Throughout my “bible-thumping, smitten with God” years, I scribbled countless thoughts and prayers in four devotional journals. Recently I came across these journals, wiping away the years of dust accumulated. As I have been detaching from the Pentecostal god, it was a painful, downright mortifying experience to read through my past communication with god. This god seemed so foreign now given my liberated, enlightened, evolved self. I remember writing to and about Him, but I couldn’t help thinking how dysfunctional and convoluted the language I used really was.
I love you Father. Take me…surrender me to your will…your ways. Let me not lean on my own understanding and foolishness.
Mary Daly in Beyond God the Father advocates, “Time to go beyond God the Father. Don’t you see? If God is male, then the male is God. Reclaim the right to name your self, your world, your God. The liberation of language is rooted in the liberation of ourselves. Be a wild woman…God is not A Being. God is Be-ing.”
Many social scientists contend that language is the foundation of our socially constructed realities. We use language as a creative tool and guide to frame our perceptions of the world around us. We also use language to create our own unique creative expressions. That even though we share and appropriate from the accessible pool of creative expressions, each individual designs and discovers their own true form.
God, I love you. I need you. I long for you. Do you love me? Do you long for me? Reveal your unconditional love for me my Lord. I don’t feel you. Is it because of my sins? Cleanse me. Clothe me in white.
In theology, language is used to describe concepts of God, spirituality, and religious ideas. Each religion and spiritual practice has its very own form of expression. In the Pentecostal sect, my former faith, God was described as the Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End, the Prince of Peace, and the Lord of Lords. He had many names and referential meanings. My relationship with God was complex. It was mandated and described to us, the faithful congregants, that God was to be our ALL. He was to exist within us and work through us. He represented our lover, parent, friend, and above all, our supreme ruler. As believers, we were to look to Him for all answers and guidance in the world with our sights set on our future home, in the heavens.
The world is passing away…but the one who does the will of God lives forever: John 2:17
As God meant everything to me, I utilized a language that incorporated Him into everything. Every social institution, including religious spaces, have a shared language to convey a message to, recruit, and validate its participants. In the Pentecostal church, we accepted Jesus Christ as our Savior, allowed the Holy Spirit to guide us, and worshiped our Holy Father. Although all were One, God was seemingly the head of the trio. Most faithful congregants had devotionals or prayer journals. I was proudly one of those devoted congregants.
I acknowledge my mistakes, and confess them to you Jesus…continue to show and tell me how deep your love for me truly is.
These devotional readings were my normal at the time; although it is disconcerting looking back now. I realize now how removed and transformed I feel from that self. At one point I became embarrassed of that self. Now I face her with open arms, helping her unwind the tangles of a religious past to discover an agentic self.
Recently, I decided to deconstruct and analyze the process through which I faced the shame of the self who used to be in love with the Pentecostal god. Through examining, understanding and confronting my shame, I discovered freedom from an oppressive, submissive, and co-dependent language.
Father, are you there? I feel lonely, not worthy. Show me how to rest in you my King.
Through my recovery, for a long while, there was no god. I didn’t want anything to do with a monotheistic deity of any sort. Once I understood that god can mean many different things at different times, that god can be essentialized, that god can be whatever we wanted; I came to the subjective revelation that we all have our own unique creative expression of and for god. For some, god is nature, family, and friends. For others, god is self, philanthropy, and love. At its essence, god is whatever we breathe meaning into. It’s where our linguistic expression resides at the time.
I need you. Desperately. I don’t want to doubt you, but I do Lord. I’ve been crying out to you, but no answer. Give me a sign that you’re real, please.
Throughout my journey, I realized addictions and obsessions had many parallels to the god I used to worship. I saw god in people’s addiction to drugs, work, and sex. I found god in cultural taboos, feminist activism, in the classroom. I wanted to discover my own god, utilizing an agentic power I didn’t believe I had access to before. I made the conscious choice to change the way I spoke to and of god. That meant I had to view god differently. A new language had to emerge.
Gordon Kaufman, who taught at Harvard Divinity School, states, “Devotion to God must humanize us – make us better, more loving, more just – and it must relativize us – guard against the tendency to make ourselves into gods” (An Essay on Theological Method & The Theological Imagination: Constructing the Concept of God).
Once I understood that I had the ability to claim and create my own creative expression and language of god, I discovered new spaces for spiritual growth and evolution. I don’t have to be embarrassed by my former language of and to god, rather I accept the self that was limited all those years ago. I extend that self healing and understanding, and thank it for its unique expression.
New Prayer & Affirmation: Universe, Infinite Source, the Divine within, I welcome you into my life today. Stir in me a creative expression that I may improve myself and help those around me. I am grateful for the breath and blessings I have access to, and I pray for strength and guidance when faced with struggles. Guide me in forgiveness, acceptance, and strength. Thank you for being alive and well, Andreea.
Andreea Nica is a freelance writer, media strategist, and egalitarian. She writes for Sociologists for Women in Society, Apartments.com,Huffington Post, AlterNet, amongst other top-profile online platforms. She is a featured expert on SheSource, Women’s Media Center, and the Founder of OrganiCommunications, a consultancy that empowers organizations and enterprises in content development and media strategy ventures. Currently, she is writing a narrative nonfiction on her transition from the Pentecostal sect. She holds a M.S. from the London School of Economics and Political Science, and a B.A. in Psychology from Northern Arizona University. You can find Andreea hiking throughout the Pacific Northwest with her better half and kitty. Follow her @integratedcom and connect on LinkedIn.
Categories: Bible, Christianity, Church Doctrine, communication, Evangelicalism, Feminism and Religion, Feminist Awakenings, General, God, God-talk, Healing, Identity Construction, Jesus, Mary Daly, Monotheism, Prayer, Spiritual Journey, Spirituality, Theology, Women's Agency