Most of my conversations with hurting people inevitably wind up revealing a similar theme; one that spills over into how they think, how they speak, how they process their circumstances, and how they see their future.
The gist of it is this: God isn’t really good. At least, not to me, and not how I interpret “good” to be.
I lived in that same headspace for a very long time.
Our reasons for aligning with this belief are varied of course, but churning within all of our bellies are the hard, hard things we have experienced, seen, and survived. They hurt us. They are not good.
And if God was really good, He would not have allowed them to happen.
To take it a wee bit further, the whole idea that God is personal and that He wants good things for us, individually, feels like a load of horse pucky.
Whatever. Believe what you want, you who have had a nice life, comfortable circumstances, have never-been-without, are enjoying safe relationships, and a cozy marriage. You live your life, in all of its pretty, matching neatness, and I’ll live out mine.
Which, in no way, even closely resembles yours.
I spent a good chunk of my early adulthood becoming more and more jaded with common christianity. Touring churches in both Canada and the States as I sang for my bread and butter provided me with a broad view of what I perceived as rigid rules that attempted to contain people rather than providing the way to freedom.
Yeah, I was young. But I was also hurting. And what I consistently came across was the fancy white or shiny wooden pews, unspoken yet well maintained dress codes, and order. Always order.
My messy world didn’t fit in these churches. My disarray was uncomfortable to these people who publicly declared faith in God.
To be fair, I happened to meet a handful of genuine, messy, Jesus-lovers amongst the perfectly put-together parishioners. They were like a salve to my open sores.
I mean, I get it. I understand that order feels safe. Rules are intended to help navigate life, though, not control us.
All this to say that the stiffness I encountered in mass amounts translated to my view of God as impersonal, willing to use me as a pawn in the Big Game.
My crash-to-the-bottom-of-everything in ’05 began a series of lens changes to help me see differently. Sometimes when you’re in pain, its kinda hard to see much else. But I firmly believe God hugged me that day as I sobbed all the tears of soul wrenching loss and despair in my bathtub. He sort of interrupted my heaving, which also sort of ticked me off a bit, but mostly I was aware that something outside of myself touched me.
That was the beginning of my search to know if I mattered to Him. Because, why? Why get in the middle of my brokenness?
Here’s what I’ll end with today:
There’s more to God than religion and rules. He isn’t the people that say they represent Him. Sometimes people eff up and actually MIS-represent.
He is I Am.
And when we start to figure out on a personal level that its not all just a bunk of malarky, and God actually does give a rip… something changes inside us.
I always go back to Jesus’ response to the dude asking what the most important commandment was.
He said that the commandments are summed up by this:
Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind. And love your neighbor as yourself. (Matthew 22:37 & 38)
We who have heard that quoted a zillion times may have missed how incredibly packed those words truly are.
We have been preached to, taught and admonished that we are to live a life worthy of God. That we are to love Him.
But who of us can love someone we don’t really know? Go ahead and spout all your platitudes, and I will turn my deaf ear to you. That’s the horse pucky, right there.
You can’t really love someone you don’t know.
Sure you can be loving toward them, and show love, and act out of love.
But I’m talking about truly loving. The kind that grows and matures and fills.
And most of us need to feel loved in return, as well.
And the whole loving our neighbor part?
Honey, it says As You Love Yourself.
Most of us don’t.
Spare me the religious crap.
Here’s what I have learned, and take from it what you will.
God loves deeply, intentionally, personally, and magnificently.
And it is out of this realization, these encounters with Him, that we are able to love Him in return, and learn to value (aka love) ourselves as well.
Oh! And then we can love our neighbors well too. Because we loved Him and then loved ourselves.
The God I know now is all about relationship.
And yes, He is good. To me.
And to you.
We just have to be wiling to explore beyond our pain and short-sightedness.
He came through for me, and I can’t imagine why He would for me and not for you too.
What if its not all horse pucky, and God does really give a rip?
For Pete’s sake, at least ask the question.