Hell No! Part Two
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I remember the smell of the chairs in the sanctuary as I bowed my head into them to plead for my eternal safety. I was six years
old at most, and it wasn’t even the first time I’d spoken the words of a prayer that I was taught alone can save me. I was afraid.
The fiery flames of a place in the depth of the earth’s core was a thing of nightmares-come-true. For the majority of my life, the purpose of Jesus and my relationship with my higher power was to keep me from Hell. Who wouldn’t want to do everything possible to stay away from the fate of eternal conscious torment?
I shudder to think about this now and the many nights I spent obsessively praying to a God I pictured as an angrier version of Thor. Not immediately scary, but ready to take me down if I made a wrong move. I was confused. On the one hand, I wanted God to save me from harm, but on the other hand, I lived in fear of not being “chosen.” I was told that heaven is my hope. So, what if I didn’t make it there?
As a child who suffered from debilitating anxiety (I wonder why...), the hope of Heaven was one that I was desperate to cling to. The world was a hard, scary place. I looked towards Heaven
every day. But in order for Heaven to exist for those who had the right beliefs, who had said the right prayer, and who had done the right things, there had to be Hell for the others. There was just as much of a possibility that I could end up in that place of suffering and pain. Where then, was hope? Peace? Safety? Who was this God whose love was unconditional, but somehow also conditional? My lack of ability to trust God in my formative years is one of the biggest things I keep coming back to as I deconstruct my belief in a literal Hell. I created walls and moats all around me because God just seemed completely mad, and not to be trusted. Everything that I did felt like one more nail in my coffin. If God was all-knowing and I was screwing up all over the place, then eternity did not look great for me. It never even crossed my mind that God might allow me to be myself, and that somehow God was secure enough in who they were to give me appropriate space and not be tallying up my shortcomings. What if who we are isn’t completely tied up in who God is? What if there’s a beautiful boundary there? What if God doesn’t take everything we do personally but approaches us with empathy, respect, and understanding?
What if we can trust God to keep us safe and to honor our needs?
What if it’s not all about God? What if it’s a little bit about us too, and that’s how God always meant it to be?
I have learned that the things my soul deeply longs for are okay.
The empathy, and respect, and understanding, and healthy boundaries that I need, are valid. People have asked me, “How do you know what God is like?” My answer is very simple, “I don’t. But I will continue to believe that whoever makes me feel safe and loved and beautifully whole, is who God is.” These are some excerpts from the chapter that I write in the book, Deconstructing Hell. I, too, just like Esther, my co-hostess on our podcast, am saying a big fat "NO!" to Hell. How could I not? Get your own COPY of Deconstructing Hell to read the rest. While you wait for it to arrive on your doorstep is check out the video with the LIVE Q&A Lizz and I did this two weeks ago about this very subject. Find out how below.
--Lizz Enns Petters--
The Podcast Further Further Sneak Peek to Season Three (Next Week We HOPE to have a HUGE surprise about our final guest): Season Three is sure to be a good one as our lineup of guests are already giving us the happy jitters. We feel like kids in a candy store with a bunch of coins in our pockets. It's that wonderful! Here are three... Jonathan Puddle. WHAT? The ONE and ONLY Jonathan Puddle. Check him out HERE! Melissa Neeb. From Faith in the Mess! She's dog-gone wonderful! Check her out HERE! Dr. Camden (Morgante Pigg) Purity Culture, we're coming for you! Check her out HERE!
Here are three MORE... Kat Wordsworth. From About Doubt. She's got a cool BOOK and everything! Check her out HERE! Jason Elam. Former pastor, PODCASTER and compiler of Parenting Deconstructed! Annalise Hume. Embodied Faith Project. Spiritual Director. Mom. Evolving Faith speaker. YUP! And now we've got three MORE just to get you even more excited... Jillian Benfield. Author of The Gift of the Unexpected. Special needs mom. Check her out HERE! Glenn Siepert. Dad. What If Project Podcast Host and author of (Re)Thinking Everything! Jamie Edelbrock. Children's book author, mom and mental health advocate. Get her books HERE!
22 days and counting...
Get your free ticket for The Deconstructing Faith Summit today!
Join Our Private Facebook Community and receive access to the recording of this Live Q&A with Lizz & Esther about Parenting & Hell. You can access this by supporting us on our PATREON platform.
Lizz & Esther unpack some of our own thoughts and then work through these four questions:
1. What if someone else tells my child about hell?
2. What should I tell my child about the afterlife?
3. How can I teach morality without the consequence of hell?
4. I can’t stop being afraid hell might be real, even though I’m deconstructing that belief. I randomly get scared I’m wrong and I’m going to burn for eternity. What should I do?
Come join us HERE!
Get your free ticket for The Deconstructing Faith Summit today!
We are always on the lookout for children's books, especially on faith, that are NOT dogmatic, harmful or contain toxic theology. This one feels so good to us. Here's what "they" tell us about it on Amazon: OMG! is a magical window into how children view God. Its humor is timeless and satisfying and rich with insight. It's a book that speaks to people―no matter who they are or where they live―especially given the state of our troubled world. It will make them think, re-evaluate, and without a doubt, smile.
Parents know that kids ask amazing and often difficult questions about God, faith, heaven, and that other place; sometimes their thoughts are warm and sweet but other times they can be razor sharp and invective. But the outrageous and engaging concepts shared in OMG! are more than a way to deal humorously with children when they express their particular unorthodox views, they can open a difficult dialogue for families about the fanciful thoughts and misconceptions that kids have about God and his or her meaning in our lives.
OMG! showcases the differences and yet the similarities that kids of every economic, cultural and religious background share. Funny, poignant and galvanizing with deeply rooted sentiments that will never go out of fashion.
One last thing. We want to remind you that we are so glad you are here. We wouldn't be the same without you. You will always find GRACE for where you've been and who you are now, and SPACE for who you are becoming and will be.
Carry on, our new-found friends. Welcome to the twisty-windy, full -of-adventure faith path that's laid out before us all. Love,
Lizz & Esther P.S. SIGN UP FOR OUR NEWSLETTER HERE!