High-school was rife with insecurity and torment. I really never obtained that "good group of girlfriends" and although I had a boyfriend for a time - that didn't fix everything either (of course this isn't surprising). Somehow through this I found "my faith" to be a refuge of sorts. I guess I felt slightly more accepted at church than anywhere else, even though when I reflect on this period of my life - I'm not sure that I was super accepted there either.
It wasn't until the end of my senior year that I really started to question Christianity or anything that believed in to a greater degree. Always having been an analytical, things within the church community often lacked the logical congruency I would have hoped for. The youth group that I was heavily involved with was experiencing some cultural shifts that made everyone uneasy. My opinion at the time was that some people were being treated unfairly and a social hierarchy was being developed within.
However, a couple larger things prompted my later questioning.
1) Access to High-Speed Internet
2) My boyfriend ....
Admit-ably, my boyfriend probably being the larger factor. I started the relationship out of good ol fashioned infatuation and solid dose of rebellion, then throw in insecurity and the internet and well there you have it. More importantly, he ended up being the first person I had met (to my knowledge) who was a liberal and an atheist. I had of course, heard such people existed, and though I wasn't going out of my way to avoid them the vastness of Suburbia kept me pretty well incubated. He blew some of my conventional arguments for faith and politics (I was pretty conservative Republican then too) out of the water. My previously impervious seeming rebuttals now seemed flimsy and this deepened in me a search for "truth" and "answers" unfulfilled by what appeared as a simple belief system. I wouldn't say I lost my faith at this time, far from it, but this experience tore a hole that would need time and some serious stitching to be repaired. As one would assume we were way too different for this relationship to last, but what it left me with was the value of critical thought - a gift some never obtain.
This tear in my faith lead me to do some hard questioning... and at that time I primarily sought answers within the church... I read C.S. Lewis and Lee Strobel... as well as other resources. Though not perfect, their arguments were fairly compelling and I was once again feeling comfortable with my belief system. Though, the patched up tear was still strong within memory.
At this time, I basically elected to participate in Christianity until I could figure out a good reason not to. Assume the positive, until a negative can be proven.
During college I lived a sort of "double life". One where I went to church activities twice a week, volunteered to do power point, got excited about mission trips... and one where I spent time having fun, drinking and running around with people I genuinely enjoyed the company of. They weren't as chaste as my christian friends, and they "didn't go to church", but I felt like I could be myself in this crowd. It's amazing really how separate I kept these two lives. One might argue that I would regret this experience, but in reality I think I need both those lives to learn the lessons I did and become the person I am today, even if it wasn't the most consistent. Eventually though, I had to find "one life" to live. I was pretty confused during this part of my life to say the least... I found myself finding fulfillment in both arenas and not wanting to let go of either. Christianity and my christian friends gave me explanations about the afterlife, "safe fun", and a what I felt was purpose. My other friends gave me a sense of self, a feeling of acceptance and a the sanity of reason (and oh by the way I enjoyed the partying too).
What I wanted was a merger, fun and reason, acceptance of self, but where my "christian faith" could stay intact.