Dear Heavenly Father, Mother, or Flying Spaghetti Monster in the Sky,
We don’t talk much anymore and I’m kind of okay with that. I honestly feel as though I talked AT you for so long that I didn’t see too much of a reason to keep doing it. Your scriptures condemn the use of vain repetitions anyway, and that’s all I seemed to be doing - ever. Asking you over and over and over again for the same thing, but never receiving an answer. Never feeling like you cared or that you were even there. It’s all a bit discouraging, you know?
I've frequently asked myself, "was it me?" Maybe. At least that is what many of your churches tell me. If that is true, why? Why did you decide to make me and some of the most wonderful people in my life different than what you supposedly wanted or expected? Why do your books say “love one another” and “that [you] [are] love” but you let the people who teach from your pulpits tell me and others like me that you hate us and that you don’t want us around? It hurts. A lot.
You claim to be a god of love but I’ve rarely ever felt that affection. Your churches claim compassion but more often than not they hurl hate. It all seems so counterintuitive to me.
As you should know, when I was young, feelings of fear, self-loathing, and disgust led me to do some pretty damaging things. At times, even today, I still think it’s better to kill myself than spend a lifetime disappointing you and my family any more than I already have. I mean, you know how hard I tried to please my family over the years.
For decades, I figured maybe, just maybe, if I could get to be good enough for them, I would somehow be good enough for you – and vice versa. At least better ENOUGH for you to maybe let me squeak by and into those pearly gates and hopefully garner a small portion of acceptance from everyone. But that feeling of being good and loved rarely ever came; not from you or my family or my friends.
Over the years I did everything I thought you wanted. From reading your churches’ books, to going to “your” university, to giving you two whole years of my life, I tried to do it all. But what did I get in return? More self-loathing, more self-pity, and a burning hatred for the people who claim to lead your churches. And yes, at times, I even hated you. That doesn't really seem to make too much sense, does it?
Maybe you’re used to all the pain and hurt. Maybe you expect it. Hell, maybe you like it and find it entertaining, I don’t know. I do know, however, that things are changing in my life and I’m okay with that.
These last couple of years have forced me to look into my heart and truly ask myself who I am – I don’t yet have a full answer to that question, but I think that I’m much closer than I’ve ever been.
I’ve also been stretched and beaten and broken – physically, mentally, emotionally, and even spiritually – over the last year and, again, I am emerging from those experiences stronger and more individually aware than I’ve ever been. I guess it's true, what doesn't kill you makes you stronger.
I’ve stopped going to church and I rarely read your books anymore, but I’m finding a new sense of spirituality that I hadn’t allowed myself to cultivate before.
I tend to see you in the trees, the architecture of beautiful buildings, and in the faces of strangers. I hear your voice in the laughs of small children, in the comforting words of a friend, or the notes of a lyric melody. And, dare I say it, I feel your presence now, more than ever, in me when I acknowledge that I am who I am and that's okay. Or when I reach out in service to those in need; or when I try recognize the good in others rather than focusing on the bad.
These types of experiences lend me to love you, to miss you, and to fill my spiritual well. But I wonder if that’s enough.
If I’m honest, I feel a yearning to have you in my life again. There is a spiritual side to me that needs to be nourished and one of your churches played such a huge part of my life for so long that it feels weird without that structure in my life. I’m not sure how to fill that hole, now, though. Truth be told, I’m still angry at religion; still angry at you. I have a lifetime of pain that I am trying to work through but I realize that’s not really your fault. At least it’s not all your fault - I hope.
I may have left Utah, the heartland of bigoted Mormonism, but my new state borders the Bible Belt and the South and I don’t know that any churches here will be much different in their views than those in Utah.
So here I stand, at a little bit of a loss. I don’t know what I am going to do to potentially fill that need but I am going to continue to find your presence in the world around me. The more I Iook for you, the more I think I’ll find you.
And, let’s be honest, even if you’re not really there I still think there are benefits in finding good in the world and searching for the best in people. Either way, I am happier and I hope you’re happier for me too.
As we end, I would really like to ask a favor. If you could please tell my mom to stop hating me, I would really appreciate it. She says she doesn’t but she sure doesn’t seem to love me the way she used to. Also, please help my dad to clue in and pull his head out of the sand (I know it sounds harsh but I mean it with all the love in my heart). Similarly, if it's not too much to ask, it would also be helpful if you could encourage my sisters to learn to love less conditionally. I know they’ve learned that lesson from our parents and their church leaders but I would really appreciate an intervention.
I know I’m supposed to express my gratitude and tell you all the things I'm thankful for, but I think I may try that another time. Today I am too tired and I've become quite weary. Even writing this letter to you has made my heart hurt; I literally have an ache in my chest so I’m going to go now. So, if you are out there, and part of me really hopes that you are, I will simply say what I’ve said for years: you know what’s in my heart and I hope that is enough. If it's not, there's not much more I can do about it anyway.
Cheers and amen.