Skip to main content

A Relationship With God – Agony Or Bliss?

By Rebecca Scharpf ~

I was always told that a relationship with God was the most amazing thing in the world. My mother’s face glowed as she described how the God of the universe personally spoke to her or showed her a vision. My dad smiled as he told me he felt God guiding his direction in life. My friend gushed about how she’d felt God’s physical arms around her. I wanted all of that for myself, and I was promised I could have it—all Christians could experience God’s direction and presence, and I wasn’t exempt.

At least, that’s what I’d been told. I spent most of my childhood and teenage years searching desperately for any scrap of God’s presence. I prayed, sang worship songs, even (in desperation) flipped the Bible and jabbed my finger down on a random verse (usually in the midst of a murder scene, which proved amusing but unhelpful). I spoke to my parents, learned to speak in tongues, and even got down on my knees and begged.

I remember being around nine years old and pacing my room, tears running down my cheeks as I asked God why he didn’t love me enough to be with me. “Have I done something wrong? If so, I don’t know what it is, and I need you to show me.” He never did, which was, as you can imagine, quite troubling for my young self. It was hard reading Bible verses about how much God loved little children and then looking up at the heavens and wondering why God didn’t love me. I was sure I had done something wrong—something worse than most other humans—and I had no idea how to fix it. Worse, the God of the universe wasn’t going to tell me.

I kept struggling, seeing no other options. I attended a special meeting with my mom, one where ladies got together to talk about Jesus and pray in tongues. At the end of the meeting, some of the women received a “word from the Lord” and called up various audience members to pass that word on and pray for them. I went in the hope that God had a word for me. My mom was selected several times. I was never called up, even though my hands were shaking and my heart beating fast as I leaned forward, longing, longing . . .

My depression worsened as my self-hatred and my frustration grew, and I wonder how much my religion contributed to my lying in the back of an ambulance on the way to the hospital because I was no longer sure I wanted to live. Perhaps you can understand why I developed severe depression and a firm sense of self-loathing, even as a child. There were other events involved, but I believe my religion played a firm role in messing with my mind and emotions. There were even times I was convinced I’d heard from God, and those were the times that made me feel all warm and fuzzy and kept me hoping I was on the right path. In hindsight, most of those moments were either coincidence, commonsense, or mind-over-matter.

For instance, one day I was struggling to find my mom the perfect Christmas gift. I tried everywhere, and then I felt as if I should check out this one particular store. I had such a good feeling, I went, and lo-and-behold, I found my mom a present! But was that God? Or was that common sense? Did I know subconsciously that this store had items my mom would like? Or was it a coincidence? Did this store just happen to have the right items, and because it did, did I attribute the solution to God? Or was it mind-over-matter? Did I believe it was God and therefore was I more likely and in a better mood to find something in that store? It’s hard to say which it was, but I doubt it was God.

When I was a kid, I used to imagine Jesus was with me, sitting on the edge of my bed or holding me in his arms. I was so desperate to be loved unconditionally. It’s a little funny in hindsight, but I became so wrapped in these fantasies, even my charismatic parents grew alarmed! They told me these fantasies might be dangerous, but that just made me more confused. I was told to have a relationship with God, but when I found one (which, in hindsight, was no more than an emotionally involved game of pretend), it was too dangerous and unacceptable, so I had to try again.

I can’t say how much damage this did to me as a child, and I feel sorry for any kids not given the option to believe what they see fit. For myself, it was believe God, or go to Hell. Of course I chose God, even though I knew I didn’t love him—even though I realized later, after many years of experience, that I couldn’t force myself to love him. I knew, too, that for whatever reason, he didn’t love me. I was doing something wrong—something apparently so terrible, the God of Love didn’t want to be close to me. And that’s pretty hard to swallow when you’re nine years old.

I tried talking to my parents about it, but my mom’s response was, “Well, you don’t trust God enough.” Which helped my self-esteem immensely. Or she’d say, after I described how hard I’d tried to get God to love me, “You shouldn’t have to try anything.” That just left me more confused than ever. If I didn’t try anything, God didn’t come. If I did try, he still didn’t come. I felt no powerful arms around me, no sweet whisper in my ear, no guiding nudge in the Bible verses I read.

My depression worsened as my self-hatred and my frustration grew, and I wonder how much my religion contributed to my lying in the back of an ambulance on the way to the hospital because I was no longer sure I wanted to live. I’m upset my religion caused me such deep agony and left such gnarly scars. Satan is called the Father of Lies, but for a while, I liked him more than I did God. After all, at least with Satan, you knew what to expect. I found out a couple of years ago that God himself is (as best as I can judge) a lie, and one more powerful than any Satan could have concocted. It makes me angry realizing I could have lost my life to it. Thank goodness I walked away. Since leaving religion, I’ve regained my self-esteem, my dignity, and that little hole (the supposedly God-shaped one) in my heart is steadily filling in day by day.

I remember having one last conversation with God when I began to leave Christianity. I said, “If you’re really out there and want a relationship with me, let me know.”

He hasn’t yet, and at this point, I hope he never does. I’d often thought that if God were a boyfriend, I’d have left him long ago, and what’s the point of pleading for love from someone who doesn’t want to give it? Or from someone who doesn’t even exist . . .

I chose to leave agony behind, and I don’t even feel tempted to look back. I have finally found bliss.


Popular posts from this blog

So Just How Dumb Were Jesus’ Disciples? The Resurrection, Part VII.

By Robert Conner ~ T he first mention of Jesus’ resurrection comes from a letter written by Paul of Tarsus. Paul appears to have had no interest whatsoever in the “historical” Jesus: “even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, we know him so no longer.” ( 2 Corinthians 5:16 ) Paul’s surviving letters never once mention any of Jesus’ many exorcisms and healings, the raising of Lazarus, or Jesus’ virgin birth, and barely allude to Jesus’ teaching. For Paul, Jesus only gets interesting after he’s dead, but even here Paul’s attention to detail is sketchy at best. For instance, Paul says Jesus “was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures” ( 1 Corinthians 15:4 ), but there are no scriptures that foretell the Jewish Messiah would at long last appear only to die at the hands of Gentiles, much less that the Messiah would then be raised from the dead after three days. After his miraculous conversion on the road to Damascus—an event Paul never mentions in his lette

Are You an Atheist Success Story?

By Avangelism Project ~ F acts don’t spread. Stories do. It’s how (good) marketing works, it’s how elections (unfortunately) are won and lost, and it’s how (all) religion spreads. Proselytization isn’t accomplished with better arguments. It’s accomplished with better stories and it’s time we atheists catch up. It’s not like atheists don’t love a good story. Head over to the atheist reddit and take a look if you don’t believe me. We’re all over stories painting religion in a bad light. Nothing wrong with that, but we ignore the value of a story or a testimonial when we’re dealing with Christians. We can’t be so proud to argue the semantics of whether atheism is a belief or deconversion is actually proselytization. When we become more interested in defining our terms than in affecting people, we’ve relegated ourselves to irrelevance preferring to be smug in our minority, but semantically correct, nonbelief. Results Determine Reality The thing is when we opt to bury our


By David Andrew Dugle ~   S ettle down now children, here's the story from the Book of David called The Parable of the Bent Cross. In the land Southeast of Eden –  Eden, Minnesota that is – between two rivers called the Big Miami and the Little Miami, in the name of Saint Gertrude there was once built a church. Here next to it was also built a fine parochial school. The congregation thrived and after a multitude of years, a new, bigger church was erected, well made with clean straight lines and a high steeple topped with a tall, thin cross of gold. The faithful felt proud, but now very low was their money. Their Sunday offerings and school fees did not suffice. Anon, they decided to raise money in an unclean way. One fine summer day the faithful erected tents in the chariot lot between the two buildings. In the tents they set up all manner of games – ring toss, bingo, little mechanical racing horses and roulette wheels – then all who lived in the land between the two rivers we

Christian TV presenter reads out Star Wars plot as story of salvation

An email prankster tricked the host of a Christian TV show into reading out the plots of The Fresh Prince of Bel Air and Star Wars in the belief they were stories of personal salvation. The unsuspecting host read out most of the opening rap to The Fresh Prince, a 1990s US sitcom starring Will Smith , apparently unaware that it was not a genuine testimony of faith. The prankster had slightly adapted the lyrics but the references to a misspent youth playing basketball in West Philadelphia would have been instantly familiar to most viewers. The lines read out by the DJ included: "One day a couple of guys who were up to no good starting making trouble in my living area. I ended up getting into a fight, which terrified my mother." The presenter on Genesis TV , a British Christian channel, eventually realised that he was being pranked and cut the story short – only to move on to another spoof email based on the plot of the Star Wars films. It began: &quo

On Living Virtuously

By Webmdave ~  A s a Christian, living virtuously meant living in a manner that pleased God. Pleasing god (or living virtuously) was explained as: Praying for forgiveness for sins  Accepting Christ as Savior  Frequently reading the Bible  Memorizing Bible verses Being baptized (subject to church rules)  Attending church services  Partaking of the Lord’s Supper  Tithing  Resisting temptations to lie, steal, smoke, drink, party, have lustful thoughts, have sex (outside of marriage) masturbate, etc.  Boldly sharing the Gospel of Salvation with unbelievers The list of virtuous values and expectations grew over time. Once the initial foundational values were safely under the belt, “more virtues'' were introduced. Newer introductions included (among others) harsh condemnation of “worldly” music, homosexuality and abortion Eventually the list of values grew ponderous, and these ideals were not just personal for us Christians. These virtues were used to condemn and disrespect fro

I can fix ignorance; I can't fix stupid!

By Bob O ~ I 'm an atheist and a 52-year veteran of public education. I need not tell anyone the problems associated with having to "duck" the "Which church do you belong to?" with my students and their parents. Once told by a parent that they would rather have a queer for their sons' teacher than an atheist! Spent HOURS going to the restroom right when prayers were performed: before assemblies, sports banquets, "Christmas Programs", awards assemblies, etc... Told everyone that I had a bladder problem. And "yes" it was a copout to many of you, but the old adage (yes, it's religious) accept what you can't change, change that which you can and accept the strength to know the difference! No need arguing that which you will never change. Enough of that. What I'd like to impart is my simple family chemistry. My wife is a Baptist - raised in a Baptist Orphanage (whole stories there) and is a believer. She did not know my religi