May 17th, 2011 – by Emily Hedrick, Editors Blog
Growing up in the church, I’ve been told about the God who saved me, the God who washes me clean, the God who completes me, the God who has plans for my life, the God who wants me to live for him. But none of these are the God I wish I knew.
Is it blasphemous for me to say that I don’t want God to save me? What if I don’t want to be washed clean? What if I want to celebrate my humanness? Am I a horrible person if I admit that I have no interest in being “used by God” even if it is in “a mighty way?” What if I want to live my life with God instead of for God?
Maybe it seems a bit self-centered for me to think about a God I wish I knew. Shouldn’t I, after all, be searching for the God who is Truth? Perhaps. Though, it seems dangerous to look for the God who is Truth because that God is virtually impossible to find. I have seen people searching for this God. It is an exhausting endeavor. Many give up and end up creating their own god who is Truth. They cling to their man-made god regardless of the consequences, just so they don’t have to begin the search again. Often they cling so tightly that they accuse people of being unacceptable to God when they don’t fit the mold or live in some predetermined way.
I have had my own experiences with man-made gods. The temptation in my childhood was to ignore the parts of myself that didn’t match up with what I was told. The urgent certainty of it all caused me to forget myself. Sometimes it still does, but every time I think about the God I wish I knew, I am reminded that I am simply me. I am the way I am for some profoundly good, though often unknown reasons. Those reasons are why the God I wish I knew is often so different from the gods I am presented with.
As I ponder the God I wish I knew, I need to silence all that I have been told about God. As I listen to the deepest longings within my soul, I can hear myself pleading ever so quietly, “Please exist. You don’t need to save me, or make me feel loved, or tell me what to do. Just exist. Just be with me as I am in this moment.”
Truly, this is what I want most: to know that I am not alone, to have a God who will be with me as I experience what is – not what is supposed to be. As I look back at my life, searching for the God I wish I knew, I can acknowledge that I have not received salvation through being magically made pure and learning how to live just right. For me salvation is being able to say, “This is how I am at the moment, and it is okay.”
That is not to say that we should not hold ourselves accountable. Paying attention to our actions and our lifestyle is vitally important. However, if we devote ourselves to seeing and accepting what is, we will discover an underlying current deep within our world and ourselves that drives us toward wholeness and health. I believe we need to accept ourselves in order to find that current. By choosing to see what is, we allow ourselves to be swept up in the current instead of fighting it to try to fit what is supposed to be.
That is why I’ve been thinking about the God I wish I knew. I am searching for a way to acknowledge the validity of where I am right now, and to acknowledge that where I am is okay. It keeps me from clinging to a god that isn’t real, even though the temptation to hold on to certainty, and ignore my own experiences, is real.
Who is the God you wish you knew?
Emily Hedrick is a junior Music and Bible and Religion major at Goshen College. She’s been fascinated with practical theology ever since she started making post-rapture survival plans at the age of nine. Seeing as she hasn’t needed to pull those out yet, she’s been spending most of her time pondering how the church can be a healthier, more life-giving place. She also enjoys thought-provoking questions and good stories.
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