Is There a God?

by Paul Shirley

Dear Jane Doe,

Your letter touched me.

If you don't mind, I would like to share something of my own personal experiences with you. I am going to send John Doe a copy too (and he already has my permission to post anything I send him to the list.)

My father was a preacher. I was raised in a strict family. When I was about 4 years old, I innocently used a word I had heard the next door neighbor use - I went inside and told Mother that I had to go to the bathroom and "shit."

When Daddy came home, he took me into the living room, then he had me kneel down, and then he prayed and asked God to forgive me for my sin. I was absolutely mortified, and the only time I can remember feeling worse was the time he called me down in church, while he was standing in the pulpit.

Those are not my painful childhood experiences - that's just to let you know something of the way I was raised and learned to look at church, prayer, sin, forgiveness, and deep inner shame.

For the last five years, I have been hit hard with some physical illnesses on top of all the stuff inside me. I have prayed more, and harder, than I ever have in my life. And you know what I get in response?

Cold, dead silence from Heaven.

Every once in a while, I have gotten so angry with God that it starts spilling over. I start telling Him that if He wants to treat me this way, if he wants to take all the talents and the intelligence he gave me to begin with, and if he wants to p*ss them all away by leaving me on the Trash Heap that my life has become because of being too sick to go out and do my work and be part of society - well then He can do it, because He is God. Nobody can stop Him. He is Boss. However, it that is what he chooses to do, I can have no more respect for Him, because I think He is wasting his own resources by keeping me so sick.

Then, I usually start cussing, and I tell him that he is one sick, sadistic son of a bitch that can't love because he likes to TORTURE little children who have never done anything to him.

And then, this great, enormous, silence descends upon me. I become terrified. Just when I think I have done it, have blown it for good, and that I am on my way to eternal flames for good, I feel a still, small voice inside me, and it says,

"I've been wondering when you were going to tell me about all that."

Then I cry.

And if God was here, I would grab him and hug him, and then I would probably lose my temper again and cuss some more, and He and I both would laugh over what a silly little child I am. Then he would tell me to get some worms and go fishing, to ease my mind. (And then, as He walked off, he would probably mutter something about the apostle Peter that I wouldn't quite be able to hear & understand.)

God cares. He just doesn't always do something about it. Sometimes He cares enough to stand by and do nothing, while we fight our way out of our own cocoons to become His butterflies. Even if He knows that it will take every last single ounce of rage inside us to finally get out of the thing, He still just stands there and watches our struggles. I've hated Him for it, at times. But you know what? I don't think I know anyone else who cares quite that much about me as He does, to let me do it all on my own.

One day, when I'm all finished with my struggles, and I'm either a lovely butterfly or a BIG ugly moth, I plan to stand right in front of His Great Big Chair. I will stand up straight, shoulders back, head up, and I will look Him straight in the Eye. I will say, "Thank You For Making Me What I Am," and then I will bow my head, but only from the neck. On that day, He can either take out His sword and dub me as one of His Knights, or He can pull out His sword and take my head off - I won't care either way, because He's who He is, and I am who He made me into.

That's my experience, Jane Doe. There's just nobody like God. I sometimes think He's just waiting for us all to grow up so that He can throw us one Big Party and tell us all the things we ever wanted to know.

Click here to write to Paul