I’ve been mad at God for a long time. I’m not even sure when it started, but it’s been at least 10 years. I loved Jesus with all my heart until I was in middle school, and then some stuff happened, and I wasn’t so sure. In high school I got involved in a youth group from another denomination and felt God’s presence again for a brief time. I went off to college, started working and married, still sure on the outside but unsure as hell on the inside.
After our girls were born we started going to church again. We found ourselves responsible for the lives of these little girls and we were ill equipped enough to think maybe raising them in church might be a good idea. It was. Church was good to us during their growing up years. We were all in with the children’s programs, choirs, small groups, VBS, Sunday School, camps and Wednesday night supper. I was that mom who ran through the drive-through at Chick-Fil-A on the way to church though. My girls never really got on board with the church supper thing.
As they grew up and out of the house, things sort of shifted for me. I was tired. And I wanted more. I honestly felt God calling me to go to seminary and study counseling, so I went. At 47, I started seminary and this road to being mad went into high gear. The more I studied, the more disenchanted I became with church, which is ironic since I was studying theology. In my program, I only took a handful of theology classes, the majority of them were counseling related. If I was going to be a counselor, I wanted to be one that integrated the theology piece with the psychological piece, because I believe they’re connected. If I hadn’t been 47, I’d have pursued an MDiv too, but I didn’t.
The more I read, the more I was exposed to in church history and translations, the angrier I felt. You mean to tell me that because a verse reads this way in the NIV, it may not have been the original intent of the writer? Because it says “submit” and we don’t know the context and culture, we’ve been taught that it literally means to submit in the way our modern English brain thinks? There were so many instances where I felt this:
WHY DO I NOT KNOW THIS?
WHY HAS NO ONE EVER TAUGHT THIS TO ME THIS WAY?
I AM FEELING REALLY RIPPED OFF!
After I got out of school and began counseling, I became immersed in the world of helping professionals and experienced some compassion fatigue and feelings of burnout. On so many levels. Burned out from plowing through school in three years while my girls were in school, falling in love, and two of them getting married. Burned out from trying to keep all the plates in the air. If I’m real, I dropped a lot of plates. I didn’t care for my loved ones as well as I would have liked. I missed some important events, homecomings, recitals. I checked out of the most important friendships I had, not because I wanted to but because I didn’t have time to keep them up while I was in school and practicing counseling.
I’ve been really angry at church. I’ve often said to people (who are probably tired of me saying it!) “I think if Jesus were to walk into most churches in America, he’d say ‘Really? This is what you thought I meant?!”‘ I’ve been so disappointed. In people, in pastors, in programs, in politics, in sermons, in books, in bloggers, in God. Really just disappointed in God. I’ve seen marriages of people I love dearly fall apart. I’ve seen kids of wonderful parents fall off the rails. I’ve seen people I respect make decisions I couldn’t even wrap my mind around.
So I quit. I quit trusting. I quit believing. I mean deep down inside, I always believed in God. I just didn’t care for Him that much. And I became hard. Jaded. Cynical. It hasn’t been pretty people! It’s been pretty awful is what it’s been. I’ve been joyless, suspicious, and world-weary.
Something happened that has changed me. I heard from God in a way I never have before and may not ever again. I am willing to trust God again. I can’t explain it. I just got up. Psalm 60 says “your love is better than life.” And I decided to live as if it were true. In many ways nothing is different. My people are still in pain. I’m still disappointed in how some things turn out. I’m just not going to stay mad anymore. It’s exhausting.
2 Corinithans 4:16-18 says this:
16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
Glory. Glory. Glory.