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.
- Reasons Why People Quit Church
- Losing Church and Finding God
Those that have been burned, figuratively speaking, by the church sometimes lose God in their lives. If they're lucky they find a better relationship with him outside of church.
- In-Home "Organic" Churches
Over 1 million Christians leave the institution of church each year, reaching a staggering 112 million reported Christians that do not attend church. An even higher number do not attend church regularly. These numbers speak volumes about a growing tr