Have you ever heard the phrase “sometimes God closes a door”? It was a common phrase in my evangelical upbringing. If you, say, were applying for a job and then didn’t get it, well, you would say that God “closed that door.” And this was good, of course, because by closing a door God was guiding you to something better for you.
See, growing up as an evangelical Christian meant growing up believing that God was intimately involved in our lives in very real ways. We believed God was present, very present, and that he actually intervened in our lives on a daily basis.
If you were closing on a house and then it suddenly fell through, well, God “closed that door.” If you wanted to go to the store and then your car broke down, well, God clearly wanted you to stay home. If you got lost on the way to a meeting, God must not have wanted you to be at that meeting. And on and on and on.
In many ways this was very comforting. After all, God was in control. God was taking care of us, watching out for us, and when something looked like it was going wrong we knew that it was actually for the best, because God was directing our lives. If you got fired, well, that’s God’s plan. If you signed up for something too late and didn’t get in, well, God closed that door.
I hadn’t even even thought of the problem with this until I was conversing with a young woman in a Quiverfull home and asked her about college. She told me that if her parents allowed her to go to college, then she wanted to go, but if they said no, well, then that would be God “closing the door.” In other words, she chose to interpret parental opposition as God’s message to her that she should not go to college.
“Libby! I’m a Christian!” was her response.
This idea that God opens and closes doors may be comforting, but it can also be debilitating. It can stop people from trying, stop them from fighting, stop them from stepping out and creating their own destinies.
When I concluded that there was no God, my entire perspective changed and I realized that I had to get myself where I wanted to be myself. If I wanted to go to grad school, nothing but good grades and a good cover letter and recommendations would get me there. And if I failed, well, that was life, not God trying to tell me something. And personally? I like that. I like that I no longer have to spend time guessing at God’s will, trying to read the events around me as “signs” regarding what God wants me to do. I like that my choices are mine, my successes are mine, and my failures are mine.
And best of all, I like that I can open my own doors.