16 years ago today, I wrote this in my journal:
Things are falling into place. Mom and Dad bought a mobile home and a tractor. Unfortunately, some things are costing them a bit more than they hoped and things are adding up fast. Taxes were $4000 more than they thought, the septic tank was several hundred more, and in general things here are just more expensive than they expected.
Then again, the money being tight is actually a good thing. This way we’ll have to give up some luxuries and trust in God. I think He wants us to learn to rely on Him.
I went through a lot of turmoil again the other day. I was having doubtful feelings about my love for God and I was disappointed in my walk with Him. Once again, I kept thinking about mistakes I’ve made in the past. I was very distressed on the way home from work one day so I asked God, “What’s wrong?”
After that I decided I better get on my knees and pray for a while, and suddenly I had this awful sinking feeling, as though I’m unworthy of approaching God. Then I realized that’s ridiculous! I’ve repented of all known sin so I can approach God through the blood of Jesus.
I may be wrong, but I suspected demonic oppression. I still felt unsettled so I shared my experience with Mom and Dad. Mom said she’s been disturbed by some nagging thoughts lately, too. We talked about it and in the end we prayed together. Afterwards I finally felt at peace again. We decided we need to pray together more often.
— February 18th, 1999
Dear Former Self,
I’m still fascinated by how you see the hand of God in literally everything. For example, you think the money being tight is good because God is teaching you to rely on him. But of course, if the money were flowing you would say it is good because God is blessing you.
Because of your confirmation bias, you see the hand of God in literally everything. No matter what happens, you will believe it is because of God’s will and view it as yet another piece of evidence that God exists.
This is why many Christians are baffled by the very existence of atheists. They think, “How can atheists not see God behind everything? They must be denying God in their unrighteousness.” Or maybe, just maybe, they are seeing the world as it actually is because they don’t wear “god glasses.”
Consider that members of other religious could draw the exact same conclusions: That everything happens because their god is behind it and that the evidence of their god is everywhere.
All theists see the world from a biased perspective because they start with the assumption that they are right. If they also believed demons were the cause of malfunctioning technology, they would see “evidence” of demons almost everywhere, too.
Speaking of demons… Seriously, dude? Seriously? Just because you are moody and confused doesn’t mean demons are oppressing you.
This is one of the main problems with religion: it causes people to ignore real world explanations and look for otherworldy explanations. You might have an emotional disorder, something that could be identified and treated by a licensed therapist whose knowledge comes from a long line of psychologists who discovered facts about the human psyche by applying the scientific method.
But instead of considering all that college talk, you’re just gonna pray more, right? How’s that working out for you? It seems like God keeps bringing you peace and then taking it away again. Is he just toying with you? Or is it possible that there is no god and you’re just exacerbating your disorder by looking for supernatural explanations?
You’ve always had problems with your self esteem. Do you really think telling yourself that you are evil and broken and sinful and deserve to suffer in Hell forever is going to help?
— Matt, February 18th, 2015
This is part of an ongoing series called Letters to My Former Self.