Something happened about a month ago, that I've just now taken the time to process, and think about. This was about 2 weeks after I was "outed" as being done with the Mormon church.
About a week before Stef's death, I had a huge breakdown. I went from furiously angry to bawling hysterically in literally 5 minutes. My husband and I are used to my bipolar-swings, but this was crazily intense. (I later found out it was withdrawal from my meds, I had mixed up the bottles of Seroquel and Loritab from my tooth being pulled).
During my emotional upheaval, my mom texted and asked how I was doing. She hadn't heard from me in about 3 days, and was concerned. I told her I was having a terrible, horrible day and everything seemed overwhelming and hopeless.
My mother's response? "You should pray. God wants to bless you, but you need to let him in."
It really bugged me at the time, and now I have figured out why.
If that is the God my mother believes in, I don't like him. For a lot of reasons.
First, why does an omniscient being need me to ask for things he should know that I need? My husband and I recently took charge of our first long-term foster kids. We've had them 3 days now. This is my first real experience at being a parent, and I already seeing how I differ from my mom's God. I don't withhold things they need, waiting for them to ask. For example, the kids didn't have a brush. I noticed that while they were unpacking. Instead of letting them go days without brushing their hair, or making fun of them for being uncombed, I gave them a brush. They didn't have to ask for it, because I saw their need and made it better, before they realised it was a problem.
In my head, that's one of the points of parenting-to help kids over bridges before they catch on that they have to cross the waters. Especially foster kids, who come into every placement with fear, anger, and baggage.
Second, why is it up to me to "let him in" first, if he's waiting to bless me? Again, I have a parenting reference. We were taught in PS-MAPP (required fostering class) that all kids in the system have experienced trauma and may be slow to warm up. Most -if not all- kids will have behaviours. So we knew that going in, that there would be an adjustment time. But even when the kids were being rather annoying, I never waited for them to behave how I thought they should before I was as kind and as patient as I could be. My...I guess it's affection, because it's really too soon to call it love...isn't conditional. I don't think in the back of my head "If you don't warm up to me, I won't warm up to you." I know that these kids are trying their best, but they have a lot of complicated emotions, and don't know how to deal with them. I don't expect them to conform to my way of thinking or acting before I care about them and want to help them.
Third, the opposite assumption is that God is cursing me because of my non-belief. If I were to take what my mom said at face value, then I have to assume that what she is saying is either God cursing me for my non-belief, or he is waiting for me to "suffer" enough to go back to him. Whichever way I want to believe, it's not a pretty idea. What kind of a parent (especially one who is billed as loving) deliberately causes harm to their kids, just to get them to do what they want? I grew up in a neglectful/abusive environment, but my parents never hurt me as a form of manipulation. I was hurt because that was the only way they knew how to discipline/deal with heavy emotions. When I am feeling generous, I feel that I was abused out of ignorance. But never, ever harmed as a precursor to my actions.
Or, I could choose to feel that God is waiting for me to be humbled enough to crawl back. The sheer arrogance in this makes me sick. Why would a parent-any parent-be OK with their child feeling pain? And not just being OK with it, but almost hoping for more, just so their child would return? My sister had made some unhealthy choices in her life. Because of this, she was in constant pain. Emotional, mental, even physical a lot of the time. My mom never said "I hope she suffers enough that she comes back to church." The closest she ever got was "I will be here to support her when she reaches rock bottom. It makes me sad she doesn't believe in God, but I still love her."
Finally, if God wants to bless me, then why doesn't he just do it? I was taught God is infinite, omniscient, all-present, and loving. All of these are reasons why He was fully capable of blessing me, regardless of my belief in Him. My first thought after I typed that was "Maybe he had been blessing me, and I didn't realise it." Because that was something I was taught from a very young age. Everything good happens because of God. You found a dollar on the sidewalk? God knew finances were tight, or He knew that you wanted a cookie. Your colicky baby sleeps through the night? God knew you needed sleep that day.
So was I not recognizing his blessings? Was I being stubborn and purposely blind? Was I like the 9 lepers, who didn't even bother to say "thank you"? I'm going to say NO. Because if God is omniscient and all-knowing as I was taught, then wouldn't it best serve His interests to bless me in ways that I could give him credit for? I mean, He wants credit for EVERYTHING, so why not make his blessings so obvious? A package on my door saying "FROM GOD-Chin up", perhaps?
Then I hear the voice in the back of my head "God works in mysterious ways". I'm curious as to why he does that. The Old Testament God wasn't subtle or mysterious at all. BAM! Floods! BANG! Flying fiery serpents! BOOM! Tearing apart a tower and scrambling the languages! Even the New Testament God was kind of rude. Darkness and earthquakes (for days, according to the Book of Mormon), as punishment for something you knew was going to happen in the first place? Call me crazy, but that's baiting. Or trap setting. That's not good parenting, or even being a decent person. That is just vindictive.
It's weird how the more I am around kids, and parent, the more I realise how distasteful the God I grew up with is. I was taught that we should read the scriptures to find out about God. I'm honestly considering making up a list of parenting techniques that are counter-productive, that I've found through studying church literature.
I'm having a hard time merging "God loves you" with "God lets you suffer so you're humble enough to come back to him." Because the latter almost sounds abusive. And frankly, I've had enough abuse in my life to be OK with taking it from the one guy who should be on my side no matter what.
Oh wait. That guy is my husband.