I never understood how to relate to the religious God of my youth. I was frightened of him, scared of letting him down. I didn't want him to smite me for my sinful thoughts: wondering what it would be like to smoke a cigarette or wear pants or makeup or cut my hair. I knew him only as a judge; a judge who would certainly sentence me to death in an eternal, fiery pit.
As I began interacting with my childhood beliefs as an adult, I saw God as more of a quiet observer because, free will. But he always had an agenda - a plan, his will - and it was my job to decipher exactly what it was. I never could, and sometimes I'd remain immobilized out of fear. I couldn't move forward without knowing if my choice was pleasing to God, but I had no way of being sure. All I knew was that going to church, following certain rules, and avoiding the loss of my salvation by never sinning was the way to "do it right" and make God happy.
“The people who know God well—mystics, hermits, prayerful people, those who risk everything to find God—always meet a lover, not a dictator.”
Richard Rohr, Everything Belongs
I've changed my mind about God.
I've done writing exercises in the past to clarify how I can better relate to God. What do I think about God? Who is God to me? Maybe in the answers, I'd find a connection. Comparing my notes to others, many saw God as their father. I never have. God was always a bit more elusive and magical to me, and I already had a loving dad, I didn't need a spiritual one.
Although I've disposed of many of my childhood beliefs about religion, I have chosen to maintain belief in a God. But I've had to strip away everything I have ever been told about God. I stopped reading the bible as the only means to learn about him. I started going outside and existing in creation - in nature. I began meditating, actively praying with intention through manifestation. I found new ways to interact with my body to lessen everyday anxieties. I shifted my focus to my soul, to spirituality - and I found God exists outside of religion.
I even removed gender, and I began to experience God differently. While others would see God as their father, I found relating to God as my mother helped me in a completely different way. Not because I think God is a woman, simply because I am. My mother is the parent I tend to bare my soul to first because she is a woman. And so, communing with women is of high importance to me.
All I've ever wanted is to be myself, fully.
I believe I'm closest to God when I'm existing fully in who I am. I don't look in the mirror trying to figure out what God thinks of me. I only consider what I think of myself. Sounds easy enough, but it takes intentional, focused work to be honest with yourself.
When I am myself, I operate from my heart. My heart beats my soul's language, where my connection with God resides. I just have to listen. I believe God is within, and whether or not we respond is up to us. I believe God is always communicating and does so in whatever way will get our attention; maybe it's through religion and traditions, maybe it's being outside or having soul discussions with a friend. I believe God is not limited to the boxes we put him in, and there is no "right way" to interact with him.
Because of what I choose to believe about God, I'm not sure that God's plan or will for my life is any different than my own. There is no reason to wait for God's direction because when I'm acting out of the true nature of who I am - when I'm relying on my intuition, when I'm being honest - wherever I go, there God will be.
Ultimately, I believe all God wants is for me to be myself.