Tuesday, July 23, 2013

My God vs "Mormon God"

   I'm a firm believer in the philosophy that everyone creates their own god to worship.  I mean, think about it.  Everyone has different experiences, cultures, biases, and problems that shape who they are.  Everyone views the world differently.  If we're all looking at different things, why would what we, as individuals, think of as "GOD" be the same?
   This is something I've thought of a lot lately.  I'm trying to hammer out what I believe (in and out of relation to Mormonism), and I kept bumping into a problem.  If God is as loving as we are taught, then why are we held to impossible expectations?  I find it hard to reconcile a loving, omniscient God with a judgmental taskmaster with a list of things we HAVE to do to be in his presence.  Temple work, service, callings, marriage, child rearing, gardening, journaling, keep the word of wisdom, 10 commandments, tithing/offerings, etc.  And I find it distressing that I am held to this standard.  Last Sunday, we had a great lesson on "With God, All Things Are Possible".  The teacher, a very dear friend of mine, handed out plastic knives to whomever answered the question "What do we have to accomplish?"  My aforementioned list was a general compilation of these answers.  She handed out 39 knives.  39 different things we feel the need to do.  I had the 40th knife, with a scripture Phillipians 4:13 "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheth me."  Everyone smiled and relaxed after that, but I was bothered.  I couldn't figure out why I was conufsed/irritated until a few minutes ago.
   Yes, I suppose I can do all things through Christ, but why would he want me to?  Why would he want me to feel stressed and overwhelmed in my pursuit of "good" things?  Why wouldn't a loving God be satisified with what I consider to be my "best" effort?  Why wouldn't the God who created the world realize there are 24 hours in a day, and I have limited time/attention span/energy?  I found myself saying this to my husband, followed by the statement "I don't know if I want to believe in a God that doesn't get me as an indivudual."
   That's the rub.  I am a person with a different background than you.  Why would God hold us all to the same standard?  Why is a loving God so black and white? "Well, Aletha, I see here that you had some...sexual experimentation before you were married.  You knew full well my law, and yet you did it anyway.  Black mark!"  Wouldn't a compassionate God be more along the lines of "Oh, Aletha...you're sure complicated, aren't you?  I see that you've had some disgressions in your past, and you knew better.  But I understand that you had undiagnosed mental disorders and had some repressed sexual trauma in your past.  Am I excusing you? Of course not.  But I know what was in your head and how you think.  And I can see that you've worked hard since then to become a different person.  Good for you. I'm pleased with your progress."
   I realize this story is all in my head, but can you see (or feel) the difference between the two conversations?  The first is with an absolute authority figure who is quick to judge, regardless of circumstance.  The second is with someone who knows me, my weaknesses, and loves me anyway.  That's the God I want to worship.
   So I thought of a list of traits I want my God to have.  I want a God who is understanding, and kind.  One who knows me and thinks I'm great, despite what I've done.  I want a God that will hold me accountable for what I do, but will take into account circumstances.  I don't want a God who gives me the "ideal", and then counts how many points away from it I am.  I want a God who knows I'm intellecutually bored with the watered-down lessons at church and is OK with me reading and gaining knowledge from other sources.  A God who understands that re-reading the Book of Mormon isn't spiritually uplifting for me, but a drudgery.  And one who will lead me to books about the BoM enhancing what's in there.  I want a God who says "WORSHIP ME IN THE WAY THAT WORKS FOR YOU."  Not one who demands 3 hours every Sunday, and countless hours in between.  Basically, I want a God that I can relate to.
   And for those who think "God is so far above humans, we can never relate to him." or "He gave His instructions, why are you trying to water it down??", I ask, WHY DOES ONE SIZE HAVE TO FIT ALL?  As a plus-sized girl, I know that when a Halloween costume has a tag that says "One size fits all", it really doesn't mean that.  Why should the gospel and how we, as individuals, find satisfaction in living it?
   Which brings me to my final point (if I've made any points at all in this ramble).  If I am unsatisfied with the Mormon culture of "you are never doing enough" and "strive for perfection", then why do I keep buying into it and berating myself?  I realize, as I type this, that at the end of the day, all I want is a God who will say "You were given a lot of raw deals, and you did the best you could.  I'm really proud of you and think you're great."  And if the God that is preached from the pulpits of Mormonism won't say this, then why should I tie myself into knots for Him?

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