I am a God Girl. I heard this phrase one Sunday when I watched Alanis Morissette’s interview with Oprah. Alanis referred to herself as a God Girl. She’s loved God her whole life, no matter the shape of her spiritual path, just like me.
More and more I’ve been embarrassed – even ashamed – to talk about my relationship with God since leaving the church 20 years ago. Fundamentalism – in Christianity, Islam and Science especially – has ruined our cultural taste for God. We reject the dominant male God of the heavens. We don’t want to believe he would have so many rules and sit back to watch us suffer. We also reject the Goddess, because our culture is based in patriarchy. Then there’s the irrationality of believing in God. The more individualistic, rational, and materialistic our culture becomes, the more we distance ourselves from the possibility of God in any form. Labeling ideas and people as woo-woo has become our way of discounting the spiritual.
The truth is that God is my Beloved. After researching many of the ways humans have tried to understand the Universe and our place in it – which is the basis of both science and religion – I have come to the conclusion that All is God. There is a union, a Oneness that binds everything that lives in the Universe as we understand it. And I am head over heels in love with that Oneness. This love motivates me to interact with the world as deeply and vulnerably as I can bear.
There is an underlying force, a sort of all-consuming hunger that compels me toward continual transformation as I deepen into intimate relationship with the Divine as Everything. It’s been there my whole life, as early as five years old when I prayed the salvation prayer to invite Jesus into my heart. I was born with a very conscious drive to evolve as a human and connect with the Sacred.
Somehow I always felt an intimate relationship to the Origin of Life. Although my perception of what the Divine is evolved over time, I never doubted the existence of a God, or that I am held by God, for one single moment of my life. In this way I have always known belonging.
I grew up Baptist and Pentecostal Christian. I experienced my first ecstatic states in the church as a teenager, “slain in the Spirit” the holy-rollers call it. I can’t explain what happened when I spoke in a language I didn’t understand, my cells buzzed with some kind of energy that made me shake or fall to the ground, and I felt infused by a love larger than myself. But that incredible high awoke a deep hunger in me for unitive and ecstatic experience. Whatever it was, it felt like powerful magic.
More importantly, my experience of God as Father counterbalanced the deep pain I felt from lack of relationship with my human fathers. My birth father disappeared before I was born. My adoptive father neglected to step in when life with my mother was both impoverished and insane. My stepfather was an alcoholic. Though I had two of these men in my life as a teenager, I felt abandoned. They chose their fear and addiction over being my protector and I suffered at the mercy of my mother’s mental illness and addictions because of it. Experiencing God as Abba Father, a sort of Daddy, helped fill that hole in my heart.
In college I recognized that there was more to the Divine than Christianity’s particular point of view. I studied comparative religions, psychology, consciousness theories, and quantum physics. I actively explored Buddhism, Shamanism, Paganism, and New Age spirituality. I shifted to a relationship with the Mother Goddess, which again provided something I needed interpersonally. As a young adult I finally came to understand my mother as a Narcissist. I painfully pierced the illusion that she was capable of holding safe space for me, even though that is a mother’s primary responsibility to her children. I turned to the Goddess for what I needed in a Mother.
I also experienced ecstatic (and highly erotic) states in solitary ritual, through mind altering substances, and through my explorations into sex, body rites, power exchange, and masochism (both physical and emotional). I became a kitchen witch (using my intuition to provide healing herbal concoctions for loved ones), a touch healer, a Tarot card reader, and I had some crazy magical relationships with others walking the edges of what we know about reality. All of these opened my heart and mind for brief moments to the glorious beauty of the Oneness that holds us. I found myself falling deeper and deeper in love with the God of Life, the energy that I can feel inside and outside of me when I transcend the illusion of separation.
Then God became impersonal. And intellectual. As I fell deeper into the rabbit hole of quantum physics, holographic theory, and the study of consciousness, God seemed more like an impersonal evolutionary energy rather than a being that I could share relationship with. I didn’t stop believing in the Divine, but I didn’t feel close to it. God became “The Universe” – a benevolent force with which I shared little emotional connection.
Until I embraced Mysticism. When I looked at the relationships that spiritual poets had with God, from St. John of the Cross to Rumi to Mary Oliver, I recognized my profound love for the Beloved in their words. Mysticism became my primary topic of study and my spiritual practice. Now it infuses all of my life.
I’ve come to believe everything in existence is infused with the God of Life, including you and me; thus I seek to connect with this Divinity in everyone I encounter and love. I strive to experience an intimate relationship with all of life. I believe approaching life and relationship this way helps me be the most loving and compassionate person possible.
Ultimately, it doesn’t really matter to me if God exists in the ways we currently understand existence (we still have so much to learn). My faith in Something connecting Me to Everything made me whole despite a difficult life filled with pain and trauma. This knowing kept me from ever feeling entirely alone. My faith was even the antidote to thoughts of suicide, something common in sufferers of BPD. I have never wanted to die. I just wanted to stop hurting.
Believing in God gives me healing, meaning, purpose, and belonging.
I shouldn’t be ashamed of this, I should be celebrating it.
Which is ultimately what Radical Mystic is all about. My relationship to God as it evolved, and the psycho-spiritual work it inspired over the course of my life, lifted me out of poverty, trauma, and mental illness. Instead of following the path of my parents and my ancestors through abuse, addiction, neglect and crazy, I chose a different path. I am a God Girl.