I had this thought this morning. I'm actually glad that I had to leave Christianity as a kid.
I know people who go on and on about how they made the choice to be Christian as a teen/pre-teen/toddler and how their parents didn't force it on them or anything, or their peers, but how they were led to it, yadda. I don't doubt that they sincerely believe their stories. Honest. I just...don't put a lot of faith in them I guess. Kids are kids, even up to the teenage years. It's a rare one who doesn't follow the crowd, seeking love and acceptance and a place to shelter for the storm.
Herd animals, the lot of us.
I had to leave Christianity. I really did. The life I was given forced me to. And I did some less than sterling things in the years after that. I'm not proud of those things, but I'm not going to deny them either. Once done, a thing can never be undone.
But all of that forced me to really look at religion, at faith. I'm not saying I've been the most diligent or scientific student by any stretch, but having been thoroughly disgusted by the faith I was raised in, seeing it as a part of the abuse really, made me fascinated by the power that religion has over people. It can take them to the highest level of humanity, or the basest. People live for their faith, or they die for it, or they kill for it. They do wonderful things and horrific things, all in the name of their god. And a lot of times both extremes are for the same god!
I found religion to be fascinating, academically. But I viewed it as a hold over from primitive times. People who couldn't deal with the world had religion. People who couldn't accept that life sucked, that all it was was pain. That's who had religion.
I was an angry person. I've said it before, and I'm sure I'll say it again. The sheer, churning depths of my anger are, I feel, impossible to get across to anyone else. There are things that simply cannot be accurately related to anyone else, ever. All description fails. I wanted the world to burn until there was nothing left.
That's why I had to leave. There's a million little details, but really I left because I was unceasingly angry. There are parts of me that are still dark. That are not nice. We all have those parts to one degree or another. I simply acknowledge mine and the fact that they might be stronger in me than they are in some others.
And I spent a lot of years doing other things. Atheist, agnostic, dark, black things I don't talk about any more, and finally, at the end, pagan. Paganism, for me, was a religion of balance. Opposing forces holding the world between them. Gods and goddesses. It was beautiful, and I could find value in all religions from that point of view. Some were deluded, most especially the patriarchal faiths, but there was something worthwhile in even them.
It was a process. My life had to get better, I had to stop being afraid and angry all the time before I could see straight.
I do believe that if I had been forced to stay in Christianity, to ape faith or even pretend within myself that I believed that I would have broken away anyway at a later date, and the damage would have been worse. It might have even been permanent. I'm a hard person, unforgiving in many ways. If I hadn't made the break when I did, when I was still young and not so hard...I don't know.
Aside from all that though, not 'being' one religion or another made me open, eventually. It wiped out, or skipped entirely, a lot of the things that I would have been taught if I had finished my religious education in the version of Christianity I was being raised in. Do I still come across things that I didn't realize were hard-wired into me? Oh yes. But for the most part, I had rejected all of it.
This left me looking, and it let me see the flaws, the problems, how turmoil and strife and confusion there is in the multitude of Christian 'denominations'. How the ego and personality led to breaks all over the place and a startling lack of unity, even when unity was claimed. It let me look at everything and see how we got where we are, looking back into history and comparing claims, looking at everything and finding so much wanting at almost every turn.
It led me here, to, while not complete understanding, but an understanding of what I don't understand, and the comfort and confidence that I am at the very least finally heading in the right direction, without having to fight to shed decades of Protestant misteaching in the process. I've got my own baggage, no doubt, but it's not as hard for me as it might be for some, because I *know* that I've been wrong.