It’s not easy believing in God. In fact…it’s easier to shirk the whole idea, bring all my dependency and possible outcomes back to myself and take things as they come. Keeping it all in house removes any dependency on an outside source and when things don’t go like I want…my fault. No one else to blame. I totally get why people are not into it…
I’ve had many versions of God in my one life. The God I first heard about talked in a deep, loud voice and would show up in burning bushes, a donkey and rumble the sky with his commands for earthlings. I took it all literally and never recall fearing this first version any more than I feared waking up on Christmas morning to find a fat, jolly, old bearded man standing in my living room trying to sneak a baby doll under the tree.
Then my amygdala engaged…that portion of my brain that activates fear was actively engaged in my conception of God #2. God #2 was even more mean, loud, fiercely disappointed and wanted nothing more than to catch me doing something wrong so he could smite me. I didn’t like him as much as I knew I didn’t have a choice but to love him…or else. He was all knowing AND all seeing. I imagined him looking down from the sky and watching through the roof of my glass ceiling house…he could see my every move and read my every thought. I was petrified. I watched movies about The End Times and lived a large percentage of my preteen years fearing the return of Christ. No matter how hard I tried or how many times I asked him to save me, I would be left behind to either get the mark of the beast or declare allegiance to the one who left me and stand in line for the guillotine. I’d enter Heaven’s Gates beheaded but at least I wouldn’t spend eternity in Hell.
It didn’t take long to set that God aside…trying to please him at the same time I was trying to please everyone else that claimed to follow him was every bit of exhausting. Conveniently, at this same moment in time the world seemed to nurture my lack of confidence and self-worth. I found my acceptance from individuals that questioned or denied God’s existence, so I made a home there…there in the world, with things that helped me stay out of my busy, questioning head and thoughts. I still went to church, prayed, asked for forgiveness and would contest the non-existence of a creator, but God #3 was there only if needed or called upon while collecting dust on a shelf. I was tired of his unobtainable demands. The last thing I wanted was to die and go to hell, but I concluded that I didn’t have a say so in the matter. I’d just have to hope for the best.
The best thing happened…
The God of Motherhood. After I had Paige, at the baby age of 21, I needed a different god. I needed a god that could once again see through my roof and stay up all night in case I fall asleep and fail to hear her cry. Say hello to God #4. He was welcome in my home. I didn’t want to do this parental gig alone. I would ask him to be my eyes when I could not see, and my ears when I could not hear. Help me be a good mom. Help me do what she needs me to do…be what she needs me to be. Give me supernatural energy because I am spent. I don’t want my baby to go to hell either. What will I teach her so she can stay out of the fire? I want her to know you God and I want to tell her about Jesus…Jesus. What if I begin by teaching her more about Your Son and less about your requirements…What if I gently lead her into an understanding of what it means to believe in an unseen God…what if at the same time I’m teaching her I open up the door for you to reteach me? Two more kids later and God #4 began to soften and I kinda liked him. We talked…a lot. Like I think I talked to God more than I talked to anyone. I had to pray about so many things once I had children. I could talk all day and not cover all the bases. I developed an understanding that God could hear me and I was not bothering him and that he actually wanted to participate in my life…even the messy parts.
God #4 was better than all the other Gods I’d known but I still had some issues with the program…I was still lumping him back into humanity as I tried to box up his existence within Christianity. As a single woman in her 40’s I needed God’s help on multiple levels, so I went to church. I spent my whole life looking for God in a church…I found God #5 far from a building with a steeple.
I took a break.
I was not living my best life even though it felt like it at the time. Things were going more my way than in the past…things I’d prayed for would receive the answers I wanted.
This time was shortly after my small town divorce…if I can leave you any good measure of advice to carry onto your children it is this…do not go to bed with gum in your mouth, treat half a tank like an empty tank and you’ll never run out of gas, AND don’t divorce in a small town. Just don’t do it.
A time of undeserved merit and favor from God #5. Like I said…he was kinder than all the ones before. So kind that he blessed me in spite of…Quick Story….I was driving around looking at houses and spotted one that I loved. It wasn’t for sale, but the one two doors down was so I went to take a look. It was $10,000 more than my approved loan amount and I’d need to lay sod…another $4,000. Not going to happen and honestly didn’t want it anyways…I prayed to God and asked him to help find me a house that I could make a home for Hannah and Laken. A day or two later, it was the end of one of my classes, and I had a student ask me to go to the attendance office with her. She was afraid she would get in trouble for one thing or another and so I agreed to ease her fears and walk with her…I was waiting on someone to help her when a substitute teacher was telling the office staff her and her husband were moving…I asked where she lived and if her house was for sale. The House. The house I loved…the one two doors down…the one I saw days earlier but was not for sale…that was her house. She said her husband was on his way to a real estate office and I said, Stop Him! Call Him! And that house became my house. That house was within my budget…with a beautiful landscaped lawn…and I made a home for my babies there. God heard. God answered…rather quickly. Was that all me? Was God in it? This God I wondered and still wonder about…was He in the details?
I spent the next few years under a covering of protection that was unmerited. My mouth could spew scripture and my playlist was heavy on Hillsong and Bethel Worship, but I was far from God. I kept those things around as security just in case things fell apart…
Things fell apart.
I am sitting here today with another God. This is the God of my 50’s. He’s super quiet…perhaps a little burnt out with all my wondering about him. I’m sitting here in my living room giving him full permission to show up…to speak…to rumble the clouds just for me…I’ve got nothing. I’m just as lost as I was 29 books on Purpose ago… I ask for direction. I ask for forgiveness…I ask for forgiveness for asking for forgiveness so much. I ask for a reason to still be here…a revelation. I wonder if it matters. It being prayer. I wonder if it’s all been planned out in advance and my participation is futile. And I wonder if He is real. Are you there God? It’s me, Gina. Am I just taking up space? Are we all just taking up space? What is it that you want for us? What are we missing? If you are real…and I say if, because none of us have seen you and yet we cling to the hope…then show me. Show me in a way only I will understand. I want to know you and when someone asks me why I believe in God I want to say something more than, “I just do.” I can think of dozens of times in my life that you were so real. Please be real again.
In doing so….I would like to request the omission of cancer and death and disease and drowning and fire and snakes and anything to do with heights and floods that destroy everything I have left, or tornadoes…and infidelity and missing children and nuclear war and mass shootings and poverty or a car crash. I might think of some other things after I finish writing this but I’ll just tell them to you.