For a long time, I’ve struggled with the idea of there being a loving God who can control all things. It’s hard to reconcile that God with the God of my trauma. I found God in my trauma, in being raped, in getting pregnant and then miscarrying at 13. I found God in my suicide attempts and my battles with self-harm and Anorexia. But the God I found was different than the God I knew growing up–not so much an all-loving, all-powerful God, but a sympathetic God.
That’s the God I know. It’s hard to think–no, understand–that an all-powerful, all-loving God could allow so much hurt in the world, could allow terrible things to happen to the ones He calls Beloved, the ones He’s Chosen.
I’ve spent the last 10 years of my life grappling with the idea of God, struggling with my faith, wrestling with the questions of “Am I a good enough Christian? Did I not pray enough, read my Bible enough, repent enough? What did I do to make God angry enough to allow me to be gang-raped in a school bathroom at the age of 13?”
The weight of the doubting guilt I’ve carried with me for years has lead to a few suicide attempts, a lot of self-harm, and so many sleepless nights. I’ve come to learn over the past year, through a lot of therapy and discussions with people a lot smarter than I, that faith does not preclude doubt. In fact, the opposite is true: doubt can make faith stronger.
I’ve come to learn that my trauma is not a result of something I’ve done, a punishment I deserve. Rather, it’s an act of free will, of evil. And if God could’ve stopped it, He would’ve. And that, to me, is a comforting fact. It’s so easy to feel alone in our pain, alone in our trauma. Sometimes we forget that Jesus, too, felt pain. That He cried. That He cried out on the cross because He felt forsaken.
Sometimes, I think we all feel that way–alone in the storm. It’s nice to know that we’re not. I’ve come to learn that the God I need most is a sympathetic God: a God who can feel what I’m feeling, walk along beside me, hold my hand through it.
I wonder if sometimes we try to explain away the pain by saying “God has a plan; He knows what He’s doing” because we don’t want to admit that if God could’ve stopped it, He would’ve, but instead He allowed it to happen because it makes us stronger, better people, He doesn’t give us more than we can handle. (I could go on about that one, too. Because if I survived what I survived and other people do not, does that make me a better person? If some people who attempt suicide die, and I survived because I have a purpose, does that mean that those who die have death as their purpose? That doesn’t seem like a very loving God thing to do.)
I guess my point is that there are things about God and life that are hard to understand, and sometimes I’m scared to share my thoughts on my beliefs about God because I hate getting in debates, but it’s always nice to know that you’re not alone: other people have doubts, questions, and pasts.
And it’s really, really nice to know that God is not punishing us–me–because of the trauma that has happened in my life.