Inspired by @ListPrompts
  1. I was raised Catholic and attended Catholic school for 13 years (kindergarten through high school) as well as mass every weekend until I went to college, and then during the summers.
  2. At age 11, I began staying up late at night, staring at the porcelain cross right over the top bunk of my bed, trying to pray but actually thinking:
  3. "What if God doesn't exist? What if someone wrote the bible to try to convince people to buy it from them? Like it was this big money-making scheme and now we've all been duped into thinking it's real?"
  4. It wasn't the brightest line of questioning, but it was the start.
  5. And I felt really, really guilty. Like "I'm going to hell," cry-myself-to-sleep guilty.
  6. At 16 I began working at a Christian retreat center near my house. It was non-denominational, which pretty much equals Not Catholic.
  7. People didn't like that I was Catholic.
  8. I was working in the kitchen and not making very many friends, mainly because I only worked weekends.
  9. Someone once walked up to me at the back counter and introduced themselves. I told them my name and they said,
  10. "Oh, I know who you are. You're Catholic." I nodded. "Why do you worship Mary?"
  11. It wasn't in a nice, inquisitive tone. It flew from their mouth like a sharp insult and I froze.
  12. That summer, I started working full-time and I got pretty good at my job. There wasn't much to it, so I was left to train a summer staff girl, Haley.
  13. She was cute! She looked a little like Phoebe from Friends and everyone said we could almost be sisters.
  14. After our lunch break, I was teaching her how to cut brownies (because there's a very specific method) when Matt, a dishwasher, walked by. Matt is very clearly gay. He wears eyeliner and has a feminine voice. He is also one of the nicest people I ever met during my time there. I really loved that he would take the time to come talk to me at work.
  15. As he walked by, Haley turned to me and said, full volume, unabashedly, "It really bothers me that he's gay."
  16. I was taken aback. And I showed it. In retrospect, I shouldn't have said any of the things I said to her about how the bible preaches love and acceptance far more often than hate and that disliking someone because of their sexual orientation is essentially going against Jesus's word. I could've been fired.
  17. In fact, I SHOULD'VE been fired. But no one ever found out, except for my brother who told me that was the stupidest thing I could've done.
  18. Over the six years that I worked there I encountered far worse offenses from my coworkers: racist, sexist, homophobic comments abounded. My belief in God withered.
  19. It is not fair to blame these people for my current religious beliefs. There were many people who I met at work who are the most lovely people I've ever known, and will be my best friends for a long, long time.
  20. But as I went through high school still doubting Catholicism, these other people, the "Christians" who acted with hate in their hearts, pushed me away from pursuing any other denominations.
  21. And then I realized, separate from these people and their acts, that I didn't believe in God. And I felt bad. I felt guilty. Because as many ex-Catholics know, guilt is the backbone of Catholicism.
  22. Telling my mother was the worst part. She feels as though she and my father have failed as parents, and that's hard to hear.
  23. But I am open. I am ALWAYS open to faith. I respect people with faith an enormous amount. I envy it, but I can't make myself have it.
  24. I'm okay with that.
  25. So, to sum up: to me, God is an idea that has let me down and disappeared from my life, but never completely.
  26. I will always be Catholic, even though I'm not Catholic.
  27. I love you all 💕