I don’t remember having a different bed than the one I do now, although I remember it wasn’t always at my house. It was once at my grandmother’s house. The frame is a mix of wood, cloth, and metal, and the mattress is a twin, I think. I’ve bought new bed sheets (Star Wars sheets, I’m told, aren’t exactly age-appropriate anymore), new pillowcases (somehow, a Star Wars pillowcase has been added to my collection), and new pillows (I’m an adult, and I can afford memory foam now).
I do remember that this room used to be filled with junk. I remember a broken science project (I fell on it – it’s a long story) was on the floor for years before I finally threw it away. I would never invite people into my room, mostly because I never had anyone over (mostly because I was bisexual and scared I might develop feelings for my friends).
I also remember that it seemed like, every day, there would be this hour or half hour when I was completely alone in the house. I remember demons dancing around me, whispering in my ears, telling me I was nothing, telling me I was worthless, ripping my heart out and laughing at it, telling me I was unlovable, telling me I was a commodity, telling me I was insignificant, telling me I was stupid, telling me never to look in the mirror, telling me that I should be afraid, tearing at my hair, clawing at my chest, setting my brain on fire, pushing me to the bed, folding me up in a ball, forcing my eyes closed, following me into the bathroom, pulling my hand up to the top shelf of the medicine cabinet, unscrewing the cap to the Tylenol, pouring out a mouthful of death.
And when it was over – when I could no longer do the thing I was told to do – I was on my bed, covers over my body, eyes shut tight.
I had friends back then. I was involved in a small youth group, mostly filled with kids from the beaches – the ones who had never grown up in church. There was one kid, in particular, who was my friend way longer (in my opinion) than he should have been. I stopped talking to him for a year because he was dating someone of which I didn’t approve. I remember bits and pieces of car rides in the youth group van – this old, white Ford E-Series passenger van. I would sit in the back of the van, in the trunk area, because I was depressed and wanted to see if anyone would talk to me. He got back there, sat on the side opposite of me, and talked to me. I don’t remember what we talked about, but I can remember that he did it.
My days weren’t always like that, though. Most days, I was alone. I have countless pieces of paper with my written prayers on them – prayers that I would stop feeling the way I was feeling. I have notes for sermons I intended to preach to my youth group about faith, hope, and love, but never did out of fear.
For me, the only reason I am alive is because on my days of torture, my only source of hope was in the belief that God was next to me, in my bed, crying and singing to me about my worth, hoping that I would focus on him instead of the demons. In my life, I have never had the luxury of being able to disbelieve the existence of God.
Have I been scared of death? Yes.
Have I been doubtful of theology? Obviously. I am a bisexual, LGBTQ-supporting evangelical Christian.
Have I been suspicious of the Church’s depiction of Jesus? Absolutely.
Have I questioned the very idea of God? Yes.
But the Judeo-Christian God, the real person, is different. He isn’t like anything we talk about. Sometimes, the way we talk about him annoys me, like he’s some wish-granting wizard or a distant Being whose feet we are unworthy to kiss. I mean, theoretically, he can be those things, but I’ve never known him in those capacities, because he’s just been there, and I haven’t known him in any other capacity.
I haven’t had the luxury of not believing in God. He’s saved my life countless times. If someone tells me that I’m merely unwilling to take credit for saving myself from suicide, I would kindly invite them to enter my consciousness just once during a depressive episode, and ask them to survive without Jesus.
Once, recently, I entered into an episode so massive that I began to physically assault myself, and the whole time, I begged myself to stop. It was as if my hands were not my hands. It was as if I was no longer in control of my body, and the only thing that saved me was the thought that my Father loved me, and, with tear-filled eyes, was begging me to stop, too.
I am of the opinion that, if a person’s experience of God leads them to do anything except stand up to oppression, they likely have not experienced God.
I know Kant. I know Nietzsche. I know W.L. Craig. But ask me to provide evidence for or against the existence of a divine being, and I will tell you the story of a girl who went from dying inside the shell of self-preservation to holding out her love-filled arms to the marginalized.