By, Dr. Kerris Dillon
Do you ever have strange memories from childhood that seem to be burned into your brain? Just today, I was thinking about the Lutheran church I attended as a child and how one of our pastors told us how too much questioning could lead us down the road of evil. As I think about this as an adult, it perplexes me. Why would you say this to a group of children? As a teacher, I always taught the opposite. Question everything! It is the only way to know truth from fiction.
As an adult, I’ve tried out so many different churches like the Presbyterian church, the Mormon church, the Lutheran church, the Methodist church, non-denominational churches, and have even read scripture from non-Christian religions. There are two things that drive me absolutely nuts about organized religion! 1) They all claim that there is no other way to God, but through their religion. This is the number 1 red flag that sends me running out the front door. 2) The ungodly behaviors and belief systems of some of the members. Every week the pastor or minister talks about non-judgmental behavior and its importance and every week the same pew-huggers wait for you to arrive so they can check you off their “naughty-nice” list like they are the Lord’s elves.
I think this is why I’ve always been drawn toward meditation and daily prayer on my own. Those that know me pretty intimately would tell you I’m a pretty spiritual person that keeps God at the forefront. I only talk openly about my relationship with God with those that are my most trusted allies. My sister is one of those people. We don’t really talk ever, but when we do I know our priorities are in the very same place…family and God. Nothing else comes near to that.
One of the reasons I don’t talk a-lot about God in public is because I believe it’s a very private relationship between yourself and the Creator. When I see people running around spouting God’s name every 2 seconds, they usually have some motive in doing so. Sometimes, they’re trying to get you to attend church because they want company or fear that a lack of your attendance might mean an infinity in hell. Either way, it’s just not my thing and it doesn’t motivate me to share love and become a better person.
To me, God’s love exists my husband’s undying patience for others that I find to be cruel and ignorant. God’s love exists in my children as I see them immediately become gentle around children that are much younger than them. God’s love exists in dogs that are continuously abused by their owners and crawl back on their bellies, hoping for a smile from the person they love most in life. Those are the times I connect to the Creator and a warmth of energy fills my body. I see those small bits of God’s love every single day that I wake up and interact with the world around me.
This doesn’t mean that organized religion doesn’t work for others. I think church has its place for many people within the world. I would just pray for others to recognize that church attendance doesn’t necessarily equate to love and kindness from members of the congregation. It just drives me up the wall when people meet me, recognize my kindness, and ask me what religion I am.
I will try to explain my current private connection to God and they will respond with, “That’s really too bad that such a sweet and kind person like yourself doesn’t attend church. I can give you the address of my church if you’d like.” What are you trying to say? That I will burn in hell because I don’t show up for 1 hour a week in a wooden pew, sing some hymns, and listen to a sermon constructed by a woman or man that’s been to college studying biblical history? I guess I’ll agree to disagree if that’s the case.
I suppose if people want to get technical, we could add up all the time I spend talking to God in a day and compare/contrast that to what the average church-goer does. Still, I don’t believe God would be too impressed by the comparison/contrast. For those that do ask me about my relationship with God, I usually answer, “Each day I wake up, I ask God to put me into the lives of those that need uplifting, support, and love. If I am too tired to provide that, please allow the circumstances to rest my body and mind so I don’t produce negativity in a world that needs so much love right now. If I can, help me to find the words that you would offer.”
I am a normal person that seeks God out in all of my flaws, even my swearing. That’s the God that I know. God’s my best friend. I don’t need to shout it from the rooftops or convert people to a certain church. God is in the patience that I provide my children each day as they leave their messes all over the house and I calmly remind them to clean it up. God is in the hesitation and eventually stopping from a forward movement when someone drops their papers all over the floor and I bend over to help even though I am late to a meeting. I guess I’ll remain on the church’s naughty-list, but I am at total peace with the Lord and His/Her love as I am.