I’m grieving today… and an open letter to those who cause me pain

They push, push, push, and then get angry when you finally snap.

They poke countless little holes into your heart and then can’t understand why your heart overflows with pain and anger every time they try to poke another.

They hurt without apology, inflict pain with no sign of remorse or desire to change, and then blame you for the problem.

They are always trying to prove themselves right, and you wrong. The truth doesn’t matter; understanding each other doesn’t matter. All that matters is that they’re right, and for you to know and acknowledge that they’re right.

They can see you as stubborn, obstinate, and unyielding; and yet they refuse to admit when they’re wrong and won’t lift a finger to mend things between you.

They beat you with their Bible and their religion, and can’t understand why you devote time to countering their hurtful messages and pointing out flaws in their weaponized Holy Book.

They hurt you over, and over, and over again. But it’s unacceptable for you to ever hurt them back. You must TAKE the pain but never cause them pain in return, even if the pain you deal out is only in an attempt to make them stop or the result of grief. You can never call them out on their bullshit because “that’s rude”.

But I won’t be like them. I may give in to my pain for a moment, I’m human and I sometimes react in hurt and anger like everyone else, but I will never allow myself to be like them. I will strive to never be so hard that I cannot admit when I’m wrong. I will always try to understand and respect others even if I disagree with them. And I will always try to inject LOVE into everything that I do. But I will also not stand for bullshit. I’ve been a doormat for too long, and I won’t ever fucking be one again.

Hear me, and hear me well: If you beat me with your religion, I will defend myself. If you try to poke more holes in my heart, I will call you on it and push you back far enough so you can’t hurt me again. If you pick a fight with me, I’ll put you in your place without apology. That’s not being rude, that’s being strong. And you will not make me feel bad for finally growing a backbone. If I cannot reason with you, then perhaps my firm responses will deter you from trying to hurt me again.

But also hear this: I don’t like to live in conflict. I’d much rather be friends and live in peace with you. If you show even a slight effort to change, if you try to fix things but fail a lot, I’ll bend over backwards to work with you. I can overlook many things when I know the person is making a genuine effort to accept me and make things better. It is not my desire to be at war with you.

So will you put down your weapons and meet me in the middle of this battleground? Can we stop fighting and start truly listening to one another? That’s what I’d like above all else. But I can’t do it alone.

I’m grieving today. Grieving for what I’ve lost, for the close relationships that were poisoned by fundamentalism and intolerance and religiously fueled narcissistic tenancies. Grieving for people in my life who have so drastically changed how they act towards me simply because I believe differently now. Gone is the seemingly unconditional acceptance and adoration, the praise and the trust; in its place are judgment, stereotypes, suspicion, mistrust, blame and anger. Pain pours from my heart every time they remind me of how little they respect and understand who I am now.

But I’ll survive, I always do. And at the end of this day of grieving I’ll be stronger than I was this morning. Because that’s what we do- we pick ourselves up and move forward no matter what they do to us. That’s what survivors do. And above all, I am a survivor.

Grieving-the-loss-of-relationships-that-will-never-be-can-also-be-a-lot-like-thisgrieving-takes-time

Open Letter to Christians Who Believe in a Literal Hell

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This letter is addressed to Christians who believe in a literal hell: a place of torment where non-believers will be tortured for eternity.

Before I begin: I was a Christian for 24 years, and I never once thought of these things. Now as an atheist I realize just how hurtful and scary this idea is, and I want to share my perspective so you understand what you’re actually conveying to those around you. Also, this is what your beliefs actually mean when you think them through…

When you tell me that I’m going to hell, this is what I hear: 

1. You honestly believe that I will be thrown into a burning pit, where the flesh will melt from my bones and be regrown over and over again so I can be tortured mercilessly for eternity. This immense pain will never end- I cannot die, I will continue to suffer for eternity while you enjoy paradise in heaven. I cannot repent after the torture begins, God will not forgive me and give me mercy even after a hundred years of having my flesh burned from my body.

2. You believe that this horrific, eternal punishment is justified for mortal crimes I have supposedly committed- crimes that include unbelief in a supernatural deity that defies science, feeling jealous when my friend gets a new pair of shoes, telling a white lie to make someone feel better, etc. These “crimes” are worthy of burning forever. If you don’t believe this punishment is completely justified, then you are saying that your God is unjust.

3. You bow before this God in prayer and in worship, thanking him for his justice, calling him good- all while firmly believing that this God intends to torture me if I don’t believe in him.

Can you see how this makes you look to non-believers? You are willingly serving a deity that would be so unimaginably cruel to us. This makes you seem cold-hearted, immoral, and even a bit maniacal for condoning such a grossly unjust punishment.

Some of you will say what I used to say years ago: “God doesn’t send you to hell, you send yourself to hell by not believing in him! God doesn’t WANT you to go there!” Here is why that argument doesn’t work:

A. I cannot choose to go to a place pf punishment that I do not believe in. Are you choosing to go to the Muslim hell because you don’t believe in Allah? Of course not- that’s silly. It’s no different for someone who does not believe in your religion’s hell. Not choosing one option doesn’t mean I automatically choose another one- and to say so is unfair and unjust and strips me of my free will. Your god would be making this choice FOR me- I am NOT choosing hell by not believing in him. I choose the third and most logical option: When we die that’s it, we are dead- our bodies go back into the earth. Thus we need to make the most of the life that we have while we have it. It’s beautiful, actually.

B. Even if I did choose hell, it’s not much of a choice: either bow to him or burn. That’s no different than putting a gun to my head and saying “You have a choice! Give me your money or die!” It’s technically a choice- but a grossly unfair one, one that spits in the face of my free will that god supposedly gives me.

C. God made the system and he made the rules, so he is 100% responsible for any and all suffering that results from the punishments he gives out. He created hell, regardless of who it was intended for. Since he knew everything, he knew that humans would end up there, and still made hell just as horrific. He purposefully made rules that were impossible to follow.

D. Just a thought- but hell is a pretty sick place. You’d have to be a pretty sick person to torture ANYONE like that- even the devil. What being deserves to be tormented in such a way, even a rebellious angel that has hurt people? Why not just execute them and make them not exist anymore- why keep them alive to torture them over and over again? That is something that a psychopath or someone on a revenge vendetta- not a loving God who is incapable of wrong- would do.

Another thought: Even if God created us, that doesn’t mean that he has the right to mistreat us or torture us for eternity. Most people would agree that burning your child when they disobey is wrong- just because you gave your child life doesn’t mean you get to hurt them or take their life away from them. But this is somehow ok when god does it.

Summary:

I never thought about these things when I was a believer. I couldn’t- because a kind, moral person cannot reconcile the idea of hell when you really start to think about it seriously. I know that most Christians are not psychopaths, nor are they crazy. But can you see how insane and maniacal the belief of hell makes you look, and how hurtful it is to us?

You are WILLINGLY serving a deity that you believe will melt the flesh from my bones for not believing in him.

Just think about that for a moment.

It reminds me of people who served Hitler even when he threw their family and friends into concentration camps: either they served him out of fear, they agreed with his awful methods, or they were too blind to see how awful Hitler really was.

Which are you?

-Lilly