Does God love Atheists?

So here I am – faced with deciding if loving Jesus was “worth it”…

My family didn’t really grow up going to church. My parents pretty much let us decide what we wanted to believe. In hindsight, I love that mindset as a parent. We certainly steer our kids to Jesus, but I want them to explore that themselves, too. I want our kids to truly feel love for the Lord deep down and not just say they do out loud because it’s what they think we want to hear. I would most definitely not be spiritually where I am today, if my parents forced me to believe a certain set of beliefs.

I went to youth group around 5-6th grade or so. I SO did not fit in. I was not the stereotypical church kid. I didn’t grow up with these kids. My parents weren’t pastors, choir directors, deacons or any of that, so I was already an outsider before I stepped foot in the door.

On top of not fitting into the church culture, I was chunky. I had short hair. I had no interest in being part of the cute crowd. I was sarcastic.

I went along with worship and bible things in an attempt to be liked.

Some time into my attempt at being liked, the youth pastor said that if you really loved God, you would destroy anything you had that was secular. If it wasn’t “Christian,” then it had to go.

Uhhh….my walls were plastered with hot 90’s guys – Leonard DiCaprio, Lance Bass, Nick Lachey….if it was in TigerBeat, it was on my walls (or my ceiling).

I came home that evening from youth group, and I tore all the Nsync, Backstreet Boys, Titanic and all the other things off my walls. I broke my CD’s that were deemed secular.

Now what? Was I loved by God now? Was I accepted by the church folks now?

What a mess. I was lost. I don’t even know if I believed there was a God at that point.

On Sundays, I would watch people shaking and falling over during worship – and I was like … am I supposed to do that? People spoke in tongues, and I’m like … am I supposed to do that? This church was super charismatic, but at the time, I had no idea what that even meant.

Sometime around 8th grade, the boy I liked said he was atheist. I’m like oh this is fun – what’s atheist? So I researched it, and I’m like – oh, me too! Surely, I must be atheist if I didn’t fit in with all the church kids.

Plus, if I was atheist, maybe he’d like me?

As a 14 year old, thinking you’re atheist makes you feel like you have some deep sense of how the world works. <— lol

I considered myself atheist for the rest of my high school years. I was the straight ‘A’ student who was atheist, played sports, loved band and probably swore more than a teenager should.

I went to a school that was probably 95% Christian at the time. Many had a Mennonite background, and all the smart kids were part of youth groups and mission trips and things that obedient kids did. I had applied for NHS as a senior with what I thought was a pretty badass resume for an 18 year old (11th in my class, 3 jobs, many sports and clubs), but I wasn’t accepted. I was roundaboutely told that because I didn’t have anything church related on my application, that it was a no go.

What?!

Obviously, at this point, I was so disillusioned by God, church, church people and anything related.

So as a 19 year old scarred, broken girl – when this boy that was giving me attention told me that he couldn’t be with someone who didn’t believe in God – it wasn’t just as simple as, “Lord, please come into my heart.”

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