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Real Christianity?

I grew up being told that God loved me, but I really didn't believe it. Certain things about my life just didn't make sense. My heart was broken by pointless loneliness during my teenage years, and then, at about the time when life seemed like it was really becoming possible, I got so sick that I couldn't reach for what I wanted. I couldn't get out of the trap. It wouldn't have surprised me to learn that God sat outside guarding the exit, whip in hand.

I believed that God was perfecting me through suffering. (Which meant He cared more about my perfection than my happiness.) I also believed that I was receiving the greater gift of Himself in place of lesser gifts. (Which meant I had to pretend I loved Him and was grateful even though it hurt like hell.) I believed God wanted me to demonstrate faith by looking past the circumstances of my life to some strange reality beyond that I sometimes caught a glimpse of. (Even though my very life and identity were dissolving.)

You have to pull apart these Christian answers, look at them from the outside, to realize how awful, even abusive, they are.

* * *

In the religious world I grew up in, words do not have actual meaning. Love is not a real thing; it's an empty concept. God's "love" means perfecting us at whatever cost to ourselves. And if we really want to be perfect, we have to submit to that perfecting process without ever saying stop. We have no power. In fact, we are told that it is good to be humble and submissive. We are told that we are so evil, so fallen, that we couldn't possibly understand when to say no anyway. Our hearts are deceitful. Instead, we are supposed to exercise "faith" - saying it's okay even when all the evidence screams that it's not.

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