I was raised Catholic. I went to a Catholic elementary school from kindergarten to eighth grade. When the option came to stay in private school or go to public school, I jumped on the chance to get away from that environment. Don’t get me wrong, I made great friends and had wonderful teachers, but there was something about it that just didn’t sit well with me. Also, the public school had better electives. You know, the important things.
As time moved on and I gained some clarity and distance from Catholicism, I could no longer find a connection between myself and the religion. I started to understand that not all things about religion were good. After a while I left religion, and God, behind. There was no love there. I felt there was only judgement, superiority, and division in religion. I judged myself enough and I wasn’t about to accept the judgement of some thing who stated I was a sinner from the moment of my birth. This, of course, was filled with the anger and resentment of a teenager. Never a pretty picture.
So I left God and all his glory to go and judge other people. I was done with him. Or so I thought. Truth be told I always had some idea of God following me around. Occasionally I’d even pray to him, but only out of desperation. I had to be in control of everything and only when I wasn’t, would I ask for help. I can honestly say this wasn’t a pleasant time in my life.
This all changed when I read Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramahansa Yogananda. He had a teacher that reminded him that the stories of God were often metaphors for ways of living and that, as humans, we misinterpret the messages as being those of law and truth. This helped me let go of the all-mighty judge-in-the-sky and open my heart to a new idea. I have since heard that “the God that atheists don’t believe in doesn’t exist anyway.”
Now I’m moving on from the preconceived idea of God to a more open and loving direction. Instead of an old, white haired, judge in the sky I like to think of God as as the best grandma in the world. She is all my own and is always with me. She is the one who takes care of everything.
“Grandma! Jimmy was mean to me.”
“Come here, my dear. Have a cookie and tell me all about it. I will help you with your problems.”
And She does. Because I know that She will I can let go of it and not be bothered by it anymore. (I know I have an active imagination, but hear me out) She is the giver of great gifts, as long as I let her. She has ages of knowledge available, if I choose to ask her. If I am lost She knows the way, but I have to let her be the guide. For Her to care for me in the way that She wants, I have to get out of the way and appreciate where the good is coming from. I have to stop being in control and become open to receiving the gifts She wants to give. She also has a wicked sense of humor and enjoys some good karma.
I really like this Grandma. The love in unconditional, the gifts are plentiful and sweet, and the guidance is always what is needed. Even though I may ignore all that She offers and try to control my life, She is always waiting there with open arms for me when I return. She doesn’t say She loves me, but there is never a doubt. She shows me, if I’m open to see it. All that is needed is faith and the ability to see what has already been given.
There is so much peace in seeing God this way. Faith and gratitude are so much easier to handle than rules, sin and judgement. Changing the image changed my heart. I didn’t like what I was told from a young age, so I created something new. I created a God that wasn’t separate from me, but always with me and I was part of Her because I was Her grandchild. No one loves you like a grandma. My son’s pure joy in seeing his grandmas is all the proof I need.
This doesn’t mean that life is perfect because Grandma has my back, but it does give me a place to let go of my worries and rest my head. When things are going great I have someone to thank and when times are hard I have someone who listens. I don’t have to take care of everything myself. As a person who struggles with many issues of being human, God the Grandma is who or what I need. I have a feeling we all could use the best Grandma ever. Wouldn’t you agree?
With the love of Grandma,
P.S. If you want another image of God, the book The Shack, by William Paul Young, creates a beautiful visual for Father, Son and Holy Spirit. No “Bible thumping” and it’s very healing if you struggle with the concept of God, though at times quite sad.