The God of My Understanding
I am working on Al-Anon’s Step Two, “Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity,” and one of the questions is, “What is my concept of a Higher Power at this time?” That’s a loaded question whose answer spans about 30 years… so I pick up my pen and start writing.
Growing up in the Southern Baptist Church, I came to know God as the rule maker. And if you break the rules, you will get your just desserts. I may have confused God with my father, the never-present but ever-present force behind the rules. “Wait ’til your father gets home” was the behind-the-scenes force requiring compliance. One evening when I was very young, I remember Dad came home and lined us all up kneeling by the bed. He whacked each one of us and let us know that if we did not mind our mother, this is what would happen. From then on he would simply reach towards his belt buckle to send us flying in the direction of obedience. He may not have been visible, may have been at work, but we knew…
That’s how I viewed God. He was the unseen enforcer. And since I did not want to suffer the consequences of screwing up, I learned to hide. As I perfected the hiding, I was also constantly in search of praise. “See me! See what I did? This is good enough, right?” This dance continued well into my adulthood. I revealed the smile, the accomplishments, the perfect me in hopes you would not see that I yelled at my kids or forgot to pay the electric bill or had a crumbling marriage. If things were going wrong, then I must have been doing it wrong. And if I was doing it wrong, I would suffer the consequences. Better try harder…
Then things got so bad that I couldn’t manage anymore. Nothing I tried to fix was getting fixed, and I couldn’t plan fast enough to catch all of the changes happening each day. I was doing it all wrong… I was all wrong.
Then I found Al-Anon where I am learning more about God and a spiritual way of life than all my years in church. There is this vulnerability—this common struggle to live life on life’s terms that creates a sense of safety and community. We share our stories, and we share our hope. And through our shared brokenness, we find serenity.
Little by little my version of God started to shift, and I started to get this sense that the conditions I put on love and acceptance were of my own making. I have come to know God to be infinite love, the energy that connects everyone in the universe. It flows in me and through me and between you and me connecting our hearts, minds, and souls. We are all spiritual beings living in human form, and we are one.
This morning as I revisited Step Two, I remembered this journey with “wow.” And I closed my eyes to connect. As I sat still in the silence, words came to mind and kept running across my mind like the banner scrolling across the bottom of the screen on CNN. Then I started to see blobs of yellow bursting in my mind’s eye like waves crashing on the beach. I know I am connected to God’s energy when the blank screen becomes color and movement.
I opened my eyes and smiled as I wrote the words I imagined, “Shower the people you love with love. Show them the way that you feel.” I knew this was a James Taylor song, and I wanted to go listen to it on YouTube, but first I wanted to see what the color yellow was all about, so I went to find a book of Dan’s. Ambika’s Guide to Healing and Wholeness shares that yellow is the color of self-worth:
When we experience that we are whole, complete and perfect just as we are, we are free to stop playing out the games of illusion centered on achievement, acquisition and separation.
Until we feel we can be with ourselves and know our own worth we will constantly be giving our power to others to validate us or heal us.
Our greatest gift is to learn to recognize our own worth.
Almost laughing out loud at this remarkable experience I am having, I go to my computer. And as I listen to James Taylor singing “Shower the People,” the tears start to flow. God is so big and so amazing that he reminds me of his infinite love and wisdom in the most remarkable ways. Another Step Two question is, “Do you experience spiritual guidance in your life?”
You bet I do!