I meet a lot of people in recovery who are mad at God. In many cases, their anger can be traced to past hurtful experiences with religious people or institutions.
Others carry a grudge because they can’t reconcile a good God with the needless suffering, senseless evil, and unfixable poverty they see in the world.
Still others blame God for wounds they suffered at the hands of other people.
When I work with an alcoholic who resents God, I’ve found that it doesn’t help much for me to defend him or try to repair his reputation. More and more I am learning to ask, “Have you told God how you feel?”
It’s surprising how many people haven’t. Ironically, many of us—including people of faith—have been conditioned to treat God like he’s not really there.
As a new Christian in my early twenties, I learned that it was wrong to get angry at God, and even worse to let this truth slip—especially to his face. (Watch out!)
My pastor never actually said, “Don’t be honest with God if you’re mad at him.” But it was understood: God is to be treated with kid gloves. He is to be praised and worshiped at all times.
Which made sense to me. Except it didn’t, really. I mean, if God already knows my heart, why try to hide what’s in it? And if God is so great, how can his ego be so fragile?
I must have concluded that pretending is simply the price you pay if you are impossibly angry with the very Person whose love and help you need the most.
Around this same time, I was trying to cope with painful childhood wounds from my father and stepfather. I carried deep resentments toward all men—and secretly, toward God too.
After all, God made men. And since in my mind God was singularly male, he was doubly guilty.
One winter afternoon, a painful event in my marriage triggered my outrage anew. But this time, instead of lashing out at my first husband, as was my habit, I let God have it.
For at least an hour, as dusk fell outside, I beat God up for every bad thing a man had ever done to me. I screamed like a banshee in his face and pounded his chest with my fists. (Okay, it was the bed that got the pounding.) I accused him of heartlessness, perverseness, deafness, and impotence.
And I didn’t apologize afterward.
Instead, I waited for God to strike me dead. Even hoped for it. Still crying, I told him that would be just fine by me.
I was that mad.
After a while (perhaps when God thought it was safe), I felt his presence near me. And then I felt—in a way I can’t explain or defend—that I was understood. That God welcomed my honest outpouring of grief and anger—and in some very real way even shared it.
Nothing has been the same between us since.
Though plenty has gone wrong. In the years to come, I would greatly compromise my relationship with God in countless ways, and not just through alcohol.
As it turns out, there are a thousand ways to betray God.
But there are a thousand more ways to make up with him.
In the meantime, God’s invitation to be completely honest and real with him—to come exactly as I am, not as I wish I were—has never been withdrawn.
I wonder what your experience is with this topic. If you are angry at God today, are you willing to tell him why?
What if God is inviting you to throw the first punch?
P.S. I am leaving town this weekend for a short business trip, so I won’t be posting again until late next week at earliest. If you want to keep up with me, as always, there is Raw.