Beginning in 2012 with my mental breakdown, I’ve avoided the Baptist version of God and since I had no other version, I stuck my head in the sand. I’ve known I couldn’t avoid my spiritual and religious life forever, but I wasn’t sure how to proceed. The truth is, I trust no human religious construct. Humans are reckless and selfish and easy to manipulate.
But it seems God has decided it’s time for me to confront this area of: Loss? Hopelessness? Hurt? Loneliness?
I finished my work in The Four Agreements last week, but I wasn’t totally honest with you – or myself. The last pieces of the book included lines like this:
“Once you forgive God, you can finally forgive yourself. Once you forgive yourself, the self-rejection in your mind is over.”
If that had been the only indication I needed to “deal with God”, I could have ignored it. But my next book in my “Discover Myself” quest is Return to Love by Marianne Williamson. A few of the first lines I underlined include:
“The spiritual journey is the relinquishment—or unlearning—of fear and the acceptance of love back in our heart.”
“I never realized that depending on God meant depending on love.”
As many of you know, I did not select The Four Agreements or Return to Love. I asked for help from people I respect. I knew nothing about these books and somewhat randomly placed them back-to-back in my reading order. The Four Agreements first because it was the most recommended. Return to Love because, well, February is Valentine’s Day, so it seemed a perfect fit.
I read the first forty-seven pages of Return to Love before I slammed it shut. She was preaching at me – so much like pastors of my past. Anger stirred because so much of my internal pain can be linked to religious hypocrisy. But I made a commitment to do these books – trusting they were picked for some cosmic reason.
Trying to find value in Williamson’s message, I flipped to the About the Author section to read:
“Yoga, the Cabala and Marianne Williamson have been taken up by those seeking a relationship with God that is not strictly tethered to Christianity.”
I relaxed – a little. But I have to say, I still feel preached at – almost condemned. So, how am I to get through the book? If I open the book and immediately get defensive, will I glean anything of worth?
When I see the word “God”, my heart and soul go directly to the God of the Baptist church. I can’t help it. That is my history, my indoctrination, my Book of Law. What I can do is acknowledge my false belief as quickly as possible rather than spiral down into distrust.
In order to do that, however, I have to have something to replace the false belief. Right? I can’t just leave the void unfilled. An unfilled void becomes a vacuum for a scary unknown to swoop in and take hold. This led me to decide really, honestly, painfully, who I think God is. When I see or hear the word God, I need a framework I believe – a framework that’s mine and not the world’s.
It’s taken me a few weeks to grapple with this but here is MY TRUTH ABOUT GOD:
God is neither He nor She because those are human constructs. When you look through the blooming trees to the glorious sunset, you see God. God is the force that gives us warm breezes, frozen snow. God is the force that gives us puppies and kittens. God is the force that allows me – challenges me – to look at my husband and children and accept them wholly. God is the force that encourages me to respect and dignify others even, or especially, when I disagree. God is the force that demands I love myself because I was created for a reason. God is the force of unity through mutual admiration for nature in all her manifestations.
If you look at nature, nothing has been created without a purpose. Frogs eat fleas. Bats eat mosquitoes. Sun and rain and bees give us food to eat. Am I any different? I am OF nature. God is that force that gives me purpose and passion.
God is universal because we all share the same sun. We all rotate around the earth together. We all love someone, and God is the force behind that love.
For me, God is not The Holy Bible or the Qur’an or Buddha, etc. God is the grass, the trees, the laughter, that feeling of safety and peace which is so rare right now.
Now that I know who God is – MY GOD – I can open Return to Love again and learn more about MY GOD and MY ROLE in the creation.
I’m going to post my new truth about God above my desk. Before I dive in to any “religious” or “spiritual” text I’m going to remind myself what I believe. Whenever I feel defensive, I’m going to remember that that defensive response is a product of false beliefs.
I promised 2021 to be a year of Discovery about Self. If I discover nothing else but my truth about God, I will have had a year like no other.
Do you think spiritual belief systems are important? Why?
Can you separate your religious upbringing and look at your belief system objectively? If I asked you Who is God, can you answer without using someone else’s words?
If you were raised in the Christian church and you read my summation of God, do you believe I’m going to hell because I didn’t mention Christ or quote the Bible? If so, can you still love me?
Copyright 2023 June Converse, All Rights Reserved.
Thank you for sharing so much of yourself, June! You amaze me!
Thank, Deborah. Sometimes I love doing these and sometimes they freak me out. This one freaked me out. I used to have all these 'church' friends and now, none. Not one! It's strange. But I have new friends (you) and believe I'm more authentic with you guys!
Love ya - ME