The first “God” I encountered was a hellfire Judge who sounded a lot like my Pentecostal preacher father. Though I have done years of counseling, meditation, and theological reflection to heal my traumatic childhood, “God” is still a difficult Name.
I say “Name” not being, person, or label. God with a capital G is a Name above All Names. I may someday divorce that Name from the primordial echoes it triggers in my soul, but my present relationship to the Name God is to that of a powerful Signifier that must be approached with great care.
I have been belittled in the Name. Humiliated in that Name. Beaten in that Name. It still carries deep echoes of terror and flame.
Maybe most people were spared my experience with the Name.
I have met far too many who share it and have needed years of healing and recovery from the experience.
When someone says “God,” I must inwardly translate it to “Life” or “Love”, depending on the specific shade of meaning intended. When I am in a church where a prayer is recited, I will replace that Name with these more healing and helpful names. Words have power and my small mental acts of changing one word for another is a way of taking power for my healing.
As an aspiring minister, I will one day in the near future have to serve as a chaplain in training and will be required to pray in God’s name. I do not fear that moment. I signed up for this. I am actually eager to live into the job.
But, it will not be easy for me.
Sometimes the hardest things we try to do take us the furthest distance towards where we always needed to go.
Here I am, Infinite Source of Life and Love, send me.