Wrestling with God: (Why am I still convinced God hates me?)

Screen Shot 2013-09-03 at 11.13.08 AMWhile 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.

photoI’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.

westboro_baptist_churchLet’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…)

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  • Emily Frugalsworth

    I am a former fundamentalist. I didn’t grow up in a Christian family, but I spent a good number of my formative young adult years as a fundie. After over ten years of not being at my old fundie church, I went to a wake held at the old church today. Yeesh. Glad I had a chance to pay my respects to the family because the person who passed was a great father, husband and overall person. The funny thing was, when I drove off, I thanked God that I was no longer a part of that circle of control and went straight to yoga. Thanks for your blog!

  • Emily Frugalsworth

    Tell me about it. Imagine being a single woman in that kind of a subculture and you are over 32. It can decimate the self esteem of the strongest and most successful woman.

  • HiHoSilver

    Perhaps once we discard the idea of hell – we’ll finally come to an understanding of how loving God really is. It is impossible to both believe God is a loving God, while hell exists in our theology.

  • Jen

    I fell like God stopped listening to me a long time ago. I don’t know what I did to make him turn his back on me. I am so lost.

  • I feel your pain. I struggle with this everyday. Every time I go to a calvinistic sermon each Sunday, a little bit more of me is convinced that God hates my guts and that i’m not one of his elect. I want nothing more than to be forgiven, but if God has destined me to eternal suffering just for being who I am, and isn’t bothered about forgiving me as I feel unable to meet his standards then I’d rather be annihilated… it just paints a picture of existence which seems so arbitrary and pointless.

  • jack

    Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. You read my mind & described me to the letter. I so desperately needed to be encouraged by this. Thanks, again.

  • Brittany Vaughn

    Evil, hateful, violent child molesters are awful, but please don’t imply that homosexuality is in the same category as those things. Hate and violence, especially towards children, is nowhere near the category of same-sex affection. Those first things are things that hurt others. I’m very sorry you had a hateful father, but please don’t lump nonviolent people in with the ones who are hate-filled and violent.

  • Nathan

    I loaded a “random number generator.” I say to god that if the number is 3, I will die. guess which number was next. 3. I said that was a test, but 6 will actually kill me. the next number. 6.

  • Vivian Tan

    Good day, sir. I live in Malaysia, am a baptised Catholic since I was still a baby, and I’m currently 18. I struggle with this, believing that God hates me, hates the mankind and all the living creatures. I have suicidal thoughts since I was 13, recently discovered that I may be suffering from bipolar disorder. For once I believed God would heal me someday, I just need to have faith. I prayed hard, until I figured out cutting and masturbating are far more effective than praying to save me from tears and fears. You see, I find it ironic that what’s sinful as defined by common Christian society is what’s saving me, though just for a short period. Can you tell me, if God loves mankind, why do we have to prove it to ourselves and convince others? If God loves me, why do I struggle hard to try to accept myself and believe that I’m loved by my creator? Shouldn’t I just be an atheist? Wouldn’t I be freed from the struggling thoughts? Thank you if you are reading.

  • Caiman Cotton

    Fundamentalism is farther from the Truth of the Lord than actual Understanding. It may be hard. It may be difficult. However, God loves us. He is not in the storm, but whispers in the peace that follows.

  • Caiman Cotton

    Now, I know that this may not be a good time, but the idea of Determinism is false. We have free will. Freely choose to follow Christ and works shall come after.

  • Caiman Cotton

    God doesn’t turn His back on anyone. He always is with us. He is in the whisper of the peace after the storm, not in the storm itself.

  • M85

    Hi, i’m quite interested in your faith journey and especially your leaving fundamentalism/conservative christianity because in many respects it’s quite similar to my own walk. I wanted to ask you a question: from what i’ve read you were already a believer before coming under a fundamentalist influence, do you think your “new” vision of the faith could actually be just a return to your first love when you first encountered Christ? Thanks and Peace.

  • goodlfe

    I feel you JT. Not divorced myself, just wish I were. Wish I’d never walked down an aisle in my life, except for my children – tho I fear they weren’t done any favors in being brought into this world into our so-called marriage. I feel that God has already judged me, for the wish itself, and my failures as both parent and spouse. Since marriages are made by the will of God, the will of God is the only thing that’s kept me here so far….living as a :”defeated Christian”..a state that cannot possibly honor God, and is an oxymoron, anyway. I wish I could bolster you. I’m at low ebb at the moment, but I want you to know you’re not alone. Your honest comment has raised a great fellow-feeling in me. We must take it one day at a time, and listen for His voice. That’s the best I can do for now. :)

  • goodlfe

    Read the above message & consider there are far, far worse things than being alone. How would you like to be live the rest of your life Feeling exactly as alone as you feel now, but living with someone who is a burden to you all your days? It is hell, to me. Also..consider, if you are willing: if you view so many women as mean and nasty, what kind of woman are You Attracting by being whatever kind of man it is that you are? I should have been considering that myself, prior to marriage. I should have learned to unshakably BE the person I wanted my spouse to be, THEN worried about whether I should marry.

  • denise

    Did you find her yet? I definitely understand how you feel.

  • denise

    I understand that you are trying to be helpful but everyone has their own pain to bare. I really don’t think the “People have it worse than you” speech works without empathy. Empathy goes a long way.

  • James the Apostate

    Thank you for the refreshing and thoughtful posts. I wrestle with the God-Thing on a daily basis.

    I thoroughly enjoyed reading your comments and experiences, and I can identify completely with your god (mis)perceptions evolving/changing. You are telling so much of my own “conversion” story with my new understandings of a more gentle, tender, loving, compassionate, forgiving and ENJOYABLE Almighty God of the Universe.

    As a recovering Independent Fundamental Baptist PK (after being shunned as an “abomination” at age 15 in 1977), beaten to the quotation of scriptures, and forced out of my home and faith community, I struggled my entire life with this existential fluffy-metaphysical being filled with human emotions like jealousy and rage, somewhere outside of me who was constantly struggling to “get inside of me”. Through prayer and fasting God was going to CHANGE ME and make everything right; of which I never deserved, of course. I was taught God was outside me, Today, I realize Love, Light, and Goodness were always within me, fighting like hell to come out.

    It took absolute desperation, and recovery from a life of drugs and alcohol to make me willing enough to attempt any sort of a relationship with a god of my new understandings. Basically, I had to unlearn every legalistic and elitist fundamental notion I thought I knew about God before I could DO anything different. Then, I had to look at everyone around me differently, too – more from an egalitarian perspective.

    Today, at 51, and merely from the context of my own experience, I understand the distracting, divisive, and defeating consequences of legalistic arguments from the elitist views of “sola scriptura” and verbal plenarism prevalent throughout many evangelical cults and fundamentalism as a whole. One might consider such is the effect of self-serving actions and fear-based desire to always be “right”. It is arrogant and foolish to even consider I am going to know or understand everything, or everything about God. Constantly arguing with scriptures to prove anything to everyone only shows how I think of me, and what I think of others; not what others, or even God might think of me.

    Better actions help to improve my thoughts of me. Although I relapse in my thinking from time to time, I am comfortable with not knowing, and not always being right; and today I struggle less with understanding God, and I rather like this new me.

    I admire your ability to question the common thoughts and teachings of fundamentalist beliefs. For some, to question religious authorities is to question scriptures; to question the source of doctrines and dogma is to question God himself. Heaven forbid we ever “wrestle with God”!

    From my humble perspective and perception, I believe God doesn’t expect us to be right in our thinking all the time. If we were, we would never have an opportunity to grow in humility or grace. Perhaps, God merely desires that we try to show it a little more in our actions towards others.

    In your articles, I hear the compassion you are experiencing. Thank you for sharing your insights from what you now see around you.

    I look forward to your future thoughts and posts.

  • James the Apostate

    Great thoughts, Lynn! Recovering Fundie here, too. Thank you for sharing the refuge from fundamentalism perspective. Today, I identify more Deist/Universalist than atheist, with episodic militant “agnostic” outbursts because I find certain contentment and freedom in “not knowing”, while quick to point out the limited understandings of others, too. Like you, I also easily subscribe to “God is Love” (and all Good things), far surpassing our limited and isolated experiences and understanding of such human emotions.

    I used to confuse Love with a “dream-like-warm-fuzzy-feeling-I-got-when-somebody-was-doing-something-wonderful-TO-me”. Today, I realize Love is a verb … an action … something we DO. Simply, “Love” is a conscious choice to anonymously surrender my will (“my will” = “my thoughts”/”my desires”) for another’s, without conditions or expectations – free and with no strings attached.

    After abandoning my fundamentalist beliefs and traditions, through a painful process and experience of identifying and surrendering so many deep, learned, and common (mis)understandings of God, suddenly, the “God-Thing” became so much bigger.

  • Lynn

    Vivian I am just reading your comment and hoping you see this, two months after the fact.

    Just wanted to say my heart is going out to you. I have struggled with suicidal thoughts many times in life. I was raised in a conservative / fundamentalist church too, and I do believe my struggle for psychological health and wholeness is related to that upbringing.

    Please know there is nothing wrong with you; you are worthy of love and you ARE lovable just by virtue of being you. There is no omnipotent hateful being you have to appease–that god is pure fiction, created by tribal societies many ages ago.

    I don’t pray but I am thinking of you tonight and hoping you feel yourself wrapped in love and light and freedom.

  • Gordo N Culp

    Gods love is shown through blessings. O belive in god but hes culturally biased, not to judgement entirely, but surely has set up lives, paths and personalities that would bmake it easier to be saved, tht is to hve faith. Ben corey is loved by god, thats why hes preaching love. But in the end times those who are loved are taking advantage nd steaing from god, by selling books bout the gospel. God says he wish he loved who he didnt. Not everone experiences the availabiity of love. There is much indefference betweeen the cultivted and the not. My prob is jealousy because im simply a lesser kind then gods fav. Women dont find me attrctive an i dont hve a good job. Which is the most. Commonly saught thin from most. But we set the standard. Of hpiness to those who were cultivted. Which isnt fair everyone wants to evolve find the best wife and job. For my kids, be fruitful and multiply. People live in wayyy differnt realities to which one ould interpret god loves him and. God hates him. Its up to the blesssed to stop worshipping their mammon and spread a gospel applicble to all. If 5 guys are dying regardless of beliefs , 1 israelite, 2 africans and a chinese baby. And only one ife can be saved. Its the israelite. Thats my dilema living not so blessed in super blessed country. It applies to jobs, reltionships ect. Its suply and demnd. Natural selection if yu will. The best look for the best to reproduce better. But why ould they go backwards and pick someone lower than their potential when they were born better than the other person is currently?

  • Gordo N Culp

    Your not god to say whonheturns his back on. Hell do it to who hewants

  • Gordo N Culp

    My neighbiur has a family and career. Im broke and single what about building my life? One cant do both. Especially in these days when time cntrols you

  • Caiman Cotton

    But if we listen to His everlasting Word, then this fact is clear. While we’ve been given responsibility of our own, leading to certain mistakes we could avoid, these are our own mistakes. Your fellow human is to blame, not God. God Himself, in Jesus Christ, suffered greatly.