Wednesday, September 24, 2008

God in a box

The other night when I was at Rose's soccer practice, I overheard a couple of the other soccer moms discussing a book called The Shack. Their discussion went something like this:

Soccer Mom 1:
Oh my goodness I couldn't put it down. And I'm not a reader! (Note: she had a different book in her hand as she was saying this to us. What does "not a reader" mean exactly?)

Soccer Mom 2:
Well what about it was so good?

SM1: Sometimes I was laughing hysterically and sometimes I was just sobbing my head off. Its so cool because it sort of takes God out of the box, you know? I mean I know the God I grew up with and what my church told me. I don't know, this book really helped me to see God differently and not at all like the "God" I knew as a child. It really opened my eyes.


I stood there listening and I smiled to myself. I remember having that experience with a book called Conversations with God probably about 10 years ago. I'd been questioning my church since I was 12, much to the dismay of my priest!! This was the same priest from which I took my first communion and this was the priest who saw me every Sunday with my mom, sister and brother. I still remember our conversation about confession:

T:
I guess I don't understand why I have to come to you to confess because it seems like I can talk to God myself.

Priest: (blank stare, mouth agape) That's just the way we've always done it here.

T: But why? It doesn't make sense to me. During my confirmation retreat, the teacher had us write our sins on a slip of paper and then we threw them into the fire to release ourselves from them. Doesn't that work too?

Priest: (grabbing a pen and paper) What was her name?!?

*sigh*

It was a frustrating time for me because I so longed to understand it. Something in me was insisting that God wasn't this horrible judgmental being to be afraid of and who only talked to priests. I had many conversations with friends who had similar questions. A few of my friends became self-proclaimed atheists as well. Perhaps 'atheism' should be redefined as a 'non belief in organized religion' rather than a 'non belief in God'. It seemed that the God we all knew didn't fit somehow.

I went straight from recovering Catholic into a practicing Bahá'í. Sure it was a huge leap for me but I suppose I needed something completely different before I could decide what was right for me. I went on to study Buddhism and the teachings of the Dalai Lama. I even looked into Kabbalah (thanks Madonna) and Hinduism through yoga. I was still struggling. I still had too many unanswered questions. I took from them what felt like truth and kept up my voracious search for more.

I have a very close friend who always seemed to point me in the right direction spiritually. We had differing paths (he was raised Methodist) and we always had stimulating spiritual conversations. It was through him that I first encountered Jonathan Livingston Seagull, The Road Less Traveled and No Man Is An Island. And it was through him that I was introduced to Conversations with God and finally, A Course in Miracles. All of these books have changed my life in some way. Throughout each of them, I have grown and created my own spirituality which fits me just fine.

We all have different paths and ideals that feel like truth to us. If you are in tune with your own truth, you will know what fits and what doesn't.

Still I can't help but remember the moment 10 years ago, in my bed with my husband watching TV, as I held Conversations with God, Book 1 in my shaking hands. I was crying, sobbing uncontrollably and my husband looked at me perplexed.

"I can't help it", I told him, "These are the answers I've been looking for since I was 12 years old!"

I thank GOD everyday for those books that helped me to get Him out of the box and into my life.

Inspiration is everywhere, isn't it?

6 comments:

  1. I've been looking for some answers lately. I think I'll check out some of those books.

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  2. I have been on an equal path, T. Born and bred Catholic, but saddened and tired with the Institution, I am now faced with the perplexing situation of how to raise my children to be educated and yet learn that God is NOT the institution but rather that God is everything--in all we meet, in the garden, in the many blessings bestowed on us daily.

    I felt horrible when I stopped attending Mass--but upon reflection I realized it was due to the fear of judgement from other parishioners, not from God, that was creating this feeling in me. I worried about what EVERYONE ELSE felt. Those super-pious who I have discovered incredible hypocrites. Makes me feel sadness for them.

    I am finally at great peace with my spirituality. I am not institutionally relgious, but yes, I am incredibly spiritual and religious in my own right. I live a good life. I like to, as do you, question my God and my faith, challenge myself and make myself grow.

    What a lovely post, T. Thank you.

    Be well.

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  3. Having not been raised a Catholic, but having studied it to learn why it was what it was....I understand why so many people question things about religion and the restraints within each faith....

    I have never questioned my faith, I am a devout Christian, believing that Jesus is my savior....but I do not feel that church is the answer either....and I have very strong beliefs regarding Catholicism...but I rarely have that conversation...

    I have raised my children to believe the same as I do, but to not place religion, or God if you will in a box...to have an open mind about it, like everything. To not be so closed minded about faith, humanity, choice, belief, and decision....to be who and what they will....much like T, because of a book, written by a man but about a fundamental belief in open minded thought and a release of the constraints that man has placed on us about life and how we live it...

    It does not make life easier, but I feel that it makes life one that I have become able to better understand, the older that I have gotten...and as each day passes, I think that I mature with that....and essentially I become more at peace with myself and my ability to exist in a world that, for the most part does not work that way....

    T, I love the way your mind works and the way you put things into perspective....you really should write for a living....give up this IT stuff..... :)

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  4. Wow, T, I am definitely going to have to check some of those books out. I have had a lot of the same struggles. I know I want Him in my life but I'm not sure how to make Him fit in and not compartamentalize him into a Sundays-only or crisis-based box.

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  5. Nice post, T. I too struggled early on with religion. With so many religions in the world, why was my Methodist religion the right one?

    I attended a three day seminar given by the Dalai Lama, and learned the heart of Buddhist Wisdom. It took me half a year to accept his teachings, they the opposite of what my ego-ruling mind was saying!

    I like to boil God down to this: "God is love". i.e. God, love, is the binding force of the universe, the energy connecting all of us, making us one.

    I once experienced a non-dual moment where I felt at the core of my being that I was giving love to the universe, and simultaneously the entire universe was contained within me.

    Some say that was God revealed. Some say I was given a glimpse of nirvana. I just know it rocked my entire being, and changed my entire approach to life.

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  6. I have been playing catch up on your blog since I found it last week and just wanted to comment that I also had that problem with Catholocism...that I couldn't figure out why we had to talk to a guy behind a screen...why we couldn't just speak to God. Seemed odd to me and I never understood it. In fact I only was confirmed so I wouldn't have to repeat it the following year, I just wanted to get it over with. It took me til college before I became a believer and really started understanding God in another church. :)

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