What is God? The internet says it's a being conceived as the perfect originator or ruler of the universe, the principal object of faith in religion.
Ok, cool. So what is faith? It's believing in something without the ability to see it.
Now there's something I can sink my teeth into. Even though I can't see it.
And if the word "God" doesn't resonate with you, replace it with a word that does. It's just language, call it whatever you want. God, Spirit, Creator, The Universe, Love, Big Homie, Sky Daddy, a creative, energetic loving being that's got my back at all times. It doesn't matter the name you place on it, because God has more names than anyone. The All. The beginning and the end. Whatever term lights you up and helps you truly feel your faith, that's the One.
I don't know how you perceive God, and it's not my duty to change how you do so. But I do believe that it's important to ask ourselves if we view God as an eternal, infinite source of Love & Wisdom, or if we view her as a sky dictator, counting all of our sins and reiterating fear in our daily lives. For some, the latter description works. For me, it does not.
I was raised Christian Lutheran, and was shown many versions of God, as perceived by other people. God is great. God forgives your sins. God is a dude. God will be so mad at the people on earth, that he will have it exploded if we don't start acting right. Though I agree with the FACT that God is great, the rest of it never really aligned or resonated with my heart. After "confirming" my faith in the 8th grade, I walked out of that church with a lot more questions than I had answers. And at that point, I had not read the Bible in it's entirety, only the parts and pieces that were assigned by the pastor for the next week's Wednesday night meeting. And most of those parts and pieces did not teach me about love. They mostly defined what "sin" is. Don't do this. Don't do that. Get it? Good. Here's your robe and your certificate. Now go out into the world and do God's work. Well, Pastor Dale, what the hell does that mean exactly? Never once in my Sunday School or church years, did anyone show that they love their neighbor as themselves as much as they said it. Everything was so contradictory, and I never felt the connection with God as I was told to by teachers or pastors. I thought there was something wrong with me. So I kept quiet. After confirmation, the church sent my parents, my siblings and myself letters letting us know that we hadn't been in church for a while, so maybe we shouldn't be members anymore. What? I certainly didn't see it as an open invitation to return, as the letter itself seemed like a judgement being issued by the church. So I didn't go back. When I worked the Sunday morning after church shift at the local eatery in the same town, I felt the judgment. Not only was I working on the Sabbath, I certainly wasn't keeping it holy by pouring coffee and serving flapjacks to the judgmental mouths that were members at that church, making rude comments about my absence or "forgetting" to leave a tip.
Even though at this point, I hadn't truly found God within myself, I knew that I wouldn't find her at church, or with those kinds of people. It just all seemed so fucking wrong. That's when I decided that conventional Christian church was not for me. I knew God was real, I knew faith was real, but how I was being told and shown to do it, did not seem real. It actually seemed fake AF. I saw people going every Sunday, but then Monday-Saturday acting like a total turd. Inauthenticity at it's finest, and I wanted no part of it.
Then, I got married once on accident. It was a very short marriage, and decided to get divorced. Anyone who had even an ounce of faith in God told me all the reasons why moving forward in the separation with my then husband would be just like walking the plank, right into hell. They couldn't understand why I was was choosing life with the Devil instead of being married. To someone I couldn't love. That was one of the most tumultuous times of my life. I was following my heart, and though I didn't know where it was leading me, everyone around me disagreed, was madder than hell, and disowned me. I was estranged from my dad for months, my Gramma for a year, and many other people in my life that I thought loved me unconditionally, did not display unconditional love. In order to receive love from them, I had to meet certain criteria or requirements. I had to be a certain way, no matter how wrong it felt in my heart. I felt at that point, that God had abandoned me too. I felt like something was wrong with me. I met with the pastor that married us a few times by myself, and once with my then-husband for counseling. I remember the pastor saying "You're looking for something outside of you to fill a void that can only be filled by God." I walked out of there the last time, feeling completely fucking defeated. I didn't know what he meant by that, and he certainly wasn't able to show me how to do that. For the next several years. I'd repeat those cycles and patterns with dudes and external things to try to fill the void he was talking about. God was there, but my heart wasn't open to receive.
Now, 15 years later, I realize that pastor was right. My whole life was spent reaching for the unattainable love, and things outside of myself for fulfilment. I looked to people and things to feel something, anything that resembled love or even just a high. God is in me. I am part of God. Created in his/her likeness. Created to love and heal and bring light to the world from my very own heart. We all have this Divine light within us, but most of us just float through, barely ever connecting with that light. At least that's how I was living. And when I found that spark within me, my whole life changed.
I didn't find the light by going to church each Sunday. I didn't find it by reading Scripture until I couldn't see straight. And I most certainly didn't find it by calling out everyone else's sins or darkness. I found it by shining it on myself. In my reflection. What is love? I ask myself this every day. Love is the highest vibration. Love is what combats fear. Love is what will save the world. In my quest to find God, I tried all these different things that never seemed to work. Using other people's path in Christianity to find my own. Reading books that others had written. Doing things that "good Christians" do. What I realized, after reading the Bible cover to cover last summer, is that whatever anyone else is doing, is their path. However anyone else perceives God or interprets Scripture, is for their own Divine walk home. We're just here to help each other. I was seeking help from the wrong people at that time, and I can see it clear as day now.
I now often refer to God as "She". This isn't because I don't think God is a dude. I believe she is. I believe in order to be created in God's likeness, she must also have all the parts required to be feminine. To put it bluntly, God is the original They/Them to me. Because you cannot tell me that the intricate design of a woman was created by a man. It's just not possible, no matter how much science you try to shove in my canal. The story of Eve popping out of Adam's rib, I believe, was written to keep the patriarchy in control and viewed as the ultimate law, and is one of the many constructs poured all over the world to keep women small. Fuck that. I'm not saying God isn't a man, I'm saying that he's also woman. Or to keep the human out of it, God is equal parts masculine AND feminine, because without one, the other cannot exist. Try it on any species. It just doesn't work.
I bring up this point not to diminish all your views and perceptions of God, because that is completely unique to you. Your faith is completely up to you, and letting anyone tell you otherwise is doing a disservice to not only yourself, but the world and to God. I'm telling you this because I believe the Bible is a tool. Channeled by humans, just like you and I. It's a book of stories to help us see the big picture, to see that Jesus was put here to show us how to act. The only problem is, it was written by dudes, not by God. Sure, anything channeled to us by God is meant to be medicine. But when we put our humanness into that wisdom, or, our Ego, it turns into humans trying to control other humans. And in my experience, everyone interprets these teachings individually, in their own way. This is why Jesus often spoke in parables, to let the wisdom come through each of our individual souls in a way that would make sense to us. And how many people that you know, claiming to be Christian, actually love their neighbors as themselves? This is the common golden rule between all major religions, yet none of us are fucking doing it. This is why the word religion makes me cringe.
Jesus is a teacher. A brother. A gift. God brought Jesus here to show us how it's done. Along with many other great teachers. We just have to decide if we're going to use all of their wisdoms to help shape our own faith, in our own way.
Part of my morning ritual is prayer. I ask God, "How do you want to use me today?" The next part of my morning ritual is meditation, so I can actually perceive the answers that God has for me.
I do this my sitting quietly, focusing on my breathing and just allowing love and wisdom to flow through me. Whatever comes up, that's my answer. Then I go forward and serve the world, and it is returned to me through God's love. Wham, bam, get in the van. Faith doesn't have to be hard. My Grandpa Joe said it best when he came to me, after he passed away. I was in a slump, and went to healing session that included a hot-stone massage and reiki. My question was, as it often is, "What do I do next, what is my next step?" And he got right up in my face and said "As long as whatever you're doing is being done in love, you're doing it right." No truer words have ever been spoken. God worked through Grandpa Joe that day to work through me, so that I could easily perceive it and understand it, then put it to work. I think about that instance every single day since it happened. And so far, it's working.