I was raised Lutheran. I went to church every Sunday, was involved with youth group and other church groups, did group and independent Bible study, etc.
The year I was 17, I sat down and read the Bible in-depth. It was the first time I had ever read it like that, instead of passages or books at a time. Something didn’t sit right with me. Pastors seemed to quote it in a very different way than what I read as the message and contradictions.
I began researching other religions. I church-hopped denominations, looked in Catholicism, etc. I had certain values that for a long time, I had tried to believe fit with what I saw as the overall message of the Bible. None of the churches I went to shared these values, and often condemned them straight out.
This brewed for awhile, I did lots of reading and research on religions, religious texts, and evolution/anthropology. I realized that I was trying awfully hard to reconcile two things that to me, just didn’t go together. I also realized that I had a bias in my logic: I kept telling myself, I don’t believe in these religions. If I was to believe in anything, it’d be Christianity. Why? Because that’s what I was raised with, so I was familiar with it.
I heard the quote “I contend that we are all atheists, I just have one fewer god than you” and something just… connected. I realized I was making all these excuses that I didn’t really believe. I hated thinking about religion because it made me miserable to say I believed in something that my heart felt was wrong. It wasn’t until I was 18 or 19 that I sat down and talked to my fiance and told him I thought I was an atheist. We had a long talk (we were involved in religion together) and we shared our thoughts. He expressed similar doubts, and similar logic. A few months later, he admitted that he was an atheist, too, but scared to admit it to family.
So, loooong answer, sorry! But it’s a subject that’s important to me, because I did feel very scared and lonely while going through the process and community was very helpful to me in the months following.