When I sit down to write, the first draft is always pen and paper. About a tenth of the time, I will type it out on here to share with you all. Sometimes I write about God but I feel reluctant to bring Him into my dark little blog. You might be thinking, jeez you have no problem pouring your sappy broken heart all over the internet but you can’t write about your faith? To me, sharing my heart with you is easy. I find relief in writing clearly about what hurts and expanding on those feelings in multiple ways to connect with whoever is reading. And even if I write something that doesn’t connect with you, no one can say, “You’re wrong. You felt that wrong.” Religion on the other hand, or I guess faith, lends itself to be criticized. I’m not the model Christian that Christian readers deserve. So, in short, that’s why I haven’t published religious material up until now.
God and I have been pushing and pulling each other and for a long time. My end of our relationship has been very transactional. Hey God, you up? I need something.
I’ve wasted a lot of time trying to “figure out” life. I’ve looked at people who seem to have everything and wonder what they know that I don’t. I’ve tried to make sense of it all. I’ve laid awake in my own bed desperately wishing it felt like home and asking God, why are you doing this to me? I would go to church and feel nothing. One time I was in a pew by myself and the band started playing a contemporary cover of ‘How Great Thou Art’ and I was instantly transported back in time to my grandma’s hospital room where I played that song on my iPhone while she passed away. Next to me in the pew, there was a woman who put her hand on my shoulder as I vacantly sobbed and she audibly prayed for me. I listened to the words she was saying but they rolled right off of me as if I was wearing a God-resistant jacket. Everything felt like it was happening to me and the God that I worship was standing above me watching me drown, saying “learn how to swim, my child.” This led to years of backpedaling. I preached His words and I believed that other people were having positive experiences with their faith but with each new ache, a deep frustration grew from the places where I couldn’t connect with church. With each new ache, I looked elsewhere for something to make me feel better.
To say that I’ve had a strained relationship with God would be an understatement but I never allowed myself to stop believing in Him. One day, and I am not sure when, I stopped expecting Him to fix everything while I sat in the pew and cried. I decided that there is no to-do list in my life waiting to be checked off before I can be happy. There is no sense to be made, just life to be lived. Once I let go of my idea of the perfect life, I stopped resenting God for letting me go through my own personal hell. I stopped saying shit like, “God has called another angel home” and in the same breath, I stopped acting like he had stolen them from me. They just died. And that is the one guarantee on this planet: we, too, will die. For awhile I thought that being a Christian meant believing that God had this predetermined time clock for us and everything we accomplish within that window is all He ever meant for us. That belief alone was what pushed me to the edge of my faith. I couldn’t stand Him when I thought of that. I was deeply bitter about the seventeen years He gave Sam. I let go of that, too. I learned to create a new image of the God I want to live for. I want to live for the God that Sam died believing in. The God that my grandmother hand-wrote prayers to in the margins of her Bible. The God that forgave my loved ones. The God that forgives me, too.
I have a separate journal specifically for Bible quotes, takeaways from church, and conversations with God. I haven’t written in it in over three months but my last entry was Romans 5:8 – I loved you at your darkest. I’m the first to admit that I don’t pray as often as I should but I’m quick to ask for prayers when things are hard. I’m guilty of living selfishly at times when I should be sharpening my faith. But God loved me when I’d curl up underneath my covers wishing I could just waste away instead of get out of bed. And when I attempted to heal my wounds with remedies that tasted like whiskey or felt like the arms of a man who didn’t know how to love me, God loved me enough then too.
For awhile I thought I was a bad Christian and that bad Christians don’t get to call themselves Christians at all. And that would send me down the rabbit hole of questioning whether or not I am cut out for religion altogether. But I do believe that my life, my heart, my mind and the way it has healed, all of me was created with intent by a power that has held me upright when gravity seems like it could fail me at any moment. I know that I felt the air around me pause when each of my loved ones passed away. I know that the calm that comes over me when I think about either side of existence is brought on by the same hands that put me on this planet. Whether God is a man, a woman, a constellation that weaves in and out of every galaxy, or the breeze that sends chills down your arms on the days you feel alone, God is love.
I’m not sure how many of you are people of faith, but in the scenario that you’ve read through this whole thing despite not taking part in religion, you’re worthy of love, too.