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What is your Relationship to God?

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    What is your Relationship to God?

    This thread could be in Relationships, Religion and so many other places - but ultimately, philosophy and psychology come together in contemplating the meaning of God - for yourself, or in general.

    So I'd like to invite forum members to share philosophical, personal or cultural thoughts -- anything that comes. What is your personal relationship to God?

    I was raised Atheist. Due to psychic experiences and otherworldly awakenings.... I became 'spiritual' early on, and I have never had a problem saying there may be a collective unconscious or some force beyond what the five senses can perceive. But Agnostic was good enough for me. It was obvious to me that there's "more than meets the eye," but I wouldn't presume to know what it is - nor do I need to. It's fun and interesting to contemplate, but I'm much more interested in focusing on things I can control, like being productive or being a good person.

    Still, over time it just seemed logical to say that God exists. There's something "more" out there - whether it be a powerful being in the sky or collective unconscious, or a feeling that's present in all of us, it's there - and that's what "God" is. Others don't get to define it, or decide what God is..... but saying "we are all connected" is basically saying God exists. So, I'd say, I believe in God, but I don't presume to know what God is.

    But recently I started having symptoms that once again made my life flash before my eyes. Back in the day when I was very sick, I had 105 fevers and I was too delirious to think much further than "survive." But now I'm fully conscious, yet I would have issues with things like breathing, heart pain, and random neurological deficits that had scary implications.

    I experienced cognitive dissonance because I've always focused on the things I can control, so even if in my mind, I know there's more out there - I feel like I am the powerful force that controls my life. This says a lot about me as a person, since I've lost everything to an illness through no fault of my own; but I still felt that if I survived, I could pull myself back up. It's not that I've had an easy life that left me feeling in control, but rather that I have an innate sense that I'm the sole ruler of my destiny and it's mine to shape how I will - and I have always chosen to focus on that.

    But now, I started feeling out of control, and it was causing panic attacks and cognitive dissonance. A good friend suggested I speak directly to God, and I thought that was a good idea.

    So one day I was in the bath, home alone. I decided now is as good a time as any, and I felt vulnerable. Saying I believe in God, and actually speaking to him , are very different -- the latter requires a humility and surrender that I'm not innately comfortable with.

    So, I sucked it up, spoke to God and confessed my feelings about it all. I said I would believe no matter what, but I asked Him to show me a sign. Momentarily, a light went on.

    We have four lights over the sink, but only one was working. That moment a second one went on, which had been off for months.


    I had this vision of my younger self - yelling into a wide open, industrial looking room: "God! You don't exist! This is bullshit!" and so forth, and then all the lights going on throughout the room, two at a time (across the room from each other), almost like lighting up a stage. And I just kept yelling, You don't exist! Or something like that.

    I laughed, and then I asked God for two things (to love Daeva to the best of my capacity, and to be able to record my other two albums before I die, which are fully written, but I haven't been able to record due to health problems)... and most importantly, to please help me accept my mortality. Soon after that moment, the second light went off.


    I am not going to do this again any time soon. I want each conversation to be genuine, so unless it feels really necessary, like I have something to say or ask, I will not do it. But slowly perhaps this will integrate into my life.

    After that day, the panic attacks stopped for a while. Only started up again this past week, but I was able to control it very quickly.

    Some of the people who have helped me to find God in the way that makes sense for me have been Christian, some Jewish, some Buddhist etc - but I think I'll always be someone who carves out my own perspective based on lived experience. I have nothing against religion but I have a feeling that in my particular case, being raised religious would have just turned me off from it, or stalled my progress with it, rather than actually bringing me closer to God. I could be wrong, but that's what I feel.

    I have my own religion that I've been developing for years but it's more about a mindset, closer to eastern religions, than believing in a mythology. I'll always take a 'mindset' approach. Enneagram does this, too, but I have my own take on it when it comes to the spiritual side. My interest in Enneagram is that it explores how 'natural law' manifests in us individually and thus connects us to the cosmos. As above, so below.


      A few years ago, on the philosophical section of another board, an hardcore (but very smart) calvinist fundamentalist found it weird and interesting that a french bolshevik was siding with the religious conservatives more often than with the local SJW, sohe asked me the very same question.

      This is what i replied :

      My family is lutheran on my father's side and catholic on my mother's side.

      My parents thought i should have some kind of religious education, so i was baptized in the Catholic Church and I attended catechism when I was a child.

      I won't say i lost my faith in God, because I’m not sure I really had oroper faith when I was a child.
      If i remember correctly, in my young eyes, God was just a super-cool super-natural character, just like Santa Claus, the Easter bunny and the tooth fairy.
      However, I remember that, at some point, around age 8, I kinda attempted to become a believer. I would soon have to make my first communion, and i wanted to be honest and genuine about it. I thought i should NOT make it if i was not really a believer .

      So i tried.
      And i failed.

      More accurately, i found that if i had to become a pagan, it would have been pretty easy.
      I had read Homer, Hesiod, Snorri Sturlurson, and i had no problem with Zeus, Hephaestus, Thor and Odin. I thought that these Gods were actually powerful symbols.
      I was too young to use the word « metaphor » or « archetypes », but that's the idea. Thor is « just » the wrath of the sky. And the wrath of the sky is real enough. It's not hard nor absurd to tell stories about them, fear them, respect them or even worship that.

      The Christian God was another kind of beast.
      It's explicitly not a symbol nor an archetype. He is not a « god of ...», not even a « god of everything ». He is an absolute, infinite, transcendent being.
      Each and every sentence i tried to make about God sounded wrong. Even the most superlative words were not enough to « match » his essence. Even the word « existence » seemed inadequate. Many other attributes of God, like goodness and personhood seemed not only inadequate, but contradictory and illogical. There was something wrong about them and I took my a few more years to understand what. (They are anthropocentric notions : projections of our own phenomenology, made in a futile attempt to conceptualize a totally different, transcendent ontology).

      A few days before the planned time of my first communion, I spoke about all this with the priest of my parish. He was a really intelligent man and he immediately understood my problem. “You try to understand God with your head, but that’s pointless. He is a mystery. You should try to open your heart to Him instead”.

      In a way, that’s exactly what I did. But it didn’t lead to the intended result.
      My relationship with “God” became a silent one.
      I had no more use for the books, the theological tenets, the prayer and the songs, the Christian decorum and the complex intricacies of Christian theology. I knew that I would never become a true catholic. And I stopped trying.

      In the meantime, my head continued to work. It ultimately led me, a few years later, to acknowledge the necessary existence of an absolute immanent being. Being, not person. For this reason, I suppose I can be categorized as a pantheist.
      But to be fair, this is not really a religious position. It’s a philosophical and epistemological one.
      If I had to define my religiosity, I would consider myself an animist, because my experience of the Sacred (as opposed to the Divine) is a distinctly plural one.
      My “silent relationship” with the sacred can be triggered by many different things. I can “see” or “feel” it everywhere. In the stars, in a qawwali song, in a nietzschean aphorism, in a zen Koan, in the shadows and the lights of a Catholic Cathedral, in the smile of a child, or in the eyes of my cat. But each time, it’s a different spirit, a different soul.

      It doesn’t mean that I adhere to some kind of New Age syncretism. Nor that I’m some kind of postmodern relativism. I won’t pretend that “every religion has some piece of the Truth” or that “anything goes”. It’s quite the contrary, actually. I think that the religions of the world have generally next-to-nothing to do with the Sacred. And the new, modern ones are usually nothing more than Self-Worship and good old Hubris disguised in exotic clothes.

      But we can encounter the Sacred, most of the time by accident, at every corner. And cultural context is nearly irrelevant here.
      The “spirits” are rare and elusive, but they can hide themselves everywhere and in everything.


        I’m in resonance with what Tsenjin described, so it’ll be hard to not echo what he has said. I was raised Catholic, and even went to Catholic school from grade school to high school. As a child I was very religious, yet I managed to not be doctrinaire in certain respects especially in regards to Catholicism’s stance on homosexuality, sexuality (like pre-marital sex), etc. I guess during that time I felt the hand of God over me. He didn’t feel transcendent but immanent: fully alive in myself and in the world around me. Also during that time I saw and experienced what I guess I could say is supernatural phenomena. I would also dissociate and induce out of body experiences, something akin to astral projection. I was more sensitive to otherworldly phenomena back then and wish I still had that sensitivity.

        Over the years, my relationship to God has become a faint echo. For a period of time I as an atheist, not ahardline New Atheist, but still I placed the tenability (or rather untenability) of God within the realm of science. I guess you could say I was approaching and flirting with New Atheism with my scientism. But over time, outright atheism proved unsatisfactory for me. I knew in my head and heart there was something out there, maybe not God per se, but why limit myself to the materiality of this world, especially in light of the experiences I had as a child? Part of the reason for my atheism during that time was because God reigned silent over me, he no longer felt immanent, but rather a distant memory. The relationship became one of exile which occurred simultaneously to a more general feeling of exile. Exiled from the Divine, the Sacred, and the fulcrum of humanity.

        I’m no longer an atheist; I’m an agnostic with some animist leanings, regardless, I still feel exiled from the aforementioned above. What I experience is the Void: a black hole of nothingness and silence, where meaning is deconstructed and shattered. I think that’s the main reason over the years I was so obsessed with death besides having a mental illness. The Void and death overlap in their relationship to disintegration. But silence is never truly silent. It’s in the silence where our thoughts and emotions reverberate the loudest; a potential opportunity for meaning to arise through the confrontation and contemplation of these thoughts and emotions just as how death makes room for new life.


          Religion wasn't much of a factor in the culture I grew up in. Yes, I have been baptized and went through catechism and received both communions, but at no point in time did I ever believe. In fact, it came as a shock to me when I realized that others perceived it as real and that they did not see it as mere boring traditions that we go through. Most things appear to me as arbitrary conventions, and religion and its poetry and books and candles and robes and smelly churches seem not much different to me from the worship and traditional customs related to work: suit and tie and "sir" and clocks and more boring smelly buildings and people. That's the "Church" aspect.

          When it comes to God outside of the arbitrary brain-dead human-boto cookie-cutter organized religion BS.. that's for either philosophy or science to answer, and I don't have the patience to wait for it. I am part of the universe and that's that. It is me, and I am it. There is no "I" insofar that there is no "it" in the infinite. Yet, here I am. What the hell?
          Sleep on the Ceiling - Erosian Exile


            Ahh, religion.

            You weren't worth much in my town. I live in a quite industrial area. The people here are generally more oriented to what they can see and work with, not with what's epistemological or more philosophical in nature. People are generally quite blunt here and mostly involved in more hands-on types of jobs. (not a critique, I like the people in my town) What I do tend to find is remnants of Protestantism.

            I went to school to one of these remnants. To give you a good indication regarding why I'm calling it a remnant: it was a christian school and yet when asked all people in my class at that time did not believe in god and didn't quite care either, except for one boy, but he was ridiculed and his parents were fundamentalists.

            So, I was an atheist.
            Now, I guess I'm more of a pantheist in the sense that I believe that god and reality are one and the same. I see god as everything. In some sense, we are all connected, be it via jung's collective unconscious, be it via particles influencing particles. As you're reading this, I'm influencing your brain, perhaps just influencing your neuronal pathways in such a way that you won't eat that burrito you left in your fridge for two days and this event leads you to a sequence of events which triggers a chain of events that will perhaps lead to making an essential decision in the future, or meeting an important person. And this is mere mundane reality, but I consider it divine, because everything is god. I believe that properly being in tune with what's around you is one of the biggest and most important goals in life. I don't mean this per se as being mindful, but more like making sure your beliefs fit with what happens around you and that your actions should be fitting too. I think it's important to never forget we are a part and have the power to set in motion many, many chains of events. If I believe this, it makes it so much easier to look at other forms of religion and see what they have to offer and take bits and pieces from every religion.
            "Distress, whether psychic, physical, or intellectual, need not at all produce nihilism.
            Such distress always permits a variety of interpretations."



              For me this does go more in religion, but I realize it’s broader for others.

              How I “relate” to God is by way of Prayer and Observance.

              I wouldn’t describe myself has having a “relationship” to or with God. This chafes at me as overly Protestant moving into too social democratic or spirtitualist domain. I am subject to God and I can experience Gs power and presence by observing signs. I can also pray to God.

              I was baptized in the Roman Catholic Church and was in Catholic elementary school up until 4th grade, after which my non-practising, non-observant (for all intents and purposes irreligious and only “Catholic” on paper) parents switched me to public school, a time I still recall as a turning point as I had very much connected with the Catholic school I was in (environmentally, scholastically and religiously) and unfortunately public school turned out to be a version of middling city Lord of the Flies.

              I retained my Catholic base and kept a small silver Bible the students were all given and prayed when I needed to, in my own way. During the time from childhood into young adulthood I incorporated animism due to my direct experience of intervention and connection with the natural world.

              While in high school and at university I read up on all of the major world religions and philosophies - during my free time. I majored in history at university. I incorporate elements of Taoism into my world view. My two favourite classes at university were not in my major. They were a history of art class I took as an elective and a philosophy of religion class I took which was taught by a priest, one of the most intensely intelligent, educated, wise, accepting, open to any debate or idea no matter how heretical, and warm people I have known in my life.

              To be continued...

              “Without craftsmanship, inspiration is a mere reed shaken in the wind.” Johannes Brahms


                I was married in an Anglican Church because #1 I did not belong to any church even though I preyed and observed, knowing this made me not totally with God, since the community and ritual is part of it, but you know...I was still young and had other things on, and #2 It was close to my in-laws and as providence would have it, the priest (some “High Anglicans” still use priest and minister interchangeably) was someone who I felt right with marrying us.

                Over the course of many years I attended Protestant church sporadically while maintaining my own practise and rituals, a somewhat less than satisfactory way of showing my reverence for God, but that’s what it is.

                In the last few years I have been wanting to go through RCIA (Rite of Catholic Initiation of Adults) which is basically catechism usually for adult converts, but also sometimes for adults who were not confirmed and want to be part of the church. I had a neighbour reach out to me and started this fall only to find by the second meeting in and after some watershed reconciling about the theology, that Roman Catholic theology was not aligned with my own theology.

                The church that is aligned is Eastern Orthodox Christian, the “Catholic” church before the schism and popes.

                I am now going to a Russian Orthodox Church.

                There are a number of important differences that mean a lot between RC and Orthodox one of which is that the pope is infallible, which is serious wrong.

                Something that fits very well for me religiously and to do with God is the fasting that is practised by Orthodox.

                “Without craftsmanship, inspiration is a mere reed shaken in the wind.” Johannes Brahms


                  I don't do belief structures others devised. I can't buy into the traditional scopes of God. I couldn't possibly follow a religion - the mental reality religion attempts to create is incompatible with my nature, my mind and values.

                  But I do believe in what I see, experience, and understand. And I understand the universe to be connected -- as well as phenomenally self-creating. Terminations in this world are only half the reality - connections are the other half.

                  My "God" is the universe...and the universe is god. In a connected universe, I am god. And so are you. And so are we all, conscious of our power or not.


                    My relationship with myself is pretty good, thank you for asking. Can be turbulent here and there, but lately I do not have the time to entertain these little hurricanes of mine, so I put them on the side for some time later in the future when I can actually afford it.
                    Turning pain into power.


                      Brief Background

                      I was raised agnostic/new age spiritualism. I became a Christian at 19. My parents wouldn't allow me to have friends over for bible study or anything like that, because they are both pretty anti Christianity. My mother called my gay best friend and told him I was with the God Hates Faggots people. It was bad. I lost most of my childhood friends, or the relationships became tense acquaintances, with the exception of like...2 friendships that are still going strong.

                      Conversion Experience (2009)

                      My conversion experience and the resulting internal feelings are the ONLY thing keeping me tethered to religion at the moment. Before I "believed", I was hanging out a lot with my now husband, his friend (the one involved in the affair), and their pastor (one of our best friends now). Honestly the first pull was that it felt like I could actually REST, because they nurtured me and didn't try to sleep with me. Anyway - we live in the mountains, and have TONS of hiking areas off of the Blue Ridge Parkway (very long, multi state parkway). They used to go up into the mountains together and then split off to go pray alone. I went with them one day and went off on my own. The landscape has always feed my soul. The higher up you go, the shorter the trees are. They can become dense, so you feel like you're cocooned in the forested mountain. But if you climb a tree and stick your head out, suddenly you're not cocooned anymore and you see nothing but mountains as far as the eye can see. It's beautiful and awe inspiring.

                      When I stuck my head out of the trees that particular day, I feel hit with a huge KNOWING of the existence of God. I climbed back down and sat under the tree...tried to pray, which felt insanely stupid because I'd never prayed to the Christian God before. I stopped praying and just sat, watching a little bee that was touching down on all the little plants at the foot of the tree. Then the bee landed on me, stayed for a second, and flew away. I don't know WHY it felt profound, but it did, and so I told God that if He was real, that little bee would come back and land on me again in the same place. And it did. Immediately. It was a huge moment for me. It sounds stupid, but it was more than a bee landing on me twice internally. I don't think I have the words to fully explain what I felt in that moment.

                      Fast forward to the next time they invited me to church - that day like...did it for me. And it was REALLY scary for me. I literally just broke down during the service (this wasn't a big church - we were all poor, meeting in the basement sanctuary of a church on Sunday evenings. There were maybe 5 - 7 families total). I couldn't stop crying. I was listening to the sermon and didn't agree with a lot of it. But it didn't matter because it was such a sudden thing for me. I literally felt like God came in with a sledgehammer and broke me open. I couldn't stop sobbing.

                      The Affair (2015/2016)

                      My husband had an affair 6 years in to our marriage. During that time, I prayed constantly. Several times a day. For months. Every decision I made went against all "godly" advice I was receiving. I prayed and prayed, and that KNOWING that I had in the beginning was BIG again. I just KNEW what I needed to do. I have never felt closer to God than I did then. Christians talk about submitting to the will of God, but it's another thing entirely to simply pray over and over that GOD'S WILL WOULD BE DONE. I prayed and prayed that He wouldn't stop until I learned what I needed to learn. And He didn't. He dragged me through the fire and it changed A LOT about me. I've become a much more compassionate, accepting person as a result. It wasn't about my church community, it was about MY relationship with God and being refined through what felt like a trial of fire. Both my husband and I got forcefully humbled.

                      How I Feel Now (2020)

                      Honestly, I don't know. My conversion experience is the thing that keeps my faith hanging by a thread. I can't not believe He's who He says it is. It's not brainwashing, it's a deep knowing within my soul. But I don't know what that looks like anymore. I'm trying to figure it out. I find myself being drawn back to things I grew up with regarding new age spirituality, because I think those are actually really big core things for me. As I've been diving back into astrology, everything I'm reading regarding my chart points to a deep affinity for the things that are unknown and unseen. So part of me wonders if my white-knuckled hanging on to Christianity is nothing more than that. I don't think it is though. The idea of walking away from Him fills me with full on DREAD. No one is asking me to...I'm just trying to figure out where my heart stands. And who I am? Yeah.


                      • Animal
                        Animal commented
                        Editing a comment
                        That's beautiful, your experiences <3
                        I can't decide for you, but just to speak for myself, I strongly believe that religions - including anything from Buddhism, Christianity or Islam to Paganism, New Age spirituality or Enneagram --- is a PATH to God. Which is wonderful , but it's not necessary. With or without that PARTICULAR path, I can still find God.

                        I have always had a personal relationship with the universe and 'the force,' which began as a child (I didn't delve into that here) - and I did not even call it "God" until my late 30s because it wasn't the Christian or Jewish idea of a man in the sky who punishes you if you're bad. Over time I learned more about their God and although the stories can range from horrific and "WTF" to touching and eye-opening..... I know in my heart of hearts that my relationship with God is personal. Actually , this guy I used to obsess over, who I have talked about a lot in chat - I always felt that he came into my life for a reason, even though he's one of the few from my past who left a bad taste behind. Once we ran into each other and ate together. I asked him if he was Christian, something he never revealed to me in the 15 years we had been close. He looked right into my eyes and said "My relationship with God is between me and God." I knew right then that this was the case for me too, exactly - and he articulated it. This allowed me to be more open to use the word "God" to describe my connection to the universe, which does make a slight difference in how I conceptualize it internally.

                      • Animal
                        Animal commented
                        Editing a comment
                        So basically what I'm saying is, I believe it's possible for someone to have a strong relationship with God without sticking to a specific religion. If you were to choose this path, you would still honor the beauty of the conversion process.


                      It feels awesome to find somewhere where you can openly say you believe in God and not feel that smug "ugh, I am better than you because I am an atheist" vibe btw.

                      So anyway, I'm a Christian. I definitely believe in the existence of the Christian God, and I don't really doubt it on a day to day basis.

                      What I always doubt though, and go back and forth about in my mind is if I am worthy of this love. I just feel like I'm not, that I'm not good enough. Because if I was good enough, I wouldn't be struggling with certain things, or overthinking certain things.

                      My walk with God isn't a perfect one, but it's because of how I see myself in relation to God. I just don't know if I can live up to what I think He wants. I know it's my choice, but I think being Christian and being rebellious is just zombie-brain-dead level stupid. I don't know.

                      I also fear that God's will for my life, really isn't what I want.

                      But I will say, I love Christianity and I love God. I just struggle with what is expected of me, I think.