Usually, it’s coffee, ice cream, or social media. But this Lent was different.
“I’m giving up my image of God,” I replied.
“What?” My wife’s face lit with surprise. “You’re giving up on God?
“No. I’m giving up my image of God.”
I explained that I wanted to move from an intellectual, God-in-a-box understanding of God to experiencing a real-life relationship with the Creator.
I wanted to discover “God with Skin.”
Richard Hauser, S.J., in his book, Moving in the Spirit, says the Western world has created a false image of God. We try to gain the favor of a white-bearded Guy who sits in heaven ready to jab us with thunderbolts if we mess up. We’re afraid of God.
But there are two models for our relationship with the Creator, according to Hauser.
One model suggests: We initiate—God rewards.
The other states: God initiates—we respond.
Hauser calls the first model the “Western model.”
The Western model suggests we’re in control. When we do good, God is supposed to reward us. We initiate the relationship by striving to be perfect. When we’re “good,” God responds by giving us what we desire—wealth, good health, a happy family.
The Western model reminds me of Pinocchio. We pretend we’re Geppetto and God’s Pinocchio. We try to pull God’s puppet strings by doing good, expecting the Creator will shower us with blessings. Because we’re always seeking to please God and gain the Creator’s favor, we think we’re in charge, but we’re not. Bad things still happen even when we do good.
Hauser helped me understand the Western model was wrong because it prevents me from listening with my heart. I was too busy trying to pull God’s strings. I wanted to earn God’s favor by being flawless.
But God’s not a puppet-god. And hard as I try, I won’t reach perfection.
With Hauser’s inspiration, I realized it was time to let go of the false beliefs I’d developed about the Creator. It was time to let go of my God-in-my box image and discover who God really is.
The second model is the scriptural one, according to Hauser. It’s consistent with how the Bible describes God.
God initiates and moves in our lives, drawing us toward wholeness, inner peace, and balance. Our job is to listen and determine where and how God is guiding us. We then respond by following the Spirit’s lead.
The scriptural model says we’re God’s Beloved. The Creator wants what’s best for us.
Because we’re unconditionally loved by our Creator, we’ve been given the gift of discernment.
Hauser describes discernment as: “My effort with God’s grace to respond to the movement of the Spirit within myself.”
The word comes from the French root discerner—to separate by sifting; to distinguish between; to perceive; to learn wisdom.
I now perceive my relationship with God as one of intimacy—“in-to-me-see.”
I trust God—knowing the Creator has my back and wants me to be happy—so I open my heart and let the Creator see-into-me. I then see-into-God’s heart.
Hauser says there’s a hidden presence within us that works to bring us into a deeper relationship with God—to bring about good in our lives. This presence is the Holy Spirit.
The language of God is silence. So, when we listen in the quiet of our hearts, we strengthen the spiritual muscle of discernment. We respond to the movement of the Holy Spirit.
Hauser helped me realize my image of God was wrong. I’ve stopped striving to be a perfect person. Instead, I set aside daily quiet time to stop and listen for Divine directions. I open my heart each morning to let God love me and teach me how to live.
My image of God continues to change like with any relationship. Sometimes the Creator is Mystery. Other times, God is as close as my skin. He’s the “in-to-me-see God” who desires to guide us with Divine Wisdom.
This Lent and anytime you recognize your image of God is too small, consider asking yourself:
“Who or what is God to me? What word, image, or phrase describes my relationship with the Creator?”
Make sure your image of God is big enough to embrace you with Infinite Unconditional Love.
Last Chance! Dive Deeper into Loving Kindness Meditation – Join Our Circle Risk-Free!
Thomas Jefferson once said, “If you want something you have never had, you must be willing to do something you have never done.”
With that in mind, who wouldn’t want to experience more inner peace, balance, and wholeness?
That’s what learning and practicing Loving Kindness is all about—gaining the inner peace we all desire. But if we want that, we have to stretch ourselves to grow.
I understand that committing to a Loving Kindness Circle can feel like a big step, so I wanted to offer you an invitation you can’t refuse to help you feel more comfortable and informed.
I think you’ll find the Loving-Kindness Circle will be life-giving for you in many ways. However, I want to reassure you that if you join our Loving Kindness Circle, but find it’s not the right fit after attending the first session, you can simply email me and ask to receive a full refund—no questions asked. This way, you can experience the Circle firsthand and see if it resonates with you.
If you are still unsure of whether you want to join the Circle, you can watch a replay of our recent workshop that delved deeper into the practice, giving you a better understanding of what to expect in our Circle. You can access the replay here.
The Circle will meet once a month for 3 months. It’s designed to give you a simple taste of the practice. If the group chooses to continue at the end of the 3 months, then we’ll add another 3 months to journey together.
This week is your last chance to join the Circle.
Joining the Circle could be just the baby step your soul needs to continue your inner growth and discover more inner peace, balance, and happiness in your life.
The deadline to register is Wednesday, February 14. Six people have already joined the Circle. We only have 4 spots left.
\To secure your spot, simply click here to register by this Wednesday, February 14th.
If you have any questions or concerns, feel free to reach out—I’m here to help.
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