Does it Matter How You Find God?

A similar story

Like most things I write about, this topic came to my interest because it has to do with my personal life in some way, either directly or indirectly. This in particular was something that occurred to me to think about it in depth because of a conversation I had with my neighbor.

My neighbor began telling his story of how he found God a few months ago. I was deeply interested in this story because it resonated with me and how I found God, or perhaps reconnected with God in a much more genuine and fulfilling way. My neighbor though, unlike me, had never grown up with any religious affiliation or spiritual guidance of any sort as a child whereas I had a very Christian mother who dragged me to church every Sunday.

I ended up drifting away from religion and God in my teens because it really didn't mean anything to me on a deeper level- I felt no connection and I doubted most of the people at church did either. For most, it was a chore, a duty, or because they knew nothing else besides going to church is just what you're supposed to do. I hated living a lie and if it didn't mean anyhting to me so I was not going to go- and that was the end of my superficial path with God.

In my mid-20's someone very close to me died. Yes, I had other people pass away in my life prior to this but nothing as powerful with such a deep impact that caused me to reflect upon my own life. This is where my story begins to look similar to my neighbor's. He is in his early 30's and a friend of his died suddenly a few months ago. This caused him to think about God and his life, which he has never done before. He came to the conclusion I did years ago, through experience, that he did want a relationship with God and he now believes.

Experience versus training

Thinking about his story and mine, I realized the missing link between God and I all those lost years was experience. Growing up with God didn't bring me to him, eventually it had led me away for quite some time. It was not authentic to me. It was experience, maybe an accumulation of experiences that led me back to him in a real relationship. So I ask, does it matter how someone finds God? My answer is a resounding YES.

Your upbringing in a church or religion, your training, are not the path to God. Majority religious folks seem more concerned about how many believe, who believes, who goes to church, rather than why they believe or if it's genuine within them- quantity over quality. Many would also have a generic answer for why they believe or how they came to believe. Some don't truly know because they were dragged to church and raised that way as long as they can remember.

My early memories in church were dull, like a sheep in a herd...following and not exactly knowing why. The richness of my belief now, far overshadows anything I ever thought about God prior to experiences in my adulthood that truly led me to him. For example, I tell my young daughter about God, she knows I pray, but I know He is merely a name, a greater being like Santa Claus to her. She does not have those life experiences or that ability to reflect as she will later in life when she chooses her path. If people grow up operating on the same blind faith system that they did in childhood, their relationship with God is lacking. How can it not be?

I'll be the first to admit believing in God is not second nature to me as I operate 90% of the time in a logical mode. Even though I've found my own logic for God, that's another hub. I have my own feelings about God, but still...another hub. What I have now is within my spirit, my soul. It does not operate from logic or emotion, it is something completely different and nothing else resides there but God.

If you follow because you haven't known anything else from the time you were young or you have no answer to certain aspects in your life and the next best thing you can come up with is God, then I argue He truly isn't a rich and authentic part of your life. The level of spirituality in those people who have found God through reflection and experiences are so different just to be around than those who are a slave under the church or rituals and habits, or born into a religion, etc.

There are men who find God in prison. Prison leaves a lot of time for reflection, some choose to stew in anger and plot revenge and others explore God and themselves. Prison is very raw for the human spirit and usually where we'll see a great divide of those who choose good or evil. The fear of self-reflection for people is usually because they may find something they don't want to, it is stripping away all those layers and it's scary. People tend to avoid it unless something, someone, somewhere, somehow happens to make us submit ourselves to that level of transparency.

Living a lie

I don't want to come off as accusatory here, but rather transparent. I'm not saying you're lying to yourself if you have always known God and didn't find Him through a magnificent life transformation, but I am stating that something in your life must occur for you to reflect and get really gut-wrenching honest and transparent with yourself and God.

This is similar to going to work everyday at a job you don't really enjoy- that would be most Americans, right? There is no connection between themselves and their job. They've lost touch with themselves and they're living a lie in which they cover up with spending money on things that make them happy because their jobs, their life, doesn't. That's another issue, but I take it much more seriously when it pertains to God, when people are going to church out of duty, out of habit, out of fear, out of appearance and not because they have that connection. When they've never stop to wonder why do I believe, what connects me to God?

For me, and perhaps my neighbor, our path to God didn't begin because we were suddenly faced with unanswered questions about death. We had both experienced that before. The significance this time was a cause for reflection, was a certain amount of other life experiences that led up to the time of reflection.

I can't tell you how your relationship with God is- only you know that. I want people to reflect on it through life experiences though. The God you find through these experiences and reflection is different that the model of God you find in a Bible or reiterated by your local pastor. God created us in His image, do you think He read about Himself to get to know Himself? That sounds silly. Of course not, He reflected to learn about Himself- he did not read a manual. He does not want human puppets.

I used the word 'lie' in the title of this section because of a book, People of the Lie that quoted:

  • 'people engaged in the effort to maintain a moral purity... are often the most evil'. This is why we hear about the cheating pastor or the molesting priests.
  • 'The evil attack others instead of facing their own failures.' This was my experience with self-righteous churchgoers.
  • 'Spiritual growth require's one's need to grow', hence my point about reflection.

How to find God

I'm just trying to be funny here because It is truly a personal journey. There's no formula, no 12 step program, but the one thing that I realized was not to search for God in the world. So many atheists get tripped up and focus on the suffering in the world and wonder how in the hell is there a God in this kind of world. Do not look to someone else or the world. Don't even look to church to find God- if you're unsure about God then all you'll find there are people. Look to yourself as I've been preaching all along.

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Comments 36 comments

TheManWithNoPants profile image

TheManWithNoPants 4 years ago from Tucson, Az.

Laura,

I could write a book here. In short, faith untested, isn't faith for sure. I'll probably do this in several comments rather than one long one. Some people actually DO have a healthy love of God from childhood on. I've seen it. Some seek God in hard times, and find him only to walk in and out of the relationship throughout their life. Some people find Him and hang on. But here's the curve .. sometimes the Lord just finds people. If you read my hub on "God, The Two Reasons I believe In Him" you'll remember the Lord found me at an irrigation well getting ready to slide in at the ripe old age of eight years old. It came out of no where, and it was the most incredible thing I've ever experienced. Can't do it justice trying to explain it. You know I have a degree in Divinity and I'm pretty good at it, but it's the darndest thing. Just when you think you've found a consistant method of operation, God throws one of His little curves. He's real cool.

I'm really glad to see you writting this. I need to write something else on this, but I'm obsessed with my political thing. I AM ministering to some folks here on the Hub. They're some tough cookies that apparently are drawn to my rough style.

I really like this Hub. I'll be back several times I'm guessing.

jim


saisarannaga 4 years ago from Chennai in Tamilnadu, India.

I enjoyed the hub for the frankness and the nice analysis based on reflections of experiences. You have put forth valid points.Thank you once again. The comment above is yet another nice analysis. I thank the commentator too.


Philanthropy2012 profile image

Philanthropy2012 4 years ago from London

No but it matters if you do find him. It's the same question as "does it matter how you find santa claus".


HendrikDB profile image

HendrikDB 4 years ago

Thanks. I appreciated this hub very much!!


tom hellert profile image

tom hellert 4 years ago from home

IZ,

I gota say - I always knew God was real and existed-I was not 100% on how exactly I was supposed to act but I followed the axiom

"do no harm- avoid evil- do good"

I have always believed in God-then I got the proof and I was sure atthat point- that I was at least in the ballpark of how to act

when I was - up there-he said "Its not youme " not 'you think your coming in here!!???"

but thats just me

TH


Robwrite profile image

Robwrite 4 years ago from Bay Ridge Brooklyn NY

Hi Izetti; As a Buddhist, I don't believe in the same Christian theology as you do. I don't believe in a "God" per say, since we look for God within instead of on the outside, but I do believe in a sense of Order and a type of karmic balance to the universe.

Nothing in my background should ever have led me any nearer to my beliefs than a walk past a Buddhist temple. But circumstances unfolded in a certain way and I ended up where I am.

Members of my family have tried to force Christianity on me and have told me I'm going to Hell. But I don't think I am. (Buddhists actually don't believe in Hell.)

There are many different beliefs and different interpetations of God but in the end, whatever gives you solace and reassurance is the best we can hope for in this insane world.

Another thought-provoking hub.

Rob


jeanine 4 years ago

Rob, I understand where you are and appreciate your candor... and yes I fell in love with the Christians God... a true God like figure in my own mind... so it's impressive from an imaginary sense as you would say if one did not believe in such a thing as heaven... the beauty of it is also the horror of it. yet if one happens to be a prisoner of Christ... it is impossible to get away from the vision that's either created through my own psychosis, or it may be real... either way it's the most intense thing that has ever happened to me...

You are right to discribe how you got there, because that's exactly what happened to me but Christian...I think to live within any discipline to better oneself it bound to make each of us a better human being... so I respect you for being who you are as a Buddhist... I've read some but not for a long time...

I am following this God because he whispers my name... deep in the night sometimes, most oft times early morning...

my love said ... try not to embrace anger.... it steals moments from your life... takes fire from your eyes.... places trash in your mouth.... promotes stupidity... anger... a twisted side of passion....

tell me more and I will feel free enough to share.... oh I weep...


privateye2500 profile image

privateye2500 4 years ago from Canada, USA, London

Does it matter *HOW* you find God?

NO.

How could it possibly matter how?

Like finding your soulmate; does it matter how you found them?

NO.

It's the *relationship* AFTER the finding that matters!


jimagain profile image

jimagain 4 years ago from Hattiesburg, Mississippi

I am sought of them that asked not for me; I am found of them that sought me not. Isaiah 65:1

Strangely enough, I found God when I wasn't seeking him, instead, God found me. For many years, I was at best a hopeful agnostic. It seems, at least in my case, the road to faith was paved with doubt. Ever notice, in the bible, when God spoke directly to someone, Adam, Cain, Elijah...God asked a question?


jeanine 4 years ago

Privateye, you are right, it's the relationship that interest me... I was not looking for Him to take notice and when he did.. I could tell... and in that respect, that moment, everything, well within my own life, changed... I either noticed more or something really did happen... and jim you are right in that I did not find him, he came as a sweet fragrance in the night, caressing my soul...


mindprison profile image

mindprison 4 years ago from Pakistan

If you try to find a God in a preaching of religion in the foundation of faith the holy scripture has no real power at the same time full of confusion and contradiction so that is the normal phenomena and will end up in frustration. I suggest you to please clear your mind take out all hatred for any religion make a promise to yourself that where ever truth grips you will move with it open your heart and read the Holy Quran with whatever language you understand the concept of God. You will find the peace.


izettl profile image

izettl 4 years ago from The Great Northwest Author

Jim~ I knew you'd have some good comments about this and I agree that when we're tested is one way to find or renew faith in GOd, but most of all I think the most meaningful way to find God is after some reflection of some sort- no matter how that reflection occurs or why.

Yes, I'd wish you'd write a little more on the spirtual side sometimes- give us a hub like this from time to time like you used to. But I've really anjoyed you mixing in some of your mroe thoughtful hubs in with your political ones- we, even you, need that break sometimes.


izettl profile image

izettl 4 years ago from The Great Northwest Author

saisarannaga~ thank you so much for your nice words and I agree that themanwithnopants is an excellent source in this topic.

Philanthropy2012~ I think it matters how you find him. Because we all "find" Santa when we're young and sooner or later we come to question our childhood beliefs and this is where many separate from GOd so it matters how you find Him so that He stays and it a deep relationship not a superficial one.


izettl profile image

izettl 4 years ago from The Great Northwest Author

HendrickDB~ THank you for stopping by!

TH~ you've been through enoug hto have a say on this topic for sure. I respect your words and thanks for the comment.


izettl profile image

izettl 4 years ago from The Great Northwest Author

Rob~ You know I totally respect Buddhism. I do because their principles are amazing- similar to Christianity yet applied more in life and I respect that aspect. Christianity seems to have a lot of hypocrisy- something I've dealt with in it.

But we have a similar point here.You found a God within yourself and found your spiritual relationship from the inside out. That is exactly how I found God- from the inside out and my relationship is still very personal as I do not practice Christian principles at a church but at home or anywhere really.

Jeanine~ It is intersting the similarities of Buddhism principles and Christianity. I have a lot of respect for people who want to better themselves and reach others through their kindness and not a specific religion.


izettl profile image

izettl 4 years ago from The Great Northwest Author

privateeye~ I believe it matters how you find God so we differ there. I was taught GOd when I was young. I knew about God as I got older but that relationship was not solidified until I felt God within me and that took experience and reflection.

Seeing as how most relationships fail (sad but true) an example about finding one's soul mate doesn't really apply to finding God. I thank you for your comment and I know many agree with you.


CMerritt profile image

CMerritt 4 years ago from Pendleton, Indiana

Iz,

This is a great hub! I think God has His own special way to touch all of us, in many different forms. I thinks many of us ignore it or write it off as anything but God. Some may never admit it until they reach a time in their lives where they finally have no other choice but to listen to Him.

Personally, I am thankful that I have been able to receive comfort from Him during hard times.

Up and awesome!

Chris


4 years ago

OK - like finding anything at all...is it in the experience of the finding that is relevant....?

Or in the relationship itself that is relevant?

Being *born* KNOWING is already HAVING...no need for *finding*...ergo - it is the relationship cultivated which has the meaning.


marilyn 4 years ago

"In short, faith untested, isn't faith for sure."

That is not a true statement.

To have faith one needs to believe. If you believe enough, you will have faith. It does not need to be tested to be *real* or *strong*.

I've found that those - as You put it - that are *tested* tend to be the ones with the Least amount of faith in the end.


tom hellert profile image

tom hellert 4 years ago from home

Marylin,

Those who are tested are the weakest? wasn't jesus tested?-If you have not BEEN tested then I ask if you have really lived? If you are not boxed up in your basement- then you have had to have been tested...day in day out there are tests great and small...and if you can say to me you have not been tested then you have no sin...in that You cannot admit truth....

lest you cast the firt stone......

TH


Neil Sperling profile image

Neil Sperling 4 years ago from Port Dover Ontario Canada

:-) glad you found some peace --- it is obvious through this hub.. thanks for sharing YOU!


izettl profile image

izettl 4 years ago from The Great Northwest Author

CMerritt~ I think you are right and touched on something I didn't quite get through in my hub. God does touch us one way or another but whether he reaches us is up to us and some people don't pick up on it.

M~ wonderfully stated. Thank you for sharing.

Marilyn~ great points- those who are tested either find God or lose God or become closer to God. That might all have to do with reflection and the relationship one has with God.


izettl profile image

izettl 4 years ago from The Great Northwest Author

jimagain~ not sure why I didn't catch your comment earlier- somehow skipped it. THank you for sharing your story and it is very similar to mine as well.

Mindprison~ you're quite right on some of your points. FOr me, religion is separate from the church as I have no issues with religion, just church.


izettl profile image

izettl 4 years ago from The Great Northwest Author

TH~ Lord knows we've been tested. This really does something to a relationship with God- can bring people closer or further and that has a lot to do with reflection on one's faith, relaitonship with God, etc.


izettl profile image

izettl 4 years ago from The Great Northwest Author

Neil~ nice to see you. I am really comfortable with the relationship I have with God- I've been tested, I've quit church, but one thing is constant...God. Thanks for stopping by.


Storytellersrus profile image

Storytellersrus 4 years ago from Stepping past clutter

Look to yourself. yep. and i know you don't mean ego. it's the best advice, because God is within!


izettl profile image

izettl 4 years ago from The Great Northwest Author

storyteller~ No I don't mean ego or finding yourslef as a God or any new age stuff like that. But the best relationship I found with God is when I looked inside for the answers, not to a church or the bible. THe answers are more real when coming from within.


Sharyn's Slant profile image

Sharyn's Slant 4 years ago from Northeast Ohio USA

Hi izettl,

Although I don't comment often on your work, I always find your writing and your point of view very intriguing. This piece was no exception. I really appreciate reading this and the comments as well. I've always struggled with my "relationship" since childhood. Even at my age, I'm still searching . . .

I was just thinking recently how I say "I'm Catholic" but am I really? What does that really mean. Is it just what I know since childhood. I went to Catholic grade school. So what. I rarely if ever go to church today. Same thing with growing up in a "democratic" home. Okay, so what, I'm democratic because that is what I was taught? I've really been thinking about this kind of stuff lately and feeling that I need to really come to a place of comfort within myself with issues such as these. I respect your point of view as it is helping me with my thoughts. Thanks,

Sharyn


izettl profile image

izettl 4 years ago from The Great Northwest Author

Sharyn~ thanks for stopping by and leaving the comment. WOW! is what I want to say first. Your comment is awesome because it's what people should really think about. Why are you what you claim to be- the labels we grew up with. I'm with you on all this. I've had to separate "me" from what I grew up with and thought of myself as. I've asked to same questions you have. Most of the time it helps me to get to the raw core of whatever label you're questioning. For instance, I looke at "christianity" and took the God portion from it and analyzed only my feeings on God... not church or Sundays or anything else associated with being a Christian just because that's how I was raised. Also with politics, I was raised strongly "Republican" and I had to take the core of my political point of view instead of the label and everything associated with it. I cam up somewhere in between...lol. Anyway, hope you get what I'm saying and thanks again for your comment. With most of my hubs, I give a stripped down version of things we ake for granted and hope I can get people to think so I thank you in your honesty about your thoughts.


Elefanza profile image

Elefanza 4 years ago from Somewhere in My Brain

I think the authentic stories of how people find God are the most interesting. Lately, I'm wondering if "God" also encompasses that sense of wonderment that can't be contained in this world. Siddhartha by Herman Hesse is a story about the Buddha's path to enlightenment. You'd probably really like it. Although he doesn't find "God" per se, he finds something much more meaningful.

I know when my dad died (he was a Christian), it prompted an intense spiritual search while I was young and my spirituality meant a lot to me. Not that I was morally perfect, but what I had was my own. Now, I find myself immersed in the stories. As someone who writes stories, it's fun trying to imagine God as a storyteller and wonder if my insights into my characters and plot mimic God's thoughts of creation on a smaller scale.

Anyway, interesting hub. Hope you're doing well!


LauraD093 profile image

LauraD093 4 years ago from Pittsburgh PA

Hi izettl voted your hub up and awesome. It touched me on a very personal and authentic level. I have been in the process of re-evaluating my own spiritual principles since my Mother passed on. She died last year in August and as is often said every journey starts with a single step. I've been taking steps through my mourning process to a deeper and more personal experience(spiritually speaking.)Great hub.


izettl profile image

izettl 4 years ago from The Great Northwest Author

Elefanza~ I've been gone (had a baby) for a while so I didn't get a chance to respond promptly to comments. I have read Siddhartha- great book. I think spirituality is supposed to a constant searching maybe mostly within ourself. Even when you find God you can still search within yourself. Spirituality should be constant growing.

THanks LauraD~ read my comment above to elefanza- it somehwat applies to you too.


2patricias profile image

2patricias 4 years ago from Sussex by the Sea

Thank you for a thought provoking Hub. We are both practising Christians, and believe that we can best serve God by being outward looking, rather than church focussed.

However, we both believe that it is important to tell children and young people about God, and to try to tell them about our relationship with Him.

I came to know and love God through something that I saw one day when I was about 21. I think that if I had not had a background of Sunday school (although I never attended on a regular basis) I might not have understood what I was seeing.


izettl profile image

izettl 4 years ago from The Great Northwest Author

2patricias~ thanks for reading this. I agree that we should be, especially children, exposed to God in many forms including church. Then we should be able to make up our own minds without judgment as to how we experience God best. Church in a way is the backbone- or good education. THe rest is based on a feeling, that closeness to God that can only be intimately experienced by the individual. Thanks again for stopping by.


LauraD093 profile image

LauraD093 4 years ago from Pittsburgh PA

izetti thank-you for another interesting and well written hub. Your photo motif was excellent especially the shot of the barbed-wire cross that in itself spoke of our current social climate of having an outside source teach us or our nations children how to find "God." For me it was a private experiential journey and my parent allowed me to make that journey at my own pace aside from our family's traditional beliefs. Spiritual expression is something within not without as you so beautifully stated---I mean have you ever seen a parent try to force feed a baby food it doesn't care for? The child usually just spits it right out. Correct? I voted this up and awesome because it is.


izettl profile image

izettl 4 years ago from The Great Northwest Author

Laura~ thanks. just getting back to some of my comments a little slow. I just had a baby and life is tough...to say the least, but I love writing like breathing. I tried getting onto a hub you wrote that I'm interested in reading but my computer is slow- it must be losing sleep(like me) from having a new baby in the house. lol.

Love what you stated here "Spiritual expression is something within not without as you so beautifully stated---I mean have you ever seen a parent try to force feed a baby food it doesn't care for? The child usually just spits it right out."...on the topic of babies.lol

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