God Loves Me Sometimes
photo by Sarah E. Parent
I have a sweet little friend in my life that lives nearby. She is just 7 years old and likes my dog and me and we take walks together. She is always happy and excited and she talks constantly. On a recent mile walk together she told me she had two birthdays. TWO birthdays!? I said. Yeah, I am 7 years old and 2 God-years old, she said. What is a God-year? I asked. I accepted God into my life 2 years ago so that is when I was born to God, she said. You mean you were not a real person to God until then? I asked. No! I was dead to God until I told him I loved him and accepted him in my life, she said.
I was pretty much speechless at that point and have been pondering the long term ramifications of such important, albeit conditional, love. I’ve not heard of this God-year business before, and have no knowledge of whether this is a new tradition or old, idiosyncratic to just one Christian sect or many. As long as my little friend believes that she was not worthy of personhood before she proclaimed her love and acceptance of God however, I wonder if, as time goes by, she will ever be able to experience the joy and freedom of listening to her own inner guidance system, following her heartfelt intuition, experimenting with the thoughts, ideas and actions that take her to that deep place within that says ‘I know who I am.’ Will she
spend her life being rewarded, prodded, conditioned or punished to conform to the guidelines of others, including God, who believe they know more than she does about how to think, spend her time, act morally, love and be a good person in this world?
In my world these discoveries come naturally and exuberantly with freedom.
Freedom to think, explore, experiment, make decisions, act and love according to the ever changing desires, needs, new ideas that are constantly surfacing. This little girl right now is blissfully happy, from what I can see, and it’s due to a system of rewards and punishments that works. She understands it and has mastered it. Right now it feels good, real good. I wonder how long it will last?
they’re told the salvation of their soul depends not only on this decision but each subsequent. I had a parent proudly say to me not long ago, “The kids can argue with us (the parents) but they can’t argue with God!” Their parenting style is to threaten their children with the wrath of God in order to maintain ‘good’ behavior and smooth household flow. Believe it or not, I’m not opposed to faith. What I am opposed to is using it as a means of control. Is there religion without control? There’s something to think about.
I am thoroughly grateful for the lack of religion in my household growing up and the ongoing, interesting, and thoughtful dialogues about faith and religious variety. There were many factors that contributed to my decision making process but fear for my soul was not one of them. Teen pregnancy, use of methamphetamine and other drugs, and various illegal activities were common amongst my childhood friends raised in strictly religious upbringings. I don’t think it’s coincidence that the preacher and the police officer tend to have the most socially deviant children. When we’re raised to abide by an external moral compass, we never get the chance to explore the one that comes built in. I happen to firmly believe that it functions well in an environment of love, support, and freedom.
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