What Is God Doing In Your Life?
I've gotten to the point where this kind of remark doesn't irk me in the least anymore. It used to. I'd think, "So what happens when the housing assistance grant doesn't come through or the nice minister doesn't pay the phone bill and the food pantry is closed when you get there? Where's your blessing from God then?"
I have changed. Now, when I hear such expressions of gratitude to God, I just chime in with something simple like "God is good."
I have come to believe that God does care about this woman, personally. No matter what the day brings, there is a life force coursing through her veins that is the same as the life force that runs through all of creation, and it fills her with the desire to connect, to survive, to cling tenaciously to whatever beauty and grace can be found, and to give thanks for the small things that go right.
Is what I am calling a "life force" a euphemism for divine love? Can we call it God?
Why should it offend our intellectual sensibilities -- we who tend to be so radically uncomfortable with such a personal concept of God -- to affirm this woman's faith? What good does it do us, or her, to be snarkily dismissive of her belief system? Do we really think that this woman is going to use her belief in God to oppress others, or as a smokescreen for abuses of power? If not, why do we treat her with the kind of contempt we reserve for the religious hypocrites who do believe that their power comes from a God who personally rewards and anoints them? Because in my experience, we do just that.
Are we not covenanted within a religious movement that affirms the right of conscience and the centrality of freedom in discernment of the spiritual path? We are. But notice that we only make room in our worship, our fellowship and literally ALL our outreach materials for those whose God concepts are sufficiently abstract. Don't believe me? Do an audit. You will see that I am right.
Some Unitarian Universalists do have a very personal sense of the Deity. Some of us are developing one (and I count myself among them). If we feel we truly belong within Unitarian Universalism, you can bet it isn't by virtue of our theology, but by virtue of birth or an M.Div. from Harvard or by some other standard of acceptability (we're liberal enough, we're gay enough, we're beloved eccentrics among our congregations or we just plain keep our mouths shut about how God is present in our lives).
Maybe when UUs can question -- or eradicate -- their own assumption that those who believe in a God who works directly in their lives are weak-minded bliss ninnies, we will move more decisively out of the adolescent period we've been mired in for decades.
I'm a pretty educated gal by ordinary standards. And I can tell you that nothing I've studied in the area of literature, pedagogy, history, psychology, sociology or organizational development has required anything like the depth of concentration and intellectual rigor that my recent, private study of my own belief in God has required of me.
God ain't for dummies.