It is really good to know that we can relate in these areas. Religion has been a huge burden for me all my life and is something that continues to cause me great struggle. Even though I used to be very faithful, it was actually because I had a lot of fear of hell.
Rant: the believers say they focus mostly on God's love when I start talking about hell...but how can one ignore the flip side of that coin?? Even though hell may not be talked about as often, it's still a very important part of their belief system. Actually, it's even worse if people don't talk about this topic much and still believe in eternal torment for nonbelievers. It's almost like they're in denial or something.
Perhaps I won't be able to understand how belief in hell has impacted me so negatively, whereas other believers are able to live happy-go-lucky lives without giving too much thought about it. I guess I'm a more sensitive type, but seriously guys, why isn't everyone a pastor/missionary? If they actually believe eternal torment waits for those who don't share the same belief system, why are they still working their 9-5 jobs??? I just don't get it.
This was actually the reason I wanted to move to China; to become a missionary. My thoughts went like this: if this whole belief system is real, and China is a mostly atheist country, then I need to go over and witness to as many people as I can. If my beliefs don't measure up to reality, then while I'm in China, I will be open to changing myself. As you can probably tell, my beliefs have changed drastically, although it has been a far more difficult journey than I would have hoped or imagined. Fortunately, SAI has been a very important part of that journey.
I have become more and more interested in critical thinking and have become more of a skeptic/agnostic, especially after reading Carl Sagan's Demon Haunted World. However, my Christian friends continue to insist that I should trust in God and that trusting in only myself is selfish. I don't really know what to do about this, except for continue trying to think more rationally and learn more about religion, science, psychology, etc. so that I can figure out what makes sense to me.
Moreover, I have came to the conclusion that only I can save myself.
Based on what I know now, I think that I can probably diagnose myself better than any one therapist can. I am doubtful of any kind of "expert" at this point anyway. Perhaps going to several would be a good idea just to get different opinions, but I'm not sure if that's something very feasible for where I live and for my current income. Still, it's something I will consider and look in to.
Anyway, I appreciate you both for the info. Best wishes on your journeys.