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My Relationship With God After My Father's Death

by Jill Knuttila

The editors of Ancient and Postmodern Catholics asked me to write an article about my relationship with God after the death of my father. I will need to retrace my steps in my own personal history to give you a better account of my relationship with the Lord. Then I will discuss this relationship after the death of my father.

Who God was to me as a little girl

My life began being adopted as an infant. I was taken to church every Sunday, from what I have been told, and I was baptized as an infant as well. Thus, my relationship with God started at a very early age.

When I grew into a cute little girl, I started attending Sunday school. This is when I first learned about Jesus. I thought it was neat that He was born as a baby and then grew up to be this awesome person who sacrificed Himself to save us. Of course, at the time I didn't get the significance of Jesus being born from a virgin since I didn't know where babies came from anyway.

As I continued attending Sunday school, I found that this Jesus guy was a great person. As a little girl, I never received a lot of love and affection that one needs from her family. My father gave me his love, but that wasn't enough. I needed something more, and Jesus was the one who filled that hole. I knew I could go to Him for everything, and that He could conquer any bad thing that happened. You could say that in my little girl's precious heart, Jesus was my hero. My faith in Him was very strong and our relationship grew very close.

Who God was to me as a pre-teen and early teen

When I reached the age of 10, my relationship with God was starting to tumble. I still went to church, but something was missing. The Sunday school no longer interested me because I knew everything that was being taught. The sermons were very long and made no sense to me, and they were also very boring. I was beginning to think that this God guy wasn't as hot as I had thought. So, I stopped attending Sunday school, but I continued going to church. I kept going back because it was an escape from my family. Here I will briefly note that I have always felt different from my family and that I was an outsider. In church, I was accepted and it felt that I belonged somewhere.

At the age of 12, I was becoming more and more of a loner. I did go to Bible camps and such in the summers, but my relationship with the Lord just wasn't there. At camp, I was totally into Him, but as soon as I got home, it was as if He didn't exist. I figure that this happened for two reasons. First, I felt that my family wasn't Christian because there was not a lot of talk about the Lord, and our lives didn't involve God. The other reason is that I lived in a hellhole of dysfunction. I thought this: why would God listen to someone from hell?

I felt alone and unloved, so I turned to my uncle. He made me laugh, and most importantly, he made me feel loved. God didn't make me feel loved. In my mind, I thought God hated me because I had been placed in an unloving, dysfunctional family.

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Something happened when I was 12 that changed my life forever. My uncle took advantage of me being so needy. Before I knew what was happening, we were having provocative moments together. It didn't escalate to actual sex, but it was close enough. At the time, I was confused, but I still went back. I needed this so-called love very much. God didn't love me, but my uncle did.

A year later, when I was in grade 8, a classmate suddenly died from an asthma attack. This wasn't my first experience with death, but it was the first death that affected me in the sense that I truly understood what had happened. My classmates were devastated, but I wasn't. I didn't know her very well, and as I had mentioned before, I was a loner. I wasn't as impacted by this death as the rest of my classmates.

I received no explanation, nor comfort from my family, which was fine by me since I didn't need any. I was pissed off at God, but not for the reason you may think. I was pissed off at God because He didn't let my classmate suffer any more, but I was suffering. I was pissed because God didn't take me out of my misery. It was like God was punishing me. I figured that He wanted to torture me more by not letting me die.

So, as you can see/read, my relationship with God was one of hatred. I didn't want Him in my life anymore. I hated Him for not taking me out of this world instead. It is ironic that through my hatred, I still attended church and went to Bible camp. You could say that I was still using church and Bible camp as a means of an escape from my family.

Who God is to me after my father's death

Now that you have some brief history, I will now divulge into the topic at hand: my relationship with God after the death of my father.

First, I will tell you my relationship with my father so you have a better understanding of where I am coming from. My father was the only family member who took the time to get to know me. He taught me many things: how to ride a bike, how to play baseball, how to fish, and how to drive.

I became closer to him when I was 15 because he took me out golfing with him, and he even let me drive his truck out to the oil fields (he was an oil field contractor). We spent a lot of time out in the oil fields alone together. It was "our time", and no one else could disturb us unless we wanted him or her to. Life wasn't as bad as my earlier years, and my relationship with the Lord once again began to develop.

However, life threw me in for a loop again. When I was 16, my father suddenly died from a heart attack. I was told of this while I was on my break at school. I cried a little, but then it turned into shock.

I remember very clearly the events that played during that time. Many people and relatives came, but none of them paid attention to me. They paid more attention to my mom and my brothers. Apparently, the role of being the tough one to hold everything together was bestowed on me.

The funeral came and went. Instantly, things were back to the regular routine. I wasn't allowed to grieve. I never was close to my mom to begin with, so even I had wanted to talk about my father's death, it would be a thorn in my mom's side. Besides not being able to talk about it, I wasn't allowed to grieve. I wasn't allowed to express my emotions because apparently it was time to move on.

This event had totally changed my attitude towards God. I became very pissed off at Him. I blamed Him for my father's death. Many times I would scream to God inside my head: why did you let him die? What was it that I did that you would do this to me?

I felt abandoned both by my father and God. My father had left me with people who didn't love me and didn't give a rat's ass about me. God was nowhere to be found during this time. I was completely alone.

My trust in God shattered. How could He do this to me? I thought the people you trust wouldn't hurt you. In my heart, God had betrayed that trust by taking away the only person in this world that loved me. God had hurt me very badly.

Basically, at this point in my life, I turned my back on Him. I figured that there really wasn't a point in having a relationship with Him. It didn't help me at all. It brought me more disappointment and despair. I had enough disappointment and despair in my life, I didn't need anymore. So, I gave God the finger and said, "fuck you."

Ironically, on the outside, I was living the so-called Christian life because I attended church and youth group events. I sang praises to him every Sunday morning, but in my heart, I didn't praise Him. This was all an act. In my heart, there was no such thing as God.

For many years, I pushed God and all emotion to the side. I often wondered why the hell God would allow things like my uncle sexually abusing me, and my father passing away happen? At one point, I even tried to commit suicide. In my mind, the world sucked shit and wasn't getting any better, and God didn't give a rat's ass about me, so what did I have to lose? As you can see, I chickened out.

Thus, in conclusion, ever since my father's death, my relationship with God has been an uneasy one. God abandoned me at the most crucial moments of my life. How can I now trust, let alone establish a relationship, with a god who has abandoned me? How can I build a relationship with a god who has let me suffer and will not comfort me? How can I have a relationship with a god who doesn't love me?

Aside from that, I have lost all trust and love for God. My life is hell itself, so what could God do possibly for me? God is too far away for me to touch. He is too far away to hear me. He just isn't there.

However, I will end this article with a happier note. God, in His mercy, has opened my eyes and made me realize that perhaps my world isn't as hellish as I thought. Since I have begun to mend my shattered heart, I have come to realize maybe, just maybe God is there. Maybe the same God who suffered in Jesus, who reached out to the poor and oppressed, and who actually died in agony and pain, is there for me, and perhaps I can have a relationship with Him.

The editors thank Jill for writing on such a difficult and personal topic. We have decided to keep the swear words in the article for two reasons. First, they represent her honest journey; we have no desire to sugarcoat anything, nor make Christianity g-rated. Many people feel such a way toward God at points in their lives, and in most churches they are not allowed to have such feelings, so their feelings become stuffed down until the people having them become atheists. Second, we hope people searching the web who use God's name with cuss words will find this article and perhaps find some hope in their despair.

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