Don’t Put God in a Boxadmin
I remember sitting in my Catholic Sunday school and my Sunday school teacher pointed out that Jewel’s latest released song, “What if God was One of Us?” was anti-God. She said God could NEVER be one of us because He is God. He is higher than us.
Unknowingly, I listened to her and decided to cast that song out of my Top 10 music list.
Although I was raised Catholic, I never claimed Jesus as my savior. I went through the religious motions my parents determined were good for me. I took communion, went to Sunday school, went to mass. I sat through mass and school living in my daydreams, mostly daydreaming of how to escape such torture.
A mental rulebook constantly played in my mind about how to live life. It was called the “Don’ts.” Don’t do this, don’t do that. Don’t have sex before marriage, don’t curse, don’t yell, don’t hit your sister, don’t steal, don’t get drunk, don’t be stupid. Don’t listen to that god-forbidden song written by Jewel.
I was already living in a hypercritical household and for someone to make a simple comment about this song wasn’t new to me. These kinds of comments subconsciously lived in the back of my mind and without thinking too much, I eventually became the overly hypercritical person I never wanted to be.
My parents divorced when I was in high school. That was a pivotal moment where I made a firm decision God was not real and God did not exist. If there was a God, why did my parents divorce? Why was there so much pain in the world? Why were there wars because of religion? Why was God such a hypocrite? Why should we praise Him? If He loved man but caused such suffering? If God caused all this, then I wanted nothing to do with Him or Catholicism. In 2002 I walked away.
There was a relief and some may refer to it as freedom. But it was temporary. Phases of loneliness slipped in and out of my life and the feelings of being misunderstood crept in often. I accustomed myself to useless nights of debauchery and making “friends” with those who I thought cared. I gave my body and soul away to men because that would take some pain away.
I wanted to live by my rules for once. Rules that made sense and rules that did not make me feel trapped.
However, God wouldn’t let me go.
He pursued me through friends I met along my journey of rebellion. These friends loved me and prayed for me (without my knowing).
Eventually, my heart opened again to the idea of God.
In the spring of 2013, I had a radical experience encountering God. I became literally high on ecstasy to becoming high on the Holy Spirit for 2 weeks straight. The tangible presence of Jesus was real in my heart and for the first time in my life, I knew what love was.
In November of 2013, I dedicated my life to Christ.
Becoming a believer did not make life any easier. When Christ lives in you, it is a never-ending journey on this earth to learn to love. It’s easy to love Christ. It’s harder to love yourself.
I wanted to tell the WHOLE world of my newfound faith. There is more to Jesus than what I was taught in school and growing up. Jesus is LOVE. HE is complete, utter freedom. Jesus was free of sin, guilt, shame, remorse. He was freedom. Freedom from all generational, and religious strongholds. Many read of Him in Bibles and books, but they did not know Him in their hearts.
God was after my heart. There is a different lens I put on when I changed my heart, rather than my mind. Of all places and circumstances where I could have encountered Him, I encountered Him while I was on drugs in the center of my own home.
I began to grasp the idea that God wasn’t found in a church. He was EVERYWHERE. It was a matter of my awareness of Him. It was me all along who closed Him out. I had put Him in a box.
If an all-knowing, all-powerful, omniscient God can love me this much, then why couldn’t I love myself?
The process of healing is always on-going. By truly, genuinely, loving Jesus, it was inevitable I had to learn self-love. I had to lose myself to love myself. My identity was not found in who my friends were, what my job was, or who I dated. It wasn’t found in the DON’TS. It wasn’t found in my accomplishments or even my personal opinions. My identity was found in Christ.
Through years of prayer, reading the Bible, fellowshipping with other believers…it seems like it’s taken me 7 years to figure this out. The world doesn’t matter. Jesus mattered. He loved all the brokenness inside of me. He loved me to the core of who He created me to be.
I sometimes sing that song by Jewels because I’m reminded that God WAS one of us. He is great. He is good. He walked the earth to show He was a relatable God. It sounds cliché, but He wanted a deep relationship with me, and He knew a deep relationship may have been less attainable if He remained in the throne seat of Heavens.
God is limitless. I no longer underestimate Him. I Don’t put God in a box.
Written by: Patty T.