A local radio station I found has a broadcast called "The Old Trailblazer" where Calvinist doctrines are preached. (The web site is radiomissions.org, and I encourage people to visit it.) The same station used to have the broadcast by R.C. Sproul, who preached the same thing. I read Sproul's book "Chosen By God" and began to ponder election. He also has a book for sale called "The Five Points Of Calvinism" and released his own book, "What is Reformed Theology?" I started digesting these things, and realized I had finally found what I had been looking for: Calvinism. (Or, better, Biblical Christian doctrines.)
What separates Christianity from all other religions, and what separates Calvinism from other forms of Christianity, is total (pervasive) depravity. Everything about this world is tainted by sin. No one can escape sin's effects, because sin in everywhere and part of everything. We need a savior.
This doctrine is unique among world religions (all of which say a person can save themselves by works, which I ought to discuss in more detail some time, because none say how to actually accomplish it).
The "five points" of Calvinism are five precise definitions, whether you call them TULIP or GOSPEL or anything else. These five definitions flow from the established fact of total, or pervasive depravity.
Total depravity says individuals can't save themselves, that instead a sovereign God must do the work of salvation on behalf of a person. If we could save ourselves, wouldn't we have done it by now? Any other religion besides Calvinism is a hopeless religion. We think we can save ourselves, but we look at the totality of human history and realize it is futile and will never happen. Only through Calvinism is salvation possible, because there it is a work of God, not of man.
(I prefer "pervasive depravity" because the word "total" can be taken to mean the depths of a person's depravity as well as the extent of depravity among people in general. C.S. Lewis didn't understand what the word "total" meant, and it is a blemish in his writing caused by his theological ignorance.)
Unconditional election says that I can't do anything to save myself. This is simply the logical progression from total depravity. If I can't save myself, God must save me, and it must be God's total work.
Limited atonement means that God chose some to save, not that some could be saved and God wasn't able to. (Some want to be "four point" Calvinists and delete this point from their theology. If you do that, however, your theology is denying the sovereignty of God.) Limited atonement means that God arranged to save all those who would be saved.
Irresistable calling is necessary because I can't do anything to save myself. If the Spirit of God did not call me, I would not be called. If the call could be thwarted, God would not be sovereign.
Perserverence simply means that if I didn't do anything to save myself, then I couldn't do anything to mess up my own salvation.
That's what I believe. I am saved only through what God did for me. I can do nothing to save myself.