16 years ago, I wrote this in my journal:
I’m worried about my dad’s friend, Ben. Because of a few things he’s said, I fear he’s not in a close relationship with the Lord. What bothers me more is that this is all I see in anybody. I know that no one’s perfect, but with every Christian I know, I see their faults a lot! I don’t understand why other Christians aren’t more excited about their faith.
It sucks because I don’t know anybody I can really open my heart to when it comes to spiritual things. Imagine how people would react if I complained to them about how I don’t cry over the lost, how I couldn’t even concentrate in prayer for an hour, how I’m still shy about sharing the gospel, how I want to be closer to Jesus, to actually hear from Him, but I don’t know how.
I want to go out and suffer for Him, serve Him, be a missionary even though I’m scared, yet I feel obligated to stay here and spend my time earning money for the farm instead of serving at church, but if I do that will I grow cold-hearted? And besides, that church isn’t feeding me spiritually. I often leave feeling frustrated.
Am I too picky? Am I a fool for always looking for faults in everything? And even if we weren’t getting ready for Y2K I’d still be too shy to go witness to the homeless, and is that because of a lack of faith? Yet I must spend my time here, but sometimes I feel like I’m dying here!
Like I was gonna say, if I told all that to Mom or Dad or my brother or my sister-in-law or anyone at church, they’d say I was being goofy, or legalistic, or that I worry too much, and so forth. No one understands.
“Jesus, you know I love you. Why have I not heard from you? Why don’t you help me sort this out? Is there sin in my life? What is it? A test? Well Lord, I’m gonna go on serving you the best I can, praying, and living the way I ought to. I thank you that nothing can separate your love from me. You’re all I need.”
— June 7th, 1999
Dear Former Self,
So your dad’s friend came to visit and you immediately started noticing his faults. I’m tempted to chide you for being judgmental again, but I understand what you’re saying: Why aren’t other Christians more excited about their faith?
We’ve talked about this before. If Christians truly believe they’re going to live forever and that they have a personal relationship with the creator of the universe, then why do they behave the same as non-believers (save for a few arbitrary taboos)? Why aren’t they as passionate as you are?
It’s only logical to conclude that they aren’t as close to God as you are, which is why you feel like you have no one to talk to. You’ve tried explaining your feelings to family members and people at church, but everyone just tells you to relax and stop worrying. But how can you do that when you’re in the middle of a cosmic war between good and evil where everyone’s eternal soul is on the line?
Since no one understands, you’ve turned to the ultimate friend–someone who is always with you and will never leave you. But unfortunately, this “friend” may as well not be there. He doesn’t sympathize, he doesn’t give advice, he won’t even give you so much as a hug.
This is the third time you’ve expressed a desire to “actually hear” from Jesus, and yet the silence continues. Your so-called relationship with God seems terribly lonely. There you are–young, eager to serve, filled with questions, desperate to hear from someone who understands what you’re going through… and yet God is nowhere to be found. You’ve convinced yourself he’s everywhere, but since he never manifests in any detectable way, you still feel utterly alone.
And as usual, rather than blame God, you blame yourself. You think there must be some unconfessed sin in your life, or that it’s a test. But here’s a question: What kind of omniscient, omnibenevolent being would give you the silent treatment when you desperately need help? That doesn’t sound like a close, loving relationship at all. It sounds like a cold, bitter relationship between an angry, immature parent and a confused child.
As I’ve said before, one of the defining features of a relationship is give and take. You are constantly talking to God, worshiping him, thanking him, and asking for help, yet he never says a word. Christians always say that God speaks to his children through the Bible, but I know you’ve already tried that. The fact is, the Bible is not very helpful when it comes to actual problems.
Instead of having a pretend relationship with a deity, you should be out there forming real relationships with real people. You already have poor social skills, so all this time spent alone with an imaginary god is not helping you. And it’s clearly making you miserable. As a human, you need to spend time with other humans. God is not all you need.
— Matt, June 7th, 2015
This is part of an ongoing series called Letters to My Former Self.