I hate God and everything is meaningless- Sara Sweeney

Part One: I hate God

If you’ve had the misfortune of talking to me in the past week and a half, you’re well aware of my growing disdain for God. If you’re also aware of my position in life—and the numerous privileges I hold or the fortunes that have been granted to me in the form of friendships, love, and health—this is a little counter-intuitive, don’t you think? A huge amount of ungrateful? It’s month 7 of an 11-month faithful service year rooted in God’s love and one in which we explore God’s presence in our lives. So by now you’d think I’d be full of gratitude and joy about God, huh.

Nonetheless, God is out to get me and destroy my life. Here’s how some conversations go:

Me: I hate God
Other person: I know.
Me: There is no one in the last week and a half who hates God more than me
Me: Even people who are dying because they are refugees or the people working under Trump
Me: I’m the center of the universe and God is out to knock me off my throne, the fucker
Me: What’s the rule on impeaching God?

Can you feel my despair? My self-centeredness? I hope so. I’m not here to say that I love God even when I hurt because “everything happens for a reason,” or that God is the life-force of the world and we can know that God is always looking out for us at the end of the day. God sucks. God is the worst thing ever. God is so awful that even God should hate God and you can hate God too.

And, I am CERTAINLY not here to say God (or Jesus) is the remaining trail of footprints on a sandy beach when one trail of footprints disappears. Or, if that is God (or Jesus), it isn’t because God is carrying you. It’s way more likely that God was like “This imbecile human. What poor company I’ve created for myself,” and then God proceeded to pick you up by your ear lobes, swing you around in circles a few times to gain some speed, and chuck you into shark-infested waters so you can die a miserable, slow and gory death while God (or Jesus) doesn’t even bat an eyelash. Perhaps this is what they’re referring to when they say, “God laughs.”

It’s way more likely that God was like “This imbecile human. What poor company I’ve created for myself,” and then God proceeded to pick you up by your ear lobes, swing you around in circles a few times to gain some speed, and chuck you into shark-infested waters so you can die a miserable, slow and gory death while God (or Jesus) doesn’t even bat an eyelash.

Hopefully you can sense where I’m at right now. I’ve hated God so much lately, but that’s not all of it. I also need to add: don’t you dare assume I believe in God. I will not give God that pleasure—knowing one more human has been won over to God’s power?—ha! No way. I don’t have any endorsements for entities I despise. And I definitely don’t want the God-loving Christians to think they’ve won me over, either. I don’t want to hear “Oh but what faith it is, to hate God.” HELL NO! I’d rather associate myself with a functioning species of spray-can cheese than associate with the God-loving Christians. They’re the worst (but that’s a rant for a different time).
The reason I spend so much of my energy hating a God I may not believe in, right now, is the age–old method of “process of elimination.” I hate God simply because there’s nothing that appeals to me to hate any more than hating what God might be. It’s a defeat in choice– some might think it parallels our country’s last election. My vote to hate God is out of resignation, not of celebration.

I’m finding a relationship between hate and dependence, though, as well. I heard myself say in one conversation, “shit—I’m not sure that God is real but I don’t know where else to put my hate and confusion and if I think that God isn’t real I’ll just turn that hate and confusion even more on to me or other people. I need to depend on God because I can’t depend on myself, and even though the choices suck–nothing else seems any better.”
So there it is. Whether it’s a God I’m not convinced exists, or nature, or day-time TV, or myself: I need to depend on something (and channel all my hate and angst toward something that if it exists, can certainly handle my emotions). And even though the choices suck, nothing else seems any better than depending on the first one. And I hate that.

 
Part Two: Everything is Meaningless

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My Wilderness Exam: Veronica Farrell

This past weekend Centennial house and St. Columba house came together for a Lent retreat in Granby. I haven’t participated in Lent the past couple years, but our retreat has gotten me really excited.  When I have participated in Lent, the people around me never seemed to understand it. They often would tell me just giving up chocolate for 40 days seemed pretty useless and that the whole thing was a petty way to make yourself feel better for sacrificing something pointless. Soon I began to believe the same.

However, my experiences with Colorado ESC this past week have quickly changed my mind. One component of our shared formation at retreat was to listen to a sermon by Rev. Barbara Brown Taylor. Her opinion of what Lent truly is about is something I’ve never heard before. I’ve always thought Lent to be a time for punishing ourselves for our sins, like gluttony – hence giving up chocolate – and sacrificing something in honor of Jesus sacrificing himself for us. In her sermon, Rev. Brown Taylor focused on the wilderness exam from Luke 4, describing Lent as a time to voluntarily enter the “wilderness” in order to gain the “grit and clarity” necessary to follow Jesus to the cross. She says Lent is not a time to give up parts of our lives because they’re bad, but because they are distractions between us and God. She calls these distractions our “pacifiers.” Finally, she shared that Lent comes from the word “spring” which can be interpreted, Rev. Brown Taylor says, as a “greening of the human soul.”

At our retreat, we attended a local parish and the sermon told a similar story. Sin is defined as actions that bring us farther from God and the definition of penitence says nothing about punishment. Lent is a time to remove pacifiers from our lives and spend the tough, scary moments we experience as a result, with God.

I’ve given up and added a couple things for my Lent regimen this year and have already slipped up, but I’m not beating myself up about it. Rather, I’m recognizing that forgetfulness and realizing how much of a habit my pacifiers really are. I’ve removed some pretty ingrained supports and it’s taking an adjustment, but I can see now how those supports get in the way of a relationship with God. I now know, Lent is about finding out who you really are, what your life is all about, and discovering the distractions that help you survive, but keep you from truly living.