While I broke with fundamentalist religion somewhere around 2007, I still struggle.
As any therapist will tell you, old mental habits take a long time to break.
I’ve been reflecting on this lately during some sleepless hours, and have come to accept something: I still believe that God hates me.
I don’t know why. Intellectually, I reject the notion- but I think emotionally I’ve never fully been freed from it.
I’ve always seen Jesus as being good, loving and accepting… but God? My inner concept of God still sees him as an all-powerful being that is infinite at everything- including being pissed off.
I get that Jesus and God are harmoniously alike, but it sure doesn’t seem that way. Even looking at the cross under old paradigms of thinking, I still see a Jesus who is dying to protect me from his angry dad- letting dad beat him mercilessly so that I can run out of the room to safety.
I’m realizing that this paradigm of thinking doesn’t work for me anymore, and that it’s internal blasphemy against a loving God. It’s caused me to actually want to run from God, because who wants to run towards someone who hates you with every fiber of their being?
What’s even worse, it causes me to see every negative thing that happens in life as being from God- instead of the good things.
I remember when we first realized we were losing our daughter– the situation quickly disintegrated, and we knew that loss was probably inevitable.
Nevermind the fact that we were actually doing what God calls “pure religion” (caring for widows and orphans), the most begging thought that plagued us was: Have we done something to make God angry with us?
Did I not try hard enough?
Did I have a lustful thought that caused God to decide to punish me with the loss of a child?
Did I… did I… did I….
It’s so effed up. This whole line of thinking… there’s no other way to describe it than…
It’s broken thinking.
Yet, it’s broken thinking that most days, my heart still can’t over come. I lay awake at 4:00 am frequently wrestling with this, because I feel like a horrible hypocrite.
Here I am, trying to be a voice to the masses- telling them that God is way better than they ever imagined… that he looks like Jesus, the nonviolent lover of enemies… that he isn’t mad at you, but instead has mad love for you…
But I don’t always feel this way in my own life. I still too often feel as if God hates me, and when something bad happens in life, I immediately assume that he’s punishing me.
I want to repent of this broken thinking.
When it comes to the God who hates me, I want to be an atheist.
I’ve heard folks like Ray Comfort say the problem is that not enough people are scared of God. I’ve listened to Mark Driscoll’s (if we were superheroes, he’d be my arch nemesis) sermon “God Hates You” (which I think was recorded at Westboro), and my fair share of hell fire preaching. And, I’ve come to the conclusion that the problem isn’t that people don’t fear God anymore.
The problem is that that too many do.
Too many people have been painted a picture of God that looks more like a jealous boyfriend in a drunken rage than the peaceful, inclusive Rabi who said “if you’re tired and burnt out, come hang with me- because my way is light and not burdensome”.
As a result, our concept of God internalizes into all sorts of other broken thinking, and leads us to see everything bad that happens in life as being a divine punishment from God.
Over time, we actually start to believe that God hates us. The concept gets rooted so deep, that even when we mentally reject it, our “emotional memory” still uses it as a go-to hermeneutic for understanding life events.
I’ve been in relationships before where I couldn’t do anything right and was chronically reminded of my own shortcomings. Unfortunately, these situations don’t often cause us to become better- instead, we eventually start to believe that we’re just as bad as other people think we are.
I can’t have this kind of relationship with God anymore.
I hope that you can’t either.
Let’s repent together, and stop thinking that God hates us.
Cause honestly, I don’t need anymore enemies (you should see my in-box).
I need friends.
Friends who will stick it out with me, no matter what. Friends who will receive me and just love me- for who I am, and nothing more.
Let’s remind ourselves so often that we are fully and completely loved, that the emotional memory eventually switches from hate to love.
I’m realizing that will take time, but I’m committed to the process… because I can’t bear another moment alone in a room with me and this angry god who hates everything about me.
Thankfully, I’m half way there- because my mind no longer believes in this god.
My mind acknowledges that the real God, looks exactly like Jesus- and that his final words were words of forgiveness… not rejection.
Instead of the god who hates me, I’m trying to embrace the God who would like to have a beer with me sometime.
Let’s keep pressing on together. I know so many of you wrestle with this same thing- I hear it in your letters to me on a daily basis, and I’m committed to walking this journey with you.
As together, we trade anger for an embrace of the divine.
We trade hate for love,
and acceptance instead of rejection.
The god who hates us?
Let’s be a circle of friends who quit believing in him, together.
(take it away, Edie…)