There is a danger in sharing your struggles with a Christian, and I should have seen it coming. But at the close of the conversation, when she asked to pray for me, with me, I felt the panic of paralysis in a busy intersection. I had no choice. So I choked out a “sure” and she obliviously launched into her one-way conversation with my ex.
I say “ex” because it is the perfect explanation for how I feel about God. Christians portray the relationship with Christ and the church as a husband/wife relationship. You promise to love Him your whole life, to follow Him and trust Him. You are given a book that tells you all about Him, a context in which you understand Him. In return, He cares for you, listens to your struggles and troubles, helps you in “mysterious ways.” (A quote, not a verse, FYI). But sometimes spouses disappoint and fail to live up to their side of the bargain.
People prescribe one of two things when you struggle with your faith, either try harder, or don’t try at all. The first method looks something like this, “Read your Bible, pray. Set aside a time of devotion in the day. Attend church regularly. Connect with Christians.” The second method is much like the first, but is actually a little harder. “Don’t try,” consists of not being a perfectionist with the exact time you pray and read your Bible, not getting worked up if you skip a day, or go on a walk instead of going to church. The second method supposes God will do the work and show up.
God was a terrible husband to me. I never knew when He was coming home. Sometimes He answered my calls, sometimes He ignored me for months. Sometimes He allowed awful things to happen to myself and others. He took my money and made me think I was “bad” if I didn’t give it up cheerfully. I tried to make it work for 14 years. Sure, I cheated on Him a few times in those years. But who could blame me when He was never there? He was supposed to “change my life,” “transform me,” and “make me a new person.” Oh but apparently, He also loved me just the way I was. He was supposed to comfort me and bring me peace. He was supposed to be my security.
Back to the prayer. When someone tries to beseech my ex-love for me on my behalf, when He broke my heart so completely in two, I could respond in no other way but cry. Tears rolled down my cheeks and I was so thankful the woman praying could not see me. She did not know I held the phone away from my face because it was too painful to even hear her talk to Him about me.
I haven’t stopped totally believing in God, just God in a Christian context. I don’t know if I’m talking to a benevolent being or one that is indifferent. I don’t know if my prayers are wasted or important. I imagine they are only as powerful as I believe them to be.
I have found myself needing to justify what brought me to this place. But I won’t anymore. How hard I tried to make this relationship work is no one’s business but mine. I just hope no one tries to convince me to go back to Him. And definitely don’t make me talk to Him. I’m just not ready.