More than two and a half decades ago, at the recommendation of a therapist, I began attending 12 Step meetings to deal with a partner’s addictions. In the program, the 2nd step is about “coming to believe that a power greater than ourselves can restore us to sanity”. So, working the second step is, in part, about getting some sense of what/who you believe in and can trust. My sponsor suggested I write about what my ideal Higher Power would be like.
We had coffee before my regular Friday meeting, I opened my journal and shared my list of adjectives. She then asked me to close my eyes and allow an image to come to mind. What sprang into my awareness was a picture of the moon. This was perfect , I thought. There were so many metaphors that worked with this. The moon was always there, whether I could see it or not. It reflected light. It was feminine...Yes. With the moon, I had a sense of a Higher Power that could work for me.
You see, my God of Old was of the bearded variety. Strict. Unyielding. Punishing. Masculine. The Ultimate Judge. Not exactly warm and fuzzy.
He was the God that sent you to hell if you didn’t go to church on Sunday or say the right number of Hail Marys on the rosary. Heaven forbid you ate a hamburger on Friday in Lent. Damn. I was doomed.
Then there was the issue of, um, truth bending. There was that New Year’s Eve when I was supposed to have been babysitting. And drinking a pitcher of Whiskey Sours with a boyfriend before Prom. And the charge account number at the pharmacy that I memorized so that I could replenish my mascara stash without having to ask. And, and, and. These were the minor issues.
And. What was far more serious were the internalized bits about how selfish I was. How I was inconsiderate and just plain bad and deserving of punishment. Frankly, from what I understood, I just wasn’t very loveable. My lack of friends proved that. Lots of stuff proved that.
And then, there were those inherent beliefs that I carried from my mother and hers and generations and generations before. That we were not worthy. Flawed. Inferior. Inconsequential. Dependent and required to be sexually submissive.
It was seriously challenging to have a nourishing, supported-feeling relationship with a God that held so many strikes against me. Trust? Really? When you already feel that you are a piece of shit, your first move is to generally cover your ass.
So, the idea of a feminine, light-reflecting, ever-present entity was quite a relief. This was the beginning of the nurturing, nourishing relationship I really needed to have with God.
Fast forward a couple of decades and the face of my God has continued to soften. She has evolved into One who embraces us with open arms, rather than judgment. Complete - not conditional - forgiveness. The Great Mother says*, “There is nothing you can do to make me love you. There is nothing you can do to make me not love you.” How better could one imagine Grace?
It is with this feminine face of God that I have finally begun to feel safe. And held. And to have the permission to begin to re-discover my truest essence. Perhaps this softening has been brushing you, too, with its feather touch?
And it is with this, that the masculine face of my God has also softened, become more gentle and forgiving. More of the grand, kind King. Less of the Ogre.
And it is with this, that I have begun to see the face of God in all things. In all experiences. In all creatures. It is this reflection of Spirit that, too, makes me feel held. Lightly, from the sight of a hummingbird dance; to the sturdy embrace of a crashing, roaring Yosemite waterfall.
And in feeling held, I feel more empowered to know what I know. To reclaim what I had forgotten centuries ago. To stand fiercely. Proudly. Courageously. To forgive and to create a new vision. To have compassion. And Grace.
*Ariel Spilsbury, The 13 Moon Oracle