6.25.2010

Dear Friend,

We both know that there was a time, early on, when we didn't exactly get along.  I resented you for disrupting my easy life with your myriad of personal problems, and you resented me for not showing you more patience and understanding.  Slowly, over time and distance, we began to build a mutual understanding of each other.  We were able to look beyond our differences.  We found more and more reasons to tolerate each other, then respect each other, and eventually like each other.

Eventually you became a fixture in my life - albeit something of a background fixture.  Metaphorically, you were like a painting hanging on my wall.  I'm always vaguely aware of you, and often think of you, but rarely take the time to stop and really look closely.

Although we travel in different social circles, live miles apart, and rarely see each other anymore, I still consider you an important person in my life, and a great friend.

Which is why I have to tell you this:

Please stop with this nonsense.  It's killing you.

You have been through more in the past few years than anyone should have to.  I cannot imagine being in your place - I doubt I would have handled it with the grace that you did.  You have proven yourself to be a strong, brave, intelligent, loving woman.  You have taken a hell of a beating from life, only to stand up and wait for more.  Life didn't keep you waiting long.

You have asked aloud many times, "Why me?  Why is all this happening to me?"  You always come around to the same answer.  You say that your struggles are from God.  You say God is testing you.  You say God is putting you through this for reasons you don't understand now, but that will be made clear to you in the eternities.

You say that it brings you comfort, knowing that God has a hand in all this shit you've gone through.  But it doesn't.  Every time you claim that you're finding peace through relying on God, you are lying.  After seven years of knowing you, of reading your creative stories and your poems and your blog, I've learned how to read between the lines.  I can interpret your tone.

Your God is a fucking asshole.  And you know it.

You don't find any peace in God.  You only find familiarity.  You don't know what else to think.  You insist on serving a God you resent because you think that eventually, if you're patient and long-suffering, that God will relieve of you of your pain.  You will spend your whole goddamn life waiting.

God did not make you sick.  God did not take your children.  Thinking he did, thinking there is someone up in the sky who has made things wrong and is just taking his sweet time before making things right is completely destroying your sense of self-worth.

You are worth so much more than the God you believe in will ever let you be.

You say that you need to rely on God until you can believe in yourself again.  That makes absolutely no sense.  YOU are here.  YOU have proven yourself to be an incredible woman, with incredible attributes.  You have so many friends and loved ones who admire and look up to you.  YOU.  It has nothing whatsoever to do with God.

Please, PLEASE, believe in yourself!  Believe that you have what it takes to power through everything life throws at you!  You absolutely can.  You have before.  You will again.  Every time you rely on God to make you stronger, you are actually weakening yourself.  You cannot curl up in a ball and ride out the storm because you want to believe that at the end of it all God will make it up to you.

This is it.  This is the only life you get. Don't waste it.  Don't waste away.

I hate that you have had to go through these things.  But it hurts more to see you falling apart and just waiting for some mystical God to put you back together.  It's not going to happen.  Eventually you will put yourself together again, because that great source of strength and power that you so desperately seek is within you.

It's hard for me to understand how you could possibly believe in God.  It was difficult enough for me, who has never been through anything remotely comparable to you, to tell myself I believed in God.  How can you claim to believe that someone who would torture you for years without relief or explanation is any kind of perfect being?

Your God is a complete hypocrite who dishes out punishments and rewards on a whim.  The idea that there is some afterlife where everything will sort itself out is absurd, particularly in Mormonism.  You believe that if you handle this shitstorm of life to God's liking, he will give you the EXACT SAME REWARD as people who simply coasted through life with very few struggles and trials.  Your God is unfair and highly immoral.  And yet you allow yourself to wallow in self-doubt.  Deep down, even though you say you know God is just giving you trials because he knows you're strong enough to handle it, part of you wonders if it's some sort of punishment for sins you didn't know you committed.

I generally don't have a problem with the fact that many of my loved ones believe in God.  That's their prerogative, just as it is mine to be an atheist.  I truly believe that if having faith in something helps you to become the best version of yourself, then it's good for you.  I don't think that a belief in God is always a crutch - sometimes that's just the best way people can find to explain all the wonderful and terrible unknowables of life.  But in your case, I honestly wish you would let go of that belief.  I fear that you will focus so much on the unknown reward you believe God has in store for you that you will neglect to seek out happiness and beauty in this life.  You are going to miss out on so much because you have decided to wait for God to make everything right rather than focus on the things that are already right.

I firmly believe that you will find great joy in your life.  Unfortunately, when you do, you will tell yourself that the God who has for so long been so cruel to you has suddenly decided that you deserve a break.  You won't credit yourself with becoming stronger, you will credit God.  You won't credit yourself with finding ways to be happier, you will credit God.  You are denying yourself the opportunity to know how amazing you truly are.

I would never wish the things you have been through upon my worst enemy.  There are not enough words to tell you how impressed I am with the way you have conquered your life.  It breaks my heart to watch you deny your own accomplishments, your own strengths, and instead give the credit to a supposed God who you believe is the reason you've suffered in the first place.

Please, friend.  Please know that you are so much better than your God makes you feel.  Please know that you are a truly beautiful person.  Please know that there is so much to this short life that you should embrace and enjoy.

You can't wait forever for a God who doesn't exist to make you happy.  You are more than capable of doing that yourself.

All my love,

Kristen

6 comments:

Lisa said...

maybe this isn't exactly appropriate, but *applause*

I truly hope your friend feels the love in this letter and sees the light that's spilling from it.

Craig said...

Ramen sister. Belief in god (especially an authoritarian god) destroys your individuality, your your personality, and your right to be free, and your self-worth. It's insidious and nasty.

It really makes me so sad to see people so stuck in religion that they defend the way it abuses and uses them.

this alien said...

beautifully conveyed. thank you.

Lynne said...

I wish I could send this to every Morbot woman I know, including my mom and sisters. But they'd never speak to me again, and I've already lost enough friends.

Beautifully said, Kristen!

Ryan said...

Perfectly said Kristen, as always.

Akamar said...

I've been needing to hear this, as I've been thinking something along it for a long time.