No, it’s not me; it’s you. I know it seems kind of sudden, but if you had been paying attention, you would have seen this coming for a while.

That’s just the problem, isn’t it? You just don’t seem to pay attention. Sure, you really perk up over stupid stuff, like when people eat food you don’t like, but when I try to talk about things that are important to me, it’s like I’m talking to a wall.

It seemed so right in the beginning. All my friends and family told me you were super loving and supportive, not to mention incredibly intelligent. “A real miracle worker,” they said. They showed me things you had written and told me of things you had done for them. I was very impressed. I wanted to get to know you.

When we were first together I was so happy. I felt like my heart would explode with love. Everything seemed better with you around. The colors were more vibrant, music more dynamic. When I found you, I had the sun, the moon, the stars, and all eternity in my grasp.

I told everyone about you. I bragged about how kind you were and felt so fortunate that of all the people in the world, you had chosen me. I was consumed with a desire to prove my love to you. In doing so, I think I hurt some people. I judged others who didn’t seem to care about you as much as I did, or maybe just not in the way I did.

After a while, the ecstatic emotions started to fade. It wasn’t intentional. In fact, I was trying harder than ever to make you happy. I went to your house every chance I got. I listened to songs and read books that reminded me of you, but I just couldn’t recapture the feelings I had in the beginning. I suppose it’s like that with most things.

I had built my very identity on what I thought you wanted. When I didn’t hear from you, I was devastated. I just wanted so badly to be with you. I felt guilty that the wonderful feelings I had were going away.

As the infatuation fizzled, I started to get a more realistic view of you. I realized that you didn’t like to talk much. Others said you talked to them, but I couldn’t get a word out of you. I tried not to be needy, but sometimes I wondered if you cared at all. I know you were super busy with work, but heck, you even made time to help my cousin find her car keys.

I guess that’s another thing. Your priorities seem so strange to me. You pull all kinds of strings for some people and completely ignore others. You help some people get rich, but you pass by people who are literally starving to death without giving them a glance. You tell people to be nice to each other, but for your job you convince others to commit genocide.

At least, that’s what I hear. You never told me much about your job. Most of what I know about you comes from your friends—you know, the ones who actually wrote those books attributed to you. By the way, they got it wrong on a ton of stuff. Tell them to check the facts before they go on writing about the origins of the world, global floods, and the cosmos.

Now that I think about it, you’ve really got a strange taste in friends. How come the only people who get face time from you almost always end up being racist, anti-scientific, sexist, licentious, homophobic, violent, greedy, or power hungry? I know there are some really really good people who love you. So why don’t you choose one of them as a spokesperson?

Better yet, why don’t you speak for yourself? Everyone says so many different things about you. They can’t agree on anything—what you look like, what you sound like, what things you like, what things you hate, where you’re from, what you actually do. Do you not understand that people are literally fighting to the death over this kind of stuff?

The more I think about it, the more I realize I didn’t actually know you at all. I knew what other people said about you. But I have no way of knowing if what they said was accurate, since they are contradicted by so many other people who also claim to know you.

I guess I loved my idea of you more than I actually loved you. When I struggled, I loved reassuring myself that you would make everything all right. When I saw people in pain, I loved thinking that you would make it up to them. I loved believing that you would help me in school and in work and in other relationships. The belief alone gave me the confidence I needed to succeed.

I thought you wanted me to be kind, so I was. I thought you wanted me to be generous, honest, and hard working, so I was. Because of you, I tried to live my life the best that I could.

Now I understand that those things were not dependent on you at all. They were within me all along. It wasn’t you who made me succeed. It was the belief in you that helped me tap into my own power. At the time, I wasn’t confident enough in myself to see it, but now I know.

Do you remember when I used to feel such an overwhelming sense of love? I used to think that was because of you. I thought I was feeling your love for me and your love for other people. When I considered leaving you, I worried that I would lose that love. But now I know that love I felt was my own. And it’s still with me.

Remember when I started to love learning? I was thrilled because I thought you were teaching me. Now I know that I was learning on my own. The excitement wasn’t your stamp of approval; it was the pure internal delight of finding truth and expanding my mind.

I realize now that I was projecting my highest ideals, my deepest ambitions, and my sincerest hopes on to you, a person I still don’t know much about. I once looked at you through the glass darkly, but now that I stand face to face, I don’t see your image at all; I see my own. The glass was never a window; it was a mirror.

That’s what you really are—a mirror, and the things people say about you must be but mere reflections of their own hearts. Maybe those who say you are violent and vengeful are violent and vengeful themselves. Maybe those who say you are merciful and kind are merciful and kind themselves. Maybe we aren’t created in your image after all; maybe you are created in ours.

If that’s the case, I wish people could know it. Perhaps that way they’d think twice before using you as justification for their malice. Maybe they would feel more confident about their own inherent goodness. Maybe they would think more about how to put that goodness to use instead of outsourcing their charity to you.

You know, as I write this, I actually feel grateful for what I’ve gone through. Maybe I should thank you for your silence because it’s allowed me to find my own voice. Your ambiguity has given me a chance to define myself. When you ignored me in the darkest night of my life, I learned to find my own light.

Some people say I’m crazy for leaving you. They are certain that I’ll regret it. What would I have to regret? Does a child regret learning to walk with its own legs? Does a bird regret learning to fly? You certainly don’t seem too worried. I’m sure if you were bothered, you would have said something by now.

I don’t expect a response. You know I gave up hope for that a while ago. Just know that I am happy—happier than I’ve been in a long time. The colors are vibrant, and music is dynamic once more. I may not have the sun, moon, stars, and the whole universe for eternity, but I feel like I’ve gained the world. And for the first time in my life, I’m not afraid of it.


Tanner Gilliland is a writer, artist, and jazz hands enthusiast based in Salt Lake City, UT. Check out his art on Instagram: @tanner_gilliland, his jokes on Twitter: @tgilliland789, and his poverty on Venmo: Tanner-Gilliland
  • Justin Anderson

    Awesome letter, let me know if you get a reply!

  • Brad Lancaster

    What a beautiful tribute to humanity! Keep writing!

  • John-Julie Distelhorst

    Dear God, say something I’m giving up on you…

    • Gareth Mitchell

      THAT is exactly what I think when I hear that song.

  • Derrick Clements

    What a beautiful reflection. Thank you for sharing, and best of luck on your journey.

  • Kayla L

    “I’m sure if you were bothered, you would have said something by now.” *Applause.*

  • Lindi Farrell

    Love this!

  • Jared Almond

    If you can’t find god in you, you won’t find God outside of you. 🙂 I agree, searching for this backwards is problematic but both can be found.

  • Darren

    “Heed these words, you who wish to probe the depths of Nature: if you do not find within your Self that which you seek, neither will you find it outside. If you ignore the wonders of your own House, how do you expect to find other wonders? In you is hidden the Treasure of Treasures. Know Thyself and you will know the Universe and the Gods.” – Oracle of Delphi in Greece

  • Lance

    Lots of ideas in here that feel so familiar.

  • Shem

    Beautiful words!

  • robbiebridgstock

    Poem: Junk Religion

    Not far from my home along a farm track across open fields, old decaying farm machinery has been abandoned
    and left to corrode and crumble back to the earth. Each implement, entwined with grasses and trees looks strangely beautiful in the dying sun of evening. Bright shining rust set against the green shades of summer.

    I stand and look at it all. Some of this junk is piled high and entangled together into twisted limbs of steel and iron. This is a graveyard of metallic bones, scattered around, like solders shot in fields – forever stranded and silent.

    I too entered silence. I remembered that once – many years ago, my religion was shiny, new and had a strong and rugged relevance in my life. I used it to plough-up my heart and let God sink in to a deep and futile land.

    Oh Mormonism, why did you lie to me – why did you die in me? Why did you decay in front of my eyes and become
    – like these metal bones – useless junk? I sustained your beautifully perfect image, but slowly and inexorably you lost your edge. They said it was me, but in the end, I knew it was you. You started to breakdown and all the fixing and
    mending in the world could not sustain you. If you were divine you would have had life in yourself – even if you were only human, you might have healed yourself, but you could not even do that. You were always brittle and hard, but
    I did not notice for so long.

    Then, like waking up from a deep sleep, I thought of you, ‘my dream’ and I called you to come into reality
    – to come out of the night and into the day…. but you would not come. Istruggled with you for years, trying to revive and breathe life into you, but in the end I had to move on without you.

    Oh Mormonism, why did you promise so much, yet in the end, give so little? Why did you want to stifle
    and control the life that was bursting out of me? Why couldn’t you trust me – why couldn’t you trust God? Slowly, and with utter amazement, I saw death crawl all over you.

    You changed, you grew old, ugly and colourless… or was it I who had actually grown up?… Me, who saw you with new eyes opened – saw past all the dogma and rhetoric – saw the pride and the conceit – saw the decay beneath your shiny surface.

    Once, in a summer now gone, I loved you. Now, you rust and disintegrate upon the landscape of my past. As I
    walk away, you call me back with your dying breath, but I have a harvest to enjoy! Did you think when you helped
    me plough up my living soil that I would always grow the weeds you recommended?”

    • larryj

      Very nice. My experience exactly.

    • Richard R. Lyman

      This was beautiful! Thank you so much for sharing!

  • Arwen Undomiel

    It’s hard to believe God exists knowing that if he does, he is just watching people in this world kill each other and he doesn’t do anything about it. We are supposed to learn from theses expereicnes, this is waht I’m told, but many times I wonder if there are no other ways to learn that doesn’t invopve wars and people dying.

    If God ever comes back, he is going to have some explaining to do to me, cause I’m going to be angry as heck. We children have some rights, I suppose. I don’t believe myself better than God, but I know we all have the right to get at least an explanation. Yeah, if he ever comes back I wan to know what he has been up for the past 1000 years.

  • I understand the feeling. It eventually led me here.

  • tmac525

    Wow, that’s some powerful stuff. Although I don’t consider myself an atheist, this really resonated with me. I still believe in God, but that belief has transformed so much this year. I’ve broken up with the God of religions. I love the line, “Maybe we aren’t created in your image after all; maybe you are created in ours.” That hit me hard. All the feels. I think the mere fact that I was overcome with the feeling that I used to associate with “the Spirit” while reading this article shows that if there is a God, he/she/it doesn’t give a damn about religion. I have this feeling a lot lately, and I feel strongly that religion is the greatest enemy of spirituality.

  • Brilliant.

  • Oliver-Daniel P. Kronberger

    Great place here. Technically I am still a Mormon but my heart is far away in some other place. Your thoughts, your turning away from God, touched me. I feel almost the same. I believe God is far greater than anyone can ever imagine. I do not know why I haven’t left the Church. It’s my problem. Perhaps I am tired of life. Perhaps I need a break. Perhaps I need new friends. Whatever it is, I think God is still somehow with us. Before I joined the LDS church I was a JW for eight years. Comparing the LDS church with them makes me wonder how I could fall for their teachings. I did believe the LDS to be the “true” church. Searching for truth offered me no “truth”, just reflections, glimplses of something better and higher. Thanks for giving us lots to think about. It’s a great site and I hope there is more to ponder (not ponderize 🙂 )))) take care

    • Richard R. Lyman

      Wow! JW and LDS! That’s quite the resume! I’d love to hear some of your thoughts on the similarities and differences between the two faiths.

  • Martin Harris Luther

    I’ve had similar thoughts, that if God does exist, he must have hidden himself inside of our own consciences.

  • Rude Dog

    Well written.

    “Is it true that at one time, in one place, one God created man in his image or quite the opposite, that at many times, in many places, man created many Gods in his tribal and cultural image?


  • fides quaerens intellectum

    Made me think of this: From Ernst W. Benz, a professor of history at the University of Marburg

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