Dear Christianity,

We’ve been together a while now. My whole life, to be exact.  I know we’ve had our hard times, our breakups and makeups and are-we-going-to-make-it stretches, but you’re still my religion.

So I have a few questions for you.

I’ve been seeing a therapist lately. (Don’t worry — it’s not you, it’s me.) I’m lying, actually — a lot of it IS about you and what you did to me and what they did to me in your name. I’m getting ahead of myself.

So the therapist and I, we’ve been sorting this ball of yarn. It’s a faded shade of blue and frayed around the edges, and tangled as hell. This is a metaphor; the ball of yarn is me. My shit. The voices in my head that terrorize me and paralyze me and keep me awake at night and make me cry at all the wrong times.

The ball of yarn is PTSD and fear of abandonment and it’s programming and confusion and just a touch of obsessive compulsive behaviors and not a little bit of addictive tendencies. Mostly it’s shame. And we’ve been trying to find the end of it, the frayed start of the string that turns a hundred knots before leaving me helpless and alone. I think we’re getting close.

Do you want to know what’s at the end of the ball of yarn, the deeply embedded belief that has given birth to a thousand shards of glass inside my skull, the lie that has driven me to the very edges of myself? It’s simply this:

Because you are not perfect, you deserve punishment instead of love. 

Does that sound familiar? It should; I first heard it from you. It’s printed in your “Gospel” tracts and preached from your pulpits and woven into the lyrics of your songs.

It’s so obvious now, I feel silly that it took us six months and hours of conversations on the couch to realize THAT was the end of the ball of yarn. I should have known.

Are you familiar with Mary Oliver’s poem “Wild Geese”? It’s written on the window above my bed, and have been trying for all I’m worth to believe just the first line of it:

“You do not have to be good.”

So far, I have not been able to believe it.

Oh, don’t get me wrong. I acknowledge it, cognitively. I’ll tell you all day that it’s true, and good, and beautiful. But there’s no space inside my soul to actually let that true and good and beautiful belief take root. Because all the rows and columns of my heart are filled with memories and messages saying over and over and over again…

Because you are not perfect, you deserve punishment instead of love. 

So, Christianity, I have a few questions about this: What the hell? What the actual hell?

And a follow-up query if I may: What the actual hell indeed?

How is that when I find the beginning of the brokenness that inflicts my soul, I see YOUR face?

How is it that when I finally isolate the lie that has brought so much emptiness and exhaustion to my life, I hear YOUR voice?

How is it that when I recognize the shame that has tried to destroy me, I see YOUR fingerprints all over it? 

You, who claimed to save me. You, who claimed to have the answers. You, who promised to give me life.

How is it that when I hear the voice of darkness breathing down my neck, I recognize the words as YOURS?

Let me guess — you needed to tell me how bad I was before I knew I needed to be saved. You needed to convince me I was worthy of death before the offer of life would seem like a good deal. Sure, whatever. Do you realize that in doing so you partnered with the voice of Satan himself, until I can no longer distinguish between the two of you because you’re saying the same damn thing?

Why would I trust you to save me from shame if you’re the one who heaped shame on me in the first place? 

Why would I trust you to heal me if you’re the one who broke me in the first place?

(A side note: Did you know that shepherds don’t actually break the legs of their sheep? Not good shepherds, anyhow. That was some bullshit you made up.)

You should have known that life would find a way to tell me soon enough that I am not good enough, that I deserve punishment instead of love. I wish you could have been the one to stand up and say “THAT’S NOT TRUE! YOU ARE OF INFINITE VALUE! YOU ARE UNBELIEVABLY LOVED!”

Instead, you stood there and said, “Yep, that’s true.” You reminded me of it a hundred times, in altar calls and checklists and hell-fire and proverbs and communion wine laced with the threat of sudden death.

Then you offered me Jesus as some sort of cosmic justice loophole, and — to make a long story short —  I still don’t believe I’m loved.

Save your Bible verses and your doctrines about original sin and utter depravity. You had one job. I don’t trust you anymore.

I’m tired of listening to the voice of shame — from you or my past or anyone else.

Don’t misunderstand; I still believe in Jesus and the Church, in communion and worship and the Gospel, yes! But some days I have a hard time figuring out where bad religion ends and good religion ends, and there’s been a lot of bad religion with your name on it. I’m tired.

I believe in God is love, somewhere in my mind. I almost believe that I am loved. Someday soon there will be room in my heart to actually let that good news sink in. 

P.S. Maybe you should think about seeing a therapist too? You’re pretty fucked up.

[ image: hjhipster ]

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