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Dear Jesus

By Sara ~

Dear Jesus,

I know our relationship ended about a year ago, but lately I find myself thinking a lot about you. The breathing room this year has given me has been amazing, let me tell you! Now, I can let my mind soar free without having to ask your permission—or beg your forgiveness if my thoughts were not holy enough for your divine tastes.

Postcard - Sexy Woman writing a letter
Postcard - Sexy Woman writing a letter (Photo credit: Rev. Xanatos Satanicos Bombasticos (ClintJCL))
In recent weeks, I’ve been thinking about our anniversary—the anniversary of our relationship’s demise, that is. It seems like it’s some kind of cosmic joke that this particular date nestles itself within that buffer week between Christmas and New Year’s. I got to break up with you on your internationally-recognized birthday. Then I got to start my new life without you on the celebration of new beginnings. At the realization of this most excellent irony, I would ordinarily exclaim your Father’s name in vain if I were still on speaking terms with Him.

I will not trivialize our relationship, however, because you had a profound impact on me. I mean, after hearing so much about you during my childhood and then committing my life to you in 2001, you were quite literally the center of my little Christian world.

When I had no friends, you assured me that you were the best friend anyone could have. When I felt the weight of my teenage angst bearing down on me, when my susceptibility to depression teetered dangerously at the edge of despair, you were there for me. You told me if I only held on to the hope of your eternal kingdom, none of this would matter.

You dangled heaven in front of my eyes, and I chased it; hand-in-hand with you, I ran. And though I tried not to think of it, hell was always licking at my heels. You knew that, didn’t you?

I was all a part of your plan, after all. Adam, Eve, sin, and salvation. You made up the rules.

You made me feel grateful that you were my safety net, the only thing keeping me from spiraling into the terrifying oblivion of hell. You created a reality that would doom the vast majority of mankind, your own children.

Now, I don’t mean to sound self-righteous before you, but I must interject with a certain humble opinion. Personally, if I knew that many of my hypothetical children would end up dying in the most horrifying methods imaginable, I would completely refrain from having children, even if their brutal deaths were the result of their own free will. According to my mortal judgment, this would be the most merciful decision.

However, you essentially created a trap. You, King of Kings and Lord of Lords, set up the rules of salvation like a sadistic scheming villain, wringing his hands and laughing ominously at the creatures placed at his mercy. And then, you demanded your creatures’ love and undying devotion if they wish to avoid an eternity in the flames.

It didn’t have to be this way. You, Oh Omnipotent Being, could have created a different reality. You didn’t have to plant the tree; you didn’t have to tempt your first offspring to disobedience. But you did, and you were fully aware of the consequences. At the very least, you could have prevented sin from becoming genetically heritable. But you didn’t.

Considering how much you meant to me, it seems needless to mention that our breakup shattered me to the core. The fractures in my worldview cracked into insurmountable chasms before my eyes. I watched helplessly as confusion and terror struck me in waves of seismic proportions.

As an all-powerful deity, you must have already known that our relationship was slowly descending into an eventual doom ever since my freshman year of college.

Oh sure, I’d had my doubts about your integrity as a deity and as relationship material before. But those doubts came in short, unpredictable bursts, like hiccups, that quickly disintegrated without a trace.

But when the "logic" of creationist websites was not longer an adequate stand-in for the cold facts of science, those hiccups grew into great, unyielding spasms. I could not free myself. My evolution studies just made so much sense. It sickened me to admit it, even to myself.

Of course, I turned to you; this was my first instinct. But as much as I begged and pleaded with you to make this make sense, you became rather aloof. Instead of offering a reasonable explanation, you demanded my blind acceptance of your Word.

I tried and tried to mend our relationship. I knew that if I broke up with you, I would be destined to an eternity in the lake of fire. But the thing is, I didn’t want to break up with you because of the many vices that can tempt man away from his savior. I didn’t walk away because I loved to sin. I didn’t walk away because I was attached to money or material goods. I didn’t do it to spite you. My rejection of you is intellectual. And while evolution sparked my search for the truth, I found many other topics that I took issue with. I simply could not trust the integrity of your Word. When I discussed its believability with fellow Christians, I was consistently advised to put aside my intellect and make a leap of faith into your protective arms. This I simply could not do. Even when I prayed to you, I could not convince myself of the truth of your Word. After all, if Adam and Eve were demonstrably non-existent, then how can I accept the salvation your relationship offers, when it is based on an Original Sin that did not exist?

Do I really deserve to roast eternally for such thoughts? To be thrown into the same pit of punishment as Satan, who apparently rejected you based on his pride and greed? Have I committed the unforgivable sin of thinking?

As our relationship waned, I descended into a state of constant internal terror. I was terrorized with the thought of hell. But even worse than this hypothetical hell, was the certainty of losing my purpose in life and even my understanding of my own humanity.

In a desperate attempt to salvage what was left of our relationship, I attended a Christian conference around Christmas time last year with an evangelical student organization. The attendees at the conference, students and leaders alike, were True Believers. They trusted you completely, and felt your presence tangibly. If I were to heal our dysfunctional relationship, this was the place to do it.

To my disappointment, I discovered that the basis behind their zeal for you was a vast, complicated web of emotional and psychological rationalizations. They did not require intellectual answers because their emotions shaped the platform of their belief, though they would never admit this.

I was also equally shocked and horrified to witness the emotional manipulation lacing every sermon and every seminar, like poison. And the students, two-thousand of them, guzzled it up like water.

The first person to hear me deny you with the proclamation “I am an Atheist” was an old pastor at the conference. He will never know what a pivotal role he played in our breakup. He was the last straw. He tried to answer my questions regarding creation with the same false, pseudo-scientific arguments that I had heard over and over.

As soon as I said, “I am an Atheist,” something inside me broke. Some barrier. Saying something out loud somehow makes it more real. That sentence felt so alien to my tongue, though I had shamefully admitted it to myself in thought.

It was surprisingly easy to duplicate this confession to my best friend who accompanied me to the conference. But even though it was easy to deny you out loud, it was very difficult to let go of you entirely.

How could I come to terms with my insignificant existence? For without a god, our species is nothing more than a microscopic blip lost in a vast, eternal space. This was a terrifying thought to me, one that caused me to tumble full-force into depression.

Who am I? Why am I even alive? What does my existence amount to in the absence of an objective deity? These philosophical inquiries haunted my every waking moment.

I have since come to terms with my own insignificance and have learned to see freedom and beauty in light of this perspective.

A year later, it is you who continues to haunt my thoughts, jabbing me with what-ifs and inflicting my imagination with creative images of hell.

You need not expend your energy on me, however, as you seem to have plenty of devoted followers, each of whom professes a unique relationship with you. You have your hands full with all of them.

I, on the other hand, will make do with trading the comforting illusion of a divine relationship for the steely, unapologetic truth.

“And the Truth shall set you free”

a lone apostate