I was raised Christian and baptized at age 9. I always asked a lot of questions, and it got me tagged as a bit of a troublemaker, both within my youth group (which I left in anger not long after being told "don't think, just believe") and within my family - my father did not understand why fideism was not good enough for me, and still doesn't. But my faith has always meant a lot to me. Then..
Working on Saturday nights in fall 06, my sophomore year in college, made it difficult for me to make it to church, so I simply didn't go. My faith suffered as a result, and by the end of the semester, I was starting to experience doubts about my faith. I was logging onto websites hoping to find something that would prove to me that Christianity is, indeed, true. Unfortunately, I couldn't find a knockout punch that would settle it once and for all. In fact, what I saw brought out only more questions. The questions that bothered me the most related to the origins of the Earth and of Genesis.
By winter break, I was starting to doubt that I had enough faith to be saved. I honestly did not know if Christianity was true or not. I spent all day, every day, reading on apologetics websites looking for something convincing. Then, my family went to Florida. I was pretty depressed by this point, worried that I was going to hell. At one point, I stood in Disney World in pure fear, anguish, and torture, convinced that I had a strong chance of going to hell. There I was standing, at the happiest place in earth, completely tormented. I admitted my problem to my mom and asked for her prayer. She tried to help me, but couldn't.
I got back home, and my faith weakened to the point where I felt nothing was there. I told my mom and a couple of people in whom I confide that I was an agnostic. I wanted nothing more than to believe vibrantly in God and Jesus but I did not feel that I could do it. To make matters worse, I was aware of Hebrews 6:4-6, which implies that if you fall away, you can't come back. Did this mean I couldn't come back? I figured I had to at least try. I talked to my pastor, who prayed for me and told me that I could come back, but I felt like he was fudging those verses, and in fact, that his interpretation of them wasn't necessarily good for me. I also talked with somebody on AIM I know who knows a lot about the faith, who brought me into contact with a friend of his. They assured me that I had not fallen away or committed any “unforgivable sin”, because I still cared about it. Fair enough, I figured, now I feel like I can make it, if only I can believe.
I read a lot of articles about the beginning of the Earth and learned a lot I had never known before. I clarified my position as Old Earth Creationist rather than Young based on what I read (I had always wondered about it, but never studied it too closely). Still, these studies showed that Christianity was possible, but not that it was totally true. I asked my mom to pray with me, like, a million times a day. Also, I spent literally all day reading apologetics stuff online, every single day. I had little appetite and little desire to do anything at all, because I was so depressed. I ordered several books online, ranging from The Case for Christ to an obscure, poorly bound book (that's actually found online, harvardhouse.com) that talked about biblical prophecy in the Old Testament in the New and how it verifies the Bible. This, finally, was proof to me, 2-3 weeks in to my episode. I felt like this nailed it; I believed again.
I realized that science stuff didn't have to matter as long as you can show that the Resurrection happened. Christianity lives and dies on that, not some obscure passage in Genesis. After all, you can even believe in evolution and be a Christian; there are interpretations that way. (And since then, I have adopted theistic evolution, after seeing a transitional fossil for myself in a museum.)
However, I had some creeping doubts about the Hebrews 6 thing. After all, doesn't it seem clear that you only have one shot? Plus, doesn't Matthew 10:33 say that if you deny Jesus, he'll deny you? However, I knew that Peter denied Jesus, too, but that he was still saved. Also, I knew in the back of my mind that verses like James 5:19-20 imply you can come back, and that the Bible clearly offers salvation to all who believe. After a long period of struggling over this, I found a website that gives a long list of Bible verses that would have to be contradicted if I had committed an unforgivable sin. Also, I found a possibly interpretation of the Hebrews verses that fit in with all that.
Does this mean that I'm completely out of the woods? No way. I struggle still with doubt and worrying that just maybe I'm not saved, and a lot of the paradoxes of faith, but I know that through it, I've grown. There are still things that gnaw and me and rip at my soul, but those don't go away, not in this life, anyway. Still, I'm learning more about what it means to walk with Christ every day, and I wonder if I truly meant that before my ordeal.