Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Who Is God?

Hmm.... I've never participated in a synchroblog before, but this topic grabbed me. I've been on an interesting journey out of religion these last four years. It's funny how personal lives and religious beliefs are all intertwined and it requires untangling both to make sense of either.

I grew up in a Pentecostal home/church - a 'good Christian' home. Appearances, appearances. An emotionally, physically and sexually abusive home where it was an 'Event' if we missed a church service. Church doctrine was the Law (unless my mom disagreed with it, then HER opinion was the voice of God and trumped theirs in our home). Between the abuse and the church teachings, I was so afraid of God that... well, I really haven't found words yet to express the fear and even terror I felt when I was 7 or 8 or 9....

And this was all what people told me about God - who He was and how He thought and what He expected.... and it scared the hell out of me because I knew I was already disqualified by virtue of the things I had already done (translation: the things that had already been done to me).

And if this was all I had of God, I would not have survived. I'm smiling as I write this. The God I know is so much different than the one they teach us about in church. And He introduced Himself to me when I was very little - too little to even speak. Deep in my bones, I knew Him, even if I didn't understand what that was yet. When I was 1 and 2 years old, I loved Jesus....and He loved me back. And then life proceeded down a hellish path. I've struggled with the fact that He allowed this and where I have come to on this is a whole other post. But through the journey that my life has been - through every evil encounter and choices made out of pain and despair, He has never NOT been there. There were times that I couldn't conceive of Him being there, but I can see, now, that He was always there.

Something else that I see, now, is that the main thing that clouded my vision of His presence in my life was not the abuse that I endured in my family.... it was the teaching I received in the church. And through the process of disentangling from the familial abuse, I also have had to disentangle from the religious abuse. I have had to take everything I have been taught about God and throw it in a pile and sort through it and begin throwing away those things that do not fit with the knowledge of Him deep inside. Everything I thought I knew was reduced to a pile of rubble and ash. And that was a good thing - a VERY good thing. Because what I was left with was the necessity of examining what I really believe - and why.

And that brings me to the subject of the synchroblog. I don't believe that Jesus is real and alive and ever present because the church says so. In fact, I went to a 'women's meeting' with a friend a couple of days ago and got good and angry at some of the things that were being taught - things I used to believe because the 'people in charge' said so. And I was not confrontational. I was just able to listen to the teaching and hear what I heard growing up and say, emphatically, to my own heart, 'no! that is not what is true.'

The reason I believe that Jesus is alive and God is real and active is because of the ways He shows Himself in the details of my life - in unexpected and beautiful ways. He really is the father to me that I never had. And it is not just the way things always seem to work out (often at the last minute and in ways that defy logic) - it is also because I have seen Him. And that survives all doctrine and deconstruction of doctrine. It is where life is. It is where things are real and not theoretical. It has nothing to do with what any church teaches - many of them teach as if they have never met Him. It has to do with personal and close experience with the reality that is Him - a reality that is alive and ongoing with new epiphanies regularly. And nothing can take that away from me. And I think that is the point.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

This post is part of a synchroblog: This month’s synchroblog’s theme is inspired by the season of Epiphany which begins on January 6 and ends the day before Ash Wednesday. The word “epiphany” is rich in meaning. Epiphany is derived from the Greek epiphaneia and means manifestation, shining forth, revelation or appearance. In a religious context, the term describes the appearance of an invisible divine being in a visible form. It can also indicate a sudden realization or comprehension of the (larger) essence or meaning of something. An “epiphany” might refer to those times in life when something becomes manifest, a deep realization, a sudden recognition that changes one’s view of themselves or their social condition and often sparks a reversal or change of heart. In the spirit of Epiphany we invite you to share stories, experiences and/or thoughts about “The Manifestation of God”

Others participating in this synchroblog:

Mike Victorino - What To Do?
Beth Patterson - A Robust Universe Includes the Botched and Bungled
Jeff Goins - The Manifestations of God
Jeremy Myers - Pagan Prophecies of Christ
Mark Smith - Manifestations of God
Minnow - When God Shows Up
Alan Knox - A Day I Saw Jesus
Ellen Haroutunian - Stories of Epiphany
Liz Dyer - God Breaking Through Moments
Kathy Escobar - Orphans
Josh Morgan - The Manifestations Of God
Steve Hayes - Theophany: The Manifestation of God
Sarah Bessey - In Which Annie Opens the Door of Her Heart
Christine Sine - Eve of Epiphany - We Have Come, We Have Seen Now We Must Follow
Tammy Carter - Paralysis In His Presence
Peter Walker - Epiphany Outside Theophany (Outside Christianity)
Annie Bullock - God With Us
Jacob Boelman - Where God Shows Up


Sue said...

Awesome awesome awesome awesome

Ellen Haroutunian said...

A beautiful picture of God's movement in us even when we have so much in our lives that threatens to hide and distort Him. Thanks!

Katherine Gunn said...

Sue: :-D Thanks.

Ellen: Thanks for reading. His movement in us is beautiful.

Mike said...

KG! Great post. I have also come to realize that those that preach a "personal" relationship with Christ have NO idea what that really entails.

It is about you and Christ only. No one, no congregation, no church and no religion can tell you what that relationship should look like.

I reiterate what Sue said....AWESOME!

Katherine Gunn said...

Mike: Good to hear from you! Hmm...knowing Christ and being known by Him - these are not 'an event'. They are a process, like any other relationship.... the genuineness of which is determined not by what we accomplish in His name, but rather how willing we are to be brutally, scarily, vulnerably, honest with Him - here I am, and here is the shit as well as what I think are fruit. ALL of it open and honest with Him.... that is what really matters.

Beth P. said...

Welcome to the synchroblog--
Enjoyed your post!

Liz said...

Katherine - Thanks so much for joining the synchroblog and for writing something so personal and beautiful. Your post reminded me that some epiphanies come to us in bits and pieces along the way and it is not until we can look back that we can understand what God was revealing to us.

Katherine Gunn said...

Beth ~ Thanks. Glad you stopped by.

Liz ~ Thanks for the welcome. I'm glad you enjoyed my post.

kathyescobar said...

katherine, i am so glad you participated in this synchroblog! this was such a pretty post, a reminder of how the confines of the church/the system/the rules/the weird teachings in Jesus' name can never, ever contain the wild and beautiful spirit at work in our lives, showing up again, again, and again. i love the reminder, thanks for sharing. lots of love from over the mountains.

Katherine Gunn said...

Kathy ~ Thanks for the comment and for taking the time to read. It means a ton to me that you read and liked it. Lots of love back at you.