“Unconditional love is an illogical notion, but such a great and powerful one.”
One of the main struggles I had to deal with daily when I left the church over 20 years ago was trying to figure out how much God loved me if he actually did.
The guilt and condemnation (a popular word for self judgement) was unbearable at times. Leaving the church was akin to leaving God behind as you can picture Him standing at the front door waving goodbye with a look on his face as if to say. Poor guy, he doesn’t know what he is in for.
Ironically its true, I didn’t know what I was in for. But in retrospect it wasn’t because I was leaving Gods will nor was I forsaking my love for God. Metaphorically all I was doing was leaving home to find my own way in the world, not much different to leaving my parents home when old enough to go out on my own and explore my options and find my own way in life.
I had outgrown my place in the church and it was time to go from being a child of God (in Gods eyes we will always be his children) to becoming the man of God I was put on this earth to be.
My perception of Gods love for me came from my service for him and my loyalty to the church I served him through.
My belief system was pretty screwed up. Was I becoming a prodigal son, with the Father staying behind looking out the window of the church he supposedly worked so hard to establish waiting for my subsequent return while his brash and immature son left Him behind to find a “better life”?
These thoughts were directly linked to years of indoctrination. Sometimes subtle, sometimes blatant. Whenever anyone left our church, they were making a bad decision, turning their back on God. Like a “dog returning to his vomit.” Backsliding.
This is no more evident than when things start to go wrong. Every bump in the road, every child sickness, car breakdown, visit to the school principal, financial problem, has this undeniable presence reminding you that it’s all because of you leaving God’s will for your life.
My love for God was being tested, his love for me was arbitrary. Sometimes he loved me (when things were going well) sometimes he didn’t (when things went haywire).
I lost my ability to trust God because all the evidence in those early years pointed to me being out of Gods will. Therefore I was convinced that his love for me was more like a disappointed father waiting for his son to come to his senses and return home.
It wasn’t until we lost a son to suicide twelve years after leaving the church that a shift occurred in my life. I had something more important to worry about than my relationship with God. For a brief moment I hated Him.
All my time went into figuring out how to survive the grief that enveloped me. My sons’ death consumed all my energy for the good part of 6 and a half years. I did overcome grief and I allowed myself to move on.
Although life as I knew it would never be the same. I was also allowing God back into my life and this is when I started to actually believe that not only did God love me but he loved me in a way that I was meant to be loved. Unconditionally, with no conditions attached.
My understanding of Gods love up before my son’s death was a God that loved me according to how I pleased him, served him and worked for him. Therefore I could only love others in the same way. Superficially.
God doesn’t love us according to any level we may or may not have attained. He doesn’t love one above another nor does he love according to our good works. I don’t believe that God is capable of loving any other way but unconditionally.
When I finally accepted that Gods love for me is unconditional, it opened the door for me to question the obvious. Why can I not love myself in the same way.
Unknowingly for many years because I concluded that God loved me according to my level of service then I was only capable of loving myself in the same way. I was never able to love myself in a way that would help me to love others any other way also.
It became a domino affect. Once I opened my heart to allow God to love me unconditionally, I was open to loving myself unconditionally. Then when I allowed myself to love me in this way I opened the door to loving others the same including my wife, children and all those that I came in contact with.
After this change of heart I was eventually set free from the clutches of my former belief system, my former Church, Christianity in general and religion more specifically.
I didn’t say the broken road was a short cut to freedom. It does lead there if you stay on course and don’t turn back.