And Then There Was Church
As I said in Part 1, there was a church influence in my early years, but it was sporadic since we moved so much. My heart was really open to God (as I think most children’s are), and I absorbed the lessons I was being taught, the sermons I heard, and the Bible Story books my parents had bought.
More than anything I liked church because I was treated so nice by my Sunday School teachers and pastors, which was such a break from my experience at home.
I believed everything I was being taught and developed what I believed was total faith in the promises of God. I believed God loved me and it was truly a relief from the abuse I got at home. My step-father hated me (he liked to remind me of that every chance he got), but at least I knew that God loved me.
But then something happened.
I somehow talked my mother into letting me keep a stray dog that wandered into our yard one day. He was probably a mix of ‘something’ and Irish Setter because he had long red hair. I named him Rusty. It didn’t take long for Rusty and I to become best friends.
Then one day he disappeared.
I was probably still around 10 years old or so and I had an innocent, childlike faith in God. Because I knew God loved me I knew He would bring Rusty back. I’d been told in Sunday School that if I had enough faith – God would do anything for me. I even got that confirmed a couple times from my Sunday School teacher to be sure.
Well, I was so happy because I had faith that God would bring Rusty back. I was 100% convinced Rusty was coming home and would even stare out the window day after day looking for him. Finally, after weeks of waiting it sunk in that Rusty wasn’t coming back.
I can’t even begin to describe how betrayed I felt by God. My step-father hated me but at least he never acted like he’d love me and always be there for me (God had) – he let me know from day 1 he didn’t want me. But even the pain of my stepfathers rejection was endurable – because I had a God who loved me and even wanted me to call Him Father. I had someone I could trust. Someone who would never let me down.
And that’s why my belief that Rusty was coming back was so strong. Because I really trusted God. Which I why I felt so betrayed by Him, because I believed He said if I trusted Him completely that what I asked for would come to pass. I’d been taught that and even reassured that it was true.
Which could only mean one thing. I’d been deceived. God lied to me.
So I got angry with God. Actually it was more like rage. Rage at God, and, rage at myself for letting my guard down and being duped.
I went outside and started screaming at God (through my tears) to get out of my life. I yelled at Him that I never wanted to have anything to do with Him again. In fact, I was so mad at Him I tried to commit the unpardonable sin. I wasn’t sure what that sin was, but I couldn’t think of anything worse than using swear words at God – so I cussed Him out and made a certain gesture.
That, I believed, would be the last of it. I didn’t see how God could ever forgive me for screaming and cussing at Him like I did, so I felt it was forever over between me and God, that He would never want me again after that – so we were through. At the ripe age of 10.
Not too long afterwards I remember being in an elementary school music class and having a teacher we all thought was ‘cool’. Looking back I know we thought that because that’s what he wanted us to think. As an adult he was much more sophisticated than we were, so it wasn’t too hard to be impressed by an adult “acting cool”.
One day in class the discussion somehow turned to whether or not there was a God.
Our teacher, while projecting an air of refinement and finesse, confidently assured us there was no God. Believe it or not that sparked a pretty intense debate with some of the kids peppering him with questions.
He just patiently smiled, let the ‘hubbub’ die down, and then used the following reasoning …
I explain his reasoning in - “Why There Is No God” – coming up in How I Found God – Part III.
How I Found God – Part IV - “Hook, Line, and Sinker”
How I Found God – Part V - “The Ouija Board”
How I Found God – Part VI
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