Do I Still Love God?

backsliding

I recently received a letter from an old friend, who wrote to say that she was deeply concerned that I’m not living a happy, fulfilled life because I have strayed from God’s purposes for my life. She described my life as, “disconnected from the light, angry, kicking against the goads, burning paths of destruction…” etc.   Reading her letter, the message was painfully clear: she is concerned that I am not living a good Christian life.

Before we go any further, let me clarify that this friend lives hundreds of miles away, and we talk maybe twice a year and visit even less frequently.  The truth of the matter is that my friend does not have a clue as to how I live my life since moving from L.A. to Portland almost 8 years ago. She says I’m unhappy? Well, she obviously knows nothing of the joy my granddaughter, children and husband give me on a daily basis. She is ignorant of the depth of friendships and the nurturing community (and Portland food scene) I immerse my life in regularly. Simply put, my friend does not know me, at least not anymore.

In spite of my friend’s expressed “concern” for my spiritual life, absent from the letter was any specific examples that might support her darkened conclusions. Oh wait, I guess that is not exactly true, there was one. Oops. There was that comment about me, “threatening God.”

Okay, it’s confession time. It is true. I have threatened God. In fact, I often try to bend His will to mine. Frankly, I like arguing with God and I like making deals with Him. Sometimes it’s just threats, other times, I’ll scream obscenities at Him. Once, I even dared Him to leave me alone which, fortunately for me, He has not. In the last ten years I have, for the most part, stopped attending church services, I cuss more frequently, I have virtually boarded up my prayer closet, and I’ve let dust settle on my Bible– and yet, He continues to hang in there with me.

For the longest time, my proof of being a good Christian was based on my own actions and my good deeds. Now that I’m no longer “good” in the eyes of some Christians, including my friend, and sometimes myself, the certainty of my faith now rests in God alone. His love is a gift I don’t deserve and can never earn. I no longer have to justify my “bad” to God, for Christ has already done that.  Even at my worst, I imagine Jesus smiling down on me, full of love and tender mercies, full of hope for my development, and good plans for my future. And it’s because of this, his unconditional love and his infinite patience for me, that gives me a confidence I’ve never known before.  It’s a confidence that frees me to be completely honest with God, which includes the threats, arguing, bad language, as well as the sincere thankfulness and joy that such a relationship brings.

So if my friend really knew me, she would know I’m good with God, and of course, I still love God. I still love God because He loved me first. He loved me before I thought I had to prove I was good.  And even when I’m not good, He loves me still!

16 comments

  1. Eddie · October 11, 2015

    Wow that is awesome. After we reconnected a few years ago, I would’ve been inclined to agree with your friend and did occasionally pray for you. But as I have come to chat and reconnect with you, something in me came to question and doubt my relationship with God. If i can be honest, I have gone though the christian motions while knowing quite well that i had begun to question a lot of the presuppositions that my faith rested on. It was a performance driven faith based a little on fear and a little on not wanting to rock the boat. If I act on the impulse of my questioning, God will spite me and I will lose my salvation, and while I do still attend church I have to thank you for your journey that I believe has brought you closer to the God we have all been trying to understand, albeit in a wrong direction. I seem to live this bipolar Christianity however, of attending the church and at the same time also raising my fist at a God that I know loves me enough to allow me to challenge him. He is not afraid of our doubts and challenges and I thank you for the dialogue we have had these few years that have drawn me closer to this God who I have tried to understand by reason of my performance-driven mentality.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Eddie · October 11, 2015

    i thank you for your honesty and vulnerability and also for our reconnected long distance friendship. it is good to hear honest thoughtful views . God bless you my freind

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Eddie · October 11, 2015

    thought this was written by chris sorry

    Liked by 1 person

    • maylannee · October 11, 2015

      No problem. I appreciate your comments anyway. Thanks Ed!
      –maylannee

      Like

  4. Shirley · October 11, 2015

    Amen.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Alicia · October 11, 2015

    I am thankful that His love is a gift, and not earned. Only when we feel safe can we argue, wrestle and voice our doubts.

    I love hearing your journey and relationship with God. The confidence of His unconditional love is reassuring. Thanks for sharing so honestly, your comments encourage others as we often find ourselves wrestling!

    Liked by 1 person

    • maylannee · October 12, 2015

      Thank you Alicia. That sums up my thoughts in a nutshell. You obviously get me. Love you.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Eddie · October 11, 2015

    Maylannee, it seems you and Chris are on the same journey to understand this God we come to and at times shake a fist at while also living by the grace of that same God; what i call bi-polar christianity.

    Liked by 1 person

    • maylannee · October 12, 2015

      Ed, I understanding your meaning when you say bi-polar Christianity. I’ve felt the same way many times. However, I’ve come to learn that it’s not because we have a bi-polar God, it’s that our view of him, from the ways we’ve been taught since we were baby Christians, is what has caused these clashes in our minds. I can now see Jesus as a solid rock that I can lean on. Mostly gone is the harsh taskmaster that requires so much of me. Now the only times I get “bi-polar” is when I doubt God. And because I’m human, this still happens.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. celaird · October 12, 2015

    In my opinion and based on what I’m starting to desire this site to become, this is the best post thus far! I would love for this site to be a place where we can risk a little more than we would on say, Facebook. I would love if the OC became a place where we can discover more about each other as we risk to “be known.” What’s funny is, you hear people talk about getting, “authentic” or “gritty” or “vulnerable” but it all sounds like some technique or affectation. It reminds me of that saying that “truth is stranger than fiction.” It turns out that our mundane lives are far more interesting than all the carefully scripted and edited stuff we encounter in the “inspirational” section of the book store! Thank you, Maylannee, for opening that window in your soul and for sailing further from the shore than most of us are comfortable with. Keep sailing!

    Like

  8. toddclubb · October 12, 2015

    No safety net on that one Maylannee. What a blessing someone is to me when they choose to be transparent. Adam hid and we are forever following him. To allow the bottom to fall out of your relationship with God gives me comfort, as I have often felt like I’ve gone too far, saying some nasty shit to the Almighty. Sounds bad? but I can now make the statement that Paul makes when he says, “There’s nowhere, to the ends of the earth, or to the depths that He is not with me.” I don’t think you really know until you’ve been there, and looked over and said, “What are You still doing here”. Thanks for your gift

    Liked by 1 person

    • maylannee · October 13, 2015

      Hi Todd, Thanks for your encouraging words. I love that last part… yes, Jesus surprises us with his presence despite how low we go. Its comforting to have friends who understand.

      Like

  9. jeremynakasone · October 16, 2015

    Great stuff Maylannee. We are in need of people who are willing to be intellectually and emotionally honest with God and with each other.

    Like

  10. Beth · November 9, 2015

    I remember years ago when you asked me if I was a still a christian according to my own beliefs anymore. It was a simple yet profound question that may or may not have come with some slight judgement at the time but not enough to warrant a concern about our friendship. I don’t remember my answer but I don’t think I gave you a straight one because I could not deny nor accept the possibilities of my faith at that time. And I still wouldn’t give you a direct answer today. Like you, I do believe that God, our Creator or whatever “it’ is that designed us, does understand me with his tender mercies and will meet me where I’m at on any given day so long as I don’t intentionally hurt or someone. That’s not scripture per se because I no longer have “the gift” to believe that scripture is written by “God.” I simply look, smell and hear the trees, the wind, the sky, I notice the beauty in the eyes of an animal, a baby, a homeless woman and I know that kindness, compassion and love is not faith-based at all but simply human nature by design.

    Like

    • christopher · November 9, 2015

      Hey Beth, I’m glad that we have managed to stay connected after all these years and all the twists and turns that life has thrown our way. As you know, our “crisis of faith” came a litter later than yours, but when it came, it came with a vengeance. The problem that I have found with the whole “keeping” or “losing” one’s faith is that we’re usually just talking about epistemology (25 cent word for “how do we know what we know?”). In other words, it becomes essentially about me and my reasoning and what “I believe” and very little if anything to do with the person, who is God. Once I realized that, I started deconstructing a lot of the stuff that I believed, asking questions, acknowledging my doubts, renouncing error. I went back scripture and for several years studied it for myself, along with church history and philosophy (I’ve been doing that for over ten years now). On that note, and for what it’s worth, I can assure you that no thinking Jew or Christian will tell you, “God wrote Scripture”. But I can totally appreciate why you would say that, because unfortunately, some people tend to talk as if the Bible just “fell out of the sky” one day, rather than a book written by people who were “inspired” or “moved” to write certain things. Anyway, our hope is for this site to be safe place to have encouraging and even challenging discussions about important issues. Good seeing you in here. Hope to see you again soon!

      Like

  11. maylannee · November 9, 2015

    Thanks Beth for your thoughtful comments. I vaguely remember that conversation years ago, though not all the details. There may have been some judgment on my part, but thankfully, love and grace prevailed, because it, indeed, had no negative bearing on our friendship. I’m happy we have learned how to navigate through those heart to heart discussions, and though we don’t always agree, our friendship has remained steadfast. I love you Beth, and grateful for you in my life.

    Like

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