All I ever wanted was to feel safe…to know that there was something or someone out there that would take care of me, love me, hold me, and protect me no matter what I said or did. I heard growing up that the unconditional love of God was so much deeper and more powerful than the love of a mother or father that it was incomprehensible. Yet I grew up terrified of God. I carried with me a deep sense of groundlessness, that I was never safe, never okay, never enough.
I was a prayer warrior. I can remember as a young child I had a book that highlighted different countries around the world, their poverty rates, and more importantly, the percentage of their population that was Christian. I would pray fervently that God would save those who did not believe in Him, while all the while obsessing over whether or not he was punishing me for my sins. I genuinely believed that if a severe thunderstorm came through, it might be my fault because of a lie I had told or an “evil” thought I had had. If there was a God, and I was sure that there was, he was angry. We always talked about the fact that “God is a personal God” and “He cares about you and knows you better than you know yourself”. Well I got that he was was my personal God and was watching me… But his caring was conditional, and he was vengeful.
Looking back on it now these beliefs seem silly and nonsensical; but I am older now, and have the gift of reason. It also makes me angry, because I know I still carry a lot of fears and insecurities born out of this dogma and also know that many still suffer because of these teachings. While I am not an atheist, in many ways I find it much preferable to believe in no God than one that saves some, damns others, and is always watching and waiting to punish us for our “sins”; a God that is waiting on a five year old child who should be playing outside with friends to bow to him in prayer to save others in a far away land.
If God is just a more powerful version of a human being then what are we gaining by trying to spread the “good news”? I mean if the end result is that some of us get “saved” and the rest go to hell for eternity, where exactly does the “good” part come into play? And if the idea of God as presented through fundamentalism is supposed to bring comfort and security, then perhaps we should go back and ask my five year old self how well that worked for him as he sat terrified in the basement while the thunderstorms rolled through.