I looked at my phone and pulled up a note I had written when I first started going to back to church approximately two years ago. The title is My Truths, and the first note simply reads “I do not believe in God, or if he exists he is cruel.” I believe in God, therefore he must be cruel. I have just reasons for believing God to be cruel, though my reason now is very different from what it was– Sometimes the best way to be kind is to be cruel.
Now you might argue God is all loving and kind; therefore, it is impossible for him to be cruel–it does not make sense. Let me stop you there and point out, he sacrificed his son- our brother- in the most excruciating way possible. Jesus suffered. The bible is rot with trials and pain. Constant stories of prophets and people asked to do unimaginable acts that bring much suffering. We are here to suffer. If you say otherwise I want to ask you what puts you above Christ that he may suffer while you do not?
You are probably wondering what someone like me– full of bleak ideas of God– is doing in church. What have I been through, at such a young age–28, to give me such a devastating view of our Father, God? A lot of hurt, pain and suffering. I think if I have been given such a handful at this age I do not want to know catastrophic events I have been prepared for in the future. At the same time- I know I am capable of surviving whatever comes my way and that is key.
The things we suffer force us to grow and become resilient. They strengthen us. Last testimony meeting, I had an individual revelation, per se. As others bore their hearts about how the last year, last month, last week had been the hardest in their lives. I realized the last year has been the easiest I have had in over a decade. The last year has been trivial in the scheme of my life, It has created room for me to breath, process and heal. I have had the opportunity to reflect and approach painful memories.
As I reflect, I realize I have had a very different path from most of you. I have suffered and paid dearly through discrimination, bullying, harassment, physical and mental abuse. I have been hurt repeatedly. What I have had wrong to this point, is this does not separate me, but gives me more in common with all of you. It allows me to be more empathic and understanding. It allows me to listen without judgement to culture, stigmas, and stereotypes.
What is hard for me to overcome is the anxiety of connections creates for me. I am well aware that I appear intimidating and unapproachable. I use this to my advantage to keep my distance. It has kept me safe from further pain and hurt. However, this last year has allowed me enough wiggle room to slowly open up and create small cautious friendships. I have slowly become less defensive. While I still have a massive wall in place and am very closed off I am slowly allowing others a ladder to see into my safe space.
Where does God come into play? God has allowed me to suffer for my own development. Life was not meant to be easy. If it were, we would have followed Lucifer’s plan of salvation, instead of Christs. We suffer so we may have empathy for others, we may feel joy, and have understanding. We suffer that we know we can overcome the next trial in our life because we have suffered something much worse before and if we have not, when we make it through our future will be easier. He has been cruel to be kind.