I know I have been.
Actually I often still am.
Well, perhaps not really shy of God but shy of how others will view me if I declare a committed relationship.
I’ve behaved as if with one of those lovers that you don’t actually want to introduce to your friends or to be a part of your social life. One of those people that you just feel inclined to keep hidden away.
But why am I concerned about the full disclosure of this relationship with God? What am I embarrassed about? Or worried about it saying about me?
For starters, I think it has two flavours of clichéd association: one of the archaic weight of religious dogma and the other of flaky born again Christian evangelism.
It feels like there’s also something conformist about it. Something about buying into God that feels like I’m abandoning my rebellious heart. Like I’m selling out on my fierce and free spirited individualism. Almost as if I’m buying into the establishment. Which I guess is no surprise because God has been long bundled up with churches and religion for common consumption. That’s certainly a hurdle to get over because I don’t want to be seen to have any kind of allegiance with religious sheeple.
And then to the pesky righteousness of born again Christians. I can’t actually clearly recollect any first hand experiences with them but somehow, I have the impression of a pressing urgency in their message that feels both desperate and intrusive. But is that perhaps just triggered by some resistance to allow myself to be enraptured by that kind of emotional fervour? Quite possibly.
But even beyond all of that, would my family say?
My parents both went to boarding schools where they were force fed religion. They had such an awful time with it that when my siblings and I went to school they insisted that we be excused to the library instead of having to participate in any religious instruction. I can’t quite remember how I felt about it. I’m not quite sure what I missed out on. My knowledge of the bible is certainly pretty shabby though. I don’t know if that’s good or bad.
My niece felt passionately about going to a religious primary school which she was allowed to attend but the general feeling in our family was that there was something unusual or faddish about her captivation with God. It certainly wasn’t celebrated or encouraged. I’m pretty sure she’s grown out of it now which is sad.
I don’t think I really started to entertain the possibility of a relationship with God until well into adulthood.
Most of the time these days I’ll refer to God as God. But as an alternative, I’ve also often referred to God as The Divine.
There something more ephemeral and angelic about The Divine that’s very beautiful but also somewhat vague. It feels like a convenient way to be more elusive.
There’s a greater level of directness and certainty with using proper names. I’ve noticed that some people who really struggle with showing their love, also have a great deal of trouble addressing people by name. They’ll just avoid names altogether. There seems to be something too intimate or personal in a name somehow.
But there’s so much loveliness to be offered in using each other’s names. I have an old friend who’s very warm and elegant with it. He naturally weaves a hearty connection into his communication simply by punctuating conversation with the name of whomever he’s speaking to. It’s very endearing.
Why can’t I always freely call God by name?
And with full feeling?
I guess it’s been quite a long time that I’ve readily said that I believe in God. But perhaps it’s only much more recently that I’ve been allowing myself to feel for God. The mental appreciation has almost been a given but my emotional availability to him/her is still very much emerging. It’s one thing to believe and trust in divine orchestration but it’s more of a leap to actively engage with an emotional relationship with an unseen entity. To enter into full hearted prayer for example. I have begun a morning prayer practice but it feels just as challenging to be as out about prayer as it does to be out about God.
In new age thinking it’s very popular to send desires out into the universe, fuelled by positive feeling. Essentially that’s prayer. Why do I feel it’s more socially acceptable to energise a positive affirmation than to pray?
Is it perhaps because I believe that the success of the affirmation is determined by my efforts whereas the success of a prayer will be determined by God?
I’ve recently discovered some teachings that describe 2 paths of spiritual evolution. One is oriented around self-reliance, the other is guided by God-reliance. The first path has a ceiling of human limitation, the second is infinite.
For much of my life I’ve been strongly self-reliant. I’ve found that people came to me for assistance much more often than I went to them. My strength and self-sufficiency was a source of pride. I was certainly mentally oriented towards self-reliance.
Reliance on others isn’t something that’s really encouraged in our society. Neediness, for example, is largely demonised. People often feel guilty for feeling needy of others – as if there’s something wrong with desiring loving support from another. This denial of our need for love from fellow humans can mirror a similar resistance around receptivity to the love of God.
Surrender isn’t something that’s much valued these days either. It’s often seen more as weakness than strength. But to surrender to a fear or a personal challenge for example, is very different to surrendering to the unknown or to receiving loving support. The former is the surrender of giving up, whereas the latter is the surrender of great opening and trust. There’s great bravery in that kind of surrender to assistance.
I am certainly compelled by the notion of surrendering my life completely into God’s hands.
All in divine time I guess.