[Serious] ex-atheists of reddit, what changed your mind?

I was raised in a very Christian household with a father who could have been a preacher (and often filled in as one) instead of the MBA Engineer that he was. We were part of a non-denominational Christian Church which I know sounds like an oxymoron but it basically means they're ran independently. I loved it. I was active and involved and it really was a second home for my entire youth. My father truly was a compassionate man that anyone--and I mean anyone--truly loved. If there were angels on earth I would swear on stacks upon stacks of bibles that my Dad was one.

And then one day he drove off to run some errands and never made it back home alive. He suffered a fatal heart attack and he was only 60. I was 24 and devastated as my hero was dead. It was only after the birth of my son 3 years later that I began to question "God's will" as I could not see any purpose to God recalling one of his angels when he was so desperately needed on earth. I quit the church and over time I fell completely away from God to the point that I completely stopped believing. I couldn't get past all of the logical & scientific evidence proving He didn't exist. I became a closet atheist. Closet because no one but my ex-wife knew as it would have killed my mother.

Flash forward 15 years and I found myself at 40 losing my job of 17 years, the house I renovated for 12 lost to foreclosure, bankrupt, and even devoid of friends after I had to relocate to another state to find work. It was the lowest I ever found myself--lower than when my dad died. I had moved back to the town I grew up in and the one I identified the most joyfully with my father (we moved when I was in 10th grade) and that fact eased much of my pain. And then one day about 2 years later (and 2 years ago now) I was walking in a park (I live 10 minutes from Niagara Falls and was hiking along the Niagara River to be specific) and something came over me. Peace; Inner calm. Whatever you want to call it. But I suddenly felt a great burden lifted and I suddenly felt emotionally euphoric. To me it was my epiphany that there had to be a God. He just wasn't in a church this time. He was all around me...the rush of the swift water, the birds in the gorgeous blue sky, the intricately detailed flowers along the trail. It was quite the experience and one I will never forget (even though I can't explain it well at all).

Now mind you I don't attend church too regularly as I worship in my own way, but I have such a peace within me now I consider myself a changed man. I was tested when my wife of 17 years decided to abandon our son and me a year ago but I've come to realize that God found me when He did so I could work through this with Him by my side. Why did He take my father? He didn't. That's not how my God works as death is just a part of life. Animals die all the time for a variety of reasons and a human isn't any different. I've made peace with my dad's death and all the other things that have happened along the way because I'm on this path for a reason even if that reason isn't entirely clear to me.

/r/AskReddit Thread