Who Is Your God?
Who is your God?
What does your God look like?
When I say God, what happens in your body? Are you overcome with a sense of peace or does your breath quicken?
Is there uneasiness in your stomach or a relaxing of your shoulders?
Who is your God, what does he/she/it look like? What do the two of you talk about?
What does your God think about? What does he/she/it think about you? Does your God mind if you masturbate?
Does your God lie to you?
I bet you lie to God.
Has your God become a demon, someone you fear? Do you hide from God? Do you act as though God does not exist throughout the week, allowing you to do whatever the hell you want knowing confession will absolve?
Do you kill in the name of God? Which God?
Do you have a God, or has science, bad experience or the greediness of organized religion turned you off?
I have been thinking a lot about God because of a self-forgiveness journey I have chosen to take at the immature age of 52, and I have come face to face with my guilt about God.
I was raised in a religion that some may call cult-like, and it fucked me up!
52 years ago, my mother had me out-of-wedlock in that same religion, so I was a wrong, bad, shameful being from the start. The God of my childhood planted my first not good enough, not loveable, wrong beliefs, and let me tell you, those roots go deep! While I believed those early seedlings, I also knew they pissed me off.
Who the hell was God to tell me I was not good enough? After all, my mother kept me despite the shame that was brought upon her. That must mean something, or did it?
My childhood religion was one of strict conformity, of the chosen few getting to sit beside God in heaven, of God knowing and seeing all, of punishment, of Satan and demons, of excommunication not only from the religion but from family. Gosh, that sure is loving — you must sit on the outside while the good people are on the inside.
As I grew older, I started to question the hypocrisy of what I saw, what I read, what I was being asked to believe on faith. I questioned the hypocrisy of the elders, why could they have sex with their daughters but I was not allowed to look at a boy? Huh? I questioned why I could not listen to rock music, or dance, or, or, or and the list went on.
I was told I was demonized because I came from the bad actions of my mother, I was impure… Shucks, thanks, I think that will go in my Yearbook.
Perhaps it was from my own critical thinking, my rebellion, my curiosity, my denial or my growing up in an abusive home, but man, the shit I saw I did not want to be part of, so…
I chose to reject God! Screw you — if that is what God is all about, I wanted nothing to do with it.
Oh, the guilt! The guilt was almost unbearable but my defiance was a touch stronger, and it, along with my rebellion, got me into a lot of trouble. From the day I left that religion and God at 13, until 30, I drank, drugged, lied, cheated, stole my way through life. Until one night I found myself naked and on my knees begging God to help me.
Even then I was defying God, “If you exist, save me, help me. I will do anything, just prove you exist and you give a shit about me.” I had a choice that night — surrender completely or take my own life.
The next morning, I went to AA, and have not drunk since. I held on to God like I was drowning — I did everything the program said, I prayed to a God of my understanding (my childhood God), I let go and let God, I surrendered daily and I held on until…
Until I did not want to do that anymore. I was sober, I got my shit together, I got married, I got divorced, I got defiant and I got tired of not having control of my life, got tired of turning it over to someone who never asked me what the hell I wanted to do. I was after all, master of my universe. So, I walked away from God again.
Until the next time I found myself on the floor, on my knees, praying, surrendering, sobbing and screaming out for God to help me, but this time was different. This time I was really scared. Would God help me? I begged for help before and then gave God the finger.
What would happen this time, and oh, the guilt, how could I ask for help when I told God to go away, to cram it?
Throughout those 18 years, I did not revert back to the previous behaviors of my youth, nor did I take up punching nuns. I was a law-abiding, good person who, despite her spirituality, had walked away from God.
Fast forward to four more years and self-forgiveness — guess what, you can’t do self-forgiveness when you have guilt about God.
What I know now is that I need — no, I want — to come into peace with a God of my understanding. This comes from a place of love, not desperation. I have opened up a dialogue, I am asking questions, and I am listening for answers.
I have discovered that I have been afraid to forgive myself for all my bad behavior, for the mistakes I have made because of that early introduction to God, and I am wondering if I truly let go of my past, stop beating myself bloody everyday, will God really punish me then, will God take that opportunity to pay me back in spades?
I don’t care!
I am defiant again, but this defiance is in relation to the old God of my understanding. This defiance is related to my refusal to continue to live in shame, fear and guilt. This defiance is stronger than ever before. This defiance is really a surrender I have never known before, all because God and I are talking for the first time.
We are in conversation, and it is really fucking cool.
God is not up there, in a throne, looking down on me with a deep frown. God is beside me, in me.
God has been telling me loud and clear that while I left God, God did not leave me.
While I tried to die — and boy did I try to die — God saved me.
While I resisted, God waited.
While I hated myself, God loved me.
What does my God look like? My God is in me — it is I who rejected me, abandoned me, and it is I who is welcoming me home for the first time.
My God is full of love, acceptance and forgiveness. I am.
What do I know about God today? Not much, but I know it matters not that you pray on your knees everyday, it matters not that you go to a church, a mosque, a longhouse or a synagogue, that you take communion or sit on a cushion, that you preach door to door or you take a vow of silence.
It matters not what you call your God — Jesus, Buddha, Allah, Jehovah, Nature, Mother, Fred or Carol — all that matters is that you open up and have a conversation, ask questions, remain open, remain willing, sit quietly, shut the fuck up and listen!
Do you hear that?
That is God talking to you, that is God talking through you… that is you, that is God, you are the same, and you are love.
PS: I don’t think God is going to get me, be mad at me or strike me down for writing this article, and that, my friend — that, right there — is progress.
Rhonda Cochrane is a Yoga instructor, personal trainer, life coach, Ironman competitor, athletic coach, lover of all things spicy, and an aspiring author. She has a passion for helping others realize their strength and potential through all forms of physical movement. She is a regular contributor on Rebelle Society.