The formula didn’t work. The promises were not fulfilled. The books were wrong.
I prayed. And then I prayed harder. I memorized verses. And I forced myself to read the bible every day. I listened to my mother talk about how much God loves us and how good he is. And she left us. She abandoned me and betrayed me. She betrayed the God she claimed to worship. She used the bible as a weapon to manipulate my feelings at the age of 14.
And you know what, for some reason I still kept trying. The anger was starting to build but I still kept trying. I thought that if I just did better in school, got involved in more at church, read more, prayed more, waited more that somewhere around the corner some miracle must be waiting for me. It had to be.
I went to a Christian college. I did all the right things. I didn’t even date. I waited. And waited, and waited, and waited. Every one of my friends also graduated and got married and started having kids. And I was all “what about me God? What do I do? Aren’t you going to help me?”.
Now I don’t say this to say that I wish I had that life. I don’t. It’s just that the prescribed path that everyone was on wasn’t there for me. I’m certain that’s a good thing. But it has left me isolated from everyone I’ve known through the years. I don’t have anything in common with them anymore. I know it’s a common thing that happens for everyone in life. People move, and grow, and change, and start families and that’s what is supposed to happen. Some friendships just end naturally because people go different ways. But I haven’t had anyone to replace them.
The end of college for me meant nothing. I didn’t have any marketable skills and I wasn’t in any better of a place than before I went. Do you have any idea how fucking depressed I was when I graduated from PCC? I went and did what I was supposed to do and then I graduated and then I had to go back home to live with my parents who hated each other and to a life that was exactly the same as it was before I went to college, full of misery and lies and hurt. And I had absolutely nothing to show for all the work I did. I was still stuck.
Where was the success? The joy? The happiness? The calling on my life? The sign that I was supposed to go a certain way? That thing that I was supposed to do? It was nowhere. And guess what I did. I prayed some more. I pushed my feelings deep, deep down inside and I prayed more and volunteered for God more and read the bible more and threw my entire self into church still waiting for some kind of direction or sign from above.
It literally felt like God was ignoring me. Like he had been ignoring me my entire life since I “got saved” at 4 years old. How long can one person continue to pray and work and push through ignoring the questions and doubts and not expect to have an answer at some point?
This was the first time in my life that someone was actually paying attention enough to notice that I was very deeply depressed. And that in and of itself is depressing. Nobody around me who should have noticed, noticed. And the few people I did end up telling didn’t believe me even though I basically wanted to die. It is mind boggling to me that parents could be so utterly and completely oblivious to the fact that their child is depressed. How can you not notice something like that about your own child?
I think part of the problem there is that depression isn’t taken seriously. It’s not a health concern, it’s a “spiritual problem” or it’s just not even a real thing at all and you need to get over it. When I go back and read some of my journals from both my teenage years and college, I’m baffled at how it was possible that no one recognized how desperate I was. For acceptance, for relief from my “mom” duties, for someone to listen, for someone to understand that no matter how adorable my whole family may have looked singing together in front of everyone at church on a Sunday morning, I was in pain. It’s not adorable or sweet or precious when children are being neglected and in pain.
And isn’t church supposed to be the place where healing can happen? Isn’t it a place where people are supposed to be kind and selfless and actually pay attention to people who are suffering? I’ve been told that some people knew that something was very wrong with our family when we first started attending. That something was going on that wasn’t right. But no one did anything. My life got worse, and worse, and worse until my mother left. And then things exploded.
I don’t understand that. What is the point of church if not to reach out to those who are suffering? You can have as many programs as you want to bring people in and “get them saved” but when you neglect one of your own families in the church who are very clearly fucked up, there is a problem. When you see a problem but do nothing and wait for everything to blow up and then attempt to help pick up the pieces, it’s too late. The damage has been done. You can’t come in and be the hero after you’ve sat back and watched it all implode.
In the end, I spent 20 years of my life desperately searching for this god who was supposed to be all of these things that he wasn’t. While I agree that everything that happens in your life is what makes you who you are, that doesn’t mean that it is okay or good or a blessing or whatever that awful things happened to you. I don’t find any beauty or redeeming qualities in my childhood. That is not my fault. I suppose where the beauty and strength will come from is rising above all of that. It isn’t because of those things that I will get stronger, it is in spite of those things.