Fear had not always been the main driving force in my life. I can remember a time when I really did believe in the religion and was happy within it. It was nice thinking their was this all powerful, all knowing god and that I had been lucky enough to have been born a member of his "chosen people." I remember very clearly the day this changed.
I was 15 years old and in 10th grade. I went to a Jewish, Modern Orthodox private school where we learned both secular and Judaic studies. I was in one of those Judaic classes being taught by a Rabbi with whom I had a very good relationship. Someone in the class thought it would be funny to ask a question about sexuality. The Rabbi responded very seriously. He gave a list of sins for which "god NEVER will forgive you." He said that anyone that committed any of these sins, would "lose their place in heaven and could never get it back." All of these "sins" had to do with basic sexuality and I knew I was guilty. Even more so, as hard as I tried to repress it, I knew I was attracted to guys, which made my situation even worse!
I became very scared and slowly my idea of a loving, protective god was replaced by the idea of a vengeful, angry god. Fear became the main drive in my life for many things. I also knew that being gay was a death sentence according to the bible and I started to expect death often. Every time I was in a car that turned too tightly, or every time I was on a plane and there was turbulence I thought to myself "I'm about to get whats coming to me."
I was luckier than many that I broke away from that life of fear at a relatively young age. By the age of 24, I left Judaism/religion behind and moved on (a story I will explain another time). But I have met many people from a number of different religious backgrounds that lived their lives in fear well into their 40s, 50s and in one case his 60s! This is so sad. We only get one chance at life. Why waste it in fear?