I went to a religious school in grade school and one of the things I heard in services that stuck with me forever was: “Everything that happens to you is God’s will.”
Growing up with addiction and violence, at the time, some pretty awful things were happening to me.
So I drew two simultaneous and contradictory conclusions from this statement: 1) God was a terrorist (and a complete asshole – I mean, WTH did I ever do to him?!?!), and 2) there must be something terribly wrong with me, so God would never do good things for me.
It took me a loooonnnnggg time to get my head around the idea that my Higher Power actually cared.
I had to be backed into a corner of pain I could no longer bear, turn an incredibly frightening situation – leaving my marriage – over to him, and watch how my Higher Power took care of me in ways that totally blew me away.
My Higher Power did this in ways that made it obvious that my Higher Power specifically cared about ME, had specifically protected ME, had thought about what would be comforting and caring to ME, what would bring peace, joy and serenity to MY world.
Seriously, I was totally dumbstruck by the experience.
I honestly thought that if God was going to take care of me at all, he was only going to give me the bare minimum of what I needed. And then he was going to spitefully toss it at my feet, spitting out “Here! Are you happy now?”
In spite of all the resentments I still had toward my religious schooling, after this incredible experience of my HP, the line “oh ye of little faith” kept whispering in the back of my mind.
I mean, OK, so a Higher Power has more power than you. I get it. But man, I had no idea how much more power!
But actually, in looking back, I realized that one reason I couldn’t fathom a Higher Power THAT powerful was because I had been making my Higher Power in the image of all the people who had abused me. I expected my Higher Power to treat me just as they had. And, of course, I kept wondering why that wasn’t working.
Honestly, I think I could do an inventory of my experiences with abusive people and I’d come up with a list of all the things I believed about my Higher Power that I wasn’t consciously aware of. For real.
There’s one other what I call a “re-understanding God, not in the image of abusive loved ones” experience that has so profoundly contributed to my spiritual growth that I wanted to share it with you.
In one of my programs, I had a sponsor for awhile who was a catholic nun, and I had the good fortune to do a formal Third Step with her, on our knees in the sanctuary of her convent.
I was raised catholic, but I no longer practice. (Hmmm, do you think my HP might have been trying to give me some healing by sending me a catholic nun for a sponsor?)
I was fairly anxious about taking this Step with her in this setting. I felt like I didn’t have a good enough relationship with my Higher Power to be taking my Third Step with her there because I still got mad at God (you know, that asshole from my childhood?) fairly frequently.
Fortunately, I knew our sponsor relationship was never going to work if I wasn’t honest with her, so I told her how I was feeling at that moment.
I thought she was going to back out and say I wasn’t ready. Or worse, that I wasn’t worthy.
But she didn’t. Instead she said,
“It’s okay to get mad at God. If you can’t get mad at somebody, that’s not a relationship.”
Her response blew me away. Seriously, it stopped me in my tracks. And it wiped out the lightning bolts that were going to going to strike me down and the fires of hell in which I was going to burn.
And it gave me a much better understanding of what a healthy, loving, whole relationship is supposed to look like.
I don’t know about you, but getting mad at someone in my family was emotional suicide. So the idea of it being okay to get mad was pretty new.
But my sponsor was right. If I can’t speak up in a relationship for fear of retaliation, that’s not a relationship. There’s no connection there. Certainly not anything one could remotely call conscious contact!
And so an amazing thing happened.
When I was finally allowed to get mad at God, I was better able to recognize God’s care.
I thought it would turn my relationship with my Higher Power into a contentious one, but it didn’t. When my sponsor said it was okay to get mad at God, what she was also saying was that I could get mad at God, and my anger would be accepted and heard.
When I got mad at God and the lightning bolts didn’t come crashing down, I did feel heard. And I had no idea how good that would feel or how healing that would be.
And man, that so totally improved my willingness to turn my will and my life over to my Higher Power’s care!!!
I don’t know about you, but once I felt heard, I was (and am) much more willing to start asking more productive questions about whatever it is I might be experiencing.
“What am I supposed to learn here?”
“If I were to assume that this situation is for my highest good, what might be the gift in it?”
It’s probably not a surprise that the more I’ve allowed myself to get mad at my Higher Power, the less I need to do it.
An honest and wholehearted, ‘WTF, God?!?!’ and the more open I am to listening to and trusting that Good Orderly Direction my Higher Power provides when I’m willing to listen.
Not to mention, the more I could trust that God was not a terrorist and that I was worthy of divine blessings in my life. I mean, wow! Who knew?
It was a game changer for me, so what about you?
Is there something you’ve secretly been mad at your Higher Power about? What would happen if you trusted your Higher Power could receive your anger with love? And then what might be the gift in the challenging situation you’re facing?
I’d love to hear your own experience, strength and hope in the comments. I read every one.
Love & Blessings,
(Hey, and if you haven’t checked out the newly redesigned site, I hope you will. In the spirit of my upcoming online 11th Step workshop, ‘Be Who You Are, And Be That Well,’ I’ve made every effort to truly show up in this space as myself. I’d love to know what you think. You can send your thoughts to madeleine(at)fourthdimensioncoaching(dot)com. And thanks for taking the time to check it out!)