You are enough, I am enough, just the way we are. In fundamentalism, love comes with pre-conditions… God loves you, BUT you are going to hell if you don’t believe that Jesus is the son of God and the only true way to heaven… oh and also you need to witness to everyone around you because it is up to you to save them (well God, really, you can’t do sh*t right by yourself, but still you need to tell them about God and how much he LOVES them)… also make sure you go to Church, pray every day, watch your mouth, don’t get mad, and DEFINITELY don’t have pre-marital sex or, gasp, be gay. WHEW… but other than that (and lots and lots of other rules that I could list but would take up multiple blogs) you are fine.
What if there were no requirements for love? What if we were good enough, just the way we are? Is that such a radical concept? What a relief it would be to know that no matter what, we were okay. I don’t think that it is asking too much of a supposedly all loving, all knowing, benevolent God (if you believe in one), or from each other, to acknowledge that this life is really hard and that we, for the most part, are doing the best we can. We have to deal with enough bullshit without having to worry about whether or not we are doing enough to please God in addition to our bosses, our co-workers, our friends, our Twitter followers, our Yelp! reviewers, our Facebook followers, etc., etc. It’s no wonder that we are as stressed out as we are and never feel like enough because there are, quite frankly, very few places left (if any for some) to feel loved without judgement… and if we can’t count on God to be there for us no matter what, then where does that leave us? Surely we, and God, can do better.
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.