first stopped believing I would not admit it to myself–I would write in my journal as list of “I believe” statements as if trying to convince myself that I really did believe. If I had doubts then the problem was with me and my weak and sinful mind, not with the truth of these statements.
This is in great contrast to how I think now as an admitted atheist. I don’t have a total handle on “the Truth” but that doesn’t bother me. I believe fervently that the universe is entirely natural and contains no supernatural or magical entities whatsoever. This does not mean I can’t recognise that I don’t have the means to prove this is true. But I don’t hold it dogmatically since as I see or hear convincing evidence or argument to the contrary I will change my belief. What is true is true whether I believe it or not–though I am as certain as I possibly can be that a fiery fate does not await me after I die if I get my facts wrong (Hell just has that human revenge-fantasy ring to it. Heaven also seems to be so much wishful thinking.) I can follow any line of thought I wish and not worry about ‘falling away’ or committing blasphemy inside of my head. I am happier now. My mind is free.