love, life, and the pursuit of liberation
The other day, I stumbled upon The Trifecta Tribe and was taken aback. Here is this blogger who seems to mirror so much of where I stand and how I feel called. She’s who I want to be when I grow up! On her blog, Marsha has a feature called “Worship Wednesdays” where she invites her readers to ponder and reflect on certain topics. Here’s my responses to her questions about defining God.
What were you raised to believe about faith/God?
As a child, I was taught that faith was the most important part of my relationship with God. I was taught that God was all-present and all-knowing and always there to listen and give my burdens. I was taught that worship was about being thankful and that He always shows his grace and mercy. I was taught that service is how we show appreciation for God’s goodness, and that no matter the circumstances we’re in, we are still blessed. I was taught to have a personal relationship with God, and that neither my parents nor any one else can “speak” for me.
I was taught that church was special and holy, that it was a place of respect. There were different rules that went with church—we look our best and we are well-groomed because it’s showing appreciation and reverence for God. We don’t play on the altar because it’ a sacred place where God’s anointed go about the serious business of teaching. Because church wasn’t mandated, it was never construed that it was the place to “get” a relationship with God, but rather a place to learn and celebrate.
Growing up, I don’t remember a lot of harping about sin explicitly. We rarely had anti-anything sermons. Instead it was taught that such behaviors and thoughts weren’t pleasing to God. Perhaps it’s a matter of semantics, but because His love, protection, and care were so emphasized, the last thing any of us wanted to be was displeasing to God. Using such language inspired me to action instead of threatening me into compliance.
Church also taught me such pride in being a woman. All of the deeply spiritual people I knew where women and they ran the church. It was almost like the pastor had to ask permission to lead the church. I never felt a strong sense of patriarchy in my home church, and instead there was a deep reverence for women—our strength, nurturing, and leadership. To be a “mother” of the church was highly regarded.
What do you believe about God now?
I have much of the same beliefs in God as I did growing up with a few additions. I’ve learned that God speaks in all sorts of ways, especially through “coincidences.” It’s important to pay attention to the aberrations or screen blips (like on the Matrix because they are intentional). I now believe that God is greater than “evil” (or pervasive ego, as I understand “evil” to be). I now believe that attributing human qualities and characteristics to God is limiting. I believe that we are made of Divine essence and are intentionally brought onto the planet, though we aren’t God ourselves. I believe that when we are still and present, we are in communion with God. I believe that ritual and tradition can help us be still and present, but it’s not the work itself. I believe that we are uniquely gifted and called. I believe that religion is a tool and a vehicle, but is not the end. I believe that God can turn anything into Good. I believe that God is the authority, not anyone else’s interpretation or understanding. I believe that God gives us what we need, and if our gifts and understandings contradict each other, it’s okay because our journey and path is ours alone.
What aspect of God do you need most in this moment?
I just need God to continue being God—ever merciful and full of grace. I need to keep being reminded how to love and forgive. I need more direction and confirmation on being gentle with myself and others.
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