"God loves you!"
It's painted on huge billboards, it's printed on tracts. Street evangelists shout it from corners. Did God love me? Sure, I guess. I mean the words are overrated, overused, and sort of stripped of meaning. God loves, but love is *okay.* There's other stuff a lot more interesting.
As were some other users on this site, I was trained in logic from an early age.
I was taught how to debate, how to locate fallacies, discrepancies, misleading rhetoric, tweaked definitions, and so on and so forth.
I was taught about theology and cults. I can name to you dozens of religions and detail who founded them and what their beliefs are. I've memorized over a thousand verses, I've listened to a thousand sermons, I know a thousand facts about the Bible.
Head knowledge was - and still is - important. Emotions are silly things, I was taught. Unnecessary. Misleading. Trust in them and you will be misguided. Abandon logic for what you 'feel' and you will make decisions that will ruin you, believe what will damn you.
Rationality is to be prized, logic is to be worshiped.
My father taught me this.
My father's mother was abandoned by her father during the great depression. She was taught to hate men for what her father did to her.
She married and had three sons, one of them being my father. He was insecure in his masculinity, and to feel more secure he ended up hating women and all that was related to them - emotion, femininity, gentleness.
He married and had three daughters, one of them being me.
I've grown up in a household run by a domineering, abusive man who has very, very little respect for women. Emotions? Stupid. Female things. Buck up and get a hold of yourself.
I was taught that anything 'girly' was bad, to be looked down upon. The only way I could gain approval was by being as masculine as possible.
Once, my father and I got in one of the worst fights I can remember. I ended up fleeing, sobbing my eyes out; my father ran after me insulting and mocking me for being weak and crying 'like a little girl.' Another time I had an emotional breakdown, spent half an hour hyperventilating, sobbing, and slamming my head against things. Dad's reaction? He rolled his eyes and walked away. (Though to be fair, I must qualify that afterwards he did show concern.)
So, over the years, both due to a desire to "be like Daddy" and to avoid his disapproval, especially when I was young, I rejected all that was female. Emotions were to be locked up, suppressed, ignored. Romance? Pfft. Silly, existing only to satisfy the weak fantasies of pathetic females. I would never stoop so low (To this day I still experience shame when I am attracted to a guy).
I began to wish I had been born a male. Why was I cursed so, with such weakness, these pathetic hormones deserving of mockery, doomed to always be the lesser, to never have enough guts to be able to fulfill the role of a man? I hated being a girl.
Now that I think about it, the only thing my father appreciated about women was their physical beauty (I wonder why, 'eh?). It was the single attribute, in his eyes, a woman had to be proud of. I was blessed with what is usually considered ideal in a female body, and thus that was the only thing about being female I grew to have confidence in. But even that was warped - I now struggle with putting a disproportionate amount of value on physical appearance.
My father did not like me. He was never taught how to show love in his family, and thus he very rarely showed me love. He was selfish, cruel, capable of saying "You disgust me; I can't stand the sight of you" and "I love you" in the same discussion.
Thus it was not only my idea of femininity that became warped, but my idea of love as well. What was love? Well, I reasoned, it was the willingness to die for someone - that I had been taught through logical studies - but it didn't mean that you actually liked the person, or wanted to be around them, or enjoyed their company. You could love someone but be disgusted by them.
Now, considering my family is extremely, extremely religious, I applied this idea of love to God as well.
"God loves you!" Yeah, yeah, that's nice. It was a logical fact I had been taught, just one of many. The ultimate act of love is sacrificing yourself for another. So God did that for me. Good. Whatever.
But that was where it ended. I didn't believe God liked me, wanted to be around me, wanted to talk to me, was interested in me. How could he? I was a sinner. God was supposed to be like a father, right? Well my father was an abusive jerk who loved me but didn't like me. I disgusted him. So God must be like that, and I must disgust him as well. He had plucked me from the mire, set me down, pinched his nose, and shooed me away.
Needless to say, my relationship with God, as with my father, was practically nonexistent. I was supposed to love serving God, right? That was what all my years of being taught theology said. I was supposed to adore him, supposed to feel emotion. Well, I didn't. Was something wrong with me? During worship services at church I thought about lunch. When I prayed I felt like I was talking to a brick wall.
I began to fear hell. Was I not Christian? I was supposed to feel love for God, but I didn't - was I even saved? I would have abandoned my faith right then and there had it not been for all the logical evidence for his existence. When I began to doubt if God was really there, I would stop and review the logical necessity for Him, and then I would get frustrated. My head said he must be there, but my heart didn't feel him. They were at odds, they were unsettled, and I didn't know what to do.
Then I met a friend, who for this article I will call Gabe.
Gabe is an interesting fellow, and quickly becoming one of my best friends. He is unusually insightful, very wise, and very, very much convinced of the idea that God likes us.
One night we had a debate regarding that topic. It got a little tense at times . . . but he gave me a lot to think about. " . . . He likes us because He loves you, do you not understand that God cannot separate the two?" Is a direct quote from that conversation. He quoted verse after verse from the Bible, ones that I'd never studied because they didn't fit my idea of 'logical theology', that said things like "Sing! Oh daughter of Zion! Cry out, Oh child of mine!"
He came up with great logical arguments for his position that should have convinced me, to put it briefly. I would have - should have - believed him, except for the fact I still didn't feel it. If his position was true, why didn't I feel like God liked me? Why didn't I have a relationship with him? Now, for a girl who's been raised to trust logic only, this dependency on emotion was a strange and new thing for me. I was highly skeptical, and I told him that.
Poor Gabe got very frustrated by the end of it, as we both can be stubborn. He finally told me to go up to my room and pray to God, very hard, and sincerely ask him to show me if what Gabe was saying was true.
I didn't want to do it, and I said so. For me praying was like talking to a wall. I'd never before actually heard God talk to me, I'd never felt him or any personal sign that he existed.
But the conversation had unsettled me, And so due to that fact, and also to humor him, I told him I would.
So I went to my room, knelt (helps me concentrate) and sort of sat there helplessly for a while before I tried talking to the wall again.
I didn't get anywhere. I was like "God? Helloooo? Are you there? Can you please tell me if this is true or not? Do you seriously like me?"
I got frustrated too, but not really angry. I didn't expect a response. I mean, what was supposed to change? I prayed for about ten or fifteen minutes, hammering on the wall, trying to get it to react.
And just as I was about to give up, it did.
I don't know how to describe it, honestly. It was like the finishing puzzle piece slipped neatly into place. It clicked in my head, and God was there.
Man, was He there.
There are no words to describe Him, but I'll try with this pathetic English vocabulary anyway. It's like He was suddenly there, wrapping his arms around me, smoothing my hair and whispering "I like you, I love you, you are my daughter, my love, my bride forever, precious to me, and my emotion for you is more passionate than you could ever imagine. I created the stars to adorn you; I made the flower just for your pleasure, the lightning to declare the power with which I adore you. Let the earth shudder with my love, let the thunder roar. You are mine, my lovely child, the joy of my heart, and I will never let you go." But He was everywhere, and warm, so warm, and so beautiful that alone made me want to sob. He was the definition of bliss and peace and love, and so powerful. Perfection.
Antier does not cry. Crying is for sissies, for babies, and she does not participate in such a ridiculous and unproductive and emotion-baring activity, especially not when she's sitting in her room talking to a wall. She is the essence of clearheadedness, she is intelligent, logical, she views things objectively and without tears.
Well, forget that. I broke down like a baby. I bawled. Let me tell you, it's impossible to be with Him without sobbing.
It was that moment that I fell in love with Him. Wholly, madly, completely, I realized how He loved me, and it was impossible, absolutely impossible, to refuse such brilliant, crazy, powerful Love.
I cried for a long time, and it took me a while to stop, but afterwards I was left in sort of a daze, wandering around beaming helplessly. God loved me.
God loved me!
I went back to Gabe, told him, and he rejoiced with me. Thank you, God, so much for that boy.
I can't explain what happened logically. Despite all my obsession with rationality, sense, order, classifications . . . something strange, something emotional happened to me, and it trumped all the facts and logic I could ever possibly hope to acquire.
I have a daddy now. A real daddy. The best daddy anyone could ever hope for.
And guess what! I love Him so much, now I have an honest desire to make Him happy. Following Him - what used to be a chore, a labor, something I hated - has now turned into my own pleasure, my own desire. Doing what He wanted to do was joyous because what He wanted to do suddenly became what I wanted to do, too. You know how most people complain that "Oh, if you're Christian you don't get to do anything fun?" Well that's a load of total crap. Your definitions of fun change. Sin isn't fun anymore. Pleasing God is what brings you the most pleasure. Being God's child is brilliant, blessed freedom. Oh, the irony! I am freer than anyone given to lust, greed, selfishness, thievery, pride, complacency, or hatred could ever be, and yet I am guilty of them all. I have God. I have my love, my daddy, my savior. I am free.
The Bible used to be a collection of boring drivel drooled out by old dying dudes a couple thousand years ago. It's been transformed into an incredible, beautiful book detailing God's love for me.
Prayer used to be difficult, forced, uncomfortable and uncertain. That has become a pleasure. I adore talking to my Daddy, I love basking in His love, and I love making Him happy.
Things have changed. Now, don't think I'm immediately this wonderful person. I still have issues - a lot of them. I still have a deep-seated enmity towards feminine things (though I'm working on it). I still sin, I make my Daddy sad, but now I know how to make Him happy.
As for my biological father . . . well . . . Things haven't gotten much better. He has improved a slight amount over the years, but the major problems remain. And don't get me wrong - I still desire his approval, but it's at odds with the amount I dislike him. Part of me hates being around him, the other part wants him to be a daddy to me just like God is a daddy to me. He's hurt me, scarred me, abused me emotionally, and yet I desire his love. I still find myself trying to make him happy.
It's an annoying paradox. I look forward to the day when I marry and have my husband take the place of my father; where I can hide in the arms of the man I love rather than have the wish go unfulfilled with the one I hate.
But until then, during, and afterwards, I have God. Oh, heavens, you have no idea how much this lifts my soul. I have God. The freaking creator of the universe who's madly in love with me. He's insane. He's crazy. He's amazing.
I want to mash the keyboard now. watueaimadlckj
There is something to be said for logic, yes. It helps, some, it can point your mind in the right direction, and when you have emotion that contradicts logic, then logic trumps it. In that aspect, logic is king. But logic is inhuman. It is cold, it is cruel, it is ignorant to pains and joys and tears and laughter and love.
Let me tell you: you can rule the world, you can amass fortunes, you can have hoards of screaming fans chanting your name. You can have talents, you can have all the logic in the world, the best critical thinking training possible, you can memorize all the books, you can calculate the properties of various dimensions as much as your heart desires; you can interview professors, you can solve all mysteries and gather all knowledge . . .
But if you have not Love, you are nothing.
God loves you.
He really does.