For this letter, I decided to combine two similar entries into a single post.
16 years ago, I wrote this in my journal:
I still found time to pray today and it went pretty well. At first I kept daydreaming and falling asleep. I was getting miserable and disappointed in myself and at one point some evil images entered my mind. It was then that I realized there was demonic opposition. They don’t like that I’m spending a couple hours in prayer everyday and witnessing to people at work and exhorting my family. So I called on the power of God to cast away the evil and the rest of my prayer time was powerful and joyful.
The past couple of days I’ve had bad feelings and I’ve been depressed and condemning myself, but this time I’m enduring more. I just keep on living the life I’m supposed to and constantly putting the past behind. It’s a test, and when I persevere the Lord will help me and comfort me. Praise God!
– June 9th, 1999
Satan’s been after me. He hates my prayer life and he’s trying to make me guilty, confused, cold, lazy, and irritable. It’s not gonna work! I didn’t handle it too well today, but I’m gonna persevere and I’m determined to improve my prayer life daily. My calling right now is to pray, work, and glorify God to anyone I talk to. But first I need to improve my relationship with Jesus. I must love Him more and I will if I have stronger faith, and my faith will be stronger if I pray more, and if I love Him more I’ll want to pray more and on and on! I long to be permanently trapped in this beautiful cycle.
– June 14th, 1999
Dear Former Self,
Again with the demons. Just because an “evil” image pops into your head doesn’t mean a demon put it there. There was a time when people used demons to explain all sorts of things: diseases, disasters, and even “dirty” thoughts. But in this day and age we know better. Blaming demons for the seemingly random thoughts and feelings you experience is intellectually lazy. Hasn’t it ever occurred to you that a young male at his sexual peak is bound to be distracted by erotic thoughts every now and then? That’s not demons; that’s just biology.
I think I’ve already told you this, but you seem to have some kind of mood disorder. Nothing serious, but you should at least talk to a therapist about it. Someone with the proper education and experience could identify the nature of your disorder and teach you how to manage your emotions.
Instead, you’ve been consulting people who don’t know the first thing about psychology. And since they’re all Christian fundamentalists, their advice usually boils down to: “Trust in the Lord.” But of course, you’ve already tried that. You’ve put all your trust in God and asked him to help you overcome your frustration and confusion, and yet you’re doing worse than ever.
Shouldn’t God be the Ultimate Therapist? If you truly believe that God is always with you and that he’ll never forsake you, why doesn’t he help you get past all these confusing feelings? Why doesn’t he comfort you? Oh, that’s right. You said, “It’s a test, and when I persevere the Lord will help me and comfort me.” But if you persevere on your own, then what do you need “the Lord” for?
You also talk about how prayer leads to faith which leads to love which leads to more prayer and describe it as a “beautiful cycle.” In reality, it’s a vicious cycle. There’s no evidence that god even exists, so you talk yourself into it (prayer), then you believe more strongly (faith), then you have feelings for something that isn’t even there (love), then you waste more time in prayer.
What you need to do is break out of this cycle so you can finally see religion for what it is: a delusion. In fact, if you didn’t hold all these irrational beliefs in demons and god and ultimate purpose and cosmic justice, you probably wouldn’t have a mood disorder in the first place. You could just relax and live your life.
— Matt, June 14th, 2015
This is part of an ongoing series called Letters to My Former Self.