My therapist told me that many often end up developing an image of their Higher Power as holding the characteristics of one of their parents, usually the one they were closest to or who held the most dominance over their life. I didn’t believe this at first until I came to that very realization one day when I saw that the God I keep trying to pray to holds all the negative traits of my mother.
I love my mother, God rest her soul. She did her best to provide me food, water, and shelter, but she also was a serious alcoholic who carried a tremendous amount of mental and emotional pain her entire life. Because of this, she really struggled to show me unconditional love, which in turn led to most of my earlier life becoming a daily series of me trying to prove myself to her to gain her love and favor. More often than not I failed, always feeling as if I was coming up short, getting punished in the process, never feeling like she loved me, leaving me feeling so empty and alone.
And sadly, that is the very image I currently still have of my Higher Power.
My first sponsor in recovery said early on in my work with her that God is nothing but unconditional love and that anything else was not of God and just our ego’s beliefs of what it thinks God is. Man, those words ring so true to me today as I reflect upon this image I’ve created of God that is so negative.
I see now this is why I’ve spent the better part of the last seven years trying to prove to God that I’m not a toxic addict anymore, that I’m not a user of people, that I’m a good person, who’s worthy and deserving of His love and frankly, it’s exhausted me doing this. I regularly get angry with God in the process, seeing Him as exactly I did with my mother. And the longer my pain and health issues go on, the more I think it’s a punishment for not being good enough or for being some sort of a “sinner”. This is turn leads me to beg God in my morning prayers to talk to me, to help me feel His love, and when I don’t feel it, I’m reminded of how cold my mother was to me through her many times of silence and neglect. So, in response, I try even harder to gain God’s favor, thinking that’s what I need to do, attempting to push myself beyond my limits, because that’s all I did for the majority of my life with my mother, which only exhausts myself even more to the very point where I begin to despise God, just like I eventually did with my mother.
ENOUGH! STOP THE INSANITY!!!
I can’t imagine that God, or whatever is Greater out there in the Universe is even remotely like this. That we have to prove ourselves to gain His blessings and to determine whether we get to go to Heaven or Hell. All of this reminds me of what’s happening in my best friend’s life now. He’s gay and is presently convinced his engaging in a same sex relationship is a sin. Because of this, he strives to live a celibate life now because he doesn’t want to go against his belief of what the will of God is. In the process, he denies the very nature of whom I truly believe God created him to be. Yet, in the same breath I can relate to this, because my mom didn’t like my sexuality and told me it was a sin, which has led me at times feeling like all the struggles I’ve had in recent years are my punishment for being gay.
I don’t want this image of God in my life anymore. NOT ONE BIT!
I want to return to what my first sponsor told me, that God is nothing but love, that no matter what we do, how we are, who we sleep with, how many wrongs we make, that we aren’t punished or disciplined for not living up to our highest potential. Because living this way, always trying to prove myself to God, just like I did with my mother, only leads to a futile existence. And trying to interpret the Bible or any other sort of religious text to figure out if it has the exact set of instructions to gain God’s favor has been just as futile.
12 Step recovery says to make your Higher Power into any image you desire, so I’m choosing to simply look at God as the unconditional love of Christ, who loves me for being me, for being a gay, OCD-laden, oddly unique, spiritually intense, humorously sarcastic and flawed individual in so many ways.
The bottom line…I don’t want God to be in the image of my mother anymore, or anyone else from my life or present reality for that matter, as none of them carry the traits of unconditional love that I know Christ carried. And in the end, maybe everything we try to make God out to be that’s beyond unconditional love is what our ego’s feel the need to do, to gain more understanding of something we’ll probably not ever meant to gain that kind of understanding of…at least not in this present state of existence…
Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson