When I was 20 years old, I was baptized into a very culturally conservative, highly structured, and all-encompassing religion. While I’ll always technically be a member of that church, I don’t actively participate and I won’t ever again. I’m not saying that all of my views and beliefs have or have not changed. This isn’t about that. Because, while I have changed so much, I’ll never put down a religion or a set of beliefs. I have lots of people in my life who don’t understand my decisions when it comes to religion and I get that. This post is not meant to spark a debate but simply to explain where I’m at. And as always, my writing is a catalyst for my personal growth.
Anyway, I’ll write this in a few posts. Here is Me & God: Part One.
I guess I should start with a statement. A confession, rather. It isn’t one that I take lightly. In fact, I hate it. But here it is.
I do not have a strong relationship with God.
Doesn’t that just feel like a punch in the stomach? It does for me. I don’t want it to be this way. But that is how it is. And I have absolutely no idea how to change it. Now, I am sure that some of you think that this is a typical situation. I mean, I lost both parents. I’m probably mad at God and blame him for all of the injustices in my life. And maybe, on some level, that is true. You’ll want to tell me that God only gives us what we can handle and this is all part of his plan.
So let’s get this out in the open and start there. Let’s pretend like that’s it. I’ve lost my relationship with God because I’m angry about losing both of my parents.
So, the way I see it, I have two options:
- I acknowledge that God makes all the decisions for our lives. He chooses who lives and who dies. He decides which prayers to answer, which miracles to grant. But believing this means that I’m saying God CHOSE to let both of my parents die horrific and painful deaths. It means that he chose not to grant me two miracles.
(Side note: I hate it when people tell me that without pain, there is no happiness. I get the concept. But I will not use the death of my parents as the foundation for my happiness. Period.)
- I say that God chooses not to have a hand in our lives. He leaves everything up to us and our choices. And to be fair, both of my parents made unhealthy and harmful decisions their entire lives. But if I believe this, then what is the point of prayer? Of asking for God’s grace? What’s the point in needing Him? Of course I believe in the Atonement and I’m incredibly grateful for that and for life after death. But what happened to God walking beside us at all times? (I should also note that this is much easier to answer BEFORE actually experiencing loss. Duh.)
Now, I realize that this is all very black and white. And I’m sure the lack of grey is due to my forever anger that comes from grief. I get that. And I’m sure many of you are incredibly sad at my perspective. I get that, too. Awhile back, one of my former students posted something on Facebook about being an atheist. She left the religion she was raised in and now feels an overwhelming sense of relief. When I read it, I was happy for her that she has found peace. But I also reeeeally wanted to tell her that not believing in that specific religion doesn’t mean she has to quit believing in God all together. I was sad for her. I have another friend who used to be very religious. He actually baptized me! Now he talks about God with such apathy. It makes me incredibly sad. So yeah, I get it.
So again, I’m sure many of you are thinking that my distance from God is simply a tragic result of my tragedies. But the real truth is it has been a slow and steady break-up (yep, that’s the analogy I’m going with) and my mom’s death has just been the final straw. But I want to say, loud and proud, that I love God. I have since I was a little girl. I grew up extremely close to him. I’m not proud of my distance. I want to fix it. But it just isn’t that simple.
Now, before you decide to send me a novel of an email about why I need to come back into the light and how exactly to do that, please wait and read all parts to this. Take the time to hear my story. And also, know this. I have a deep love for Jesus. He was my very best friend for my entire childhood. I miss him every day. I want to get to a place where I am literally bursting with the Spirit. I do. But I also know that it doesn’t just happen. Again, there is no black and white. I’ve been through so much in my life and there is one thing I know about myself. I am just me. While I want a relationship with Him, I wont pretend that something is there when it isn’t. I feel like that’s what religion did to me. It turned my pure and real relationship with Christ into an obligation. And that isn’t what I want. I don’t know what else to say except that I know that for the first time in a long time, I’m ready to work for that relationship. Because I miss Him. I miss who I am when He’s around. Me, with a lot more grace, humility, strength, patience, kindness, empathy, and love.
So, while I still have lots to share, this feels like a good start. One of the things I’ve been doing lately to open up more to God is to listen to worship music. Let me know if you have any favorite bands or songs! <3