I'm slightly afraid to post this because I don't know how everyone will react. I'm not trolling or anything, I just really need help, and I don't know where to turn. Not only that, but I am not even sure if this is the right place to post - if not, I apologize. But here is my story.
My whole life I have been raised as a Christian, yet, for some reason, my family was never strongly Catholic. I went to mass (more so when I was a child than as a teenager) fairly regularly, though not as regularly as most would consider appropriate. I went to CCE and was baptized and received the sacraments of communion and reconciliation. Even as I grew older and got to the point where we weren't going to mass at all anymore (for this reason, I haven't been confirmed yet), I still believed in God, and was very spiritual.
However, it feels that as I have gotten older, I have stopped believing entirely. For those who don't want to read all of my crazy, possibly blasphemous, ramblings, essentially I feel that as I have gotten older, my belief has faded and I can't help but be a skeptic. I have started going to mass in desperation to believe again, but yet while I am there, I can't help but think... "What if this is just a way to answer questions about things we can't answer, or comfort us when we are scared? What if it is all made up as a way to get people to behave the way that it is believed they should?" Now, granted, a lot of that may be due to complete ignorance, because I'll be the first one to admit I know nothing about the history of Catholicism or Christianity in general (unless you count the story of Noah's Ark... or Adam and Eve. You know, all the famous ones.)
I'm absolutely filled with questions that there simply aren't answers to - and yet, I can't shake them. There are so many religions out there - Islam, Hinduism, Judaism, Buddhism - and so many variations of Christianity as well. How do we know which one is the "right" one? How do we know that we, as Catholics or even as Christians, are the ones who are right about things? Why is it that we say that the gods that the Aztecs or the ancient Greeks or Romans believed in are wrong - how do we know that they weren't right, and we're wrong? Or something to that effect. I don't know if that makes any sense, but that's kind of where I'm at.
And then all the social concerns - abortion, homosexuality, masturbation, contraception, pre-martial sex, everything - some of these I have come to disagree with the strict ban on them, and I am not sure if anything will change my mind. This scares me because, I want to be closer with God and I want to have faith and believe in Him - but if I cannot agree with the Catholic (or Christian) teachings, how will I ever be accepted in the church? My best friend since my freshman year of high school is gay, and it hurts my heart to hear people say that he CHOSE that life, or that he needs to be 'cured' or that I should not accept him.
Everyone that I've tried to talk to about this, just says basically the same thing: "Well, you just have to have faith that it's right", or "Faith is about belief, and belief isn't knowing, because if belief was knowing then it would be called knowledge." But I guess I feel like those answers aren't doing it for me anymore. I know a lot of you are going to reply and say that I need to go talk to a priest or somebody, and not asking questions on the Internet - but I feel ashamed and embarrassed (and I'm ridiculously shy enough as it is) -- I don't think I, as a 19-year-old college student who knows next to nothing about her religion, could openly admit my doubts to someone who has dedicated their whole life to believing in, and teaching, this. For some reason, the anonymity of the Internet, and this forum in particular, helps to alleviate some of that stress.
And then, lastly, the most evil truth of all - my fear is that, deep down, the only reason I want to believe is because I am afraid of being wrong, and finding out when I die (or on Judgment Day, whichever comes first) that I was wrong and am now being damned for eternity. I know these are selfish reasons, and I know this is not why you should believe in God or have faith or be a religious person. Yet I can't help but feel this way.
So here is my plea. I need some help believing in God again. I want to believe in Him so bad, and I want to be a good Catholic, and I want to have faith. I don't want to do it purely for selfish reasons, or for fear of going to hell when I die. I want to be a person who can honestly say that they are a healthy Catholic and that they truly, deep down, believe in God and accept Jesus as their personal savior - for their own reasons, not because they are afraid. If there is anyone out there who can help me, please - I need you.
Lastly - please be kind. I am not trying to denounce this religion. I am not trying to say I know something I don't. I am not trying to start a riot, and I do not want to get banned for this post. All I need is just someone to listen, and try to help me out... I feel more lost and scared than I ever have in my life. I really just need some advice.
Thank you all in advance.