An Atheist’s Last Prayer

by Deborah Foster

I couldn’t find anything in my writings that related to my distance from God until this 1992 prayer.

“Have you ever read about a frog who dreamed of being a king, and then became one. Well, except for the names and a few other changes, if you talk about me, the story’s the same one. But I’ve got an emptiness deep inside, and I’ve tried, but it won’t let me go” — Neil Diamond

Oh God! Ill-defined, vague God!! Come here to my room, and slice away the heaviness of my spirit. Release my mind from the dangerous, endless voices within me. I need you, male or female, cruel or caring, because my own weakness demands an all-powerful deity. Without you I do not have an ever-lasting existence, and so I do not have purpose. Figment of my delusions or great ruler of all, it does not matter…you are losing a soul. I am thickly lost within myself. Drowning in quick-sand thoughts that are pulling me inward mercilessly. I cannot believe you would let a precious life go, so pardon my bravado, but please come to me quickly. Time is not our asset.

Steadily I lose control over what was once my dominion — complete control of my emotions. I was happy on cue, sad when required, and anywhere in between as needed. What went wrong? Perhaps it was too daring to attempt a social climb, because the trip was dangerous, full of fear. How silly of me to believe that achieving my goals would be sufficient to fit right in. I’m done; I’ve graduated from college. I am educated, and so I have nothing left to prove. I have invested all of my essence in my cap and gown.

I should be dancing, absorbing the pleasures of the good life, but instead I am frozen on my bed, and I cannot move. I know that I am even headed for greater accolades, about to start a PhD program. But I seem wholly incapable of making that leap of success that is that great. Yes, I could go from being a welfare child, a used street child, and a thief to a college graduate in the ivory tower. But never will my emotions ever be in complete repair; I can’t pretend anymore.

No Lord, I don’t think you actually made a worthless person. I actually think you designed me with strength. When I shed some pounds I am desirable, and I have a lot to say. But everyday, even when I try to ignore it, someone or something reminds me that I don’t belong, I am not welcome, and my differences are not valuable. In spite of my lack of understanding about these new peers, they know who I am. And I cannot even imagine what it would be like to be unaffected by their rejection, or untaunted by their exclusion.

I can feel you God, barely, like less than a whisper. I need your reassurance…please scream it at me. My mental health teeters on a narrow and crumbling jettison, over-looking a sometimes inviting valley of insanity. Tell me that at least the after-life is fair and equal. Promise me, no one is in pain. Swear to me that I will feel attractive, worthy, and accepted by others. Tell me that when I go there, there are no songs about emptiness deep inside.

Afterward: I can see my eating disorder in here and it makes me sad it is not better, but mental health is so much better 20 years later. It was a bumpy 20 years.

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