What We Talk About When We Talk About God
While I was still in middle school and for a short time in high school, I attended the youth-group meetings at our church every Wednesday night. Granny would be upstairs, having Bible study, singing and praying, while I was downstairs with a room full of kids and an adult or two. Christianity was falling apart for me, and everything else was also falling apart as I grew a little less flat chested.
I asked questions that fully irritated the youth-group leaders, a married couple who looked like they probably had never fought it out on a gravel road. I asked them how the earth was populated by just Adam and Eve, when that meant someone would have had to commit incest pretty early on. They said that obviously God had made other people along the way, and I asked what other parts of the Bible were not literal or what had been left out. I asked how I could believe any of it, why I should take any of it literally, when there were important things left unsaid?
I wanted them to make it make sense, but I was too cheeky about it, and they told me to stop asking questions or stop coming to youth group. Part of me was triumphant — I knew that I was right, that things didn’t make sense, and that they didn’t have any good answers. But the comfort I had held on to for so long was gone, and I didn’t know how to tell the youth-group teacher that if he couldn’t give me that back, I wouldn’t have anything else to assure me that somewhere things made sense, that there was a reason for my dad and his world, and that even though I felt so terribly lost, I would someday be safe and loved, and everything would be okay.
Eventually I ended up praying in my own way, saying things like, God, if you’re anything like what I imagined for the first ten years of my life, you know what I’m up to, and you know that I’m trying. Just let me know if I need to do something differently. And I heard his holy response, You’re gonna be all right, girl. You’ll be okay.
(Excerpted with permission from my memoir, In the Shadow of the Valley)