My encounter with God

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Orson
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My encounter with God

Post by Orson » 12 Dec 2014, 14:05

I don't have much time so I hope this comes out making a little sense. I was just listening to a Mormon Matters podcast (tangent: Dan Wotherspoon is one of my models that I look to on the path of spiritual maturity, he and Terryl Givens are two big ones.) Episode 261 "Faith and Repentance" and I had some thoughts that I wanted to get out.

I don't remember the name of who was sharing his story about being a life long skeptic, but I relate to some of the things he expressed. Growing up I didn't feel like I had the spiritual experiences that people around me claimed. Even in church meetings and on my mission people would say "wasn't the spirit strong in there?" and I thought to myself "I know there was a lot of emotion, but I'm not sure what the spirit feels like." I didn't realize it at the time but now I say my expectations had been shaped to somebody else's ideas - and as it turned out they were incompatible with my own method of spirituality.

It took a faith crisis for me to know God. I didn't know how to be completely open, I had prescribed ideas that God had to fill before I could acknowledge anything spiritual at all. My spirituality was hobbled by expectations. After my entire belief system was completely reduced to ashes I realized one day that I had nothing to lose in opening my heart to the possibility of something meaningful in the universe. I didn't even feel comfortable with the term "God" at that point, I was to the point of doubting sincerity and goodness among humans, was life itself a scam or a cruel mistake? That is when I felt the goodness, I knew that I could be genuine and I obtained faith in the potential of my fellowmen as well.

It is difficult to express all the steps of progression from there but today any arguments around whether God exists or not completely miss the point. The claim "there is no God" is based on an assumption of what God is -- or it would be an absolutely meaningless statement. Why don't we back up and first address that assumption? What is God? That is the magical question in my mind. Today I understand the ideas that God is "Nothing" and "Everything" all at the same time. We can say Nothing because as humans there is no way for us to wrap our minds around the idea, another way of saying it is "nothing that we can define" or "hold in our hand" as an allegory. God even defys in LDS theology a complete comprehension - even after we have gone so far in defining a physical being with the appearance of a man. In my mind God IS. God is what exists, what has or will be imagined... the purposes of these things at least. I imagine a wise sage answering a pupil's question of "Which path should I take?" with "Any of them."

Pupil: Any of them will take me where I want to go?

Sage: Any of them will take you where you need to be.

The point is earth life gives us experience and allows us to learn. It is ALL the opportunities to learn that is the gift of life. Yes, some paths will be more meaningful to individuals, but it is their opportunity to choose those paths even if they start out on the "wrong" one. Agency is vital and cannot be overstated.

I have heard Atheists express definitions of Atheism that I could fit into, but I in no way consider myself Atheist. The title feels shallow to me. I realize we all use different words to express very similar things, and that is the point of life I suppose. I take my sense of wonder, my appreciation for life and for the power of love, as evidence that I am "a child of God" and I want to grow some goodness in this world.

I like to say God revealed "Himself" to me once I was open to the unique way that it could happen.
My avatar - both physical and spiritual.

I first found faith, and thought I had all truth. I then discovered doubt, and claimed a more accurate truth. Now I’ve greeted paradox and a deeper truth than I have ever known.

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mom3
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Re: My encounter with God

Post by mom3 » 12 Dec 2014, 14:29

Ironic that you would post this today, God has always been in my life, I can't explain it, especially after faith crisis/transition, but he and I still talk. Sometimes he is the only soul I can honestly talk to. However today, I was walking around on my back patio. (Yes I am off the couch, but on limited mobility. :clap: ) And today I said aloud to him - "I have no idea who you are or how you work."

We've been together for as long as I can remember and I want to know the real him. Your post gives me hope that I will find him someday.
"I stayed because it was God and Jesus Christ that I wanted to follow and be like, not individual human beings." Chieko Okazaki Dialogue interview

"I am coming to envision a new persona for the Church as humble followers of Jesus Christ....Joseph and his early followers came forth with lots of triumphalist rhetoric, but I think we need a new voice, one of humility, friendship and service. We should teach people to believe in God because it will soften their hearts and make them more willing to serve." - Richard Bushman

Curt Sunshine
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Re: My encounter with God

Post by Curt Sunshine » 12 Dec 2014, 14:59

Beautiful, Orson - truly, wonderously, gloriously beautiful.

Thank you!
What if you never find it?
What if you never stop searching?
What if the map is infinite?
What if that's the point?
Imagine if.
I see through my glass, darkly - as I play my saxophone in harmony with the other instruments in God's orchestra. (h/t Elder Joseph Wirthlin)

Even if people view many things differently, the core Gospel principles (LOVE; belief in the unseen but hoped; self-reflective change; symbolic cleansing; striving to recognize the will of the divine; never giving up) are universal.

"For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong." H. L. Mencken

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Bruce in Montana
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Re: My encounter with God

Post by Bruce in Montana » 12 Dec 2014, 17:55

Thank you Orson. Very insightful. I needed that today.
There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.
-William S.

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West
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Re: My encounter with God

Post by West » 17 Dec 2014, 22:26

imagine a wise sage answering a pupil's question of "Which path should I take?" with "Any of them."

Pupil: Any of them will take me where I want to go?

Sage: Any of them will take you where you need to be.
I love this. Thank you.

I don't doubt that there is a God; I am also not sure what God is, though. I do know, however, what I believe God to be. That for me, that's really enough.
Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid. -Albert Einstein

And God said 'Love Your Enemy,' and I obeyed him and loved myself. -Kahlil Gibran

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Heber13
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Location: In the Middle

Re: My encounter with God

Post by Heber13 » 18 Dec 2014, 15:14

Orson wrote:Why don't we back up and first address that assumption? What is God? That is the magical question in my mind.
The whole post is really touching, Orson. Love it. I also find value in backing up and questioning assumptions...and it has helped me find deeper meaning.

I don't think I have every doubted God is there, but I have questioned what s/he is. I don't think I have ever let go of believing the church is true, just questioned what true is. I have not let go of faith Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon are true...just questioned what prophets and scripture are.
"If you would be a real seeker after truth, it is necessary that at least once in your life you doubt, as far as possible, all things" - Rene Descartes
I think you progress when you let go of fears and allow yourself to be open to what is, instead of trying to force things to what makes sense. Doubt all things...and let the truth come to you.

And I love reading others' stories. Yours is a sincere one, and very uplifting. Thanks for sharing.
Luke: "Why didn't you tell me? You told me Vader betrayed and murdered my father."
Obi-Wan: "Your father... was seduced by the dark side of the Force. He ceased to be Anakin Skywalker and became Darth Vader. When that happened, the good man who was your father was destroyed. So what I told you was true... from a certain point of view."
Luke: "A certain point of view?"
Obi-Wan: "Luke, you're going to find that many of the truths we cling to...depend greatly on our point of view."

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