Life has always been black and white to me – there is a right and there is a wrong.
What’s He like?
Even in the lack of something definitive, answers can be more right or more wrong. So, the same must be true of God: there must be a correct and an incorrect way to experience God. I don’t like being wrong about anything, but I especially don’t want to be wrong about experiencing God. There must be some universal way of knowing what God feels like, how to pursue Him, and how to know that I am doing it right.
So, I look around me for answers: my friends, the church, the bible.
They say God is love. They say God is peace. They say that God is goodness, and justice, and gentleness, and joy. They say that God is all the good and positive words I could ever think of and more.
They say God feels like floating on your back in the middle of a lake, maybe not swimming, but at least able to breathe while the water swells around you. They say God feels like a gentle nudge of which direction to turn your face towards, even when it’s dark out. They say God is the gentle whisper of contentment, quietly dancing between cicada screams and sirens on a soft summer night.
But what does any of that mean?
Finding God when it’s hard
What does peace mean when you are stuck in your apartment, trying to outlast an illness with no cure? What does goodness look like when you are alone with your thoughts, unable to buoy them towards something positive? What does peace feel like when the only constant is change?
When life is hard – like it is right now – I cannot see anything past myself: my world begins and ends with laying on my bed and waiting for the day to be over. I can only feel both too much energy and not enough energy colliding with my plans for the day. I can only hear the constant, cruel, inner voice that says, “You are the worst. You will never be right. You will always be stuck here: helpless and bitter.” I can only feel myself sinking into every minute lengthened to an eternity by the slow wight of the world and my inability to do anything about it.
How can you hear God when all you can hear is your own self-hatred, your own inner demons clamoring for attention at every turn? How can you feel God when everything seems to lead back to the weighted down feeling of forever? How can you know God is love when you can’t even find love in yourself?
God is love
It is this last question that has broken through the quiet fog around me. As the Apostle Paul writes in his letter to the Corinthians, “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love” (1 Corinthians chapter 13, verse 13). If the greatest quality of God is love, then how am I supposed to know that God is loving me or filling me with His love if I can’t even find it within myself?
So, I’m trying to wake up each day and find God where I am, in who I am, in my body, and around me. Right or wrong, I don’t know. But I am noticing God in new ways each day.
God is the creak of my knees and the soft exercise mat caressing my feet as I breathe deeply for the first time in a long time. God is my boyfriend driving me to a doctor’s appointment on his day off and then taking me out to lunch afterwards (with outside seating, of course). God is being surprised into laughter from my roommates’ late-night hiccups. God is my pepper plant continuously sprouting flowers even as the temperatures drop each night. God is taking my vitamins and eating my meals – gently nourishing my body instead of neglecting it. God is the staticky voice of my dad over the phone saying, “I want you to be free to be who you are.” God is the warm hug of my blankets when I climb into bed every night.
God is love.
Rebecca constantly strives to practically love people around her. She also loves fuzzy socks, her five sisters, pink and orange alstroemerias, calligraphy, and sour gummy worms.