Thursday, April 19, 2012

Love. Really?

I Do Not Love God. The day I said those words was the beginning of a very peaceful time in my life. Almost as soon as I said it I was overcome by a sense of relief. The world fell blissfully silent. I was done pretending, done postulating, done apologizing; for the first time, I was honest. All my life I had chased after God. It is hard to have a relationship with someone who is invisible and silent, but I had always been told that it was possible. So I tried. The relationship I fashioned in my heart was as real as any non-mortal relationship can get. I talked to Him all the time, I read the bible whenever I could, I waited desperately for Sunday to come around, so I that I could go and sit and wait for the chance to experience God’s presence. There were many spiritual epiphanies along the way, many moments of deep conviction. There were times where I was certain I felt God reach right down from heaven and touch my heart. There is something incredible about being connected to being so incredible and unexplainable.

Dad always told me that love is not a feeling, it is a choice. Love is a duty, it is a commandment. Even though I never “felt” it, I had absolute faith that God loved me. So of course I “loved” him back. But I always felt secretly guilty. I was never moved to tears like some of the women at church. I found it difficult to talk about God, because I had no personal proof of his existence. I poured all my emotions into the words “I love you Lord,” but it never seemed real. I felt like I was lying, and I felt like God knew.

We had been dating for about a month when Husband first told me he loved me. By that point we had already fallen hard for each other. We connected on a level I had never experienced before. Our relationship was effortless and incredible, but I didn’t know if I should call the feeling “love.” Love meant duty. Love meant debt. He didn’t owe me anything, and he wasn’t committed to me, so what did he mean when he said “I love you?”

Along with the passion and excitement of romantic love, I also recognized a familiar feeling of attachment, not unlike what I feel for my brothers and sisters. Could it be that “love” is that aching sense of missing someone when they’re gone? Is “love” the name of the feeling you get when you’re watching movies and laughing hysterically with your sisters? Is “love” that swelling in your chest when your baby brother recognized you’re face after 2 months away from home? I do not know if a person exists who REALLY wants to spend their time with God. But after falling in love, I knew that I felt nothing for God but awkward, frustrated, desperation.

Does anybody really truly LOVE their god? Would people still claim to love him if it wasn’t “the greatest commandment?” Is it even possible to love something so invisible, intangible, and unbelievable?


  1. "Is it even possible to love something so invisible, intangible, and unbelievable?"

    Well, it wasn't for me. Can't speak for anyone else, though - quite a number of my Christian friends would say that God isn't so intangible or absent for them. That raises some interesting questions all by itself, but I can accept that as a reason for them to believe. (And the sorts of Christian friends I have don't expect me to believe based on their experiences.)

    1. I think you're awesome, Michael Mock!

      I cannot deny the absolutely credible and real experience of God I have had, but I also cannot deny or explain why me and not so many others. Did my own brain create this experience to save my life? Then I have an awesome brain! But then how to explain all the circumstances that lined with that experience in short time? I don't know.

      What I do know is this. No person should be coerced, either directly or by peer pressure, to be anything other than who they are. Some of us will become religious (not just Christians, but Muslims, Buddhists, yogis, etc.) in an authentic sense out of our own experience, influences no doubt by the culture in which we were raised, but no less our own experience. Others will never experience anything that smacks of mysticism or a divine encounter, no matter how much pressure they are under to have such an experience.

      I dream of a day where we all accept each other, as we are, as authentic people, honest about our spiritual experiences or lack thereof. Thanks, Michael, for granting a bit of my dream here on the internet.

    2. I, um... Thanks? I mean, really didn't think I was putting forth a particularly radical or unusual view. But maybe that just means I've been hanging around with the right sort of people...

  2. This makes so much sense to me. I also had to figure out what love really was, and felt as though I was always chasing after a one-sided relationship with god. It didn't make sense to me anymore, and I'm not if it ever will. It was scary, but at the same time peaceful to finally admit it to myself.

  3. Well for my, I was raised Catholic in Ireland, and now after reading about loads of different religions and finding a spiritual practice that makes a real difference for me, I would say I kinda love God. But in the sense that I think God is everywhere and everyone and I love people so much that ergo I love God. But in that visceral sense I don't think or feel for 'God' in that way. I also think that while you're on Earth you don't have to do anything ergo you don't even have to love God! And people have differing degrees of spiritual connection, so someone may feel that constant presence, or sometimes have that experience of transcendence and some people won't ever. And that's okay.

  4. I often wonder if the ability to feel 'love' for God is similar to how people form vicarious attachments to celebrities just since it's easy to idealize someone distant, and susceptibility is probably owing to psychological factors. I, for one, find my human relationships very satisfying - friends I can call, see, visit, go out to have fun with. Friends that I can ask questions to and get immediate answers. In fact, what's great about human relationships is that nothing has to be taken on faith.

  5. I think I do. But in a different way than the obligatory feeling you describe. I find it easy to accept the idea of a Heavenly Father and apply that affection to God, since I have a loving father here who has not been tyrannical or overbearing. I feel His protection in my life, and at times that confuses me because I sense that others whom I consider good people don't feel it. And I know it isn't because I am somehow more special. Right now, my best idea is that He is a lot more cosmic than our minds can grasp, and He knows I need that protection to fight the battles I'm fighting, so He extends it to me. And it would be a mistake to waste my time trying to figure out why instead of just accepting it. I love Him for all the bad things that have almost happened to us, and didn't. And for helping me feel secure in my soul when everything else in my life is falling apart. I'm not trying to pigeonhole Him into a particular concept anymore, other than the Creator and the Giver of Life. He has been a father to me, and for that, I love Him.

  6. I definitely would say that growing up I loved God. I loved the idea of God and I loved the idea that this God might love me, and I loved the accepting voice in my head that I attributed to God. In fact, despite how much my beliefs have changed, I'd say that this belief that some God of the universe truly loved *me*, helped me in a great many ways. I believe in love and I believe in the power of believing you're loved, and Christianity led me to that confidence in a way I'm grateful for, despite everything else. I'm not sure I believe in a god anymore and if I do it's much more general than Jesus/the God of the literal Bible, but the hardest thing for me to accept is that maybe the voice of God in my head was in fact my imagination, because that means that in fact I was alone very much of the time. The closest way I can describe it is it's much like the way characters in books are "real" to me and exist and would act certain ways in certain situations, combined with the way you remember somebody's voice and ideas in your head long after they're gone.

  7. "But I always felt secretly guilty. I was never moved to tears like some of the women at church. I found it difficult to talk about God, because I had no personal proof of his existence. I poured all my emotions into the words “I love you Lord,” but it never seemed real. I felt like I was lying, and I felt like God knew."

    I felt very much the same way. I wanted to live up to God's expectations, but I never felt any of what I did was real, and as I got older it became harder. I didn't want to pretend I felt things or heard the voice of God when I didn't. It finally came down to accepting that I was justifying my belief through any little twinge of feeling or thought happening in my head. If I were to do the same with a person I'd be considered delusional and probably a stalker. So I let it go.