Throughout my years of being a Christian, I worried a lot about falling away. I often voiced this fear to my close friends and mentors during my first years in college, and all of them told me that it would never happen given the strength of my faith.
“Come Thou Fount” was my favorite hymn, because of these last lines: Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it / Prone to leave the God I love / Here’s my heart, now take and seal it / Seal it for thy courts above. I used to lie awake at night, begging God to prevent me from leaving him. I prayed fervently, in anguish, in tears, for God to strike me down rather than allow me to turn in disbelief.
At the time I didn’t think that I would ever become an atheist. My fears had never considered a premeditated, conscious choice of disbelief; I never thought that atheism would be palatable, only that Christianity would seem unpalatable. In my head, the only method by which one might leave Christianity was seduction by secular culture, by becoming so enticed by various indulgences that faith would be forgotten.
It is quite easy to wander away from God. But I do not believe that anybody becomes an atheist by accident. On the contrary, it’s an absolutely excruciating process that is far better avoided, if matters of ultimate truth are not of ultimate importance to you.
Life is unpredictable. Three years ago my greatest fear was that I would turn my back on God, but I never, ever, even considered the possibility that I would no longer believe in his existence. I say this because I know how hard it is for a Christian to understand the reasons for deconversion. There was a time when I would not have accepted any of the explanations I am currently giving. I would have said that anyone who deconverts is either wicked, or never was a true Christian to begin with. So I’m asking my friends and readers to be more understanding, accepting, and trusting than I was. To those who have done this already, thank you.