“The day of my spiritual awakening was the day I saw—and knew I saw—all things in God and God in all things.” ~ Mechtild of Magdeburg
For days and for years and for an entire life I was told the confusing evangelical tale about two Gods who were the same God. One was a God who looked down from Heaven upon me, watching what I did, and the other was a God who lived inside of me. It was supposed to be both/and, only it was often very difficult to meld the two.
I dutifully sang the song as a child, “Oh be careful, little eyes, what you see. For the Father up above is looking down in love, so be careful little eyes, what you see,” I learned that little hands, little feet, and little eyes had better always be careful.
It was scary, knowing about that God in the sky. They said He was a God of love, yet He was always watching in such a way that one had better not mess up. “Oh. So that’s what love is…” Little girls can’t help it if they draw appropriate conclusions from confusing messages.
And yet there was also the God who lived inside of me. After all, if I didn’t ask Jesus into my heart, I wouldn’t be in heaven. So the God who lived far away now also lived inside of me. He died so that I wouldn’t be sent to a place of eternal torture where I would beg for death but not be allowed to have it. In order for me not to go to that place, He had to suffer horrible torture Himself as the sin of the world was placed upon Him, at which point (even though He too was God), the God in the Heavens was not even able to look upon Him.
This was a strange system, very confusing, yet constantly and consistently presented as simple fact and, given the disastrous consequences of pissing this God off, one tended not to question such a salvation. In fact, quite the opposite. I began preaching this salvation to my friends, starting in 2nd grade and into adulthood. I truly and honestly meant well. I didn’t want to see these poor people go to Hell, the reality of which was so built into my core belief system that I did not even question it, even while hating it, until I was in my thirties!
The first set of verses I memorized as a child in a Bible memory program (a very popular one in the church world I grew up in) were about the wickedness of humanity. I was taught that God was not even able to look at us unless we had Jesus (who was also God) in our hearts.
I remember my child learning those same verses, when I enrolled her in that very same program. Good moms put their kids in that Bible club. It’s just how it’s done. How I winced as I helped her learn that same passage, “There is none righteous, no not one. There is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. All have turned away. They have together become worthless. There is no one who does good. Not even one.” The book of Romans, as we interpreted it, clearly explained that we were, quite literally, worthless.
No wonder conservative Christianity is known for being judgmental. With a worldview like that, how could a faithful practitioner not be? Many loving and compassionate people live within the fearful walls of Christendom. They don’t mean to be judgmental. They are just doing what they are told, believing what they are taught. Their awakening may come, some day. Until then, it helps not to take their behavior personal.
God, as I was taught, was very separate from you or I. He was male. He was in charge. And He was most emphatically not smiling when He looked down at what He deemed as worthless beings who had all turned away.
I love being out of that theological world. I love looking out at humanity and not seeing them as either lost souls to be won to the Lord or evil “secularists” to beware of. I love having a view of God/dess that is wide, expansive, and joyous.
I was quite specifically taught that those who said God was in all were dangerous. For three straight decades, I eschewed even that thought. And then the awakening began. Now God is in my hands as I hug my little one. Goddess is in the cucumber vines pushing out their sweet harvest. The gods are in the water, air, wind and fire. The Divine is everywhere.
This isn’t a world to be feared. Don’t be careful, little eyes, what you see. Eyes are open and you are awake now! Drink it all in. The colors, the richness, the pulsing vibrancy of life. It was meant to be celebrated.