Columns / Discourse / May 17, 2017

Understanding God and living without guilt

The world has a lot of hurting people in it. Some of the more popular memes on the internet provide ways to turn depression and anxiety into things to laugh about and relate to. I’m sure everyone has felt some form of anxiety, depression, fear and pain in their life in some shape or form. Going through that period in my life, I was confronted with the firm belief that I was not a good individual. I have already talked about some of the damning things I have done, but I see pain in other people’s lives too. We live in a world filled with discrimination, inequality and murder.

From the time I was in the second grade until the seventh, my mother went through a very Christian phase. We took the Bible very literally. Sodomy was evil and so was abortion, and we could use the Bible to prove it. We even went to other churches at one point to see what they were doing wrong. Interesting coincidence that the place where we as a church met was an old beauty salon that was located across the street from Kappa Kappa Gamma on the corner of Brooks and Academy. She also lived on South Street, right by the Quickie. All this happening so close to Knox, little did I know that I’d return to such a familiar place and make further memories that will last a lifetime.

Faith-based healing was also a major tenant of the group. It wasn’t until the leader died from a small bowel obstruction, something a routine hospital visit could have prevented, that everyone woke up from this nightmare. At one point her family had the police come to her house for a check up but she wouldn’t come out. We learned that she had almost died after having her last child because the doctor messed up during her cesarean surgery. Her fear of the past was actually what motivated her belief that God heals through faith alone.

I never really understood any of this growing up. I remember crying one time because I was convinced I was going to hell because I watched Harry Potter at school and I knew I wasn’t allowed to. This fear of God could be compared to the fear one might have of their father when they misbehave growing up. Understanding evil in the world was hard at that age because I still considered things that didn’t go my way as wrong, a sort of injustice that only 10-year-olds see.

As I grew older and made my own mistakes and experienced how I could contribute to the pain and suffering in this world today, I began to see why belief in a God meant so much to so many people. Making sense of this messed up world is difficult and retreating into the mind, one starts to talk to what some call a soul, others a conscious, some just yourself. Here I judge the world and our actions and ask, if there is a God, would They love anyone after the things we’ve done, thought, or said?

This is the burden of life, always having to live up to our own expectations. I’ll eventually die and some say that’s liberation. No more guilt if no more life. If only our actions only impacted ourselves and not our family, community and humanity as a whole. I already play judge, jury and executioner in my head. But with that death comes rebirth. At least that’s what happened with Jesus, the mythical phoenix, beliefs in reincarnation, supernova’s, etc. I want to believe that I embody that life after death too.

One of my first experiences of something I would label spiritual or godly, was when I danced to Juan Formell’s Jazz concert in Kresge this past February. For years I told myself I wasn’t a dancer and I believed it. That night though, the music felt right and I could see people moving in their seat but no one was dancing. When I decided to cut loose, I lost all sense of my identity. I was one with the music and everyone in the hall and felt a truly out-of-body experience without the use of drugs. It’s with this experience that I started actively doing things for myself, even if they seemed scary or abnormal.

I am going to try to describe what my understanding of God is. Writing into words something so complex and logic defying is difficult, as my own interpretation continues to grow and evolve along side my identity. God is an abstract concept. God is not an intelligent creator or person, it is formless yet everywhere. God is ever changing. A belief in God, can put at peace the sorrows of yesterday, give life to today, and bring hope for tomorrow. Defining God is an attempt at cataloging what existence has ever been, and always will be.

We are like the god’s of our own universe, shaping the world by our perception of it and changing others through our interactions. Questions of morality, love and life bring about our own personal commandments that which we live by. It’s impossible to know if these questions being asked are enough to make a difference; the only thing I can insure is that I continue to have them myself. One thing I know about myself is that as long as I’m living, I’ll never stop sharing.

Joey Peterson

Tags:  Christian Church column discourse god morality religion

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