"Please, please God," I sobbed and begged, in torn jeans and a tank top, huddled on my purple bed clutching a pillow. "Why can't I ever get anything right?" Grief, guilt, and shame - the emotional cocktail of my faith - haunted me. I had failed to live up to His commands, His rules, His dictates yet again. I was a 19-year-old girl, and a sinner. I smoked weed, drank alcohol with my friends, and on rare, lucky occasions even managed to have sex. So of course I thought that I was worthless garbage, not fit to sit at the feet of my Lord.
I sobbed aloud, crying to my God in heaven to just make the pain of it stop. "Please God, just take my freewill. I don't want it!" I howled, tearing my throat to ribbons as anvils of grief pressed against my chest. "I'll only use it to screw up more. I can't not sin. I can't, I can't." My throat was hot and raw with anguish.
"Just take it. Here! It's an offering - a sacrifice! I give you my free will of my free will." My face red, blotchy, and tear-stained, I begged my moral savior. "I promise I don't want to sin. If you needed me to turn from it, I will. I won't listen to music or watch TV or date. Just please make it stop." My crying slowed down as my voice broke.
"Just take away the want to do bad things. You're all powerful! Why won't you do this one thing for me so I won't ever displease you again?"
I sobbed myself to stillness, like a child, face buried into my pillow. "God?" I whispered, hardly daring to voice this secret, burning, shameful desire. "If you won't take my free will, or you can't because of the plan or something, please, please God - can't I just go to heaven now? I wanna come home and be with you. It's too hard here, and it hurts too much and I keep screwing up. Wouldn't it be okay for me to just go be with you?"
Episodes of overwhelming grief like this weren't uncommon. I had similar breakdowns, or crises of faith if you will, at the ages of 24, 21, 20, 18, 17, 16, 14, 11, 8, and 5. From almost the earliest days of my belief in an eternal God who cared what I ate or wore, or how I treated others, or whether or not I brushed my teeth, I was overwhelmed with the feeling that I was letting this celestial parent down somehow. I wasn't living up to my end of the bargain. More liberal branches of Christianity, which I delved into during my final years of faith, propose that the primary message of the Gospel is one of grace - that even though we are miserable, wretched sinners, God loves us and wants us to be in heaven with him anyway. The more hard line denominations and non-denominations I was raised under in my early years suggested a much heavier load for the created one in the relationship. We were to have faith, worship, follow, and obey. Failing to meet God's standards of perfection was failure to be grateful, to show reverence, and to properly honor both our Maker and Savior. And so I found myself, again and again, crying my eyes out in my bedroom, hating myself for ever having been born, alternately begging for God to take away my free will and to end my life. Religion never offered me any form of comfort. Believing in an eternal, all-powerful God made me feel insignificant, unwanted, unclean, and detestable. And I though the world would be better off without me.