First, I Believe There is a God
1) I believe there is a God. I believe the spirit of God is omnipresent in each of us. But I do not believe he makes decisions or influences the world like an outside source. He simply “is” and we decide with our choices how much influence God has in the world.
I have often described the spirit of God in an analogy to The Force in Star Wars. It is the easiest concept I know to allow people to make sense of how I see God. It also closely resembles a Native American view as well. I hate using gender terms also, but I was brought up calling God a “he” so I stick with it out of simplicity.
So where did this belief of mine come from?
I do have subjective experiences that are “proof” to me in a spiritual realm that co-exists with our physical world. I use the term “proof” loosely, because it is definitely not scientific, nor would I ever try to meld some kind of weird definition of science into something I could use for my “proof”. Just the same, the events that speak to me are real and I interpret them as extra spiritual energy from God.
There is a time period in which I think God protected me and a specific series of events during December of 2012 that will forever be burned in my mind. Because of these two specific things, there is no convincing me there is no God.
I think God protected me during the time that I was brainwashed at Victory Baptist Church in Mentor, Ohio. It is an Independent Fundamental Baptist Church. I was manipulated, shunned, and emotionally abused for part of the four years I was a member of that church. The protection was not evident to me until years later when I joined the Survivors of Abuse in Fundamentalism Facebook group. It was there I learned of wide spread sexual abuse and troubled teen homes where girls were physically and sexually abused. It is so wide spread, it could have only been God that kept me safe and had it to where I was in one of the few churches where sexual abuse did not occur. Several of the leaders our church followed and trusted in were later caught in sexual abuse. Pastor Jack Hyles was a womanizer and cheated on his wife. He literally stole another man’s wife as well. His son-in-law, Pastor Jack Schaap was recently sentenced to 12 years in prison for taking a minor across state lines twice with the intent of having sex with her (and yes, they did have sex). There are many more cases, but those two stuck out for me because First Baptist Church of Hammond, IN where those two nutjobs had their church was the church my local IFB church looked up to the most. The only other way to describe the fact I was never subjected to sexual abuse is luck. But I don’t think it was luck. I think it was God.
The other time I know God had extra presence in my life was December 2012. I was at a temp job for 5 ½ months and I thought I was close to getting hired in to the company. Work was increasing in the department I was hired to help in. My friend Randi and I were part of other extra projects that were not part of our original assignment. I thought the two of us were going to become permanent employees. Then 2 weeks before Christmas, the company closed an office in New York and laid off all their temps. I was devastated. I wasn’t there long enough to collect unemployment and because I technically didn’t lose my job with my employer at the temp agency, I wasn’t sure I’d be able to collect anyway. On top of that, we were no longer getting foodstamps temporarily while Job & Family Services were reviewing documents I turned in to prove I no longer worked at JC Penney. They took a month longer than we could afford for them to review stuff.
So here I am with no job, no foodstamps, 2 weeks before Christmas with no presents at all for the kids and I have no idea how we’re going to keep our house. I used the last pay check to pay the utility bills and keep our internet on. There was no sense in turning off the internet… first it’s better to search for jobs at home because it literally takes hours to fill out apps… and second… that 30 bucks a month was not making much difference in the overall suck-ass budget we were just handed. We needed some kind of escape from our new reality.
One evening I was driving home… I forget from where. But I just started crying and praying. I had our treadmill for sale on Craigslist and some other stuff on Ebay. I cried out to God for help. Actually, the only thing I asked for besides general help was to have our shit sell on Craigslist and Ebay. It would help get food or pay bills for a while after my last paycheck was gone. I asked for no help from anyone. Yes, people were told I lost my job and a few knew of the foodstamp situation, but I was determined to suck it up and make it through somehow. I generally have the attitude that I didn’t want to owe anyone anything (I grew up having things held over my head at times, so I don’t like having anyone having that type of ammunition if they became angry at me for any reason).
What I got was much more than I asked for. People at church gave us gift certificates for grocery stores so we could get food. Someone at church gave us a gift certificate for the movies so we could go out as a family. A random couple I have no clue who they were or what organization they came from, pulled up to our house in their vehicle one day and dropped off gifts for the kids for Christmas. They ended up getting things they needed like brand new winter coats. And the kids’ school gave us a turkey. I still tear up when I talk about everything we were given from people completely randomly and not asked for during that time. There was no way all of it was mere coincidence. God-spirit was moving and stirring in the hearts of others and we were lifted up and taken care of by our community. The foodstamps came back in January. In February, just a month before foreclosure proceedings were going to begin on the house we owned for 11 ½ years, I interviewed and landed the job I now have. This was no chain of coincidences. This was God. And there was nothing special about me particularly that made me more deserving of help than anyone else. But the people around me had a deeper tapping into their spiritual world. Jesus said when you do good deeds to the least of our brothers and sisters, we do good deeds to him. I live around some people who live that concept.
I get my deistic approach to God from our many founding fathers who were deists. Logically, I think about all of the pain and suffering in the world and then I think of God as being this benevolent LOVE that exists. After all, the Bible says God IS love. So how could a loving God allow all the suffering in the world? Without falling back on typical Christian apologetic explanations, I fall back on a mix of deism and Native American belief. God doesn’t allow anything to happen. God simply “is”. We tap into God-spirit, spiritual energy, however you want to describe it and our actions – good or bad – have a good or bad influence on the world. I think spiritual energy is good energy. I don’t believe in a “Satan” anti-God character or a hell, but I do believe evil is spread when we influence the world in a bad way. Some people call it sin. A good friend of mine calls it “missing the mark”. I call it when we hurt ourselves or other people. So yes, God is omnipresent because he/she lives in all of us and in everything. Yes, in animals and plants and the earth. And if God knows everything that each individual knows for themselves, then I guess that can be considered knowing everything. If we are honest about ourselves and how much power we have with the consequences of our actions and decisions, then I suppose that could make God all powerful. That doesn’t make us gods. It should be humbling, actually. It should move us to thinking on a higher plane of morality. Doing the most good for the most people gives LOVE a lot of power in the world.
It all makes sense to me.