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If you have a sense that God loves you, how do you perceive that?


Quill
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5 minutes ago, 8circles said:

I am like this also. Like I said, I am an empath, so I don't think this really has anything to do with feelings or emotions. But the only people who I KNOW without a doubt love me, specifically me, and I matter to them and they would miss me are my children - when they're babies - and my dog. And even then, the reality is I'm replaceable so they'd get over it. DH comes close, but not quite. Parents? Nope. Siblings? No, not really - if I were to die they'd be sorry in a lost-potential way, not really personally. Certainly my friends don't. 

It is something I wish were different, but I can't spend any more energy worrying about it than I already have. Let me know if you figure it out.

Yes, it’s like this, exactly. 

And I don’t even have a dog anymore. 

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43 minutes ago, Bluegoat said:

 

Yes, with regard to the bolded.  I don't really identify much with the idea of knowing God loves me through reading it in the Bible - it's more that I (might) understand it better from that kind of reading.  I don't see my faith as derived from the Bible but from Christ, and Christ focused.  I think this connects to what someone above said about the nature of the Christian community actually containing God.  It's not a feeling or even an idea, but an experience, like a marriage or a parent-child relationship - that is the fundamental basis of our knowledge of being loved.

This is something that resonates with me more (though I know this next thing I’m about to say really rankles some people because it is Jesus-as-really-inspiring-dude, not as God). When I read the things Jesus said and the way he responded to people, I do think, that is the ultimate way to be. Like really - you love your friends? Big deal. Love your enemies. Or, when a soldier makes you walk a mile, walk the next mile of your own accord. I do think, I want to be like Jesus. 

Although Jesus was crucified, so I can’t say the outcome is always desirable...

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Faith is a journey. Even though I was raised Catholic and believed in God, I didn't have a personal faith and doubted much of the Bible. When my first child was born I decided that I needed to make a decision whether I believed or not and what I would teach her as she grew up. So during the many hours of nursing her I read many books and I realized that I could actually read the entire Bible and probably should. So I bought a one-year type Bible and started with the intention to read with an open mind and not be concerned with whether a man could really live in the belly of a fish or not, etc. By the time I finished the Gospel of John, I believed without a doubt that the Bible was Truth. I've continued to study since then and my faith has grown deeper. Other books that helped me during my time of searching were Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis and The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom. 

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6 minutes ago, Quill said:

This is something that resonates with me more (though I know this next thing I’m about to say really rankles some people because it is Jesus-as-really-inspiring-dude, not as God). When I read the things Jesus said and the way he responded to people, I do think, that is the ultimate way to be. Like really - you love your friends? Big deal. Love your enemies. Or, when a soldier makes you walk a mile, walk the next mile of your own accord. I do think, I want to be like Jesus. 

Although Jesus was crucified, so I can’t say the outcome is always desirable...

 

Bolded is interesting. I never would have categorized this part of Jesus as really-inspiring-dude. I mean, if we aren't supposed to try to be like Jesus in this way, I don't get xianity. At all.

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I get a little confused when people say that they don't rely on their feelings because feelings can't be trusted. Isn't everything about us unreliable? Our minds are fragile and easily tricked, our senses are also easily deceived. Humans can't get a true reliable grasp on anything because everything about us is imperfect. But we do what we can and use what we have. 

So how do I get a sense of God's love? 

Feelings- Sometimes the feeling of God's love does wash over me. It's a warm and consuming love.

Mental- spending time in Gods word, pondering truths, principles, ideas, and goodness. I think on God's love.

Senses- (this is a big one for me) When I look at flowers or hear beautiful music or taste something wonderful I feel God's love. God could have made this world purely functional but He didn't He gives us a thousand different reasons to smile just because He loves us.

History- like the PP when I think of all of the times I've been helped and shown mercy when I probably deserved justice I get a sense of God's love. 

Prayer- Speaking to my Heavenly Father often, about what's on my mind- my thoughts, sorrows, joys, and concerns bring a huge sense of connection and love.

I find the idea of brainwashing interesting because I see spending time worshiping as reprieve from brainwashing. We are constantly being told that we aren't enough. Its constant and relentless and it's everywhere. We aren't smart enough, pretty enough, educated enough, talented enough, holy enough, healthy enough, kind enough......... and on and on and on. When we worship we are taking a break from all of that. We are saying yes God you are enough and yes God I am enough because I am yours. Then we begin improving our lives from a space of love and plenty instead of self-hate and want. This is why we can't worship too much, we need that rest and peace.

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4 hours ago, SKL said:

I'm not gonna get deep about it, maybe because it's more intuitive for me. 

Basically God has saved my a$$ over and over, and sustained me continuously without fail.  Same for the whole human race.  (Yes people die, but we all understand that we're on this earth temporarily.)  God has given me everything I need to keep on trying.  When things seem worse than ever, we turn a corner and magically survive and thrive.  I don't believe it's an accident.

This is how I feel too.  

My life has been really up and down in terms of happiness/contentment, financial security, and health (not my own but those around me), loneliness, etc.  But I can look back and see how God has kept me going.  I can also see gifts that to many people would be mundane but were really answers to prayer.

People talk a lot about God's timing.  I have a clear illustration of that in my family life.  I married stupidly at 22 and was divorced by the time I was 25. I spent the next 12 years mostly alone, or if not alone, I should have been. I did some stupid things in those years. I also grew up a lot. During those lonely years I ranted at God often. I ignored him for big chunks of time. I explored several different religious groups hoping for peace, comfort, answers... a husband.  (I'm sort of kidding on that last one.)  I came to terms with my singleness and developed very close relationships with my nieces and nephews. I was a sort of substitute parent for 2 of them while their actual parents were going through a very ugly divorce. I met my 2nd (and permanent) husband when I was 37. The way we met was so completely out of character for both of us, it's a miracle it happened. We married when I was 39, our first child was born when I was 41 and my second arrived  about 2 months before I turned 43. Menopause snuck in there while I was pregnant and nursing.  Talk about timing!

I can't even consider all of those pieces coming together as coincidence. 

I know someone mentioned this but I'll also add... I don't know how people can look at flowers, birds, mountains... all the beauty of the world... and not see that there is a God. 

 

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13 hours ago, Rosie_0801 said:

I'm comfortable with the idea of unconditional love. I don't believe in unconditional like.

I have always found this sort of confusing, though. What is love without like? When my kid does something jerky, I don’t like them for that little while until it blows over. But if their jerky behavior was at a much more horrible level and was a lot more constant such that “I don’t like you right now” was pretty continuous, then doesn’t that mean you can’t truthfully say you love them? 

I’m trying to separate the things we really feel from the things we say are true just because it’s a social taboo to say otherwise. So, here’s a confession, for example, which I would rather nobody quotes this part <removed some info>

I think in our culture, it is taboo to say you feel nothing about someone you are supposed to love. <removed some info> 

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11 minutes ago, Quill said:

This is something that resonates with me more (though I know this next thing I’m about to say really rankles some people because it is Jesus-as-really-inspiring-dude, not as God). When I read the things Jesus said and the way he responded to people, I do think, that is the ultimate way to be. Like really - you love your friends? Big deal. Love your enemies. Or, when a soldier makes you walk a mile, walk the next mile of your own accord. I do think, I want to be like Jesus. 

Although Jesus was crucified, so I can’t say the outcome is always desirable...

 

Well, I'm not in the Jesus as inspiring dude camp, but I don't think you are wrong in how you are interpreting this.  That is the message of the Church - this love is the nature of God, this is the most real kind of thing, this is what we'd do to be fully human if we weren't held back by our infinities and inability to see clearly.

O/T maybe, I think this also relates quite tightly to the idea of original or ancestral sin and this sense of real love as being a basic experiential knowledge.  Because, what happens if you don't have that experience of a community that behaves in that way?  What if you own family doesn't give you that reference?  What if you are ill?  What if you live in a emotionally or physically violent community?  You may not have what you need in terms of an experience so that you can know the fundamentally loving foundations of reality.  The brokenness of the world, it's spiritual sickness, hobbles us all to some extent, some of us a lot.

The Gospel message is that perfect love is more real than spiritual sickness and has overcome it, and we can participate in that and allow it to be instantiate in us.

That's very intellectualized, but I think in a lot of ways the root way to access it is the experience of love in our lives.

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I totally relate about your brother - I have different circumstances but my situation is similar in the important ways.  We don't have a relationship. I love him as much as any other person that I don't have a relationship with. I would still say that I love him, but I think that without a relationship it's really quite meaningless. 

I don't like him or not like him either. 

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Re relationship - I'm not sure there is anyone, or anything, that we don't have a relationship with.  It might be piss-poor, but it's true - take the most far off planet or rock on the other side of the universe - we are all the same stuff.  If you are standing on it, mathematics doesn't operate differently.  And so how much more anything on our own planet.

Did you ever see the movie Dead Man Walking? Or read the book it was based on?  I think it's a very visceral example of what love without liking looks like.

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31 minutes ago, Bluegoat said:

Re relationship - I'm not sure there is anyone, or anything, that we don't have a relationship with.  It might be piss-poor, but it's true - take the most far off planet or rock on the other side of the universe - we are all the same stuff.  If you are standing on it, mathematics doesn't operate differently.  And so how much more anything on our own planet.

Did you ever see the movie Dead Man Walking? Or read the book it was based on?  I think it's a very visceral example of what love without liking looks like.

No I have not. Might add that to my book stack. My next up is a book called Amish Grace, about the nearly-im,ediate forgiveness offered by the Amish community following the school shooting. 

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6 hours ago, Quill said:

 

Well, I am right there with you....I do text my brother once in a while...respond to his rare texts to me.  But he has traveled so far down a path away from my life and anything I could relate to that I just rarely think of him.  He has a child I will never know....it makes me sad, but why bother to attempt a relationship with a child who is being taught that all the things I most value are evil in some way.  

My mom is crushed about my brother.  She remembers how close they were when he was little and how sweet he was.....I would never say 'do you still love your son?'  Because it would hurt her to answer...but I know she has emotionally shut herself off from him because she can't deal with the pain.  

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Quill,

I think that when you're a new believer, or even someone raised in church who is just coming into experiencing an adult relationship with God, it's easy to equate everything good in your life as a sign of God's blessing.  And it is God's blessing, but it's also an extremely immature understanding of God's blessing.  And blessing is not the same as love.  Any more than giving a teenager unlimited access to the internet and not requiring any school work is love.  It might be appreciated, but sooner or later love says no and values something less temporary.

There are entire cults of evangelicals who never get around the God's blessing immaturity - witness ATI. Follow these rules and your life will always go perfectly is not biblical, but it is an easy, attractive idea to accept.  But at some point life gets hard, and challenges come, and we either learn to be content in every circumstance, trusting God through it all, or we never come into a mature, adult faith.  It's a bit like the difference between your relationship with your first crush and still having a good marriage after 20 years.  You love and trust him and you know he loves you, even though you don't like or understand or agree with everything all the time.  You know your DH loves you even though you can't comprehend his political beliefs, for example. 

I think a long term, mature relationship with God is much the same.  You have to let go of the idea that God's love will give you everything you want right now the second you want it, and accept that God loves you no matter what, and these circumstances are temporary, whether they are good or bad.  And I think eventually you come into a place where you're actively seeking to find ways to do things for God rather than for Him to act like a magic genie who smooths over your life and answers your every wish.

I think that finding that thing, that way that I can serve God with my little life, has been pretty key to me having the experience of God loving me as an adult.  And I also think that service is the way that I have learned that I do have the capacity for unconditional love.  I know you're very busy.  But I wonder if you find some small way for you to serve God by serving others, outside your family, if that would help you feel something different.

And for what it's worth, you've made a difference in my life. Your thread on the civil war statues, for example, completely changed my feelings about them. I know we can't always see the ripples we make in other people's lives, but you've made a positive difference in mine.

Katy

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Once when I was feeling extremely not-blessed in any way, I was complaining to my husband, and even though I knew it was wrong, equating God's blessing with "everything is going well."   And he said "just because you don't feel the blessing right now doesn't mean it's not there."   The fact that I feel like my life is not going the way I'd expected it to has nothing to do with God's love for me or blessings on me. But that can be hard to take sometimes.  

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My mom is crushed about my brother.  She remembers how close they were when he was little and how sweet he was.....I would never say 'do you still love your son?'  Because it would hurt her to answer...but I know she has emotionally shut herself off from him because she can't deal with the pain.

Scarlet, can you please delete the part of my post that you quoted? Thank you. 

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54 minutes ago, Katy said:

I think a long term, mature relationship with God is much the same.  You have to let go of the idea that God's love will give you everything you want right now the second you want it, and accept that God loves you no matter what, and these circumstances are temporary, whether they are good or bad.  And I think eventually you come into a place where you're actively seeking to find ways to do things for God rather than for Him to act like a magic genie who smooths over your life and answers your every wish.

And for what it's worth, you've made a difference in my life. Your thread on the civil war statues, for example, completely changed my feelings about them. I know we can't always see the ripples we make in other people's lives, but you've made a positive difference in mine.

Katy

 

This reminded me of some people who reply to every "How are you?" with "God is good all the time " or something similar. While the statement in and of itself rings true, I find this very disingenuous. This discounts the deep pain we can find ourselves in. When you just shared something disastrous it is simply not helpful to point out how good God is at that moment even though it is true. In some Christian circles true empathy, just holding someone's hand when things are bad, and acknowledging how hard something is, has completely vanished. Members of such groups are reluctant to share when they are going through a rough time and understandably so. 

Reminding ourselves that God's love is there in good and bad days is a key element, I think. This does not mean that some days we won't feel forgotten by God or very un-blessed (as marbel said). His steadfastness is so complete that we humans with our finite minds cannot truly grasp it.

Quill, did you feel loved, valued and accepted as a child?

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The only way I know to put this source of authority to the test is to actually read it, hear it preached, prayed and sung, consistently and in Christian community. Epistemology is all well and good, but when the rubber meets the road, what I do is worship the God revealed in the Word, in Jesus Christ. 

One thing about this, though, which may not be obvious, is that I go to church almost every week. I read scripture, hear evangelical-contemporary style teaching - even most often feel it is worthwhile. I sing Christian songs. I keep my radio in the car on a Christian station, partially because I just plain like the songs and partially because I know I’m not going to hear ugly “shock jock” stuff on there. My high schooler attends a Christian school. My homeschool co-op is specifically Christian, though ecumenical. We pray over our dinners because I think it is good to always be reminded to be thankful for what we have. 

Don’t misunderstand; I’m not saying, “See? I do the things so I’m a Christian.” I’m saying, it’s not that there’s all this wonderful truth that is outside of my experience. It is actually fully within my experience every day. But I’m not experiencing it as, “Oh, there’s God and He loves me inexplicably much and I love God, too!” Honestly, if I even say that, I feel like I am talking nonsense.

My mom says things - they sound delusional to me. She plays these little head games with herself all the time like, “If I see a cardinal today, I will know that God is giving me a sign that XYZ.” And then she sees a cardinal, because, you know, they are indiginous to the area and all she has to do is glance out the window and she’s bound to see one, but to her, it represents some proof of something. Now, make the sign hinge on seeing a peacock today, and maybe you’ll get my attention! Or an ostrich. If you see an ostrich in the yard today, mom, I will grant you, that might mean something. ? 

 

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13 minutes ago, Liz CA said:

 

This reminded me of some people who reply to every "How are you?" with "God is good all the time " or something similar. While the statement in and of itself rings true, I find this very disingenuous. This discounts the deep pain we can find ourselves in. When you just shared something disastrous it is simply not helpful to point out how good God is at that moment even though it is true. In some Christian circles true empathy, just holding someone's hand when things are bad, and acknowledging how hard something is, has completely vanished. Members of such groups are reluctant to share when they are going through a rough time and understandably so. 

Reminding ourselves that God's love is there in good and bad days is a key element, I think. This does not mean that some days we won't feel forgotten by God or very un-blessed (as marbel said). His steadfastness is so complete that we humans with our finite minds cannot truly grasp it.

Quill, did you feel loved, valued and accepted as a child?

Agreeing that the skill of being able to sit with those who hurt is in much too short supply, and it is no better, possibly worse, in some Christian circles. Hard to imagine though it may be, as I sit here blabbing about every corner of my soul, I am IRL extremely reluctant to share anything with anyone. Too many instances of finding out that hurting can make one very unpopular.

As a child, yes, I felt very adored and accepted, but I was a splendid child. I matched up to the high standards set for me, so I felt loved. It was later learning that not meeting the standards meant love could be withdrawn, that I felt unloved and fundamentally unworthy. Any armchair therapist can see I still have this fear; that I have to be good enough to be worthy of someone caring about me. Society does reinforce this, too, BTW. Even people who don’t mean quite that seem to communicate that when they say something like, “I don’t know how we will run this class when Quill isn’t homeschooling anymore!” So, even though society says it is bad to be perfectionistic, nevertheless people who do things to a very high standard have that effort constantly reinforced, constantly praised. 

And honestly, I do think my husband would love me less and less if I were not so “beneficial.” He is one who thinks I am harmed by my perfectionism - he is always telling me to lighten up, let it go, be a day late, whatever - but at the same time, he benefits from it and clearly, he likes it. And that’s all I’m going to say about that to keep on the right side of the board rules. 

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26 minutes ago, Quill said:

My mom says things - they sound delusional to me. She plays these little head games with herself all the time like, “If I see a cardinal today, I will know that God is giving me a sign that XYZ.” And then she sees a cardinal, because, you know, they are indiginous to the area and all she has to do is glance out the window and she’s bound to see one, but to her, it represents some proof of something. Now, make the sign hinge on seeing a peacock today, and maybe you’ll get my attention! Or an ostrich. If you see an ostrich in the yard today, mom, I will grant you, that might mean something. ? 

 

 

We call this "magical thinking." "If I make three left turns in the harbor my boat will not sink and we all will return safely home." I love analogies from sailors and fishermen because they admit to be some of the most superstitious people and they are fun...but unfortunately, I don't think we can decide on something like this and then tie this to a response we want to hear from God. This is different than the doors will open and close saying. If I pursue something in all the good and right ways and the door closes, I may think God put that road block there for a reason - even if I have no clue why. 

A very accomplished person in my field once shared that she wanted to become an artist but was not accepted at the school of her choice. She then went to her #2 choice and became a very skilled person her field. I could go along with saying "God wanted her in this field because of all the good she would do."

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4 minutes ago, Quill said:

Agreeing that the skill of being able to sit with those who hurt is in much too short supply, and it is no better, possibly worse, in some Christian circles. Hard to imagine though it may be, as I sit here blabbing about every corner of my soul, I am IRL extremely reluctant to share anything with anyone. Too many instances of finding out that hurting can make one very unpopular.

As a child, yes, I felt very adored and accepted, but I was a splendid child. I matched up to the high standards set for me, so I felt loved. It was later learning that not meeting the standards meant love could be withdrawn, that I felt unloved and fundamentally unworthy. Any armchair therapist can see I still have this fear; that I have to be good enough to be worthy of someone caring about me. Society does reinforce this, too, BTW. Even people who don’t mean quite that seem to communicate that when they say something like, “I don’t know how we will run this class when Quill isn’t homeschooling anymore!” So, even though society says it is bad to be perfectionistic, nevertheless people who do things to a very high standard have that effort constantly reinforced, constantly praised. 

And honestly, I do think my husband would love me less and less if I were not so “beneficial.” He is one who thinks I am harmed by my perfectionism - he is always telling me to lighten up, let it go, be a day late, whatever - but at the same time, he benefits from it and clearly, he likes it. And that’s all I’m going to say about that to keep on the right side of the board rules. 

 

I think you are hitting on important things here. If you always felt your performance is inexorably tied to people loving you, you have rarely or never experienced the love we all crave. The all important question: Will you still love me when I do bad things? Will you still love me warts and all? 

I wonder what your husband would say if we asked him what he thinks about loving you less if you were not so "beneficial" to the running of this family and his life? His answer may surprise you. But it may also be hard to accept because of years of telling yourself you have to be worthy to be loved because nobody gives love away for who we are but only commensurate with what we can do for them.

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51 minutes ago, Liz CA said:

 

This reminded me of some people who reply to every "How are you?" with "God is good all the time " or something similar. While the statement in and of itself rings true, I find this very disingenuous. This discounts the deep pain we can find ourselves in. When you just shared something disastrous it is simply not helpful to point out how good God is at that moment even though it is true. In some Christian circles true empathy, just holding someone's hand when things are bad, and acknowledging how hard something is, has completely vanished. Members of such groups are reluctant to share when they are going through a rough time and understandably so. 

Reminding ourselves that God's love is there in good and bad days is a key element, I think. This does not mean that some days we won't feel forgotten by God or very un-blessed (as marbel said). His steadfastness is so complete that we humans with our finite minds cannot truly grasp it.

Quill, did you feel loved, valued and accepted as a child?

 

I think that phrase can be used in a way though that is very much about acknowledging that many people are in deep pain.  That's what the crucifixion is getting at, or Christ's presence in Hell.

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45 minutes ago, Quill said:

One thing about this, though, which may not be obvious, is that I go to church almost every week. I read scripture, hear evangelical-contemporary style teaching - even most often feel it is worthwhile. I sing Christian songs. I keep my radio in the car on a Christian station, partially because I just plain like the songs and partially because I know I’m not going to hear ugly “shock jock” stuff on there. My high schooler attends a Christian school. My homeschool co-op is specifically Christian, though ecumenical. We pray over our dinners because I think it is good to always be reminded to be thankful for what we have. 

Don’t misunderstand; I’m not saying, “See? I do the things so I’m a Christian.” I’m saying, it’s not that there’s all this wonderful truth that is outside of my experience. It is actually fully within my experience every day. But I’m not experiencing it as, “Oh, there’s God and He loves me inexplicably much and I love God, too!” Honestly, if I even say that, I feel like I am talking nonsense.

My mom says things - they sound delusional to me. She plays these little head games with herself all the time like, “If I see a cardinal today, I will know that God is giving me a sign that XYZ.” And then she sees a cardinal, because, you know, they are indiginous to the area and all she has to do is glance out the window and she’s bound to see one, but to her, it represents some proof of something. Now, make the sign hinge on seeing a peacock today, and maybe you’ll get my attention! Or an ostrich. If you see an ostrich in the yard today, mom, I will grant you, that might mean something. ? 

 

I'm with you that having your conclusions about reality and what you believe dependent on the appearance of a bird isn't how I want to live.

When I look at your list, I see lots of things that are sort of done *to you*, where it's passive, and maybe not so much where it's you actually actively searching out. Do you read your Bible? The Bible has a lot to say about searching. 

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2 minutes ago, PeterPan said:

I'm with you that having your conclusions about reality and what you believe dependent on the appearance of a bird isn't how I want to live.

When I look at your list, I see lots of things that are sort of done *to you*, where it's passive, and maybe not so much where it's you actually actively searching out. Do you read your Bible? The Bible has a lot to say about searching. 

I used to. At some point I got tired of trying. 

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19 minutes ago, Quill said:

Agreeing that the skill of being able to sit with those who hurt is in much too short supply, and it is no better, possibly worse, in some Christian circles. Hard to imagine though it may be, as I sit here blabbing about every corner of my soul, I am IRL extremely reluctant to share anything with anyone. Too many instances of finding out that hurting can make one very unpopular.

As a child, yes, I felt very adored and accepted, but I was a splendid child. I matched up to the high standards set for me, so I felt loved. It was later learning that not meeting the standards meant love could be withdrawn, that I felt unloved and fundamentally unworthy. Any armchair therapist can see I still have this fear; that I have to be good enough to be worthy of someone caring about me. Society does reinforce this, too, BTW. Even people who don’t mean quite that seem to communicate that when they say something like, “I don’t know how we will run this class when Quill isn’t homeschooling anymore!” So, even though society says it is bad to be perfectionistic, nevertheless people who do things to a very high standard have that effort constantly reinforced, constantly praised. 

And honestly, I do think my husband would love me less and less if I were not so “beneficial.” He is one who thinks I am harmed by my perfectionism - he is always telling me to lighten up, let it go, be a day late, whatever - but at the same time, he benefits from it and clearly, he likes it. And that’s all I’m going to say about that to keep on the right side of the board rules. 

 

Well, look, of course your husband loves you for your good qualities and is happy about them.  Even things like perfectionism that are both a good quality in some ways and a problem in others.  My mother is a perfectionist, and I know it in some cases causes her grief.  But I admire the kind of work and commitment she has to things, too, and I certainly appreciate the ways it has benefited me.  

It's natural to wonder if people would love you less under certain circumstances or would find it challenging, but I'm not sure it's healthy to fault them for loving your strengths - that is a path that could get a little wonky.

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54 minutes ago, Quill said:

One thing about this, though, which may not be obvious, is that I go to church almost every week. I read scripture, hear evangelical-contemporary style teaching - even most often feel it is worthwhile. I sing Christian songs. I keep my radio in the car on a Christian station, partially because I just plain like the songs and partially because I know I’m not going to hear ugly “shock jock” stuff on there. My high schooler attends a Christian school. My homeschool co-op is specifically Christian, though ecumenical. We pray over our dinners because I think it is good to always be reminded to be thankful for what we have. 

Don’t misunderstand; I’m not saying, “See? I do the things so I’m a Christian.” I’m saying, it’s not that there’s all this wonderful truth that is outside of my experience. It is actually fully within my experience every day. But I’m not experiencing it as, “Oh, there’s God and He loves me inexplicably much and I love God, too!” Honestly, if I even say that, I feel like I am talking nonsense.

My mom says things - they sound delusional to me. She plays these little head games with herself all the time like, “If I see a cardinal today, I will know that God is giving me a sign that XYZ.” And then she sees a cardinal, because, you know, they are indiginous to the area and all she has to do is glance out the window and she’s bound to see one, but to her, it represents some proof of something. Now, make the sign hinge on seeing a peacock today, and maybe you’ll get my attention! Or an ostrich. If you see an ostrich in the yard today, mom, I will grant you, that might mean something. ? 

 

 

It sounds like you are thinking about that as a kind of feeling still?  Like, love as a feeling?  What I would ask is, do you see love actually in action in this community?  Where does it come from, what's the substance of that?  How does it move the community?  Why should you be thankful?  What does that imply? Is it just random people doing random things?  

These are the kinds of question which I would say should be coming to light in the worship, teaching, and Scripture reading activities of a church community.  The actions themselves, but also their meaning and their source.

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6 minutes ago, Bluegoat said:

 

It sounds like you are thinking about that as a kind of feeling still?  Like, love as a feeling?  What I would ask is, do you see love actually in action in this community?  Where does it come from, what's the substance of that?  How does it move the community?  Why should you be thankful?  What does that imply? Is it just random people doing random things?  

These are the kinds of question which I would say should be coming to light in the worship, teaching, and Scripture reading activities of a church community.  The actions themselves, but also their meaning and their source.

I just think, How does someone believe God loves them personally? I know people who are very confident of this. There’s even quite a bit of that in the book I mentioned how, gratitude for God’s love for us makes it impossible to simultaneously hang onto anger or contempt for others. I agree with that intellectually, but I don’t have that feeling of “God is so good! He loves us boundlessly! We don’t have to do anything to earn it and we certainly don’t deserve it, but we can receive it anyway!” 

I do see love in action and have been a part of service project, for example, that make me very happy to be a part of. And I know people who have accepted humble service that blows my mind because of the sacrifice it represents, like adopting a profoundly disabled child who will definitely die in childhood. I buried a baby; I cannot imagine volunteering to do so. It’s a beautiful expression of love for humanity. However, I don’t see that as necessarily something a person does because God enables them to do so. Presumably an atheist could also adopt a very ill child. (I don’t personally know one, but I don’t travel in circles heavy with atheists.) 

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Here is my simplified version... Yes. 

I have explained to non-believers or those who are questioning this rationale: 

God is like a great-grandma. Great-grandmas just love you. They usually don't ask about your record card or how you did in the game; you cannot earn their love by doing good stuff. They care about those things if you want to tell them. But they just love you. Just the way you are. The only thing you have to do is love them back and honor them.  (nice to send them a card on Mother's Day). They are always thrilled to see you; they honestly think you are beautiful and wonderful and lovely. As a child, you knew great-grandma loved you. 

 

Probably not a great answer to your question.. but I get what you are saying. Why would the God of the universe care about me, let alone, love me? Because he chooses to. I think, again from my limited knowledge, that God created the world, tried really hard to control the people throughout the Old Testament (a lot like how we treat our children and probably our grandchildren - trying to teach them lessons), and then He realizes we, as people, are kind of a mess. He can either keep trying to control the mess, or He can love us the way we are. The New Testament is His way of saying, I just love you. Stop trying to earn it; start feeling the love. Just like a great-grandma. Accept the love. 

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11 hours ago, Arctic Mama said:

Feelings are crap
No, they are most certainly not.  They are one of the many ways in which man is created in God's image.  They're not something to base a decision on or a measure of truth, but they are a gift from God to be used for His glory in alignment with Scripture. Bad evangelicalism has been spreading this bad doctrine that emotions are bad for a long time now. Usually a preacher with anger issues is a loud mouthpiece for that kind of teaching.

 

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1 hour ago, Quill said:

I just think, How does someone believe God loves them personally? I know people who are very confident of this. There’s even quite a bit of that in the book I mentioned how, gratitude for God’s love for us makes it impossible to simultaneously hang onto anger or contempt for others. I agree with that intellectually, but I don’t have that feeling of “God is so good! He loves us boundlessly! We don’t have to do anything to earn it and we certainly don’t deserve it, but we can receive it anyway!” 

I do see love in action and have been a part of service project, for example, that make me very happy to be a part of. And I know people who have accepted humble service that blows my mind because of the sacrifice it represents, like adopting a profoundly disabled child who will definitely die in childhood. I buried a baby; I cannot imagine volunteering to do so. It’s a beautiful expression of love for humanity. However, I don’t see that as necessarily something a person does because God enables them to do so. Presumably an atheist could also adopt a very ill child. (I don’t personally know one, but I don’t travel in circles heavy with atheists.) 

Huh, I can think of three times in my life where God has shielded me from feelings of rage and/or despair. Three times. Every other time I was required to work through my feelings of anger, hate, contempt, frustration, futility, etc. Knowing that I loved God and that He loved me didn't make loving my neighbor any easier. But It does make loving my neighbor a priority. So I work at it and ask for help and study and try. 

Rarely do I have that effusive boundless feeling of God's love. Mostly I go through my day with the gentle and mild assurance that I am not walking this life alone.

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This post has brought up a jumble of thoughts because I tend to the cynical side, the not-feeling things side, and since I became a Christian, I have many times associated that with doubt. Especially since it seemed so many people's relationship with God seemed primarily to be through feelings, at least in the churches I started out in. A lot of times I found it disingenuous, like how could anyone really feel that way? And when I tried to conjure up those feelings that I saw other people demonstrating they just didn't come.  I have learned that, for me, the discipline of reading the Bible and pursuing a knowledge of God is more important than any feeling I ever managed to eek out of multiple choruses of "I love you, Lord".  I don't mean that to sound dismissive, but it was my experience. I don't think I would know God's love for me if I didn't believe the Bible or study it to reinforce my knowledge daily because I forget it so easily. You can call that brainwashing myself, but I think of it more of just studying someone. Like, I have to continually do things that show my love for my husband and think about him daily to affirm that I love him, and I need to know that he's doing the same. If we both rest on our laurels in that regard, we fall into a very roommate-ish situation.

I think that if one doesn't believe we needed Jesus to die for our sins, and that he did that and rose from the dead, and that was the ultimate expression of love...then it would be hard to affirm God's love or to know it in a Christian sense.

Like I said, a jumble of things.

I read Barnabas Piper's "Help My Unbelief" and that was very clarifying for me. I don't know if it's applicable to your situation, but I thought I would mention it.

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7 hours ago, Quill said:

It probably doesn’t help matters, but it’s not a new thing. I don’t typically think people love me. 

 

Can I ask how your relationship with your parents is/was? I find that the love experienced by a child from their parents often impacts how they perceive a God that is described in parental terms. 

 

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25 minutes ago, Ktgrok said:

Can I ask how your relationship with your parents is/was? I find that the love experienced by a child from their parents often impacts how they perceive a God that is described in parental terms. 

 

Not ideal. <removed> 

Don’t quote that; I will have to remove such disrespectful words in order to sleep tonight. 

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2 hours ago, Quill said:

I just think, How does someone believe God loves them personally? 

Because that is the whole point of Christianity. He loved the world, and everyone in it. To be Christian is to believe that we are loved by God as much as a mother loves the baby suckling at her breast, to know that Christ loved us enough to die for us. That's the message. I believe in that message, so I believe God loves me. It has nothing to do with feeling anything, for me. It's just knowing that that is what Christ came for. 

I am not fundamentalist. I do not believe every part of the Bible is scientifically accurate. I believe it is a moral story of God's love for us. 

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52 minutes ago, Learning fun said:

Huh, I can think of three times in my life where God has shielded me from feelings of rage and/or despair. Three times. Every other time I was required to work through my feelings of anger, hate, contempt, frustration, futility, etc. Knowing that I loved God and that He loved me didn't make loving my neighbor any easier. But It does make loving my neighbor a priority. So I work at it and ask for help and study and try. 

Rarely do I have that effusive boundless feeling of God's love. Mostly I go through my day with the gentle and mild assurance that I am not walking this life alone.

Well, for clarity, the author of the book is not saying you don’t have to work to release anger or anything like that. He’s just saying, if you are grateful, you can’t be simultaneously angry at/about the shortcomings of others. So, when you have a strong sense of the gratitude you feel for God forgiving you, it is less likely that you will fume about your co-worker who left the coffee pot to burn again

I don’t have that “gentle, mild assurance that I’m not walking this life alone.” I feel quite alone. I feel like I have to solve the problems because nobody (or Nobody, capital N) is going to swoop in and solve them for me. 

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Oh Quill...I'm so sorry. I think that probably is the root of all of this (not quoting because you asked me not to). Parents are supposed to be our model for God's love. An imperfect model, but our closest representation. I am very lucky to have had that kind of example. I have no doubt my parents would give up their own life for mine in a heartbeat, without regret. I know that if I need them, they will be there for me. I know that they love me and support me no matter what, even when they disagree with my choices. That when they get upset with my choices it is only because they love me and want what is best for me. Growing up with that, it is much easier to then understand and believe in God's love. If my imperfect, human parents can love me that much, how much greater is the love of God? It's mind blowing to think of. 

So maybe think about whomever or whatever you've loved the most, and then think how your love as a human is only a shadow of the love God has. And he feels that way about you. 

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Just now, Quill said:

Well, for clarity, the author of the book is not saying you don’t have to work to release anger or anything like that. He’s just saying, if you are grateful, you can’t be simultaneously angry at/about the shortcomings of others. So, when you have a strong sense of the gratitude you feel for God forgiving you, it is less likely that you will fume about your co-worker who left the coffee pot to burn again

I don’t have that “gentle, mild assurance that I’m not walking this life alone.” I feel quite alone. I feel like I have to solve the problems because nobody (or Nobody, capital N) is going to swoop in and solve them for me. 

I call BS.

And I bet God gets annoyed with us, lol. Still loves us. 

I do not buy the premise of this book, at all. 

You need a different kind of Christianity to experience I think. 

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4 hours ago, Katy said:

Quill,

I think that when you're a new believer, or even someone raised in church who is just coming into experiencing an adult relationship with God, it's easy to equate everything good in your life as a sign of God's blessing.  And it is God's blessing, but it's also an extremely immature understanding of God's blessing.  And blessing is not the same as love.  Any more than giving a teenager unlimited access to the internet and not requiring any school work is love.  It might be appreciated, but sooner or later love says no and values something less temporary.

There are entire cults of evangelicals who never get around the God's blessing immaturity - witness ATI. Follow these rules and your life will always go perfectly is not biblical, but it is an easy, attractive idea to accept.  But at some point life gets hard, and challenges come, and we either learn to be content in every circumstance, trusting God through it all, or we never come into a mature, adult faith.  It's a bit like the difference between your relationship with your first crush and still having a good marriage after 20 years.  You love and trust him and you know he loves you, even though you don't like or understand or agree with everything all the time.  You know your DH loves you even though you can't comprehend his political beliefs, for example. 

I think a long term, mature relationship with God is much the same.  You have to let go of the idea that God's love will give you everything you want right now the second you want it, and accept that God loves you no matter what, and these circumstances are temporary, whether they are good or bad.  And I think eventually you come into a place where you're actively seeking to find ways to do things for God rather than for Him to act like a magic genie who smooths over your life and answers your every wish.

I think that finding that thing, that way that I can serve God with my little life, has been pretty key to me having the experience of God loving me as an adult.  And I also think that service is the way that I have learned that I do have the capacity for unconditional love.  I know you're very busy.  But I wonder if you find some small way for you to serve God by serving others, outside your family, if that would help you feel something different.

And for what it's worth, you've made a difference in my life. Your thread on the civil war statues, for example, completely changed my feelings about them. I know we can't always see the ripples we make in other people's lives, but you've made a positive difference in mine.

Katy

This resonates with me. I've been thinking about this thread a lot today. I don't know if I can express this well, but I'm going to try. I decided to follow Christ at a young age. As I grew into adulthood, my faith had to grow too; I am a questioner, so there were points along the way where I had to stop and ask, "Is this still what I believe? Why do I believe it?" And I would wrestle with it. Through the questions of evil and suffering, personal loss, and so on. And after times of intense searching, I would choose to continue to follow. Some might scoff at what I am going to say, but the Bible does say that the gospel is foolishness to those who do not believe, so that's okay. I've had to choose to believe without understanding everything. That is part of what faith is. I came to a point a couple of years ago--not to the point of choosing whether to believe or not--but to the point of "Am I going to trust God even though He let me be hurt? Can I willingly trust Him enough to follow Him knowing that He might let that happen again--am I willing to lay myself open to trusting that it really is for the best for His purposes for my life in this world? Am I willing to follow Him even if He never answers or 'explains' why He let something happen in my life?" When I decided that I was going to do that--trust Him no matter what--again, my relationship with God reached a deeper level. I came to the point of saying that I'm going to radically, completely, throw myself on His mercy in this life. I know of nothing else that comes anywhere close in this world to being worth my giving my life for and toward. (This is not a one time decision; a couple of years ago was the latest, but I have lived my whole adult life doing things that are absolutely nuts if God isn't there and who He says He is.) Sometimes I "feel" loved by Him; sometimes I accept it intellectually.

As to the Bible, yes, I believe it. I do not understand it all. There are many things in the Old Testament that I do not understand. I'm okay with that. I still read it, because I believe it is there because it is important to the whole story, so I continue to search and try to learn. I have read the Bible through, numerous times. Of course, the Chronicles are not as inspiring to me as the Psalms or most New Testament books. But the Bible includes a variety of types of books, and there is beauty and purpose in that. I love to read the Psalms, and one reason is that they express the gamut of human feeling. That is one thing that definitely makes me feel loved; if David, who the Bible says was "a man after God's own heart," could be so gut-level honest about how he felt, and God still loved him like that--and would give us the Bible that included those honest feelings, it says to me that God is bigger than my struggles over who He is and how I feel about Him--even when I feel abandoned by Him--because He even let that be included in His Word! He is not threatened by my questions or my doubts, but allows me to struggle through them for my own growth. I can find a Psalm to express pretty much any emotion that I have ever felt, so I find them an important part of my faith journey. And I feel God loves me because He has told me repeatedly in the Bible that it is so, and has proved it in action.

This feels so inadequate to express what I want to say...

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Quote
Quote

, "Is this still what I believe? Why do I believe it?" And I would wrestle with it. Through the questions of evil and suffering, personal loss, and so on. And after times of intense searching, I would choose to continue to follow. Some might scoff at what I am going to say, but the Bible does say that the gospel is foolishness to those who do not believe, so that's okay. I've had to choose to believe without understanding everything. That is part of what faith is. I came to a point a couple of years ago--not to the point of choosing whether to believe or not--but to the point of "Am I going to trust God even though He let me be hurt

 

Thank you for your post. This is similar to me, but the outcome was different. I was raised by church people so there was never a time I remember not knowing the gospel. And there were different times when I questioned and examined what I thought and had to sort of “be reborn” a few different times, like when I was 13and then 15 and then not again until like 20, then 29, with that being really the high point where I was all-in. My username on a different board was “ServantofGod,” can you believe that? 

But when the Big Tragedy happened, I couldn’t really make peace with it, it turns out. I tried. But no. And I’m not minimizing the tragedies others suffer; the same tragedy has happened to others who don’t fail at faith as a result. I don’t really know how people can make that work in their brain, but I couldn’t. 

I think it’s kind of like how some women stay in a marriage after the worst betrayal. He is sorry and they somehow repair and go forward. Of course one never knows what one would do, but I simply do not think I could stay. Sorry would not be enough for me to let him back in; if we stayed legally married, it could be only for practical purposes. He could not continue as my partner in my heart. 

Trust is such a fragile thing. 

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4 minutes ago, Ktgrok said:

It sounds as if you think of that tragedy as something God did to you, or that if God loved you it wouldn't have happened, rather than thinking of it as something God grieves with you over. 

Yes, and of course, that gets into the major theological questions which smarter people than I have argued for centuries, so no point beating a dead horse. But there’s unresolvable conundrum (or would it be “conundra” in the plural?) there. It’s that whole question: if he cares but can’t make a different outcome, he is not omnipotent. If he could change the outcome but chooses not to, he is not omnibenevolent. If he could and would change the outcome but didn’t know it would happen, he is not omniscient. So round and round the carousel goes. It’s too confusing. 

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25 minutes ago, Quill said:

Thank you for your post. This is similar to me, but the outcome was different. I was raised by church people so there was never a time I remember not knowing the gospel. And there were different times when I questioned and examined what I thought and had to sort of “be reborn” a few different times, like when I was 13and then 15 and then not again until like 20, then 29, with that being really the high point where I was all-in. My username on a different board was “ServantofGod,” can you believe that? 

But when the Big Tragedy happened, I couldn’t really make peace with it, it turns out. I tried. But no. And I’m not minimizing the tragedies others suffer; the same tragedy has happened to others who don’t fail at faith as a result. I don’t really know how people can make that work in their brain, but I couldn’t. 

I think it’s kind of like how some women stay in a marriage after the worst betrayal. He is sorry and they somehow repair and go forward. Of course one never knows what one would do, but I simply do not think I could stay. Sorry would not be enough for me to let him back in; if we stayed legally married, it could be only for practical purposes. He could not continue as my partner in my heart. 

Trust is such a fragile thing. 

Years ago, I had a conversation with a woman whose beautiful 6yo dd died of leukemia. She had died a year before I met this woman. This young mom told me something like, "My greatest comfort was in believing that God is sovereign. If He is sovereign, then it is all okay." I battled with that statement for a long time. It felt backward to me. Over the years, I believe I have come to understand what she meant. She believed from the Bible that He is loving. If He is loving and He is sovereign, then she could trust Him with her precious daughter and with her own pain. You are right in that trust is a fragile thing. And we as humans break trust with each other pretty easily. I think your parents broke trust with you. It's easy for us to base our understanding of God on our understanding of people. But He is different. He is trustworthy in the deepest sense.

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2 minutes ago, Quill said:

Yes, and of course, that gets into the major theological questions which smarter people than I have argued for centuries, so no point beating a dead horse. But there’s unresolvable conundrum (or would it be “conundra” in the plural?) there. It’s that whole question: if he cares but can’t make a different outcome, he is not omnipotent. If he could change the outcome but chooses not to, he is not omnibenevolent. If he could and would change the outcome but didn’t know it would happen, he is not omniscient. So round and round the carousel goes. It’s too confusing. 

Agree, it's beyond confusing and so I have to accept that I can't understand it. But I am NOT telling you that you should do that, I've had a different life and not the same tragedy and can't begin to say how I'd react in a different life and circumstance. But for me the only answer is to believe God loves you and grieves with you, because that is the only thing that reconciles with the God I know through Jesus. 

 

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17 minutes ago, Quill said:

Yes, and of course, that gets into the major theological questions which smarter people than I have argued for centuries, so no point beating a dead horse. But there’s unresolvable conundrum (or would it be “conundra” in the plural?) there. It’s that whole question: if he cares but can’t make a different outcome, he is not omnipotent. If he could change the outcome but chooses not to, he is not omnibenevolent. If he could and would change the outcome but didn’t know it would happen, he is not omniscient. So round and round the carousel goes. It’s too confusing. 

 

What if He could have changed the outcome, knew about it but allowed something else to happen in order to bring about something you may not be able to see in this life? Do you trust (and yes, trust is fragile) enough that He chose the right outcome even though it was painful?

A book by Dr. James Dobson comes to mind: "When God doesn't make sense."

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1 hour ago, Ktgrok said:

Agree, it's beyond confusing and so I have to accept that I can't understand it. But I am NOT telling you that you should do that, I've had a different life and not the same tragedy and can't begin to say how I'd react in a different life and circumstance. But for me the only answer is to believe God loves you and grieves with you, because that is the only thing that reconciles with the God I know through Jesus. 

 

Quill, you and I so often find ourselves on opposite sides, I'm surprised that I am relating to what you are saying. I totally understand every word you've said on this topic.

Katie, this is a great post.

There are no answers to my questions. God must love me because it's the only thing that makes sense for me & my survival, based on what I know to be true. And I'm still here.

God loves you because there is goodness in the world and goodness is, well, I just don't think anything is anything without goodness.. Nothing else makes sense, even if I don't know the details.

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4 hours ago, Quill said:

I used to. At some point I got tired of trying. 

When I went through something similar a mentor of mine recommended getting an audiobible. She said to simply play it in the background when I was working on something - cleaning, random office work, whenever I might sometimes play music in the background.  She said the Holy Spirit would bring my attention to the scriptures when I needed to hear something. It sounded like the technological version of being frustrated about something and randomly opening the bible and reading whatever passage your eyes land on to me, but I decided to humor her because she'd given me really good advice in the past. I'd play it for about 2 hours a day.  It made a huge difference. It helped me learn to trust God again and to grow in faith.  These days you don't even have to go out and spend $80 on one, plenty of apps will read the bible to you for free, some more pleasantly than others.  But I think you should try it.  Start with the Gospel of John, go through the rest, and then start over.  Whatever version appeals to you.  Some have actors rather than a single narrator.

3 hours ago, Quill said:

I just think, How does someone believe God loves them personally? I know people who are very confident of this. There’s even quite a bit of that in the book I mentioned how, gratitude for God’s love for us makes it impossible to simultaneously hang onto anger or contempt for others. I agree with that intellectually, but I don’t have that feeling of “God is so good! He loves us boundlessly! We don’t have to do anything to earn it and we certainly don’t deserve it, but we can receive it anyway!” 

I do see love in action and have been a part of service project, for example, that make me very happy to be a part of. And I know people who have accepted humble service that blows my mind because of the sacrifice it represents, like adopting a profoundly disabled child who will definitely die in childhood. I buried a baby; I cannot imagine volunteering to do so. It’s a beautiful expression of love for humanity. However, I don’t see that as necessarily something a person does because God enables them to do so. Presumably an atheist could also adopt a very ill child. (I don’t personally know one, but I don’t travel in circles heavy with atheists.) 

Volunteering to adopt a disabled child isn't about love for humanity, and I honestly don't think faith has much to do with it, except perhaps that verse about there being no truer religion than caring for widows and orphans. We're adopting a disabled child because we love the child. He's still too young to guess what might happen or how profoundly disabled he might be. When we got the call to see if we would foster him or not my heart whispered, "This is your child."  We're taking him without regard to how the future might look or what all the diagnoses are the same way we would a bio child. The love, the attachment, came before any decisions about what we can handle.  When we first got called we anticipated temporary health problems that we knew we could handle, not life long or life shortening disabilities.   I've read stories about people who adopt only children who are dying.  I haven't felt called to do that, but I am pretty certain God gives them grace and love and the ability to do so.

We don't choose to love someone despite knowing they will cause us pain.  Everyone you love causes you pain sooner or later. We choose to love someone because they are worth it, even when the pain comes.

I had a very loving relationship with my dad.  When he died I was pretty young.  My heart broke. I literally had pain in my chest that I read was caused from actual cell death in the heart. But I would have never chosen to not love him as much in order to avoid the pain of losing him. That pain was a measure of how much I was going to miss him, how big of a hole his loss would leave in my life. That my own children wouldn't get to know and love him as much as I did. Having that relationship was worth the pain of losing it when the time came.

36 minutes ago, Ktgrok said:

It sounds as if you think of that tragedy as something God did to you, or that if God loved you it wouldn't have happened, rather than thinking of it as something God grieves with you over. 

 

18 minutes ago, Quill said:

Yes, and of course, that gets into the major theological questions which smarter people than I have argued for centuries, so no point beating a dead horse. But there’s unresolvable conundrum (or would it be “conundra” in the plural?) there. It’s that whole question: if he cares but can’t make a different outcome, he is not omnipotent. If he could change the outcome but chooses not to, he is not omnibenevolent. If he could and would change the outcome but didn’t know it would happen, he is not omniscient. So round and round the carousel goes. It’s too confusing. 

You just described why I cannot be part of a Calvinist or Reformed church. I'm wondering if Katie is right and what you need is to be exposed to a different kind of Christianity. Not that there aren't problems in every denomination, simply that yours doesn't seem to be helping you with these particular questions the same way another denomination might.  Hopefully some of us are helping you with these questions now.

God knew what was going to happen. God could absolutely have made a different outcome but He choose not to because He had a bigger purpose than your temporary circumstances in this temporary life. We can't always see the reasons, but there is always a reason. We live in a fallen, broken, imperfect world that God is in the process of redeeming. There are consequences to that, and part of them is pain. The pain is temporary. The world is temporary.  When redemption is complete, when our lives are over and you're in heaven, when there are no more tears, you'll understand God's purpose for allowing whatever tragedy God allowed to happen in your life.

I'm absolutely certain that when that tragedy happened, God grieved with you.  I'm certain that He still grieves your pain and that you feel He betrayed you.  I'm certain He still wants you to fully reconcile with him and trust Him again.  Not in the same sort of young magical thinking way, but in the "I've learned to be content in every circumstance" kind of way. Paul was in prison when he wrote that. Most of the apostles lost their lives for their faith. God let those things happen too. We might never have heard of Christianity if the apostles hadn't valued God more than they valued their own temporary lives. Which is not to dismiss how difficult it is, how much pain there is in choosing to trust God even when it costs you what you hold most dear. But this is something we all choose sooner or later or we lose our faith instead of grow into maturity.  And unfortunately, this is often a lesson we must learn several times in our lives as we grow to value different things.

One of the less-confusing passages in Revelation speaks of the souls of the martyrs begging God to return to earth and finish the redemption right now.  There is too much pain to let it continue. The reason God delays is that the work isn't complete yet.  There are more people to bring into the faith.  There are more people choosing to be martyrs right now. The redemption isn't complete, and until it is there will continue to be pain.

All of this philosophizing about the reasons for allowing pain aside, the most helpful thing in my own life has been when God shows me the reason He allowed something to happen. Needing to know the reason, rather than blindly trusting, is probably a sign my faith is weak. Just call me Doubting Thomas. But I think you need to see the reasons now.  I will be praying that God shows you the reasons too.  Sometimes it takes years.  Sometimes it is a whisper of intuition that takes seconds.  But I'm certain that sooner or later the answers will come, and when they do I bet you'll be able to let your anger go, no longer feel betrayed, have your faith fully restored, and be able to fully trust God and His love for you again.  Even if you never feel it the same way people with better parental relationships did.

As an aside, sometimes evangelicals get so focused on the "life is temporary" thing that they cease to try and improve the here and now. God has a bigger purpose so rather than trying to stop causing people pain they scoff at the pain as unimportant.  You're already more mature than many Christians (me!) in that area.  I know that because of several different things you've said, including the civil war statues.  I don't think about things in the same way afterwards. Including some things that are political in nature that I won't get into here.

I'll also mention that it wasn't until after my father died that I felt my mother's love.  I realized she demonstrably loved me more than my dad had, but I had never felt it because we had different love languages, whereas my father and I shared the same ones. At some point you might explore that and see if you had a better relationship with your parents than you ever felt you had.

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