To kickstart my entry to the Bloggernacle/blogosphere, I thought my idea/conception of God and the Divine would be useful and provide a solid foundation to understand my language of faith (more on that explored elsewhereand here). For me, God is the source from which all else flows, so a shared understanding of who/what God is provides a clearer picture of the fountain from which I draw my spirituality.
If I were to narrow God down to a word, it would be Love (1 John 4:8). I thought this would be shared by others, but in a very informal survey of some friends, I was the only one that thought Love, Father being the most common answer. My fascination and fixation on Love may have something to do with being raised listening to The Beatles, internalizing the lyrics of the classic “All You Need is Love,” as well as reading Harry Potter, about a boy who was saved from death itself by love.
I believe God is a being (more accurately two Heavenly beings that are as ‘one flesh’) that embodies perfect love. Partially due to the union between Heavenly Father and Heavenly Mother- their perfect love unites them and allows them to care for us with perfect love. The image of God weeping from the Book of Moses (Moses 7:28) is a powerful scriptural example that shows one of the manifestations of such perfect love for imperfect beings.
One of my first experiences with the Divine, when I felt as though I was connected to something more expansive than myself, occurred when I was in high school. I had been questioning the truthfulness of Mormonism and the reality of God, so I decided to pray, asking if God loved me. As I plead at my bedside that night, I was enveloped in the warmth of the divine, the embrace of God, His/Her/Their love. That experience cemented my belief in God and Mormonism.
Along with God’s immense love, I believe in the agency of God, as suggested in Alma 42, that God could cease to be God. Rather than being compelled to be the way He/She/They is/are, it’s a choice. God chooses to give that Love, so essential to Her/His/Their nature to us, to me. There is genuine care that comes from God to me, a sense that when life’s rough and doesn’t make any sense, my frustration and pain is shared with God, that tears are shed in Heaven over the pain that I feel, however minor and insignificant that is in the grand scheme of things.
If God cares so much, why does evil and suffering abound in the world? Can’t God do something about that?—an age-old question that deserves more attention than I can give it, but was debated extensively at Mormon Matters and is worth a listen.
My partial solution to the problem of evil is to believe that God is not much of an interventionist, preferring to watch and let us humans figure things out for ourselves. We can get counsel and advice, but direct meddling or manipulating is not the way God works, most of the time. God clearly has an influence in our lives and that can be daily, constantly. For me that influence is more of the advice that parents and friends have given you that floats around and sticks out when you need it, as opposed to the parent that hovers and does everything for you.
God helps me find the good in any situation, the take-away, even when it may have been better to avoid the situation all together. I don’t particularly like the view of God giving us certain trials and hardships hand-selected for us, as it seems dangerously close to a Grand Chessmaster or Puppeteer that manipulates every aspect of my life. Having God be in that much control provides comfort to some, but pushes against my individualistic streak and, perhaps, my (hyper-active?) belief in agency.
I find the Divine, the traces of God’s love, scattered throughout everything. In particular, the scriptures, literature, film, music, ‘alternate voices,’ and priesthood service. As I identify Love as God, it is sometimes easy to blur the line between emotion and spirit, but we can’t forget “the truth that once was spoken. To love another person is to see the face of God.” (Evidence of my interweaving of canonized and secular sources of spiritual truth, in this instance courtesy of Les Miserables) I would expand the idea to include seeing acts of love, as well as loving others, allowing us to see maybe not the face, but perhaps the hands of God.
God’s love is Endless, which with some scriptural stretching can prove the never-ending list of things that don’t end in “If You Could Hie to Kolob” accurate (something I discovered during some ‘well-spent’ study hours as a missionary in Lithuania). That Love continues to touch me and push me to improve. Yet, while God is Love, that Love is incomplete without Truth, but that’s a subject for another day.