The End of Pretending

Courtesy of unsplash.com

Courtesy of unsplash.com

I was a cynical child. I read the encyclopedia and analyzed comic strips in the Sunday paper. I observed adults and memorized their conversations. I typically spoke out of the corner of my mouth in what relatives called my “ventriloquist voice.”

I didn’t like church. The sweet incense and sticky pleather olive green kneelers were annoying. I didn’t like how the priest did that half-singing about communion at the altar. I didn’t want to read a public prayer about loving God when I didn’t even know him. What was so great about God anyway?

Then my mom started talking about Jesus all the time, like he was her best friend or something. I couldn’t believe we had to start going to church twice on the weekends – Saturday night mass to keep our grandmas happy and Sunday morning megachurch to keep our parents happy.

I didn’t like Kids Praise and Music Machine always playing loudly at home. So much smiling in those songs. Those happy bible verse lyrics invaded my best ideas. I tried to block them by listing all the people that weren’t doing the 10 Commandments and Fruits of the Spirit right, in my opinion. I looked for hypocrites. They were everywhere.

In junior high things got more complicated, because they always do. We moved far away and my new school was bad. I missed 35 days in 6 months because I didn’t want to smoke pot on the bus or see kids having sex under the trailers. My only alternative was to go to a Christian school, where I would be required to wear a bra and I write out when, how, and why “I accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior.” I hadn’t done either of those things before. But after Mom’s pleading, some scary thoughts about hell, and my desperation to get out of Wangenheim Junior High, I technically “became a Christian” the night before the application was due.

I had a little over a year at that tiny Christian school. I went to chapel and memorized bible verses because it was required. We even made up a very white rap about Ephesians 4:32.

Of course we had to move again to another far away state. Just in time for me to start high school. The house my parents were building wasn’t ready on time, so we lived in a senior citizens’ center near my Dad’s office, 40 minutes away. We had no friends, so my little sister and I ate pizza bagels and watched the very unchristian soap Santa Barbara after school, much to our Mom’s chagrin. I even played Barbies with my sister, but only after I threatened to kill her if she told anyone.  

One night after watching Moonlighting alone I saw my Mom’s green One Year Bible next to the TV. I took it to my sparse room and sat on the hard twin bed that came with our furnished rental apartment. I used the bookmark to open it. On the page was a Psalm. I don’t remember the psalm, but whoever wrote it was mad. He was mad at God. So I found another psalm, and that guy was mad too. I kept turning pages, amazed that the Bible let people yell at God. I didn’t see any evidence that they got in trouble for this either. I had found my heroes.

I skimmed past all the cheesy worship parts in the Psalms and relished the vengeance and despair. (I looked very preppy on the outside, but was goth at heart.) I totally resonated with David’s isolation and confusion. I remembered my mom saying, “David was a man after God’s own heart.” Which had to mean God liked him, right?

Then maybe God could like me? Maybe all the feelings I had were okay? Maybe I didn’t have to say and do fake churchy things to know God? Maybe all my questions were okay?

Why is it so hard, God?

Why are people so mean?

Why don’t you care about me?

Why don’t you help me?”

Maybe God wasn’t so far away on some throne. Maybe he actually liked people. Maybe he wanted people to talk to him. Like those guys that were so mad in the Psalms. Like me.

My dark and lonely 14-year-old heart cracked open that night, like a new book’s binding. Suddenly so many things seemed true and possible: There was a real God. He loved people even when they were mad and sad. He loved me.

I wouldn’t have to pretend anymore.

– – More Ideas about Angry Psalms —

Perhaps you need a spiritual kick-boxing class today, like I did at 14, and thousands of times since then. Here are some hard-hitting verses from the Psalms for you. Say them Loud with Feeling. You are not alone.

When you feel like God doesn’t like you:

  • “You are God my stronghold. Why have you rejected me?” – Psalm 43:2
  • “But you crushed us and made us a haunt for jackals and covered us over with deep darkness.” – Psalm 44:19
  • “Why have you rejected us forever, O God?” – Psalm 74:1
  • “Will the Lord reject us forever? Will he never show his favor again? Has his unfailing love vanished forever? Has his promise failed for all time?” – Psalm 77:7-8

When you feel like God doesn’t care enough to help you:

  • “Why, O LORD, do you stand far off? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?” – Psalm 10:1
  • “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from the words of my groaning?” – Psalm 22:1
  • “My eyes fail, looking for my God.” – Psalm 69:3
  • “Why, O Lord, do you reject me and hide your face from me? From my youth I have been afflicted and close to death; I have suffered terrors and am in despair. Your wrath has swept over me; your terrors have destroyed me. All day long they surround me like a flood; they have completely engulfed me. You have taken my companions and loved ones from me; the darkness in my closest friend.” – Psalm 88:14-18
  • “My soul faints with longing for your salvation, but I have put my hope in your word. My eyes fail, looking for your promise; I say, “When will you comfort me?’” – Psalm 119:81-82

When you feel like God isn’t just:

  • “Rise up, O God, and defend your cause; remember how fools mock you all day long.” – Psalm 74:22
  • “How long will you defend the unjust and show partiality to the wicked?” – Psalm 82:2
  • “If only you would slay the wicked, O God!” – Psalm 139:19

When we accuse God we are saying he is capable of making mistakes. Do you think that is possible? If God is good, can he hurt you? Is anger toward him misdirected? I urge you to tell God how you really feel about him. I promise he will not be offended, because he actually already knows. Please make sure you leave a little time to listen in silence when you’re done. “Hear me O God, as I voice my complaint.” – Psalm 64:1

Written by Aimee Fritz

Aimee Fritz

Aimee Fritz is a storyteller. She finally believes in an unseen God, hopes to someday feel qualified to parent her three kids, and is now allergic to every food she used to enjoy. Long ago as a consultant, she brought encouragement and tools to companies, churches, and nonprofits desperate for change. Now the organization she desires to serve most is her family. Aimee launched Family Compassion Focus (familycompassionfocus.com) in 2014 to create and collect resources to equip all families, including her own, to become lovable and loving World Changers. She and her daughter just returned from Haiti where they completed their craziest fundraiser yet – doing the Chicken Dance in a Chicken Suit at the Haiti Partners Children’s Academy.

About Aimee Fritz

Aimee Fritz is a storyteller. She finally believes in an unseen God, hopes to someday feel qualified to parent her three kids, and is now allergic to every food she used to enjoy. Long ago as a consultant, she brought encouragement and tools to companies, churches, and nonprofits desperate for change. Now the organization she desires to serve most is her family. Aimee launched Family Compassion Focus (familycompassionfocus.com) in 2014 to create and collect resources to equip all families, including her own, to become lovable and loving World Changers. She and her daughter just returned from Haiti where they completed their craziest fundraiser yet - doing the Chicken Dance in a Chicken Suit at the Haiti Partners Children's Academy.

6 Comments

  1. This is excellent. So, so good and relatable.

    (And also I moved to Huntington Beach in 7th grade (from Virginia) and had a similar experience. Then in 8th grade moved to Scripps Ranch so I laughed in empathy at the Wagenheim reference. (I ended up at Good Shepherd in Mira Mesa that year.))

    I hope you write more for Perissos.

    • Thanks, Liz! How crazy that you also lived in Scripps Ranch! (We ended up driving all the way to Santa Fe Christian when we left Wangenheim.)

  2. Oh what moms don’t know about their kids!
    And moms remember things differently from the way their children do.!
    For the record; the Oberlin apartment building we stayed in while the Bay Village house was built was NOT a senior citizens building. It just felt like it was!!!
    Mom

  3. Pingback: Literally? – Perissos

  4. Love your writing.

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