First: This is for sharing how you came to believe as you do. There comes a point in everyone's life when they make a decision about faith. This is what I want to see here.
Second: No arguing on this thread. Disagreements and questions should be directed to the individual on Private Messaging.
Third: Share experience, don't preach.
Now, my story.
I was raised a Christian in an extremely strict sect by a domineering and frankly fanatical mother. In our church TV was taboo. Movies and sporting advents likewise. The women did not cut their hair, wear pants or makeup. Drinking and smoking were forbidden. Men had to keep their hair short and facial hair was frowned upon. The more radical churches also forbade Christmas, Easter, and Halloween.
Church was three times a week, twice on Sunday and on Wednesday night. Unsatisfied with this, people, including my mother, chased tent revivals which were popular in the late 60's early 70's. I was often in church every night. I went through a lot at school since we didn't believe in wearing gym shorts, and were forbidden to play sports. Dating was a problem as well, as we were not to date outside of church people, and were expected to not even kiss or hold hands.
Shouting and speaking in tongues was common, as was casting out devils, and prayer for the sick. I have witnessed too much to down these practices, but I want you to get a clear picture.
Of course, I rebelled. I took up smoking, drinking, and took drugs. I did my share of "heavy petting" with girls, including the pastor's daughter who was as much a rebel as I. I was very foul mouthed and constantly in trouble.
Then right before my 19th birthday, my future wife and I were saved in a revival meeting. By age 20 I was a minister, fully ordained by age 24. I became an evangelist, preaching anywhere I could get an invitation. My ministry for the next ten years was much like I had been taught, but I wasn't afraid to publicly come out against some of the harsh regulations, teach more mercy than policy. I preached in my home state of Virginia, in North Carolina, Tennessee, Maryland, Kentucky, Missouri, and Arkansas' I had tentative invitations to Connecticut, Georgia, and Texas.
Then when I turned 34 the genetic bomb I inherited from my parents went off with serious problems. My bipolar/depression/borderline personality disorder was one of the worst my doctors had ever seen. They also said they were only surprised that it happened at age 34, as most people with my severity of illness rarely get through their twenties before disaster strikes. I landed in the mental hospital four times in one six month period.
At first I had support. They visited me in the hospital, I received a great number of invitations to speak, they prayed with me and for me constantly. But after the third trip, they became rather cold towards me. I visited a church where I had often preached one Sunday morning to find that I and my illness were the topic of the sermon. Why I didn't just walk out I will never know.
Back at my home church where I served as Assistant Pastor, things grew even worse. I had a face-off with the pastor over a decision he was making. I swore then that I would tell no one what really passed between us, and although he has been in the grave for a dozen years I keep my word.
I was excommunicated. The other churches I preached for, while many said they disagreed with my excommunication, shunned me as well. My illness got so bad that I was placed on full disability without question. But I couldn't quit.
I preached in homes to whoever came. I stressed the importance of choice over rigid rules. I urged people to seek the will of God for themselves. My wife still doesn't cut her hair or wear pants. But this is because it is her Preference, not a church rule. My daughter and daughter-in-law both wear pants and cut their hair. I don't toss them into hell as I was taught to do. There are things the Bible directly condemns, these I preach; others are enforced by different sects of religion, without Bible confirmation, these I ignore.
We have TV, go to movies, my children had wonderful Christmases, Easter egg hunts, and dressed up for Halloween. In school they were less prosecuted for church rules. They made their own choices.
Now, I still preach every Sunday my illness allows. The congregation has gotten smaller as many have moved to other towns or chose to quit. But I still stand.
I went from a radical Evangelical hellfire-breathing preacher to one who, still believing in heaven to gain and hell to shun, drops rules not in the Bible, preach tolerance, and seek to encourage my small congregation to make the right choices, I don't beat rules into them.
St. Matthew 23 has became my guideline.
Now you have heard my reasons for believing as I do. I am now non-denominational, I would still preach in any church that would have me. But my eyes have been opened to the fact that being too strict and omitting justice, compassion, mercy, forgiveness, and uplifting my brother or sister in Christ would be the height of hypocrisy. Live a simple, humble Christian life, read the Bible daily and pray daily, attend church when you are physically able.
 Then one of them, which was a lawyer, asked him a question, tempting him, and saying,
 Master, which is the great commandment in the law?
 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.
 This is the first and great commandment.
 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.
 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.
Now God richly bless you.
Remember, any questions or comments concerning this post, PM me.