What is your view of God?
A seemingly pretty straight forward question, but one that I believe comes with the implication of curiosity of just how my brush with hyper-fundamentalists has impacted my view of God and my personal relationship with Him through Christ. There are several facets to the answer, but I'll address the most personal and significant to me. My answer will be largely a view of where I'm at in life in relation to my view of God. It's the best way I know to answer such a multi-faceted question.
My love for God hasn't changed. Not even a dash. What my experience with hyper-fundamentalists (and my use of this term encompasses all branches of patriarchy/quiverfull/dominionism) has birthed in me is the re-examination of ALL of my deeply held beliefs, measuring to see what exactly has roots in scripture, and what exactly has roots in the traditions and commandments of men. A certain amount of this had already been taking place before I ever encountered P/QF. It'd be more accurate to say that P/QF sent that self-examination into overdrive.
My goal has never been to become the "Lord, I thank you that I'm not like so and so...", marinating in my own pool of self-righteousness, masking it in various religiosities to give it the appearance of humility and piousness. My goal has been to find, absorb, and marinate in nothing but the pure and undiluted Truth. I've seen, and still see, a version of God presented by these movements that I want nothing whatsoever to do with. A small, rigid God, who prefers His people suffer from brainlock, who prefers His people live in poorly directed and poorly cast role-playing, who prefers His people discard beautiful parts of His creation for them, like human emotion, as evil, who prefers His people live under oppressive laws, who prefers His people bear heavy loads in attempts to be "godly". I want nothing to do with that God. I don't like Him, and could never love Him.
I guess you could say that my goal isn't really about ME, but rather about who God is - as I know that my identity can only be found in God through Jesus Christ.
To be as transparent as I can, the more I learn about God, the less I seem to understand Him...because He continually gets bigger. As frustrating as this can be for the finite human mind and conceptual ability, I'm perfectly fine with it. My understanding doesn't redeem me. Jesus Christ redeems me.
I've never considered myself "religious", but there's certainly less religiousness about me than there was a few years ago. I've discovered the plethora of things that have become important to the modern church culture (both in and out of fundamentalism) that, in reality, God cares nothing about. I don't always say the right thing. You probably wouldn't like some of the things that come out of my mouth. You probably wouldn't like my views on many things about life and the generally accepted behaviors of Christian culture. All pretense is gone. I've no regard for ceremony that means a whole lot of nothing.
I don't blame God for the poor choices made by my ex-fiancee. I don't blame God for the manipulative snakes that populate her family and circle (nor do I feel any guilt for calling them manipulative snakes, or any number of the more descriptive things I'd prefer to call them). I don't blame God for the loss of so much of value from my life. I don't look at the way things turned out as a "blessing in disguise" from the Lord - I'm not fond of blaming God for the enemy's handiwork. If losing the love of my life right at the threshold of our ceremony, losing my ministry of the time, having my career tampered with and disrupted, losing thousands upon thousands of dollars, et cetera, is God's way of intervening, then, frankly, I'll pass on the next intervention.
It's opened the door for new ministry - such as this one - but ministry that, if left up to me, I'd have never been involved in. I don't really want to do this. As I've said before, this is lemonade from lemons. I'm thankful for those who've been helped and encouraged by what I write here (and I hope that continues), and I write out of obedience to what I believe is compulsion from the Lord. However, I don't want to give anyone the false impression that I write here out of some kind of spiritual heroism. I'm doing what I believe I have to do, not what I want to do. I believe it's my passionate purpose in this season of my life, but I wouldn't have chosen it.
Yes, my experience has strained and drained me spiritually. I'm exhausted, and sometimes, usually even, I feel as though I have little to give. It's regularly very hard for me to pray. It's regularly very hard for me to read the bible. I'm not always comfortable with that, but I don't feel guilt because of it. God, being that He created me, certainly understands the limits of my humanity, and I make no claims to have perfected the living out of the nature of Christ. I WANT to, but I'm not there yet.
I don't understand why the things that happened were allowed to happen, but I can promise you that I'll never, ever, blame God for them. God was an innocent bystander, and I've no doubt that it all grieved His heart mightily. I know that He's captured every tear I shed in His bottle, I know that He's documented every shred of pain inflicted upon my life, I know that He's documented every loss. I trust Him for justice and for whatever mercy He extends - both to me and to them.
A scripture that I've relied on throughout all of this, and still a favorite, from Habakkuk 3...
Though the fig tree may not blossom,
Nor fruit be on the vines;
Though the labor of the olive may fail,
And the fields yield no food;
Though the flock may be cut off from the fold,
And there be no herd in the stalls—
Yet I will rejoice in the LORD,
I will joy in the God of my salvation.
The LORD God is my strength;
He will make my feet like deer’s feet,
And He will make me walk on my high hills.