I’ve been angry with God. I don’t know the day it started. I didn’t even realize it until recently. What I know is that some dark, unrelenting force has been lurking under every experience, every joyful moment, every thought for more than a year. The crux of it is this: this is not the life I feel I was promised. I sacrificed and waited, prayed and fasted, casted my cares, and praised my way through. And I’m still not where I imagined I would be. I still haven’t come to terms with the fact that life isn’t fair.
Growing up, we were in church almost every day. Sunday morning. Sunday evening. Prayer on Monday and Tuesday nights. Bible Study on Wednesdays. Youth activities on Saturdays. Underneath all the scripture, books, classes, sermons, lectures, hugs, corrections and honest-to-goodness love, I got this message: Do the right thing, and you will get the right life. Along the way, I made some bad decisions. I wasn’t perfect; I felt like I was punished accordingly. I also saw the ‘saints’ talk about (and sometimes experience) difficult times, like death, divorce, and unemployment. But I still knew, I mean truly believed to my core, that ultimately, if I would just obey God’s word, I would have a good life with mostly joy, mostly stability, mostly peace. Depression would be a thing of the past. Resentment would be something that only sinners felt. Being broke? Oh no. That was clearly a judgement for people who were of reprobate mind…and neglected to pay their tithes. Definitely not for me.
When it comes right down to it, I guess justice and logic have been my guiding lights. 1+1=2. Ice cream and cheese cause gas. Sinners go to hell. You know, things that make sense. But my God, was that wrong. I mean, for one thing, I can eat Kraft Mac & Cheese with no problem, but no Sonic milkshakes?!
Cognitive dissonance is the state of having inconsistent thoughts, beliefs, or attitudes. Seeing Trayvon Martin’s murderer walk free is one violent example of cognitive dissonance for me. On the one hand, I was taught America was a country of justice, freedom, and brave men. On the other hand, I saw a coward shoot an unarmed teenager through the heart and receive no punishment. How could this be? In my mind, I still struggle with it. One of these has to be wrong. America is bad and killers walk among us? It's a struggle to come to terms with these types of injustices. Nuances aside, wrong is still dead ass wrong.
So with my faith, I really still have not been able to settle in my heart that "Doing the right thing" may not lead to "A good life." Perhaps it’s my foolish Millennial optimism. Perhaps my reasoning skills are amiss. I certainly have sin I haven’t acknowledged or repented for. Whatever it is, the discontent led to an abiding anger with God, and this, of course, led to more poor decisions. But it also led me to re-align my understanding of the world. God probably hasn’t sent disease to punish the wicked. The rapture, as I learned it, may be myth. Unfortunately, dairy still causes awful tummy-aches. I’m still driven by logic, but I question more--and I allow room for more than one right answer.
Still, I kind of keep expecting God to swoop down out of the clouds, say “Just kidding!” and give me my husband, 2.5 children, big bank account, and endless joy. I think, “Fellowship of suffering, got it, now give me my REAL life!” I don’t know if any of this will ever truly make sense to me. Some part of me will probably always feel like I “deserve” more (ignoring my wildly inflated sense of self-righteousness).
But I’m slowly (and I mean snail’s pace) learning to build a life of what is, not what could have been or what was supposed to be. I’m thanking God through hot, reluctant tears and an angry heart because I know, This is my good life. It will never ever be easy, I will probably always battle depression and loneliness, and nobody is going to rescue me, even if I’m really, really faithful. God still loves me, and I believe no tear falls in vain. I’ll shake my metaphorical fist toward heaven, twist and rail against God’s tight grip and collapse from emotional exhaustion, but He won’t let me go.