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Within some atheist circles there is this process called de-conversion where one unwinds oneself, usually from Christianity. I had to go learn about this from reading atheists because to tell you the truth, I don’t even really personally absorb the Christian idea of conversion. I had to  learn about that too, from others. A conversion is a bit like how and when you came to Christ or became born again or where He found you. Often people’s conversion literally saved their life, like leading them out from drugs or alcohol. I love these stories.

I never really had a “conversion.” I was very young when I first encountered the presence of God, around 3. I wasn’t in a church or being indoctrinated or suffering abuse. In fact, I was playing in the sunlight wearing a pink dress with orange ric rack near a compost pile full of rotting vegetables and horse manure. I can remember every detail with a clarity that astounds me, the sights, the smells, what I was wearing, the warmth of the sun, the tiny scab on the back of my leg. What can I say, I was 3, it was God, these things tend to make a powerful impression on you. How do I know it was God? I just knew, I recognized Him. He was very familiar. The message was simple, to never forget I belonged to Him. I knew immediately that there was simply more to this world then meets the eye.

My life did not suddenly get better, in fact it got worse.  My parents divorced, my mother took off with me, and I wound up on the run hiding out in communes and cults. It wasn’t all bad, there were some good times. Beyond the isolation, the strong atheism, Marxism, and new age themes, and the regret that I couldn’t go to school, I didn’t suffer all that much abuse. Most of my trauma came from witnessing others abuse their own selves and each other. It was the 60’s there was freelove, rampant drug use, suicide, overdoses, people birthing children in tents and teepees, people insisting on living outside of the medical establishment. People not ruled by common sense or virtues or values, but rather in complete rebellion against them.

God never left me from that first time when I was three. The relationship only strengthened and grew. He talked to me in that still quiet voice, He revealed Himself to me, He taught me things, He took me on the most incredible treasure hunts. I saw His face in pools of water sometimes, His features formed in the clouds. Why Christ? Because He was clearly Christ, like in paintings I later saw but so much more than anything you could ever paint. The  image of Christ is not something you could ever hope to capture. To me He appeared a bit more like a knight than the peaceful, angelic portrayals people try to paint. Very gentle yes, but very, very powerful.

I didn’t get out of that world for years. I was nearly 13 before I first stepped foot in a church, with the deliberate intention of being baptized. I didn’t really have to be taught scripture or Christian “tenets,” I just instinctively knew them already. Some of my wording was wrong, some of my understanding was rustic, but I knew it was Truth because God had already been teaching it to me for years. Long story short, I joined their youth group, their bible study, their baptismal classes and not long after I was baptized. That’s the formal anniversary of my “conversion,” but actually it really started when I was 3.

I spent two years within that church and sure enough, not long after being baptized my life once again took a turn for the worse. I’ve come to believe that that is how it really works, the stronger you grow in faith, the harder it’s actually going to get.  Like CS Lewis said “I didn’t go to religion to make me happy. I always knew a bottle of Port would do that. If you want a religion to make you feel really comfortable, I certainly don’t recommend Christianity.”

I really don’t have any juicy stories about “sex, drugs, rock and roll, and salvation.” I have a myriad of sins I could write volumes about, sins of circumstance, sins of defiance, sins of stupidity, about trying to wander off the path Christ put before me. I’ve been lost many, many times, but He always knows right where He is.

Honestly, when you come from radical atheism and free love and cults, how do you express your teen age defiance? You sneak off to a church and lie about it. You read the bible under the covers. You whisper scripture behind their back.

I did try to dabble in “sex, drugs and rock and roll,” but even in that I was somewhat protected. For the life of me, I could not develop a proper alcohol addiction. While many teen agers were acting as if they had just found their new best friend, my body just didn’t cooperate. I haven’t exactly led a sheltered life, however, I’ve walked in some dark places, it’s just that I’ve never walked in any of them alone.

*When I say “His Presence” or “God” or “Christ” I can’t really identify the difference between angels or the Holy Spirit or Christ Himself. I can’t really tell what is God or simply of God. It’s just an intense and powerful recognition, “His presence.”