Who is God? What is God? IS there a God? These questions have been asked since the beginning of time. If you ask people how they perceive God, you will probably get as many different answers as the number of people you ask. Also, every religion has their own name for God. (I tried to find out just how many different names there were among all the different religions, but have yet to find a definite answer. I found everything from 99 to millions.)
Most everyone will have some kind of perception of who or what they think God is. Some believe He is the God of the Old Testament. A mean old man with long hair and beard who sits up in the clouds, striking people down when they don’t do or say what they think He says we should say or do. He’s a man, white, and is all about fear and condemnation. A very violent and vengeful God. They also believe that if you don’t do what people say He says you should do or not do, then you’ll be sent to Hell, which is a fire hole in the center of the earth, run by an evil demon called Satan. There was a time when I believed in this persona of God. With this God, I constantly lived in fear and guilt. I was always afraid that if I did something wrong, God would strike me dead on the spot. If you ask me, that is not a very fun way to live. And it wasn’t.
There are others who believe in the God of the Old and New Testament, but He’s a loving God. You still have to do what He says or you’ll still be sent to Hell (that’s loving?), but he’s not as temperamental as the first God I mentioned.
Then there are those who believe that God is an energy of unconditional love. He is genderless, so sometimes He is referred to as She. In fact, they don’t always use the name God. She’s called by many other names: Spirit, Universe, Divine, etc. There is no fear or guilt associated with this God because a God of unconditional love does not need or want to use fear or guilt to control you. He just loves you no matter what. There’s no hell to send you to and everyone crosses over (some call it Heaven) regardless of the life they lived. This is the God I now believe in, though I prefer to call Her Universe. (The name God still makes me think of that mean old man in the sky.)
Let me tell you just a little bit of my experiences in my journey to find the Divine that I believe in today. I was raised Baptist. My parents took us to church, and to their credit, they never forced it on us (that I remember anyway). Two of my grandparents were devout born-again Baptists and we did feel a bit of pressure from them to be saved and get baptized, which I did while still in high school. In my senior year of high school, I became heavily involved in the born-again Christian community and believed that anyone who didn’t believe as I did was going straight to hell. I lived in constant fear. It affected the way I felt about myself because I was always having it drummed into me that you had to suffer for Jesus. If I was feeling good about myself, I would believe that according to God, that was feeling cocky, and if I didn’t watch it, God would make something happen to bring me down a notch. I couldn’t feel that I was pretty or God would make something happen to take away my looks. I couldn’t feel I had a good body or God would make something bad happen to handicap me. And I couldn’t have money because in order to serve Jesus, you had to be poor.
Later, I became Pentecostal, which made things worse than the previous. One of the ministers told us in a service that if there were anyone we knew who died before being saved, they would go to hell and it would be my fault. I couldn’t take communion because if I had just one sin that I didn’t acknowledge, then the devil would surely come and get me. Talk about a burden! I was scared of living and I was scared of dying!
In about 1983, I had it with religion and decided that I wasn’t going to believe in anything. I was done with it and I was done with God. Fortunately, when I moved to Nashville in 1992, I thought I would try to go to church again, only this time, I began attending the Unity and Religious Science churches. (I think we’re pre-wired to search for some kind of Divine.) At first it was hard because I would literally have panic attacks and would have to force myself to stay seated or I would literally run out the back door! I began to learn about a whole different God than I had previously believed in. And I began to get my faith back.
Now I believe that God is all about unconditional love. I no longer believe in the devil, hell, or evil beings. Up until this time, I used to constantly have horrible nightmares that the devil was trying to kill me, and you haven’t had a nightmare until you dreamed that you were raped by Satan! I also began to learn that the Universe made us into these magnificent, spectacular, miraculous beings and wants nothing but the BEST for us! She wants us to be happy, to feel loved, to prosper and live in abundance in all things! We are part of the Divine! We are part of this universal energy called unconditional love!
Yes, my spiritual journey has been one amazing adventure. But just because I believe one thing does not mean that I am right and that everyone else is wrong. I’m waaaay over those days. I believe that no one is right or wrong, and that whatever someone believes is okay. I respect everyone’s right to have their own believes, whatever they may be. That’s part of their journey and has nothing to do with me. My job is to be the best person I can be and to be of service to humanity. That’s what makes this world so wonderful and interesting….our diversity. There is still only one God to all, no matter what you call Him. He/She is just perceived in different forms. Again, it all comes down to our belief systems. I figure that we’ll all find out for sure once we cross over anyway. In the meantime, I’m just going to do the best I can with what I know at this time. That’s all any of us can do.