Guest Post: Where Do You Find God?

By DefyGravity

(DefyGravity just graduated from BYU in theatre education and history teaching. She’s a theatre addict, avid reader, anglophile and has been a raging feminist since she was in junior high, which fortunately hasn’t scared away her husband of 2 years. )

I was sitting on the floor in the religion section at Barnes and Noble with tears streaming down my face. This was a very odd experience for me; I don’t cry often, and almost never in public. And what was even stranger was what had brought me to this rather ridiculous place — the song playing over the sound system:

“All God’s creatures got a place in the choir

Some sing low, some sing higher,

Some sing out loud on telephone wire,

Some just clap their hands or paws or anything they got. “ (Celtic Thunder’s album Heritage)

Some may recognize these lyrics as inspiring the title of Laurel Thatcher Ulrich and Emma Lou Thayne’s book of essays All God’s Critters Got a Place in the Choir. (Fantastic book by the way.) I knew the book, but that is not why I was crying. As I listened to the lyrics, it came to me that I had a place, that my voice added something to God’s world. The feeling of validity in the eyes of God was overwhelming.

There is constant discussion among members of the Church over what the Spirit feels like, how to receive inspiration and how to tell if something is inspiration. Some argue that emotional experiences don’t count as divine guidance, others the opposite, that intellectual experiences aren’t valid, despite the fact that the basic teaching is that everyone must find the Spirit for themselves.

I’ve battled with these questions, as most people have. I tried to fit all my experiences into one category. This is God, this isn’t. When I feel this way, and only this way, it is the Spirit. But about a year ago, I realized I was cutting myself off from God by doing that. By insisting that only emotional experiences were the Spirit, I was missing inspiration that came intellectually. By focusing on what happened in “spiritual” places like church, I was missing God in everyday life. I was, in effect, binding how God could speak to me.  So instead of trying to identify trends of spirituality, I find it easier to pick out individual moments of inspiration.

I’ve had emotional experiences with God, like the one described above. I’ve had intellectual ones drawn from my area of study, like sitting in a theatre analyzing a piece of theatre for social change and suddenly thinking that this was the form I should dedicate my time and talent to. This thought has taken my life to all kinds of wonderful places. I’ve felt God in temple dedications, where I felt the full power of God’s love for me as a person in a way I haven’t before or since. I’ve felt God sitting on my couch reading feminist theory, theatre textbooks, C.S. Lewis and Harry Potter (yes, I’m serious.) I work in rehearsal and feel God in the process of creating a piece of theatre, a process both emotional and intellectual.

There are many times when I don’t feel God when others do. To quote a professor,  “I’m more likely to feel the Spirit in a theatre then in church.” While I have found God in church, I’ve found that is not the main place of inspiration for me. Nature is another thing that inspires many, but not me. But I try not to rule out spaces, just because they are rarely inspiring to me. Many of the places I’ve found God are very unconventional, like a play about Harvey Milk, the script of Dr. Faustus, or a young adult novel by Madeline L’Engle. But I’ve discovered that the more spaces I open up for God, the more places I find God. God knows me, and therefore speaks to me in ways that work well for me. I believe that God can speak through any means that will reach us.

So my question is, how does God speak to you?

 

 

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32 Responses

  1. james says:

    If I may, but I titled a post on this very subject on my blog some months ago.

    http://notveryusefultruths.blogspot.com/2011/04/where-i-find-god.html

  2. Darcey says:

    God speaks to me through music (rarely hymns or church-related), and through the amazing talents of others. I am always moved when I see the gifts some people are born with – that is God to me.

  3. Kmillecam says:

    The divine speaks to me through the interconnectedness of people and the Earth. It is sometimes music, or films, or friends, or family, but it is always about Truth and Passion. When someone is passionate about something, I feel awakened to something greater than myself. When someone is truthful about something, or truthful with themself, I feel awakened to something greater than myself. If I feel inspired, I look for the source. And that is where I find god.

  4. Caroline says:

    Thanks for this great post, DefyGravity!

    I’ve found God in the religious music of progressive Christianity. The careful attention to gender and racial inclusion, the depiction of a loving creator God, often referred to as both Mother and Father — totally move me. I bought a UCC hymnal a few years ago, and I treasure it.

    I also find God in surprising places like children’s picture books. Dave Pilkey’s ‘God Bless the Gargoyles’ makes me teary every time I read it. The book is about lonely and feared gargoyles whose lives are transformed by angels who come down and show them love and respect and teach them that those who are despised are never really alone. Totally beautiful.

  5. Diane says:

    I’ve been reading this book called,”A Dog’s Purpose,” It talks about the psychology behind having pets specifically about dogs. I learn more Gospel Principles by reading this book and by watching my dog interact with people than I have in the twenty years of going to church.

    Some Interesting points I’ve learned by reading this book: Obedience, pure love of Christ, Acceptance, Atonement. Yes, I’ve read of these things in the Bible, BOM, Pearl of Great Price, but, I’ve seen them played out in the actions of dog ownership.

    • Diane says:

      To further expand what I was thinking, When I teach Obedience to Beau, I choose to do it thru positive reinforcement, rather than to yell, or constantly hit.

      I feel the Pure Love of Christ every time I look at him. with people, I am judge, I have to defend myself, with Beau, he does not care what I am not, He cares that I am, the same as Christ.

      Atonement: Beau was abused and neglected, when I first brought Beau home he was afraid of everyone, now, Beau will run up to everyone for a kiss, If that’s not an example of Atonement and Forgiveness, I don’t know what is.

      • DefyGravity says:

        Sounds like my parents dog; we borrow her alot since we can’t have a dog where we live. Animals have such a capacity for love. It always amazes me. Lucy goes from person to person, just happy as a clam to be with her people. She has an abusive past, but she’s still such a sweetheart. I love the connection you made!

  6. Alisa says:

    I love this invitation for discussion. I’ve often felt like I find God in moments of intellectual insight (a-ha moments seem very spiritual to me). But I’ve also struggled a lot in finding God in the prescribed ways: for instance, I am near OCD, and I hardly find God when I’m doing the laundry list of religious activty such as daily 15-minute scripture study or mandatory prayer partly because it feeds my compulsive nature to finish things and remove them from my list.

    Instead, where I first had my real experience with God was my first time really meditating. It was something I’d never experienced before, and I’ve been almost afraid to experience it since, but I left transformed and healed from an argument I’d recently had with my parents that I was choosing to hang onto. So I would say that I found God by sitting very still and quietly.

    • Kmillecam says:

      I have a similar feeling with The Checklist. I don’t know if I qualify for OCD or not, but I have wondered about it for some time. Regardless, I think that it why it was SO liberating for me to let go of “daily” things I had to do. It wasn’t that I was that good at doing them all daily, it was that I feel compulsively guilty. And now I have let the guilt go.

      And that’s why I love your comment about sitting very still and quiet. Beautiful 🙂

  7. Corktree says:

    Great post! I just recently had a very unorthodox experience with feeling God was speaking to me through music as well. I have a certain artist whose lyrics really resonate with me on a profound level. Sometimes, when I’m struggling with something, I get in the car and select this artist’s albums and set my iPod to shuffle. It never ceases to amaze me the clarity of the message I get as a result that helps me to see the issue I’m dealing with in a more helpful or even (as was the case recently) enlightening view. I’ve had such amazing epiphanies from the message that is spelled out in a sequence of songs, that I find it hard to believe there isn’t something at play in these experiences outside of my control – even though I generally don’t believe in an interventionist form of deity.

  8. April says:

    Thank you for this beautiful post! I have no idea how to answer your question, but the post has me thinking.

  9. EM says:

    It surprised me that as I was walking through a Mosque I had felt the spirit very strong, and near brought me to tears. A Muslim friend invited me to attend an open house of this new Mosque, and I certainly had my doubts, but I went and was truly inspired. It was a beautiful building. As I see it, God is in all the beauty that surrounds us, including the beautiful and peaceful looking churches of other religions.

  10. Regina says:

    I was at my husband’s grandfather’s funeral at a Catholic Church. He was very beloved man in his family and in the community. As we all (his posterity) walked into the Church last, and everyone in the crowded church rose to their feet, I felt this tremendous feeling of love and peace. Tears streamed down my face uncontrollably. It was a beautiful moment.

  11. Jessawhy says:

    Recently God spoke to me during the sacrament. I’ve been trying to find balance by reciting the words to the sacrament prayer and using female pronouns and Goddess instead of God, etc.
    During the part that says we promise to “keep His commandments which He has given us.” the phrase changed in my mind, “and love Her children, which She has given us.” It was beautiful and spoke to my heart the truth of loving all of God’s children- which really is the first and great commandment.
    I felt like God, or rather Goddess, was speaking to me.

  12. Amber says:

    Finding God is difficult for me at the moment. I am struggling deeply with the notion of God and whether I really want to find Him as I see the atrocious works done in his name. That among other things have brought me to a “God fast,” in a sense.

    However, reading things like this make me re-evaluate my previous feelings of inadequacy and questioning of His presence in my life.

    • Lala says:

      Amber,

      I understand your feelings. I am in that place right now too. I’m mad at him over polygamy more than anything.

      I think I find God most easily when I need him, when it doesn’t matter if I’m mad at him anymore, when I just can’t do it alone. Then I let my guard down. It hasn’t happened very often lately.

      • Lala says:

        And yes, this post is also encouraging me to reach out once again.

        Thank you.

      • spunky says:

        Thanks for your thoughts, Lala. Just my $0.02, but I don’t believe that God necessarily inspired polygamy in any period of time… This and many, many other really, really wrong things have been done under misdirected ideas that people tried to say were assigned by God.

    • DefyGravity says:

      I understand how how you feel. There is so much baggage attached to the concept of God, especially when a person feels damaged by something “God said.” That’s part of why i wrote this, to suugest that God and inspiration can be defined in any way that works for us.
      Good luck with your process!

    • Michele Cerami says:

      Read; I’ve Got Your Back Jack/Messages From the Divine

  13. EmilyCC says:

    Oh, I love this post and everyone’s comments!

    I think I “hear” God most (and most directly) through other people, especially comfort or direction in times of crisis. I often find someone, a stranger or a friend, says something and I think, “Oh, that was God telling me something I needed to hear.”

    Then, I wonder–if that voice is the spark of divinity within us all speaking or the Spirit guiding someone?

    • DefyGravity says:

      I tend to believe in the divinity of people, at least on my better days. I’ve come to believe that there is little, if any, difference between people acting because of the Spirit, and acting because of their own divinity as children of Divinity. But that’s just how I’ve made sense of the Spirit, the light of Christ, conscience, etc. There is goodness and divinity in everyone if they choose to listen to it, in my mind.

  14. Moniker Challenged says:

    DG, may I call you DG? It’s me–your co-worker. I’m short on time, but I just want to say keep up the guest posting!

  15. Jessawhy says:

    Moniker and DG,
    Can I work with you ?

    🙂

  16. Laurie says:

    One of my favorite teachers, Adyashanti once commented on the idea of spiritual phenomena. He spoke of how beautiful these spiritual moments are and how they can be quite profound and moving. These moments may help us grow in understanding, or connectedness or enjoyment of our embodiment, but they don’t last, and they don’t necessarily lead us to a deeper enlightenment or overall lasting sense of peace or seeing reality with more clarity.

    This resonates with me, because the times I’ve experience god the most have not been the emotional or deeply intellectual moments in my life. I find god in the emptiness of it all – the places beyond emotion, thought, and language – the times when I am just completely at one with the present moment.

  17. Michele Cerami says:

    About God? Read my book. It is short. “I’ve Got Your Back Jack/Messages From The Divine

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