There were very few times that I approached a pastor for help directly, I didn’t think that they would have time to focus on my issues in depth, they were too special and important and I was nothing. Nothing. Despite feeling like I wasn’t worth the trouble, I approached one once for help when I was really desperate. That pastor just reinforced the feelings I had about myself by not responding to my email for a time and not giving me the support I wanted from him.
I had been told that I was worthless, I had been told I was nothing, I was told to go to God for help and to go to those that were in tune with him. That is what I did. Instead of dealing with the thoughts and figuring out what I thought, I went to a pastor and he was a total disappointment, he had no godly advice, no explanations for the things I was questionning and quite possibly helped me take the road to unbelief.
Being ignored by a pastor and not getting the answers that I felt I needed to calm the distress I was experiencing, the distressful doubts that were torturing me constantly, the distressful flashes of fear, the distressful moments where I was engulfed in a panic about death, by not getting an answer from him it confirmed that I was not worth the answers. Good ole God didn’t want to give me those secrets. The secrets that would calm my mind. Instead God allowed me to fester in the pain by not prompting his servant, the pastor, to email a young woman who needed answers.
I was in so much pain. Pain that I can only now articulate. It was a pain that I have blanked out now it was so horrific. My mind felt like it was folding in on itself. I was plagued by panic, plagued by regrets and plagued by fear of death. To blank it out I was constantly busying my mind with more than one thing to focus on like watching TV and knitting at the same time, by concentrating on two things at once I managed to momentarily drown out the noise in my head. The panic. The fear. The flashes felt crippling, like someone was dragging barbed wire through my head. I felt like my world was falling apart. Like I was losing my mind. Who I thought I was, was being torn apart. I thought I believed in God. I thought I believed in heaven. But now I didn’t know and it was tearing me apart. I felt incapacitated at times with the thoughts. The thoughts that questioned my existence. That tore me up.
It was so painful that I am finding myself feeling like that now. As I relive it.
I thought that if the pastor could answer some simple questions, that it would make the thoughts go away. It would make the thoughts go quiet. This is what I asked him, and this is copied from the email:
10th April 2010
Hope you are well, this is Ruth and I have been to your church a couple of times, we have not met yet. I do consider myself to be a christian but I am finding some basic concepts of Christianity difficult to explain to non believers.
If you have the time I would really appreciate it if you would answer some of my questions I’m struggling to answer?
These were questions that I was recently asked:
Who decided what went into the Bible?
How do we know that what went into the Bible was divine revelation? Many parts of the Bible were written at different times by different people so how can one be sure that it is from God?
Why is the old testament still in the Bible if the new testament takes precedence (Jesus contradicted so many of the teachings in the old testament and many teachings from the old testament became obsolete when Jesus came and died for our sins)?
If both testaments are from God, how can we say that the new testament is more important than the other?
Why do so many pastors use the word Trinity when it is not mentioned in the Bible (as far as I know)?
If Jesus was God on earth, why did he pray to God if he was God?
How can God the father, God the son and God the holy spirit all be the same thing?
If Jesus was Gods’ son should we therefore only pray to God and only praise God?
I understand if you are very busy and do not have the time to answer all the questions, if you don’t have much time can you just answer the last four questions? The reason that I am emailing instead of speaking to you on Sunday is that I don’t want to forget the answers after I’ve spoken to you.Thank you
As you can see, these are pretty standard questions that many people who start doubting come up with. Surely these are simple to respond to?! But no. The pastor sent me a holding response to say that he would try to answer them next week, when he could give them extra time and some thought. ER I’M SORRY… WHAT ? He needed some time to think it over… is he not a pastor who leads a church? Should he not know how to answer these questions? How is this difficult for someone like him?
I couldn’t understand it.
He was meant to be godly and in communication with the all mighty but he couldn’t respond to these? I was irritated. But now I understand that he is a human animal just like me, relying on his own knowledge and most likely dealing with the same doubts.
He never responded. So I emailed again in October 2010.
Hope you are well. I hope you would not mind answering some questions for me? To be honest, I was doing ok about God stuff before Dad died and now I occasionally get really panicked about God and if he exists. I really want him to exist but I am struggling at the moment.
I really want him to exist because that is the only way I will get to see my Dad again. But what if we are wrong? What if there is nothing after death and it is just like we are sleeping but we don’t realise we will never wake up. I know it involves faith but I am finding it really hard.
I am quite scared and sometimes I am overwhelmed by these kinds of thoughts, and the only way I can block them out is by planning an English class or doing something related to my job here in France.
The main thing that I am struggling with is that if God made us then where did God come from? Surely something else had to make God. I’m just really confused. I want it to be true, I want my Dad to be right.
I’m sorry for rambling on at you, I was not sure who to ask, I don’t want to upset my family.
I understand you are busy, so if you can’t respond soon that would be fine.
Hope you are doing well.
I was crying when I wrote that email. I was sitting at a tiny little desk in my dark room in France, staring at my screen through water logged eyes. I needed something magical. I needed answers to make everything alright. I reached out in my pain.
Looking at this email now, I find it interesting that it starts and ends with the same phrase, the same phrase that highlights that not only suggests that we are all the same, we are mortal and prone to sickness whether we believe or not. But also, by starting and ending with the same phrase, symbolises how I would not get any answers from him. I would just be brought full circle back to where I was. On my own with my doubts.
I feel unkind to share his response without asking him, so I won’t. Instead I will summarise his useless words. His words that left me feeling completely deflated. He didn’t see how important I needed explanations. Instead he told me about how Jesus helps us and how an intimate* relationship with Jesus is so important, how getting to know Jesus is so wonderful, but for someone who is unhappy and feeling far from Jesus that was like a giant bitchslap in the face.
He told me he had doubts too. Even a pastor feels panic and that made me panic. But mainly what he was saying seemed limp and sounded like a lot of smoke and mirrors, gibberish that was meant to avoid addressing the important questions I had asked. I found watching youtube videos of Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens far more helpful than his email. I had reached out to God for the last time, by contacting a Pastor I was allowing myself to be influenced by God but when the Pastor didn’t respond for months, the door began to close on my old life, my old self. I found that I couldn’t get help from others, his answer was unsatisfactory and deflating.
It only added to my disappointment with christianity. It only added to my doubts and those doubts, even though they were painful, helped me on my way to being free from the pain.
*Using the term intimate relationship creeps me out now, I find it weird to use, hence the italics. it just seems sexualised and Jesus / God was meant to be like a father, so referring to the relationship in this way gave it this strange sexy feel.