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There are many people out there who are trapped within the prison of organized religion.

While this prison may not have any physical bars, it holds its inmates captive and immobile through dogma, regulations and traditions. As most religious people can attest to, I was trapped inside of a belief system that posed more questions than it did answers. I used to faithfully attend my Southern Baptist church every Sunday with no expectations to learn any more than I did the previous Sunday. To me, church had become a ritual that I had to perform on a weekly basis in order to keep my conscience clear. The problem with this type of religious experience is that it is void of life. Most people who are stuck in this routine are either hypocrites or extremely self-righteous individuals. I can look back and honestly say that I was a hypocrite to the highest degree. My life had no evidence of Gods presence, probably because there wasnt any. As most people, I became fluent at living a double life; one for the public, and one that was private. It is no coincidence that nightclubs, bars and porn shops do most of their business at night. As creatures of darkness it is within our nature that we conceal out deeds under the cover of the moons light, and the nights star-lit sky. Ive seen people who were extremely respectable and conservative by day, turn into drunken harlots by night. One can say that you will find out what a person is really like when you see them out on a Friday or Saturday night. The same bodes true for how I used to live my life. I was a nice, quiet and wholesome guy during the week, but when the sun went down on the weekend, I was only focused on drugs, alcohol, prescription medications and sex. I would indulge myself in as many of these vices as I could, while at the same time praying to God to help me get out of that life. For a while, it seemed as if God wasnt listening, but I later came to a dramatic realization. My religious upbringing allowed me to believe that God was always on my side, no matter how unholy my lifestyle was. I always felt that I could do whatever I wanted to do because God would always forgive me. Well one night I was driving home from working the evening shift, and I decided to take a 2mg Xanax bar to relax my mind. I decided to drive to a local restaurant to pick up a snack before I retired for the night. At some point in what shouldve been a 10 minute drive home, I blacked out and wrecked my automobile. I was so out of it, I didnt even remember doing it when I awaken the following morning. As I awaken from my sleep my cell phone rang, and it was my friend calling to see if I was okay. He told me that Id called him that previous night and told him that I had wrecked my car, but I couldnt remember calling him. After our brief conversation, I went into the bathroom and flushed my remaining pills. At that moment I knew that I had to stop doing the things that I was doing. I wont lie and say that anything changed after that because I continued doing the same things that I had been doing before. I continued to pray for help, but I was still trapped in my cycle of hypocrisy. Organized religion can do very little to address a persons inner demons if it doesnt take the time to get to know the person as an individual. Churches are in the business of growing its numbers, but as a result it has lost touch with the lost souls that fill its temples of brick and mortar. I lived a life of darkness, while at the same time leading my church pupils into believing that I wasnt. And the sad part about it is that no one could figure it out. The church was not able to help me because my condition was too much for a pastoral consultation. I spent many nights praying to God for help, and at one point I even stopped reading the bible all together. I had lost my faith. It wasnt until the social life around me began to crumble that I really desired to change. Between friends getting other friends pregnant, friends having abortions, and others attempting

suicide, I couldnt take that life anymore. I didnt want that to be a reality for me. I stepped away from that life and I began to search for myself within. Over time, I began to lose the desires to do the things that I had been doing, and I began to try to grow from all that I had experienced. During this time I had come to realize that God only helps people who really desire to change, and at the points in my life when I prayed the most, I had no desire to stop doing the things that I was doing. God is not going to intervene into a life that is stuck on doing what it wants to do. I had to learn this the hard way. I wanted to abuse myself, so I did. I wanted to get so intoxicated that I would fall asleep at stop lights, so I did. I wanted to be the walking disaster that I had become. It wasnt until I came to realise that I was the problem, did I actually change. When I decided to change my life, I met my lovely wife, who introduced me to the teachings of love. As I buried myself in every spiritual book that I could get my hands on, it became clear to me who and what God was. God is the knowledge and wisdom to do what is right, when you WANT to do what is right. I came to understand what it means in the bible when it says that we will find Him, if we truly seek Him. This is something that almost 30 years of religious dogma could never explain to me.