Why Is It So Hard to Say Goodbye? January 13, 2011

Why Is It So Hard to Say Goodbye?

David Hayward shows us a phenomenon I’m sure many Christians have experienced:

But for so many of them, it doesn’t mean goodbye.

If anything, they try to rationalize for the fact that god never actually responds.

I just need stronger faith.

That voice I just made up was God speaking to me, right?

God will come back soon.

God’s just testing me right now.

It’s a cruel joke, really, that they can’t always distinguish between the invisible and the non-existent.

It takes courage to finally admit god’s not coming back. Or, more importantly, that he never even said hello in the first place.

(via nakedpastor)

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  • Lisa

    Waiting for Godot.

  • Donna

    My brother’s wife recently posted the following on facebook (spelling errors are hers, not mine) –

    If God Answers Your Prayer, He is increasing your FAITH. If He Delays, He is increasing you PATIENCE. If He Doesnt Answer, He has Something BETTER for YOU. = )

    Wishful thinking? Oh yeah.

  • God is real(ly not real).

  • Blacksheep

    The reason that so many people become Christians, or return to the faith they were raised in, is that God does answer, but not in the way you might like. If one is experiencing a lack of peace or joy in life, and prayer to God or Christ brings about that joy (and extra to spare), then that is an answer.

    Some here may say that we’re fooling ourselves, that prayer has a medatative quality that helps one feel better and that it’s only a chemical response, but I don’t think so. I think it’s God answering.
    Am I 100% sure of that? No. Can I prove it? No. but nobody can prove the contrary, either.

  • LeAnne

    it always cracks me up when christians pray, and then their prayer doesn’t get answered, and then they go the “oh well i guess it wasn’t meant to happen.” route. “god never forgets prayers, only chooses not to answer them.” that always makes me laugh.

  • God is there. He is just waiting for the right question.

  • Remus

    …and prayer to God or Christ brings about that joy(and extra to spare), then that is an answer.

    How would one tell whether God or coincidence or yourself is responsibly for any joy or peace you may experience?

    Whomever you choose to contribute for any joy is an answer, the mere presence of joy is not.

  • Jasen777

    That’s what happened to me, buy with several years between the first and last panels.

  • flawedprefect

    Yup. I was once amazed when a priest would tell us kids “God knows everything! He knows how many hairs are on your head!” I thought “Woah! Awesome!” He then went onto say “when you pray, you can actually talk to God!”

    Have a guess what I wanted to ask. Then ask me if I got an answer.

    SPOILER ALERT: No, I didn’t get an answer to how many hairs I had on my head. The priest must have left out the fine-print about “God only answers important questions”.

    It astounds me how silence is justified in that way. There really is no response to the “You’re just not asking the right questions” defense, except to throw your hands up in defeat and focus on something more productive, like shouting at a brick wall until it topples.

  • I feel kind of sorry for people who want there to be gods. You’re alive and have an untold number of opportunities to experience that. True, life isn’t fair and it doesn’t always go in your favour but it is all we have. Why waste it looking for answers from something that we can’t even say exists?

  • ACN

    Am I 100% sure of that? No. Can I prove it? No. but nobody can prove the contrary, either.

    This is generally speaking, a dangerous argument to make. It opens you up to all sorts of lines of attack. Consider the set of things you cannot prove.
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    It is humongous. I can’t prove unequivocally that leprecauns don’t exist. I can’t prove to you that I’m not an anthropomorphic zebra. I can’t prove that Vishnu isn’t the lord creator of the universe. I can’t prove that Ra doesn’t exist.

    Arguing that you hold a belief to be true, simply because no one can prove the contrary, doesn’t make a lot of sense. Why don’t you also worship Apollo, Zeus, Ra, Thor, Odin, etc. No one can prove that these beings aren’t the true deities of the universe. Do you also sacrifice goats whenever your loved ones are sick? No one can prove unequivocally that goat sacrifices don’t heal the sick.

    At this point in our history, virtually no one worships the old gods of greece, egypt and scandinavia. No one in their right mind kills goats to keep sick loved ones alive. We have better explanations for the thunder than “thor’s hammer”, and better explanations for disease than “evil spirits that can be evacuated onto a goat”.

    How we construct our beliefs is important. Some of us think that a good goal is to try to construct our understanding of the world in a way that maps to a testable reality. We think that by doing this we do our best to avoid silly beliefs like goat sacrifice, astrology, and other nonsense. I would gently ask you to consider the advantages of this system against the idea of building beliefs on whatever cannot be proven false.

  • Eddie

    @Blacksheep: I think belief is a powerful thing. You can trick yourself into doing, thinking or feeling anything with strong belief. I don’t see why we should take the effects of religion any differently. I’ve seen something called Jesus Prayer in the same league as meditation as we know it linked with Buddhism. The difference is one is attempting to contact something, the other is just trying to separate the mind from the body.

    Surely if it makes you feel better you can practice it.

    @ACN: Well done for that point. Although another thing that needs evidence: the idea of goat sacrifice. No evidence I have seen, just defamatory storytelling from rival invading religions. Sacrifice also comes from a Latin verb that simply means ‘to make sacred’. ‘Sacred’ itself is a Christian term. the idea of the devil came from Cernunnos, strangely he’s marked as the god of nature and fertility. Nothing wrong with fertility as it exists in nature…until you meet the abrahamics. They shy away from it so much. Can we see the links?

  • Phoebe

    I agree with ACN, there is no limit to the things you can’t prove doesn’t exist. Like a pink elephant wearing purple tights who can read your mind and grant you wishes during every blue moon. Hey, IT COULD EXIST! You CAN’T prove it doesn’t! Might as well beg it to grant you a wish! Think really hard in your mind and She will hear you!!

    It could bring you great joy to believe the groovtacular purple-tights wearing grant-wishing pink elephant may give you just what you want on the next blue moon!!

    If you get what you wanted, She is The One who Granted you your wish! If you didn’t get what you wanted, She decided to think about it for awhile, so don’t be discouraged!

  • Andy Bobandy

    Waiting for Godot.

    OBJECTION!

  • ACN

    Eddie,

    I had no idea of the history behind that! Poor maligned goats 🙂

  • sarah

    If God Answers Your Prayer, He is increasing your FAITH. If He Delays, He is increasing you PATIENCE. If He Doesnt Answer, He has Something BETTER for YOU. = )

    Oh goodness gracious! Wishful thinking is right!

    I just do not understand that way of thinking at all.

  • @ACN — I still maintain a small(ish) shrine to Bast. Among her other duties, she IS the protectress of cat-kind, and, well… with my unnatural affinity for cats, it just seems to fit. (I’m literally a cat-magnet.)

  • WMDKitty

    I’m literally a cat-magnet.

    Literally? So sorry for sniggering but that conjures some rather amusing imagery for me of cats flying out from under cars or from window sills to stick to you.

  • ACN

    Literally? So sorry for sniggering but that conjures some rather amusing imagery for me of cats flying out from under cars or from window sills to stick to you.

    I had the same delightful image. Of a person just minding their own business, and then, as they walked by a window, the only warning they received was a split second “MEOW!!!!” to hit the floor before a perturbed kitty comes flying through the window.

  • This exact thing happened to me a few years ago. But it took me over a year to accept it and admit.

  • En Passant

    It’s true, Hemant, it’s really, really hard to say goodbye. It’s embarrassing now, but when I was going through it it really felt like I lost my best friend. Or a parent. Someone I knew would always be there for me and always love me. And realizing it was never there to begin with didn’t make the loss any less painful.

    I think that’s why people don’t question their beliefs too deeply. We live in a culture where doing so leads to a literal grieving process. (And I do actually mean literal, not like cat-magnet literal.) 🙂

  • @Blacksheep said:

    …God does answer, but not in the way you might like.

    I hear:

    Aquarius: Stay open to what the universe holds for you today. If you don’t immediately receive your heart’s desire, it may be that the stars have something better in store.

  • Good comments by ACN, Eddie, and Phoebe, and Everyday Atheist in response to Blacksheep.

    To a large extent, religion is just institutionalized confirmation bias and wishful thinking. Concerning not being able to prove negatives, the possibility of something does not equal the probability of something. You can’t prove I’m not the second coming of Christ. But what are the odds of that? (or any other religious claim).

  • mike

    This is excellent advice.

  • Codswallop

    In the past, I have always been impatient with this wishful thinking and the non-falsifiable premise it creates. But lately, I have actually been experiencing more compassion for these folks and their circular reasoning, because not so long ago, I was one of them.

  • DA

    It was like a really painful breakup except I found out my ex had never really even existed.

  • Luis

    I understand the frustration of not finding any answers, this world is surely not a manifestation of anything even remotely divine, but there is an experience totally alien to the world but available right here and now. God is not hidden, men are nidden in their crazy need for irrational conflict and attack and wake up from their deafness, muteness and dumbness, this is what being alive is. Godin my experience is life, and love and nothing else