My parents took us to church every Sunday, but after we moved, an issue that came up between them and the church and we stopped going. I was too young to really grasp what anything spiritual meant during those times. It was the summer before I went into 3rd grade.
For whatever reason, I wasn't liked very much at school. By 6th grade, I had more enemies than friends. My parents still don't know that I was verbally bullied from that point until basically 12th grade because they were the same kids at my school from elementary to middle to high school.
In middle school, I met someone who was into macabre things, and that was the start of my semi-Goth period. By junior and senior year in high school, I was obsessed with World of Warcraft and manga featuring handsomely drawn demons. My cursing put a sailor to shame. I was disrespecting students and teachers alike, and getting all my clothes from Hot Topic. I had the knee-high leather boots, fishnet leggings, a pinstripe Dickies dress, belts, spiky bracelets—you name it. I listened to bands like Disturbed and Drowning Pool and filled my sketchbooks with really creepy/gory things.
Strangely enough, during that whole period, I still called Jesus my Savior and would routinely pray a modified Lord's Prayer every night.
It wasn't until I got out of high school and started going to church occasionally with my sister that God started to draw me back to Him. He used an old elementary school friend to be honest to me. My friend revealed my idolatry over a certain book I was thinking about 24/7. The story involved a demon and an angel who were drinking buddies and whose fan-fiction frequently involved homosexual activities.
Next, I got the opportunity to go to a church in [another town]. On my way there for the first time, I prayed that God would show me a church that not only teaches what His Word SAID but how it applied to my life—and the pastor literally said those exact words in the sermon!
I couldn't go every week because my job had me working Sunday mornings. But we convinced the owner it wasn't financially worth it to be open on Sundays, so he stopped. Shortly thereafter, I started to attend church every week. I've been going ever since, for about 3 or 4 years now.
Fast-forward to today. God brought me to a wonderful Christian college where He put me in touch with a spiritual mentor. For the past year and a half, God has been patiently and lovingly replacing the negative thoughts I have about myself with thoughts of who He really is and what He REALLY thinks of me.
I still have a long way to go, but when I look back on this year alone, it's amazing how much I have learned about Him and about myself.
My story isn't over, but I hope that it has given you hope that things CAN get better. :-)
—Taylor - age 25