Broken Daughters

Picking up the shattered glass of fundamentalism

Me and the great punisher

17 Comments

I don’t remember when I wrote my last post on believing in God and Jesus. It must have been over a year now. This post has been on my mind for so long, but somehow I never found the words. I feel some sort of inner pressure to write this, yet I don’t know how. I’m not the kind of person who doesn’t find words to say things. That should say something.

You know, I really want to be an atheist. Sometimes I believe that’s what I am. There are days when I have that summery, beachy way of freedom. Those days where you think that your entire life is in your hands. That you’re not just some sort of marionette in the hands of an all-knowing, universal punisher. Those days can be so reassuring that you’re on the right track, that your life is going well and that your decisions really matter.

Other days I find myself deeply wanting to pray. And on some of these days, I do. It’s not very often anymore. Most of the time I will delay myself somehow. Do some house work, go somewhere, read some blogs, whatever. I will pray before I fall asleep, I tell myself to calm my mind. God won’t strike me dead if I pray an hour later. These are the days where I usually fall asleep just before I remember praying. But on those other days, those on which I pray, I pray fervently. Please God, please forgive me, please forgive me for being blasphemic, for saying those terrible things about you. I was angry, you know that. Please look into my heart. Please do something, please change me so I can be good and right. Please forgive me forgive me forgive me I will do anything but please forgive, tell me what to do. I am so alone without you. And then I feel better for a while. I’m thinking it’s a bit like an alcoholic drinking his first beer in months. Desired, fulfilling, but somehow it feels wrong.

There’s one thing I never say, though I’d said it so many times before: “I surrender my life to you.” It’s the one thing I don’t want to say. I don’t want to “surrender” my life. It’s my life. It’s mine and I will not let anybody decide what I do with it. I think that’s what makes me feel so bad on the days I pray. My prayers are useless because I am selfish and despicable. I don’t trust God anymore. Nothing can fix that. It’s what will send me straight to hell.

Other days again I am angry. No, I am furious. I don’t know if you can understand just how furious I get. I hate God with all my being. I know he’s there, and I hate him, and I want to spit in his face for all the terrible things he does. He is not good, he is not just, he is an evil, evil and mean little child who steps on ants and burns them just for fun. I feel for satan – I wouldn’t want to deal with the evil big guy either. Maybe satan is actually trying to save us from God’s wicked ways. Maybe he’s the only one who understood everything that was wrong with the big punisher all along. I want to scream and yell at God that I’d rather spend eternity in hell than with him, because hell can’t be worse than an eternity at the feet of such a gruesome, evil being. I get so angry that I want to hurt everyone who believes in God. I want to tell them that hating people for being gay is awful and disgusting and terrible. I want to tell them that treating women as doormats is stupid and gross. I want to tell them that all they believe is a joke. So an extraterrestrial being snapped us all into existence? And you want to tell me that evolution doesn’t make sense? Please!

And then, I am sad. Because there is no God to save us, and nobody will be there when we’re dead. And I hope that the evil punisher is real, even if that means burning in hell for me. But I hate him and I want him gone, and I want him to be there so badly. Sometimes I hear those one minute ads by the catholic church on the radio. They make me want to be part of it. Somehow I always feel better when I heard them. A few days ago there was one on christians living normal lives. A girl talked about how she can go out at night, be a bartender, even drink. That’s not against her religion. Catholic doesn’t mean boring. Catholic is young, cool and hip. I can see behind the marketing here, but I still wish this was true. I wish I wouldn’t have to throw everything away to be religious. For me, there is no middle ground, no grey area. Faith in God still means complete and utter self-denial. I thought this might change at some point, but I’m losing hope. I want to be a part of christianity, but I don’t want to join the choir of hate speech and judgement that I see everywhere.

So yes, that is my update on my faith. I don’t think anything has changed.

17 thoughts on “Me and the great punisher

  1. I can’t say that I know how you feel, because I had a very lax kind of faith to begin with so losing it wasn’t much of an upheaval. If you find yourself unable to believe anymore (which you may not, this is just where my experience is and so all that I can offer) try to remember that it is not hopeless.
    I grew up Catholic and most of my Catholic friends ask me how my life can have any meaning if I don’t believe in god. I understand their perspective, but I feel like it has more meaning now. Sure, there is no greater purpose and nothing happens when I die, but I appreciate what is now so much more. I don’t think I really appreciated the present until I stopped believing. It wasn’t until then that I needed to.

  2. Your story is one I sadly see too often. Raised in harsh religion, reject Him, instead of the religion.. I am thankful I came to my faith on my own. I have an understanding of grace that you sadly missed out on. Religion is the enemy of God. I hope you can come to peace some day.

  3. This sounds like what a lot of people leaving religion go through—whether they end up “full” atheists or deists or what not. I’m told that the days of acceptance and freedom become more frequent over time, and the moments of anger and fearing hell become less common. Regardless of where you end up, you have my best wishes. And I think you’ll get through it.

  4. Why do you not think God wants you to be happy? Can’t you believe in a God that doesn’t want to punish you? Who’s kind of okay with you making your own decisions with your own God-given common sense?

  5. I wasn’t raised in a church, but was drawn to Christ on my own. I read the Bible and prayed as a pre-teen, teen and young adult without the outside influence of a church. Know what I learned? Jesus loves us. That’s it. I wish “Bible bangers” would actually read and comprehend the Bible they claim to understand. Then maybe they’d know two very important truths about Jesus’ teachings: Love others and do unto others as you’d have them do unto you. There are quite a few of us out here who embrace Christ’s love and his connection between us and God; we walk away from churches mainly because churches tend to spend a lot of time telling us we have to earn Jesus’ love, even though we know He loves us already. It’s sad humans had to screw up such a perfect love.

  6. I was brought up Catholic, and I don’t adhere to closely to my religion. It was not pushed too harshly upon me by my parents, for which I am ever grateful. My thoughts on God and spirituality is this: We have all been made differently to learn from one another. Take what you can from this world, be a good person, and open your heart and mind to others that are different than you, be it religion, color, sexual orientation, political views or whatever. Learn from other people and excercize your free will. Love others and love life. The people who are different than you expand your horizons and enrich your life.

  7. Shuttergirl, we’d probably be good friends if we knew each other, because you hit the nail on the head. Lisa, I grew up in one of those independent, fundamental, Bible believing, judgmental cultures, maybe not quite as extreme and phariseeical as yours, but nevertheless it was there. They loved to see lost souls walk the aisle and get saved, but after that, it was like you had to work your way to God’s favor once again. Through reading the Bible, not from their slant, but from what it really says, God is not the monster you speak of. I know how you feel, because I lived in fear that if I made one wrong move, or thought independently, or anything else, He was gonna come out of the sky and beat me over the head with a hammer or something. The fact is, what preachers say, and what the Bible says are two different things. The verse they want to use is 1 John 1:9, which is a beautiful verse, but the chapter deals with salvation, not the Christian life, because once we’re saved, God no longer views us as sinners. He doesn’t see our sins, only we do. If we beat ourselves up over what we do wrong, it’s because we can’t forgive ourselves, and torment ourselves with it. There are reasons to confess our sins once we’re saved, but it’s not to keep God from killing us. It’s to obtain help for victory over our struggles in this present life. He wants to help us, and to comfort us when we’ve blown it, not abuse us and fry us under the magnifying glass. I really hate that you were raised in the extreme of the other culture, and can understand why you feel the way you do about God, but the people who showed you that way are wrong. Very well-written piece, by the way.

  8. There is a Christianity out there that doesn’t like hate any more than you do. Not all of us believe that gay people are sinning, or that women are lesser – or that God is mainly a “punisher” at all.

    I hope you find what you’re looking for.

  9. Would it help to hear that it’s OK to be angry with God and that we all struggle?

    Like Kari and shuttergirl46q, I came to faith on my own. One thing that I thought that kept me from going to church in the beginning was that I’d be yelled at for my family not being Christian. I found the opposite to be true — people welcomed me regardless of that and welcomed my family when they came for something involving me. It was a lesson for me in not putting God in a box.

    Rather than spouting about how God loves you and wouldn’t want you to be angry with Him, consider this: if He can create the world in seven figurative/literal days, He can deal with you being angry with Him. Go ahead and rage at Him — the Psalmist did so you’d be in good company. You may discover that God is not the Great Punisher after all.

    • Well said. Let’s also remember how Jesus handled Thomas, who doubted Him: Jesus showed Thomas His wounds so that he would believe. He didn’t throw him out into the street or sentence him to an eternity in Hell. Jesus showed compassion for the human condition. That’s why He came to Earth to be crucified.

  10. I left the very conservative, though not as conservative as yours, faith of my childhood when I was 19 and now I am 44. I still am not at peace with the whole thing, really. I think when you’re raised with that much G-d you don’t just let it go, it creeps back at odd times and in turns of phrase. I actually changed religions, but I don’t feel completely at home in my religion of choice, either. For me the main thing has just been to accept how I feel or what my mind and emotions tell me. It doesn’t all have to be consistent all the time. Hugs.

  11. I’ve been going through similar emotions. Sometimes, I wish so bad that god was real, and then I look at all the stuff s/he doesn’t do – save people from starving or being abused, keep kids from getting deadly diseases, stop natural disasters, mass killings, wars – and I think, it’s a good thing god isn’t real, because if he were, he’d be rather evil. And then the next moment, I catch myself wanting to pray. But, like you, I don’t see how a progressive faith works because that’s not what the bible says. It’s all or nothing.

    I take hope in the fact that since we humans are the ones who decide what’s right, etc, that we CAN decide to do right, that we CAN all get along, that we CAN be kind, save the planet, etc.

    My heart feels for you. If you want to talk, you can email me at elizabeth.buker@yahoo.com.

  12. I have been reading your blog for a long time and like so many it seems you were raised in a very works oriented fear based form of Christianity. Yes this type of Christianity says it is by grace through faith and not of ourselves that we are saved and then goes on to add a list of things we must do to in order to win and keep Gods favor. This type of teaching perverts the gospel by making it a gospel of works to appease an angry God rather than presenting the gospel as a message of God’s forgiveness, love and caring for those He has created. God made us in His image that means we are created with feelings, thoughts and desires as well as to think, question, challenge and create. We were not created to be a puppet that can only do what the puppeteer wants. Our decisions really do matter. God sees a hurting world and calls us to do what we can to alleviate some of that hurt.

    It is possible to still have that beach summery way of freedom as a believer in God. There is freedom in Christ. It is an internal peace, a freedom in knowing we stand accepted before a God of love because of Jesus, not a God of anger who is going to judge and punish us. It is resting in Christ alone that brings an inner peace. By freedom in Christ I mean an inner freedom from relying on my own works to make me righteous and a complete trust on the finished work of Christ on the cross for my righteousness. It is Him not me. By works of righteousness I mean thinking or feeling that I have to do something to earn Gods favor. A while back while listening to a sermon it suddenly became clear that while I had always known and trusted Christ alone for my salvation, that I still felt like I needed to do something to gain His favor, that I still needed to somehow work to be considered righteous. I realized that it was Christ alone, that if my faith was in Him that I already had His favor that I didn’t have to work for it. I sat there and thought “now I get it, it is Christ alone, not me helping out that saves”. I don’t have to do anything, it has been done. The righteousness of Christ is received by faith. What is faith? It is casting yourself utterly on Him alone. It is depending on Christ alone. It is not us hanging onto God for dear life, it is letting go and letting Him carry us and trusting Him to not drop us in the process. Us hanging on or clinging is works, us being carried is trust, faith. It means that I desire to serve the Lord out of love for Him, not out of duty or because it is the right thing to do. It is the difference between a want to do and a have to do. That knowledge brings an inner freedom.

    By openly bringing ourselves to Christ we have freedom. Freedom to search our hearts without fear, freedom to repent knowing He hears us and forgives. It is that freedom that enables us to examine attitudes and thoughts, to understand the root of those attitudes and freely discuss the root cause with the Lord. It is His spirit that gently probes our hearts and brings understanding to us. It is through understanding that we come to realize our need for His cleansing power in our lives. He gently leads His people, guiding, correcting and teaching us in the way that we need to go. He gently probes our hearts and quietly convicts of sin. He is not harsh, but insistent that those of us who are called by His name live up to that name. He is like a Father who quietly, gently and yet firmly leads a child in the way he/she should go. His ways are not harsh. He is the good Shepherd leading us to Him through faith and repentance.

    On the question of godliness – or do I really have to get up at 5AM to pray and read the Bible or will I be struck dead if I forget my evening prayer – who is deciding what is godly – you, others or God? It is easy to assume on our own that something is more godly, but is it? Before assuming what God thinks, ask Him, but ask Him without assuming you already know the answer. God is not put off or offended by our anger, questioning or anything else we may do. I have found the times I was angriest at God and simply talked to Him as a friend saying exactly what I thought or felt were those time that I felt Him closest, the times I felt His arms around me and crying with me. It is not blasphemy to be angry and say so. It is human.

    Faith in God still means complete and utter self-denial…
    I am not sure what you include in complete and utter self-denial. Christian self-denial is the opposite of self-indulgence. Self-indulgence is the inability to resist gratification of whims and desire, it is excessive and immoderate. Self-denial isn’t necessarily giving up what you want but using discretion moderation inn what you do. While it is not self-centeredness it also doesn’t mean giving up who you are. It can include a change in one’s attitude; in other words, renewal. It is tolerant with one another, charitable and cooperative. It obeys the civil authorities and keeps God’s commandments (what God actually says are His commandments, not what man says He says) It is to behave with decency, no reveling, or drunkenness, no debauchery or vice, no quarrels or jealousies.

    ..but I don’t want to join the choir of hate speech and judgment that I see everywher
    Christ spoke with authority yet respect and care to those around Him whether they were tax collectors, the woman who had had seven husbands, the adulterous woman, and the thief on the cross with Him etc. . . . He did not call them names or degrade them as some today do. As a Christian we are to model Christ not get into angry confrontations as some today seem to think is necessary. Disagreeing with a person’s life style or choices is not a license to disrespect or discriminate against them. They are human beings created in Gods image. We are to live lives that show forth Christ and there are quite a few out there that by their actions seem to forget that.

  13. This is beautifully written, heartbreaking, and completely understandable, given what you’ve been through. I’ve written a post on my personal blog responding to some of the things you’ve said, which you’re welcome to read or ignore as you see fit. Either way, I hope you find peace. http://www.karengoltz.com/?p=333

  14. I’m a former Christian and current non-believer. I too get the urge to pray sometimes. I’ve mostly replaced prayer with meditation, which I find more helpful as someone without a belief in god. The mindfulness and centering of meditation has really helped me with my post-traumatic stress disorder. I sometimes use Theravada Buddhist scriptures to help guide my meditation. You might consider reading about meditation as a possible help with your discomfort. For me, prayer was always about seeking comfort in something “bigger than myself” or asking for forgiveness. Meditation has helped me learn to trust myself.

  15. I appreciate you sharing… I’m a former Christian, and current non-believer…. (I’m also the ‘failed courtship dude’ whose comment you turned into a post a few months ago… http://bit.ly/WcsqWx)

    I’m not a “believer”… and I don’t feel like an atheist… I simply believe in my self… I feel free from it all, the religion I mean… and strangely, I’ve never felt more “spiritual”… I pray, I suppose, meditate would be a better word. I feel greatly satisfied in that area of my life.

    Now I feel more preoccupied with knowing whether or not my beliefs serve me, as opposed to being preoccupied with whether or not my beliefs are 100% correct… I mean, haven’t we all suffered enough from attending the “Church of the Right Answer?”

    One of the most fundamental beliefs that I’ve adopted since walking away from the Church that has been the most comforting to me is: that god made the universe, and everything in it, out of himself/herself/itself.

    What it means to me: were all made out of god’s “stuff”… god’s DNA, if you will…. which means that he’s not “out there” somewhere to be prayed “to”… like another person… but rather, through no choice of our own, we are him… part of him. We’re One… he’s no longer someone “out there” separate from me…

    So now, I get to just “be.”

    That’s it. Nothing to sacrifice or deny… (like your heart or your intuition.)…

    I have no basis for this new belief, of course. But I love how it makes me feel : empowered and ‘One’ with everyone and the Source of it all… and at peace. Like Kay in the comment above, this perspective as helped me to learn to trust myself…

    Trust your intuition, girl. The world needs you to be ‘more you’… not another cookie-cutter religious chick with fear-based beliefs that have you afraid of things that aren’t even there…

    Don’t throw your heart away. We need you to keep it, and let it flourish, so we can all benefit from it.

    Best wishes…

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