Guest Post: Big God
By Brittany Long Olsen
“Aslan,” said Lucy, “you’re bigger.”
“That is because you are older, little one,” answered he.
“Not because you are?”
“I am not. But every year you grow, you will find me bigger.”
― C.S. Lewis, Prince Caspian
When I was 8 years old, around Lucy’s age, more family than I’d ever heard of came to see me get baptized and to give me presents. My frail great-grandmother gave me a package of pink underpants, and my parents proudly bestowed me with my own set of scriptures, my name embossed in gold ink on the cover. I was told that I’d just joined a church of more than 10 million members! My little mind could not imagine a number so big. God seemed so big that He could hear 10 million prayers all at once.
When I was 14 years old, a man put his hands on my head and told me I was part of God’s special family: Israel. I was told to do family history so that my dead relatives, who were part of Israel too, could do what God asked and be baptized. A man lowered me into the water in their names, and I was told to imagine that after hundreds of years of waiting, those people were finally allowed into spirit paradise! Wasn’t God so merciful and so big to come up with a plan that allowed people to join the church even after they died?
When I was 21 years old, I left the United States to serve a mission in a foreign country. I was told to seek members of the special family of Israel among the tens of millions of people in that country and gather them into the church. I taught people that they could be with their families forever as long as they joined the church and did what God told them. I felt divine love for those people fill up my whole heart. Surely every single one belonged to Israel because I could feel God’s love for them all! God had never seemed so big in my entire life.
When I was 26 years old, God started to seem smaller. The men in charge of the church said that God didn’t want gay families—not even their children—in the church. They said that God would never give women as much power or responsibility as men. They said that my younger brother wouldn’t get to be a forever family with us because he’d left the church. My heart broke. Then God whispered to me, “Little one, I am bigger than that.” So I waited to see how much bigger God was.
When I was 28 years old, I saw millions of Muslims and Hindus and atheists and Christians and others all over the world doing God’s work of helping the helpless, of loving their neighbors, better than my church was doing with its small God. I saw how vast God’s family is and how much Their love fills the world. I asked God, “There’s no special family of Israel, is there? Everyone is already part of Your family. We are already a family forever, aren’t we?” And I’m still waiting to see how much bigger God is.
You need a big god
Big enough to hold your love
You need a big god
Big enough to fill you up
― Florence Welsh
Brittany Long Olsen is a cartoonist, ex-pat, and dog mom.