Heard a man on the radio today,
Must confess I disagreed with what he had to say.
How can he not believe that God is real,
I don’t understand how he could feel that way.
When there’s earth air water and fire.
So many different flowers, sunshine and rainshower,
So many differnt crystals and hills and volcanos.
That’s how I know that God is real
~~ India Arie
An interesting thing about being a writer is when people start contacting me, whether it is through a comment in a review somewhere, or on my Facebook, or through my blog or website or by emailing me. Generally they are amazing and lift my day—especially when on of my books or stories have uplifted them or given them hope.
Another thing though is the reaction to how much spiritual content there is in my stories. Some times atheists or agnostics are turned off. Ironically, devout Christians are as well.
People who believe in only the concrete or science will tell me if they wanted to be preached to they would go to church. Very conservative Christians tell me they are concerned for my soul because I have characters with all different kinds of faith; Jewish, Mormon, ancient Samoan, pagan, and more. I’ve been told I don’t believe in the “right God.”
So without going into details and hopefully not offending anyone (although I probably will), here is what I believe.
I believe there is a “God.” I believe that God is the center of a wagon wheel and that all the spokes lead to that One and only God. I believe that we find the path that works for us and that I do not have the right to tell anyone that what they believe wrong. In my life I have just seen God active in too many different paths to deny it. I have seen people pray to Jehovah and Brahma and Baldur and I have seen their prayers answered. I have been to Catholic mass and a pagan Circle and everywhere I look, I personally see God.
Now a story that I have rarely told and to only a few. Now I am putting it out there for the world to see…
Some years ago I was in a very destructive relationship with a man who emotionally and mentally and even spiritually abused me. He was also a sex addict and cheated on me with literally hundreds and hundreds of men. Eventually he contracted HIV.
Throughout this horrible sorrow and pain—and believe me that my heart literally ached, as if there were this cold, thick needle of some kind that was always there, some time just chilling my heart, and sometimes wiggling—moving—poking—twisting.
I was a very, very devout Christian and I couldn’t understand how this was happening. I went to church, I tithed, I gave of my time, I taught Sunday School for little kids, I became a deacon, I taught from the pulpit when the pastor was on vacation or visiting another church. I was doing—pretty much—everything right. And yet all this Sh*t was happening to me. The book Why Bad Things Happen to Good People didn’t help me a bit. I was in despair.
Why faith began to crumble. In fact I was growing angrier and angrier with God. I was beginning to doubt “He” existed.
Because, after all, if there was a God then how could he allow all that to happen? Not only what I had heard non-believers say and that is “If there was a God how could He allow birth defects and war and famine (etc),” but in my life, how could he imagine what I thought was a perfect life to become so horribly wrong. Was that my reward? And was all this happening because I wasn’t right with God because I was gay? Was that the root of the problem?
And WHY would God punish me for being gay? I had no choice! I was born that way! I tried to be something else and it wouldn’t work. I couldn’t be anything else but gay. And if God made me then He made me gay…and He was punishing me for that?
So finally I put out a fleece. For those who don’t know what that means, there is a story in the Bible, the book called Judges, about a man named Gideon. He tested God. He said, “I will place a wool fleece on the threshing floor. If there is dew only on the fleece and all the ground is dry, then I will know that you will save Israel by my hand, as you said.” And that is what happened. Gideon rose early the next day; he squeezed the fleece and wrung out the dew—a bowlful of water. Then Gideon said to God, “Do not be angry with me. Let me make just one more request. Allow me one more test with the fleece, but this time make the fleece dry and let the ground be covered with dew.” That night God did so. Only the fleece was dry; all the ground was covered with dew.
I remember looking up in a corner of the room and addressing God. I said, “I need a fleece. I need a burning bush. I need a pillar of fire. If You exist and are not just some fairy tale made up by man, then You need to prove to me that You exist. I need something that I can’t deny, that I know is a miracle.”
Now I knew by my upbringing that what I was doing was considered practically damnable. That I was not to test God. Not in any way. But I felt I had no choice. I went on to say to “Him” that if He cared about me and wanted me to believe in Him then He would do what I asked.
It was a little after that when my partner (the ex) became HIV+. I had to go in the get tested. They knew I was HIV+ as well. I had to be. They were able to determine that my partner had cero converted about six months previously. He and I had a very active sex life. I had to be positive. They took my blood and began my counseling on how to live with HIV. It was horrible beyond horrible beyond horrible. That was also when you had to wait two weeks to get your results. My GP proscribed valium to help get me through it.
And then the results came. I was HIV-! The doctors couldn’t believe it. They determined it had to be a false negative and tested me again. Another agonizing two weeks passed and…. I was negative. This time I demanded they test me again. They said they didn’t need to but they would—with the results that I was negative.
I sat in that little room stunned. The doctor was stunned. The clinic was stunned.
“How can this be?” I asked, still terrified to hope it could be true.
And the man said, “I will tell you, but you can’t quote me.”
“Sure,” I replied.
He sighed, smiled, and said, “It’s a miracle.”
I heard a quiet voice in my right ear, just as clear as the doctor’s say—
“Is that miracle enough for you?”
The hair stood up on the back of my neck and I was washed with a shiver of gooseflesh.
And from that day forward I knew. I knew there was a God.
I will not quantify It. I won’t call God a “He.” I won’t point to a religious path and say, “That’s the right one.” It fills my heart with joy and gladness that some people find God through Jesus and the story that God gave “His” only begotten Son. Or that a friend of mine who lives in Iceland poured mango juice onto the ground and prayed for Baldur to give me peace and Eir to give me healing. My pagan friends can dance around the bonfire and my Buddhist friends can sit and saliently meditate and my Muslim friends can bow to Mecca.
I am not to judge.
But yes, I believe in God. When I say “The Universe” then that is what I am referring to.
I am figuring God out and I am counting the endless blessing in my life and being thankful for the Still Small Voice that guides me.
And in the meantime, I hope I give offense to no one.
Namasté (the Divine in me sees and honors the Divine in you).
photo by MynorVargas from morgueFile