Hello God? It’s me, Mary Anne…

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
-Robert Frost

I am almost hesitant to write this month because spirituality is such a personal thing and I generally only share my beliefs with others who I deeply trust and are open minded, but I promised to be raw and authentic so here goes…

What if I told you I talked to God? You’d probably be like- So what? Lots of people talk God, it’s called “prayer,” duh. Okay, so what if I said I not only talk to God, but God talks back? Then you would probably start taking measurements for my straight jacket and make a reservation for a stay at the local looney bin, but it’s true. I have conversations with God, (or the “Great Inspirerer” as I prefer to address It…) and I will get to that in a minute, but first it may be helpful to know how I got to this point.

I grew up in an extremely conservative and religious part of Ohio. Almost all of my friends went to church and about 95% of them were Catholic. I, personally, was raised Methodist and did the whole sunday school and confirmation song and dance, but even at a tender young age I always questioned what I was told ( and for those who know me well this should come as no big surprise). As a result, this often got me into a lot of trouble.

I remember a specific example early on of a time when I made my confirmation teacher angry (or maybe just frustrated, I am not sure you could truly make Leah mad…) because I couldn’t understand why the only way you could know God was “through Jesus”. It didn’t make any sense, especially considering we had just covered the Trinity a week before. Weren’t they the same guy?! (Try successfully explaining THAT to a ten year old.) I just couldn’t wrap my mind around this idea of God being inaccessible without a mediator, so I chose, rather reluctantly I might add because it went against what  I was being taught at the time, to ignore these lessons and believe what felt right to me. And so began my journey of taking the “spiritual road less traveled.” A journey that, at times, has been very tumultuous but in the end deeply satisfying.

As I said, I grew up in a conservative town so for me- a person with an extremely liberal belief system, I stuck out like a sore thumb. High school was rough and if I wasn’t told I was going to hell at least a couple of times a school week, then it hadn’t been a very good week. Not that I ever intentionally antagonized my conservative peers, no sir, not me (mischievous grin).

Then, when I was about seventeen, I went through a typical teenage crisis of faith and gave God a big “Fuck you!” I denied spirituality of any sort for a couple of years, but always felt something was missing and in college started looking for something that really fit me. I went through an interesting (and sometimes rather entertaining) foray through the “isms”… Atheism, Agnosticism, Deism, Buddhism, Paganism, etc., and some of these things came close but never really “clicked”.

Finally, about two years ago I read several books that completely changed my entire outlook on religion. The first book, Writing Down Your Soul by Janet Conner, I came across by accident. I had picked it up because it was a book on journaling, something I am very passionate about. (Rather than spend a lot of money on a shrink I write obsessively instead, it’s a hell of a lot cheaper.) I didn’t realize it was also a spiritual book until I was a couple chapters in and at that point I almost considered putting it down. However, it wasn’t a- “I’m going to cram my beliefs down your throat” sort of book so I continued to read it. It nearly blew my mind when I finally realized where Conner was going with it- she was suggesting that you could write to God and God would actually respond right there on the page! Here was proof that someone, a seemingly sane person, was having a authentic, personal conversation with the Source without needing an interpreter. (Sorry Jesus, while I have an immense amount of respect for you- no one likes a middle man.) Naturally I was skeptical at first and when I tried it out for myself it felt weird and unnatural because I just couldn’t let go of preconceived ideas about how you should talk to the Almighty. So I gave up thinking it was stupid and sort of crazy. God, however, can be persistent.

Enter book two into my life- Conversations With God- by Neale Donald Walsch (this is actually a multi-book series) where yet again my beliefs about God were turned upside down. Here is another person
doing essentially the exact same thing that Conner proposed in her book (though I am pretty sure Conversations With God was published first) and with AMAZING results. In a nutshell, the conversation Walsch has with God in these books is absolutely breath-taking and well worth the time it takes to read all of them.

So feeling slightly less crazy, after all now there were at least two other people in the world doing it, I again attempted my own conversation, this time with much better results. Today, not only do I have heartfelt chats with God on almost a daily basis, but I would also go so far as to say we have become *GASP* friends!

You don’t have to believe me, you can even call me crazy if you want, that’s okay. What I do know is that some of the poetry and insights that come out of my pen during these conversations does NOT come from anywhere inside me (for one thing I am not that eloquent). I also know that these conversations have changed my life in that- I am no longer as fearful of making mistakes, or believing in the “wrong” religion, or even of death itself because the Deity I have come to know and love is never judgmental, is always supportive, and loves me unconditionally no matter how bad I screw up. In fact, I think it’s high time you met my good friend the Great Inspirerer, so without further adieu here is a snippet from one of our conversations…

(This is an excerpt from a journal entry from a couple months ago during which I was having a particularly rough week. I chose this conversation to share with you because I think it is one of the most beautiful and comforting things anyone has ever said to me.)

October 22, 2012
(Me) I feel so weary and burdened.
Give it to me.
I feel so angry and frustrated I want to scream.
Give it to me. 
I feel guilty and sad because I feel like a complete and utter failure and weak and helpless.
Give it to me child.
Take it, I don’t want it anymore.
I will take it Dearheart and know this… On the darkest of nights I am the beacon lighting your way. I am your shelter and your protection from the violent storm. I am the warmth and love that envelopes you and lets you know that it will be okay. I am your champion, I will fight for you, along side you, every step of the way. I am your steady dependable rock, your foundation that will never crack or crumble. I am fierce and brave and strength incarnate and more importantly, as I am all these things so too are YOU because we are One. Where you go, I shall follow and what I am, so too shall you be as we are not separate but part of the Whole. Find strength and comfort in that, Dearheart… Whenever you feel weak or scared or angry, call upon me, call upon my strength and courage and know that you too are strong and courageous.

I frequently look back on this entry when I am lonely or scared and every time I feel the warmth and love I did the first time I received this reassuring message.

So maybe in the end I haven’t completely convinced you that having conversations with God isn’t utterly insane,to be fair it took awhile to get used to the idea myself, but at this point I try not to worry too much about what everyone else thinks. After all the many long and sometimes painful years of searching, this beautiful relationship I have with my Creator makes me feel like I have finally come home.

And that’s exactly where I want to be.

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