When I was 15 years old, my parents and I went to a Christian family camp for a week. While we were there, the family running the camp found out that I can sing and they had me perform some songs with their teenage boys who led the music. After one of the performances, a man came up to me and my parents and told us that he keeps a journal – that he feels like God speaks through him sometimes and he writes down what he hears/feels. When I was singing, he got the feeling and started writing to me:
Amazing, right? I thought so at the time and asked for a copy. Even more amazing was this stranger knowing, seeing that I was hiding. Some people really do see past the masks, past the sad eyes pretending to be happy. I was in denial at the time though – I thought I felt happy – but the darkness of my childhood was brewing underneath.
I kept this letter and hadn’t seen it again until this past weekend when I found it looking through old boxes in our garage. Reading it again choked me up. It took me back to the positive, hopeful girl I once was. It took me back to the Christ-loving person I once was. I was 15 then and by 17 I was teaching Jr. High Sunday School and summer vacation bible school. I was doing solo concerts at my church and churches all over our county. I was breaking free and going forth, just like the letter had said. I was starting to live my dream! But then…
Then I got pregnant and started dealing with the incest of my childhood, I had problems being a mother, then the family fell apart and all the estrangements happened, everyone seemed to be protecting my abusers instead of me – and then one day, I realized I no longer believed in God, at least not the kind and loving one I was brought up believing in. It didn’t happen overnight – I confessed my anger and confusion to God many times over, begging for help, for relief, asking what I did so wrong to deserve my fate, asking for a sign that he was there. Nothing ever came, just more turmoil and more grief, having those I loved most ripped away from me one at a time. There couldn’t be a God – not one who allows everything that happened to me, especially when all I ever did was give of myself to everyone. I achieved the letter above only to be slammed down and smashed against the ground like I was nothing.
Once I realized I didn’t believe anymore, an emptiness followed. When there is no longer faith, no God to pray to, no Heaven to look forward to – an emptiness takes hold. And I retained the anger and confusion. Anytime someone offered Godly advice, I would scowl. When I’d see or read about someone’s faith, I would roll my eyes. And the anger was always flowing like a mad river underneath. I have been this way for the last 4 years. This last year, something inside me started to change – I still didn’t believe but something was pushing me to just try to believe again. I reached out to two different people, hoping maybe I could find my way back, two people in the ministry, two people that I thought for sure would take me under their wings and help – they both left me in the dust.
I don’t know what I am hoping to achieve by sharing this today. I hope it doesn’t turn off believers or cause anyone to stop following me. I just wanted to express something very real and very difficult. It actually bugs me to not believe but so far I haven’t made my way back. I still have too many questions, too much doubt, too much confusion. I guess in order for me to be so angry when He is mentioned, there must be something in me that is holding onto Him. I read the letter above, then see how I had moved forward and became that letter, only to have my spirit crushed and my faith destroyed. It just doesn’t make any sense to me yet. Maybe someday it will.