Dear Jesus,

Sometimes I still think about the walks we took together. Remember: I started talking to you when I was in sixth grade, walking from home to school and back again. I would ask you things and you would answer from the front-right corner of my mind, and I never thought I was crazy. We would just talk, and talk, and talk. After losing all of my male friends to puberty and not having any idea how to make friends with girls, I found solace in you. My own personal Jesus, tucked away in my brain for safekeeping.

That was really when we became friends, I think. I let a pastor dunk me in the churning, mucky waves of Lake Michigan the summer after sixth grade just to prove that I was serious. I have decided to follow Jesus; no turning back, no turning back.

Then, you introduced me to church, and to youth group. Oh! It was lovely to have friends and to feel special. When Wednesday night rolled around, I was so pleased to go somewhere I felt like I fit in. Being a Christian in a public school is terribly isolating when you have abysmal social skills and believe everyone around you is morally bankrupt. I stopped believing the latter before I addressed the former, thank goodness.

Because your people said it was the right thing to do, I kept going to church for a long time after I probably should have. Even after several of my “brothers and sisters in Christ” referred me to Romans 8:28 after I had been to a freakish number of funerals for a fifteen-year-old kid, told me God was male and that I could never be a pastor because I was a lady, and lots more fucked-up shit that I frankly don’t have the energy to discuss at this moment, I still tried for a long time to show up for the church.

Well, we both know how that worked out in the end, and suffice it to say that both of us know that I am never going back, except for with my family on Christmas and Easter. Apostate as I may be, I am not a bad daughter.

I used to sing for you, too. I did that for a long time. That was how I found my voice, and I am grateful for that. Singing has yet to fail to bring me joy and solace. The same could not be said of you. For instance, in the same breath that you called me a Child of God, you would damn some of the best people I know to hell—just for their lack of faith in your resurrection and the religious tradition that followed. Honestly, I can’t say I blame them: to say nothing of the other miracles, incarnate resurrection and a virgin birth are pretty immense pills to swallow in a post-Enlightenment society. And that’s just the beginning.

I know I am not supposed to pay attention to the man behind the curtain, but it is in my nature to discern and question. Perhaps I am being too dramatic, or over-thinking things. Perhaps the task is just to keep the faith for the sake of having it; perhaps I am too weak to carry your so-called easy yoke. If any of the above are true, please forgive me.

Until next time,

Caitlin Gent

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