Holy Ghosted:

Having a relationship with an invisible person isn't all it's cracked up to be. It's almost like having a relationship with yourself.

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It’s been more than a decade since I broke up with Jesus, and people often ask me why. There were plenty of reasons, but I think the main reason is that he wouldn’t return my calls.

Since I couldn’t get in touch with him myself, I asked some of his friends to explain why he wouldn’t get back to me, but their answers were never helpful. Each one had a different explanation and none of them really made me feel any better:

  • Some said he heard my messages but didn’t answer because what I wanted wasn’t the same thing as what he wanted, and he only replies when the two are the same. Seems a bit selfish to me, but I guess when you’re the Lord of all you can do whatever you like.
  • One guy said that Jesus would only answer me as long as I had no doubts that he would answer; but if I doubted, then he wouldn’t respond. That sounded sketchy to me, quite honestly.
  • Some said it was because he wasn’t ready to answer me—the timing wasn’t right somehow. I wonder, though, how many years are you supposed to wait in a relationship before you decide the other person has just moved on?
  • Others said that sometimes he doesn’t answer simply because he wants to see how long people will go without an answer before they give up. I guess that’s why they call him the Holy Ghost.
  • Finally, one guy informed me I shouldn’t expect an answer at all. Maybe it was wrong for me to want Jesus to communicate with me except telepathically through other people who wouldn’t necessarily even know they were communicating on his behalf. I just don’t even know what to say to that.

I told them that the more I thought about it, the more I wasn’t sure Jesus had ever taken my calls. Do you know what they said to that? They told me that in reality he always took my calls but made sure to do it in such a way that there would be no way to tell he took them. He answered, they said, but in a way that looked exactly like not answering.

Yeah, that sounds like a totally normal and satisfying relationship. Who could turn this down?

Even the way they got their explanations seemed suspicious to me. See, he never returned their calls, either. Instead, they got their answers by reading his letters to them. Well, that’s not exactly right, either. He didn’t actually write them. Friends of his wrote them about him, and they wrote their letters to other people anyway, which I guess explains why my friends’ interpretations of his silence were all so conflicting.

They told me that in reality he always took my calls but made sure to do it in such a way that there would be no way to tell he took them.

So then I decided to go back and look at my albums to remember the better times I had with Jesus. That’s when I noticed something surprising.

He didn’t actually show up in the pictures. Like, at all.

At first I figured it must be because he was the one taking them but then I realized he wasn’t in any of them. Maybe he was just off to the side, out of view, when all the shots were taken? That’s just bizarre.

The more I thought back over my times with Jesus the more and more they seemed to disintegrate, almost like trying to remember a dream right after you wake up. It did really happen, didn’t it? Surely it wasn’t all just inside my head, right?

The point is that looking back at the long list of calls never answered, all the letters neither written directly by him nor even written to me in the first place, and looking through all the pictures seeing only myself at every turn, it began to look like I was having a relationship with someone who wasn’t there at all.

Then it dawned on me. If my relationship with this person was that spectral, virtually imperceptible, then what practical difference would it make to just let it go?

So I did. I let it go. And you know what I discovered? Apart from what other people provided, there was literally nothing to miss. I realized that life with him would be exactly the same as life without him.

That’s why I broke up with Jesus.

Neil Carter is a high school teacher, a father of four, and a skeptic living in the Bible Belt. A former church elder with a seminary education, Neil now writes mostly about the struggles of former evangelicals...

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