God. Who is this person, deity, presence, power, being, that all religions talk about?
This is probably the grandest and most difficult question anyone could ask on their spiritual journey. Most people you talk to have a very clear idea of who they believe God is to them. I have to add “to them” because everyone has a different idea of who they believe this all-powerful being is. And to most of us, it is just that…a belief. How can I say that? Because every religion and every person has a different description of whom or what they believe their God is, and every one of those believes that their God is the one and only God. They may also believe that everyone who doesn’t believe in their idea of who God is…is wrong, and possibly even going to “hell.”
I know this is a difficult subject to discuss because most people are very steadfast in their belief systems. It either is or it isn’t. Most will back up their beliefs with quotes from the Bible, but even then, it is only their interpretation of what they read in the Bible. Again, how can I say that? Because people can take the same Bible quote to back up their beliefs, and another person can take that same Bible quote, and interpret it in another way to back up their very different beliefs.
So, who is this God that everyone speaks of? Heck if I know. I’ve been searching for that answer all my life. I do know that my beliefs about God have changed drastically over the years, which means my black and white wasn’t very black and white as time went on.
Did you know that the word God came from the Saxon word for Good? He/She goes by many names. Each religion tends to use a different name describing their “God.” So, who is right and who is wrong? To be honest, I don’t think God cares a hoot what you call Him or Her. And He doesn’t care how you personally see Her as being.
As I stated earlier, my beliefs about God and religion have changed drastically over the years. In my earlier die-hard born again Christian days, I believed that God was an old man, sitting up in the sky wearing a long beard, robe, and threw down lightening bolts if you did something wrong. He was a mean old man who was very judgmental, and watch out if you did something wrong! I feared this God. I was afraid of living and I was afraid of dying. I pretty much lived in fear all the time. I believed in Satan and that he was always out to get me. I used to have the most frightening nightmares about the devil chasing me and trying to get me. I also believed that I always had to be suffering for Jesus, and if you weren't suffering, you weren't a good Christian. I even remember sitting in a dentist chair thinking, "I'm suffering for Jesus! I'm suffering for Jesus!" (Believe it or not, I knew other people who believed this and would think the same thing while sitting in the dentist chair. Sad, huh?) (I think I also need to make it clear that my beliefs had nothing to do with my parents. They raised me Baptist, but never pushed any beliefs on me.)
In the early 80’s, I became so discouraged and disheartened over religion, all the disappointments, fear, guilt, etc., that I stopped believing in anything. I hated God, I hated myself, and I didn’t want anything to do with either.
It was about that time that I had gone into a bookstore, and as I was looking around, I came across some books written by Shirley MacLaine, and they seemed to be calling to me. Yet at that time, there was no way I was even going to touch one of her books because I just knew that if I did, God would strike me down. But they kept calling to me. I hesitantly picked one up (while watching for those lightening bolts!) and read the back. It must have taken me about a half hour to finally work up the courage to buy one while looking over my shoulder for the devil the whole time. I read it. Then I read another and another until I read all of them that the store had. What Ms. MacLaine taught me was to keep an open mind in all things. That was probably one of the greatest gifts of wisdom I’ve ever learned. After that, my spiritual journey snowballed and I have been gaining so much wisdom and knowledge since then.
I no longer believe in a mean, vengeful God. And I no longer believe in Satan, the devil, or hell. I believe that God is pure, unconditional, perfect love and nothing else. As so, how could She create something so evil? I do not believe that He is a He or a She, but is genderless. (When the Bible was written, it was written in extreme patriarchal times and women were considered almost less than human; therefore, God is considered a He throughout.)
I believe that God wants nothing but the best for us, and that God is in everything good. She wants us to be happy, to be healthy, prosperous, and safe. To know our real magnificence. Just think of all the decisions WE make to create our lives otherwise. Man creates evil. Man creates the diseases, the starvation, the crime… We were given the gift of free will, so we reap what we sow. (And no, I do not know the answer as to why babies and young children have diseases, other than they chose to experience it before coming here. I also do not believe that God gave it to them.)
I also believe that God is within each and every one of us. Not out there sitting in some cloud. God is in each of us and in all things. If I would have to pick out an image of God, I think I would choose Morgan Freeman from the movie “Bruce Almighty.” I just loved his interpretation.
And I don’t always call God…God. I usually use Universe, or Divine Spirit, or sometimes Gus (God, Universe, Spirit). I went through many years after falling off my spiritual high horse where I couldn't even say the name God.
I also believe that we all came here for a purpose, and that whatever we are going through, is part of that purpose. I believe that we decided before we even came to earth what we wanted to experience. We chose our parents, when and where we would be born, when and how we would die, and what we would experience in life. And those experiences are based on the choices we make here on earth.
Am I right? Not necessarily. But this is what I believe is right for me at this time in my life and it is right for me. There is no way I would ever tell someone else that they have to believe the way I do. Whatever you believe is fine. It is your truth at this time in your life and that’s okay.
I love the term Namaste. It is a Sanskrit word which means: "I respect that divinity within you that is also within me.” Wouldn’t it be wonderful if everyone in the world could respect the beliefs of each other and accept them as part of our diversity? Maybe we could even learn to love each other unconditionally, and possibly even work towards world peace!
So, my friends, I end this long session with Namaste. And peace be unto you.