by Kwame Weekes
Trust in Yahweh and do what is good,
make your home in the land and live in peace;
make Yahweh your only joy
and he will give you what your heart desires. Psalm 37:3
I am, perhaps, the weakest of all of my friends. Six years of my life was spent completely devoted to Jesus Christ. Like any love, I wanted to know everything there was to know about Jesus. I spent time with him and took him almost everywhere with me; almost because there were times I needed to take the crucifix off from around my neck to lessen the anticipated guilt of something I was about to do, similar to a man who takes off his wedding ring before he invites the woman at the bar back to his apartment when he's out on business. And because my love was real, every time I fell short of my commitment, I was sure to fall on my knees begging for mercy. Seven times seventy times I would, and still the love persisted. People have different reasons for doing what they do, but for me, if my memory is reliable and my honesty is true, my love was resting on a promise; a promise of love returned in abundance, of happiness, of purpose and passion, of meaning. My friends are still in love waiting on this promise, but I, in my weakness, have let go.
As I mature in my non-belief, I am beginning to see that there is very little difference - if any at all - among human beings. The same dynamics that are present in a relationship with a human lover are present in a relationship with a god. If you are not this person, you surely know someone who is madly in love with another human being. Their love is so bright it makes them blind to their own worth and the fact that their lover is blind to it as well. They would take the insults, the beating, the nights of loneliness and all the other niceties that come with unhealthy relationships while you look on in pity, disgust, or absolute horror. Tyler Perry is one of my least favourite directors of all time, but I like that he always makes room for this type of character in his work. This is probably why so many people like his movies - it gives us a "Good Friday bobolie" to beat on, ridicule and offer advice to. "How she schupid so! She takin all da licks. Girl, leave he ass and go by the next man eh!" How wise we become when we stand outside looking in.
People in relationships like this tend to downplay the negatives and emphasise the positives, however few and far between. It's like the Stockholm syndrome where you think your kidnapper is a praiseworthy person because he offered you a slice of bread and some water when you were hungry, even though you had to eat it with your hands tied with ropes. In our darkest times we hold on to any glimmer of light because there is nothing else to do. I cannot laugh at persons like this. I weep for them. They are holding on to a hope that doesn't exist and I weep for them.
Many of my old friends are believers and many of them have experienced the darkest of times. Even though we don't speak anymore, my love for them sometimes pushes me, the non-believer, to my knees, begging the god that I don't believe in to be merciful to those that love him. He never listens. Still their love persists and I look on - like you look on in a Tyler Perry movie - and I say, "Hoss, why you wasting your time with this god thing?" Tomorrow, tomorrow, it would get better tomorrow. Tomorrow is always coming. Sometimes tomorrow arrives, but only lasts for a day. Then the darkness comes returns. Is there ever a right time to let go of a god?
I cannot answer this question for anyone but myself. For me, the right time was November of 2011. I could no longer live with the belief that if I made Yahweh my only joy he would give me my heart's desires, especially since my heart was not that wanting. My requests were simple - joy, peace, meaning, purpose. There were days when these did come and I made sure my praises on those days were loud enough for my atheist friends to hear. "Yuh see! My God is great! I could never have done so well in exams if it weren't for him." Yes, I did do “well” in exams but some of my atheist friends received scholarships while I didn’t. If it wasn’t me being happy about good grades it was me happy about meeting a new person who shared the same unpopular interests as me. For everything I was happy about, I could find a number of non-believers who enjoyed the same to greater degrees. It was like I was overwhelmingly happy about the bread and water I was eating with bounded hands thinking it was better than those who were eating golden crusted bread, with melted butter and cheese, washing it down with hot Milo.
What is different between the relationship with God and the relationship with another human being, however, is inherent in the natures of the two objects. God is supposed to be eternal and all-powerful while human beings are temporal and weak. For this reason, it is incredibly easier for a person to let go of a human relationship than it is to let go of a divine one. God's promises go into the after-life, while human promises must be fulfilled in this lifetime. After a while, a person may cut their losses and recognise that the promises their deadbeat husband were making are never going to be fulfilled. A woman knows that after a certain age, the promise of having children is null because it is biologically impossible. But with God, anything is possible, and we hold on to the hope that He would work a miracle just for us, if not in this lifetime, in the next. We are so desperate for a miracle that perfectly ordinary things like passing a difficult examination are aggrandised beyond what they really are. And when the statistically improbable happens to someone else - a 56 year old woman has a perfectly healthy baby - we adopt that story and believe it would happen for us as well. We’re only hurting ourselves.
As condescending as this may sound, I wish some of my old friends would let go of God. What I have written thus far assumes the existence of a god with whom people are able to have relationships. The relationship becomes much harder for me to watch considering this god may not exist beyond the imagination. Suppose I am wrong and he does exist. Aren't you worth more than how you are being treated? To me, holding on to the hope that joy cometh in the morning is beautiful only up to a point. When the promise-giver holds the promise before you like a carrot on a stick and extends the reward’s fruition to beyond the grave, I cannot find love or recognition of your worth in that gesture. It’s as if you’re willingly putting yourself out there to be mocked.
Perhaps I am wrong and my giving up was too soon; I should have asked for strength and the intercession of Mother Teresa. I don't think so, though. I think I just found my worth and had no room for a love that tests. You may consider me weak, but I consider the decision to let go of God the greatest show of strength I have ever displayed.