Love Letter for an Atheist

I have a friend that I love dearly. When we were in school together, he was a dynamic, evangelistic and a committed Christian. Over the course of his life, he changed his views and now he is an evangelistic atheist (how’s that for an oxymoron?) The same fervor he exhibited as a fundamental Christian, he now displays in his copious writings and conversations about Atheism. Considering that we went to a Baptist College, his newfound belief system has garnered him a considerable amount of barbs and arrows lobbed in his direction.

While the idea that he no longer believes in Christ, or that there is a God saddens me, I have remained uncharacteristically quiet on the subject.  I respect his choice to exercise the free will that the God he no longer believes in gave him.  I read his notes, and most the time they make me feel a variety of things, but mostly I feel bewildered.  I find it difficult to wrap my head around his new way of thinking.  One of his recent notes, however really made me think.  He was making the point that a God who needs to be praised smacks of imperfection, insecurity and narcisism.  In the same post, he commented on how much he loved his wife, and how she could never understand just how much he learns to love her more every day.  I found this intrigueing.  The thought that went through my mind was “Does that mean that his wife is imperfect, insecure or narcisitic because she receives (and most assuredly desires) his love?”  I couldn’t see how he was able to love his wife so profoundly, so genuinely, so movingly, and in the same breath begrudge Christians and God for the same show of love.

I’ve been chewing on this for a long time.  I’ve been stewing on it, and wondering how or if I should say something.  I don’t want to say anything to him that could be perceived as an insult, because frankly, the most moving part of his note was his spontaneous ode to his wife.  He obviously loves her very deeply and is not ashamed to express the depth of his love for her.  She is a fortunate woman to know that depth of love and that’s what got me thinking.  This weekend, while attending a Christian retreat, I penned the following love note to the object of my affection, and I am dedicating it to my friend in the hopes that he will read it and receive in the spirit in which it was given. . .

You don’t demand my love.

You don’t require it.

I give it freely because of who You are.

I lavish it openly, as You do for me.

Because that’s what people in love do.

My thoughts are consumed with You,

not because You mandate it. . .

I think about You because I am obsessed as a result of my love for You

and I’m following the example You’ve shown to me.

You tell me over and over how precious are Your thoughts about me.

This obsession goes both ways;

Because that’s what people in love do.

When I’m hurting – it’s Your arms I seek.

When I’m lonely – it’s Your kiss I need.

When I’m sad – You dry my tears.

Why wouldn’t I love You?

Why wouldn’t I worship You?

Why wouldn’t I serve You?

Why wouldn’t I want to be better for You?

Why wouldn’t I give my life for You?

That’s what people in love do.

And I love You, Lord. . .

Deeply, madly, truly.

I love You because You looked at me,

and You saw someone worthy of all You are and have.

I love You because You ARE love –

and that’s what people in love do.

I really do love my friend, too.  Everytime I think of him, I smile at the memories of our time together.  I noticed that he has recently removed me as a “friend” on the social networking site where the original note first appeared.  It is possible that it was a simple mistake, or it could be that my everpresent notes about the greatness and goodness of God have offended him.  Who knows?  I hope that he accepts the new request I have made to renew our “friend” status.  I hope he reads this and hears my heart.  I don’t want to debate with him.  I don’t want to confront his belief system.  I simply want to return a favor.  His note about the narcisism of God made me think – I hope my note about the love that I feel for my God will resonate with him as he remembers the love he feels for his wife, and will prompt him to think, too.

3 thoughts on “Love Letter for an Atheist

  1. “Does that mean that his wife is imperfect, insecure or narcisitic because she receives (and most assuredly desires) his love?”

    To a certain degree, why yes, we she is. His wife, just like all other humans, are imperfect, insecure and wants to be loved. It’s human nature. To have nobody love you is a terrible thing, and we dread to grow old alone.

    God however, is according to the Christian faith, does not have these attributes. He is perfect, secure in everything, and doesn’t require love to survive. Yet, the way the Bible describes God, and the way Christians talk about God, it seems very much like he is imperfect and demands our attention and love.

    It’s a bit hard to realize because these things are so common with religions. I mean, there are hardly any religions that says that you don’t really need to believe and be devoted. Such a religion would surely die out within a few generations.

    It would perhaps be easier if we put it this way: Does God need to be reassured of his appearance? Do you think we should pray to God to tell him that he is the most beautiful being in the entire universe, so he doesn’t feel ugly? That would hardly be fitting for an omnipotent being outside of time. The same thing applies for love. Love is great and all, but a perfect being wouldn’t need love anymore than he would need to be reminded he is way awesome, strong and beautiful.

  2. Karen,

    You wrote so beautifully that I believe it was the Holy Spirit writing. Jesus is love and you depicted that better than I ever could. I will agree with you in prayer for his soul.

  3. Update…he re-friended me. He read it. We had an excellent exchange of ideas and in the end, we agree to disagree and be respectful and loving toward each other, and to continue to be challenged by each other’s writings.

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