Saturday, January 21, 2017
Years ago I read a wonderful book called, “Your God is Too Small” by J.B. Phillips. In that book he wrote about how most of us struggle with God or faith because we keep making God too small. We have a tendency to imagine God being like us or maybe like a human being with super powers. But even with the powers of the entire Justice League of America, that is still a human construct and hence, according to Phillips, too small.
I thought about that this week when I was meeting with some students and we were discussing new ideas in Christian theology and how there continue to be new ideas about God, and evolution, and how God may intersect physics, and about how God and Love may be a primary construct of evolutionary direction. Yeah, heady talk like that.
At one point I said, “But what about a personal God?” and I got the look, and someone said, “Well, I used to believe in a personal God but then I studied…” The message was basically that believing in a personal God was kind of juvenile or “early” in terms of spiritual formation.
I have picked up that slight judgment in other places as well. That look or comment that suggests that those who (still) believe in a personal God have not matured in their spiritual development. There’s a kind of spiritual condescension, “Oh, I’m past the personal Godthing.” “My God is now a cosmic force or a New Physics God”…blah, blah.
So me, doing my daily—very personal—prayer starts to feel small—or worse—I feel unsophisticated in my faith.
But then, after confessing to my very personal God that I feel small cause I’m not making Him/Her big enough, I start to think, “Whoa, isn’t making (perceiving) God as a distant, cosmic, force of the universe just another way to make God too small?” (Yes, irony: in making God so big and fancy we make him small again.)
Can’t God be galaxies-wide, loving, an impersonal cosmic force and a personal shepherd at the same time? Why can’t God (we are talking GOD after all) be BIG and small at once?
I thought that Hillary Clinton could be the president of the United States and Chelsea’s mother at the same time. So why can’t God be both (and more) simultaneously?
Think about this: If we really grasp the Trinity, and if we swear that we believe in this three-in-one business, then why not a God who is all: all forms, all types, all sizes, all styles, all dimensions simultaneously?
And by the way—isn’t disdaining a personal God rather mean spirited? That can’t possibly be very Christian.
Sunday, January 8, 2017
I was arguing with John recently. It was one of those arguments with a repeating theme. The old argument was just updated, and with different details. And yes, there was me saying, “Why don’t you…?” and “You always…”
As much as I really wanted to enjoy my righteous rightness (and surely I was 82% right), I also felt the undeniable familiarity of this fight. That is one of the downsides of longer recovery—you can’t hide from yourself so well anymore—and knowing that your own part of it takes the satisfaction out of fighting in a flash.
So what was I going to do? Could I walk through a conflict that was challenging me, and where I really did have hurt feelings?
I used my recovery tools. I sent email to my sponsor; I called another sober woman, and I went to my bookshelf. I always go to books. I came to recovery by the grace of Robin Norwood’s books, and so for me bibliotherapy is a valued tool.
I started with our Big Book. I read Step three and about surrender. Oh. Yuck --but also yep! But just how could I move past my hurt feelings? How could I shift the energy from insisting on my rightness to somehow using this situation for growth?
I landed on the book called How Can I Forgive You? By Janis Abraham Spring, and there Igot relief. Dr. Spring writes about forgiving really hard stuff like infidelity and parental betrayal so I knew I could lean into her wisdom for this fuss I was in with John. Here’s what I read in Spring’s book:
“Your freedom lies not in protesting the unfairness of the violation or in getting the offender to care. Your freedom –perhaps your only freedom—is in deciding how to survive and transcend the injury. Don’t underestimate this freedom: it’s enormous. With it comes the power to decide how you’re going to live the rest of your life. As you take the task of healing into your own hands, you empower yourself and have peace.”
Bingo! It was peace that I wanted…not to let John off the hook necessarily, but I wanted to get me off my own hook and out of my spinning head. It felt just like that wonderful paradox of AA and Alanon—being selfish enough to take the focus off of being right so I can give me back my own good life.