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THE DAY I GAVE GOD HELL

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THE DAY I GAVE GOD HELL

Photo by Joe Cunningham

Maybe it was a long time coming after all.  We’ve certainly had our share of arguments and disagreements during the past eleven years of our relationship.  But my philosophy is if you don’t talk to God about your frustrations with Him, then they don’t exist.  And for about eleven years my plan worked out, until that one day.

You see, some times God seems so real to me it feels like its too much for me to take all in.  Other times, God doesn’t make any damn sense.  A couple of weeks ago I experienced the latter.

For a few years now I’ve been feeling like I’m not good enough for God’s approval.  I don’t give enough to the poor.  I don’t show my fiancé Amy enough affection.  I listen to way too much Tyler, the Creator.  Everyone kept telling me that God loved me, and that salvation was a free gift from God and not
something I had to earn.  But I didn’t believe it.  If God truly was so gracious, why did we have to be so obedient?

Finally one day I decided to write a letter to God. It’s something I always do when something is weighing heavily on my mind, but I can’t find the words to verbally express it in a prayer.  I opened up my journal, got out my pen, and wrote down these words:

Dear God,

You’re really fucking pissing me off right now!

Before I knew it I was calling God every four-lettered word in the book, and chewing Him out left and right.  And I couldn’t stop, either.

You expect us to praise you, but for what?  For allowing us Americans to stuff our fat faces full of pizza while millions of children die of starvation around the world?  Yeah, that sounds just fucking fantastic!

While we’re on that subject, why did Dad bail out on Mom and me?  Why did all the kids in school treat me like shit?  Why does Grandma have Alzheimer’s?  Why does Aunt Margie have MS?  Why has Uncle Ronnie been unemployed for over two years?  Why are there people like the Westboro Baptist Church, Mark Driscoll, and pedophile priests in the world?

I’ve had it up to here with you, God.
You haven’t done shit for me.
You’re just like my deadbeat dad.

Fuck you,

Travis

When I finished, I felt free. I finally got it all out.  Now all I had to do was wait for God to respond.

Two days past and I didn’t hear anything.  I never expected a huge booming voice from the sky. In the past, God usually spoke to me either through a particular Bible verse, or a conversation with a friend, or a song on the radio.  But this time I didn’t hear anything.  No song on the local Christian station made me want to sing along.  No Bible verse explained everything.  No friend acted like a channel for God to speak through. Maybe God was respecting my wishes. Or maybe He just wasn’t there.

Maybe it finally happened.  Maybe I finally lost my faith in God.  In the past I’ve gone through moments of doubt, but I still hung on to God because I felt like I had nowhere else to go.  Maybe this was the
moment I finally realized that I had been hanging onto a silly fairy tale all this time.

A few days after I wrote my letter, I was chatting with Amy on iChat when I decided to come clean about my unbelief.  I typed in the little window, “So, uh, babe, I think I might be an agnostic.”

She begged me to pray about it.  “God is there for you,” she said.  “It might not feel like it, but He is.”  Since I’m always quick to please my baby, I promised that I would pray.  So right before I went to bed that night, I prayed.

“God, if you’re up there, and you actually give a shit, just let me know, okay?”

And that night, I had a dream.

It wasn’t a big earth-shattering prophetic dream where Jesus came and explained everything.  It was actually a simple dream where Amy and I attended a local Lutheran church.  But because this dream occurred right after praying that God would give me some sort of clue, maybe it was more than just my unconscious mind playing tricks on me.

Then the next day I was flipping through a devotional called Faithbook of Jesus (written by my good friend Renee Fisher) when I came across a devotion about God’s love.  Renee wrote that even though she had heard that God loves everyone all her life, it wasn’t until she was 24 that she realized that God truly loves her with all of His heart.

And when I read that, I started to cry.

I realized that I had not lost faith in the real God, but in the legalistic god I invented in my mind.  For years I tried to force myself to be holy and perfect.  For years I tried to win God’s approval by being the most radically loving Christian in the world.  But now I see that, despite all of my
imperfections and hang-ups, God loves me exactly where I am right now.  I wish I had realized this sooner.

I looked up at the ceiling and said, “Alright, God, you got me!”

(As for the church I had the dream about, Amy and I went to that church on Sunday. Even though I wasn’t too familiar with it, I felt strangely comfortable there.  Maybe I finally found my home.)

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About the Author:

Travis Mamone lives in Easton, MD, and is a writer, librarian, and co-host of the Something Beautiful podcast. You can reach him at travismamone.net and travismamone83@gmail.com.

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