Ronnie nervously slid onto the therapist’s couch. No matter how many times he came here he never quite got used to it. The room’s darkness and odd, musty smell always reminded him of his grandparents’ cellar when he was a boy. It was almost comforting in a way, taking him back across the years to gentler, less anxious times.
After a couple of minutes of compulsory small talk, Dr. Melling changed tones. “Well, Ronnie, what has been on your mind? What would you like to talk about today?
Ronnie fidgeted nervously. “Well, God I guess. I mean, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately about how I view God, about how I see myself in relation to Him. That’s been on my mind a lot the last few days.”
“God. I see. Tell me more about what you’ve been tossing around in your mind then.”
“Well, I don’t really know how to begin – seems like I never do.” Clasping his hands behind his head and relaxing a bit, Ronnie continues. “These anger issues that I’ve been dealing with all these years – it seems like lately they’ve been getting worse. We talked about all that last time I think. Anyway, I’ve been trying to figure out what it is that triggers these outbursts that I seem to have no control over. It seems like the least little thing sends me off – somebody cuts me off in traffic, I spill something on my shirt or bump my knee on my desk. I may not consciously realize it at the time, but the first thought that goes through my mind when something like that happens is, There goes God. He did this. He’s testing me again. It’s like, when something goes wrong in my life, I automatically attribute that to God.”
Sensing a pause in Ronnie’s thoughts, Dr. Melling interrupted. “So what you believe is happening is that either consciously or subconsciously you blame God anytime an event happens to you that you feel is bad or negative.”
“Yes, I guess that’s the best way to put it. I don’t know why I believe this and I certainly don’t know why God would be testing me in this way. It’s hard for me to wrap my head around this. What I’m saying is, on the most superficial level reason tells me that it is God testing me. It may be that He has some ideal in mind of what I’m supposed to be and through these “trials”, or whatever they are, He is trying to mold me into that. I’ve always heard that God is more interested in your character than your comfort.
Stroking his chin thoughtfully, Dr. Melling repeated, “More interested in your character than your comfort. Interesting. Go on.”
“Like I said, when something negative happens to me, sometimes I’ll just lose it. Snap. Like that. It feels like I have all this frustration and rage boiling just beneath the surface. I do pretty well to keep it in check most of the time. I can smile and go along with a lot of things. But when I feel like there’s been one more injustice forced on me, I snap. In the back of my mind it’s like I’m telling God through my anger that I’ve had it with His games – that I hate them, I’m sick of them, and I’m going to yell and curse to show Him how much I mean it. I know it’s wrong to lash out like that, but I’ll admit, it gives me a feeling of being in control. Sometimes I don’t feel very much control in my life. Maybe I’m using anger as a way to give myself some measure of power back in my life, or even to put some distance between myself and God. Does this make any sense?
“Well, yes, I believe it does. I believe I understand precisely what you’re saying. You’re being passive-aggressive with God, Ronnie. More importantly, however, is do you understand what you’re saying? After all, that’s the most important thing.”
“I believe I do,” continued Ronnie. “I’m just not sure what to make of this battle that’s raging inside my head. What I’m saying is, when I really stop and think about what I believe to be true, that is, on the deepest level, I don’t really think that God has it in for me. Sure, He may send trials my way to help mold me into who He wants me to be – I’ve always been taught that – but deep down I guess I believe that He has my best interests in mind.
Ronnie paused for a moment, lost in thought. The doctor chose not to interrupt this time. “But you know,” he continued while staring at the floor, “what really bothers me I guess is that even though God may not be sending these things my way directly, why doesn’t He do something about preventing those things that do happen to me? I understand that these things may come into my life for a purpose, but I simply can’t get past the fact that I feel like a lab rat in a maze caught up in some kind of experiment that I’ll never understand the purpose of. It’s like I see God as a scientist, off to the side looking over the top of his glasses. He’s watching His subject intently as it struggles to make sense of its surroundings and find the end of the maze. There may be a purpose to it, but it is so far beyond the grasp of the rat that it makes no difference.”
Ronnie paused again and looked up at Dr. Melling. “Am I the only one who’s ever felt like this? Does this make me a bad person?”
The doctor answered, “Well, Ronnie, I’ve been doing this a long time. I see all kinds of people come through here. Many of them are Christians with doubts such as yourself, many others don’t know what they believe, or they’ve believed something for so long it’s become a part of them but now they realize they have no idea why they believe it. I’d have to say, no, you’re not the first person to have ever felt this way, to have had these sort of thoughts. Questions and doubts are a natural part of being a human being. We all have them. We’ll never have the answers to all our questions this side of eternity. And I’m not sure we’ll even have them then.”
“That’s good to know,” Ronnie said. “I just wish I knew how to deal with all this.”
“Tell me this,” said Dr. Melling. “What do you think God thinks about you? Do you think He’s pleased with you? With your actions? Do you think He loves you anyway, no matter whether your actions are pleasing or not?”
to be continued…