I realize the concept of “God” is a touchy subject for many people. That’s one of the reasons I’m presenting a new version of this newsletter again today.
If necessary, I ask you to disconnect your concept of “God” or “No-god” from the tenets of any one particular religion. Don’t worry, I won’t be trying to sell you anything. I just want to share my belief system.
When it’s all said and done, I believe there’s an intelligence that animates the Universe. Having grown up as a Christian in the US, I usually call this intelligence “God”.
I’m quite OK considering that God might be embodied in an animal, or that God might actually be “energy”. Rather than having a fixed concept of what the term “is” and “isn’t”. I’d like to think I’m open to new ideas. I certainly realize that if I’d grown up in a different culture I would think differently.
I don’t think about whether my belief is “correct” or not. Just like I don’t usually think of a poem as being “correct” or “incorrect”. I prefer to approach a conversation about God as a conversation relating to aesthetics. My sense of aesthetics might not match yours, but that does not make either one of us wrong!
2. God and Santa Claus
Recently I began to consider how I often think of God in the same way I used to think about Santa Claus.
“My” Santa comes from the North Pole and wears the red suit with white trim most of you are familiar with. I must say I was taken aback upon meeting my first Finn a number of years ago. He said (And he certainly seemed to believe what he was saying!) that Santa came from Finland, and wore clothes fashioned from the hides of polar bears. I tried to explain to him who the “real” Santa was, but he just smiled and went his own way.
When it comes to “God” my thinking is similar to Alcoholics Anonymous. When I write about “God” I am writing about, “A ‘higher power’ as perceived by you.” Be it “god,” “Spirit,” “Goddess,” or “Oh Mighty One,” all is fine with me.
Santa used to enter my mind only once a year, but when he did I asked for everything I wanted, and in return I promised to be a good boy. Some years Santa heard my plea and came through with all the goods as ordered. Other years I wondered if he had fallen asleep on the job. Either that, or he was dumping stuff on me that he couldn’t get rid of the year before!
So yes, when I take a moment, I realize my conversations with God, are often similar to the conversations I had with Santa.
I give thanks for the many things he’s given me in the past, while doing my best to refrain from complaining about some of the unwanted gifts that I had no way of returning. I ask for a lot for the future, and I promise very little, if anything in return.
Does this pattern seem at all familiar to you? Ask for a lot, give back a little, and feel somehow cheated or misunderstood when your requests are not met.
Recently I’ve been having somewhat of a different relationship with God. Let me explain what it’s like for me lately:
- I assume that if God knows anything at all about me, he already knows what I want and don’t want. I don’t need to keep telling him over and over again, just to be sure.
- I recognize I have little understanding of why my prayers appear to get answered at some times, and not at others. One thing does seem clear though ? Praying in a louder, more imploring voice, or promising to be a good boy, have very little effect on the results I achieve.
- I realize a lot of the stuff…. I asked for in the past, I was lucky I didn’t get. I really don’t know what is best for me and I’ve proved that numerous times over the years.
- Regardless of all my training and education, when left to my own devices I am still prone to screwing up fairly often. I’ve asked God, for the times he isn’t available, to feel free to send someone else to help out!
- I’ve decided to surrender to what does occur, rather than creating my own agenda, which often doesn’t hold up anyway. I find it makes a lot more sense for me to adapt to God, rather than trying to get God to adapt to me!
- I now spend some time most mornings asking God what he’d like from me, rather than asking him to give to me.
- In the evening before going to bed, I make sure (most of the time that is) to give thanks for all I have. When doing this I make sure to include some of what seems “obvious” or “ordinary” like potable water, shelter, food, and utilities. There are way too many people in the world who don’t have any of that.
- I’m doing a lot more listening to God these days, rather than talking to him. Or her. In general, in my life, I find that listening is a skill that I need to develop quite a bit more.
How about you?