I’m in the middle of a disagreement with one of my best friends. It’s civil of course, but we have a different opinion on obligation and promises made to God; specifically the promise to love, honor, and obey for better or worse til death do you part. My Person says I’m a realist, I don’t know if I would ever call myself that but I think far too often we hold ourselves to rigid rules and call it the will of God. It reminds me of a conversation I had with my professor, who incidentally is also a nun.
We were discussing corrupt leaders and she mentioned how followers of a leader will feed him or her with praise, adoration, love, etc. to the point where that leader does not know what to do with it. She brought up the Bishop Eddie Long situation, she said that the congregation is not innocent as the power he had he was surrendered by them. Why? Because leaders fulfill needs and lack that we have within ourselves–incidentally. The same is true of our manifestation of God. In a world of increasing uncertainty, she explained, the world leans more towards fundamentalists with more rules and regulations because it provides a sense of security, “If you work hard, pay tithes, do good, then you are rewarded and get to go to heaven.” God becomes the thing(s) that we need. Strict if we need security, forgiving if we need permission to make mistakes…we create images of God. This isn’t the first time I’d heard this notion, but I found it particularly interesting coming from her given her position in the church. She agreed that we are all divinely made and God exists within us so to some extent we are right in believing God to be in our image, but it is not limited to us (singular) He is everyone of us and in Him we are connected.
So how that relates…perhaps it is my image of God that allows me to believe that it is okay to say my marriage is a mistake, if it was. More than anything I think of the words, “What God has joined together let no man put asunder, ” and wonder how many marriages were put together by God and how many were put together by us. I think that’s why I don’t scoff at divorce. Additionally, if we take one part of the Bible as law (the rules on divorce) then what about the others that affirm Jesus died for forgiveness of our sins? Or the governing laws of the Ten Commandments? Not to argue religious theology because I am grossly unqualified to do so, I just prose the idea that it is all very very subjective and we hear from it what we want and need to hear. What a beautiful and confusing thing.
I look at that last paragraph and see “turtles all the way down”, so many ways to dissect meaning and evoke understanding that I’m left with the same thought that I began with…God is (within me) and if I can just listen…to the part of me that is not afraid or speaking from fear, to the part of me that resides at my core and is pure, to the part of me that is divine and not my ego…then I always know His will for me. I never have to question it because I know. To that same end, only I know what is best what is right for me. My friend and I might continue to disagree, and that’s okay. I am never in the business of convincing and converting but I guess I do work very hard at getting people not to be so hard on themselves. And maybe in asking that of others I am looking for permission to say “its okay, I messed up” to myself. Actually, that’s very very likely.