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OCDmom
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Hi, anyone here want to talk about God?

I am having problems relating to God and keeping faith. I guess it's because of my depression.

I wanted to talk about these issues with a priest but I don't believe I can find one who will really understand me. Sometimes I am not sure if I believe in God anymore. I want so much to have a connection with Him but then I'd think what's the use? He doesn't seem to hear me or answer me. Does He know of my condition? Does He care? I mean, if I am having difficulty in hearing Him, then it's my problem? But I don't know how to reach Him. I am so frustrated.

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I would bet a priest would know exactly what you're talking about.

They spend their whole lives thinking about this stuff, and being human, probably go through their share of doubts.

I'm not a deeply religious person myself, but I do know that faith can be a very powerful tool to have, in life.

What would you have God do, if you did reach him?

Maybe he's trying to tell you that you have to do those things yourself.

But you're as capable as the next person, that's how you were made.

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I'm certain any priest would understand you, I bet they hear the same types of thoughts and questions from others all the time. It is natural for your mind to wander, it happens to me often and I get very upset with myself, I feel guilty. But I know I have faith, and I try not to think that way. Yes, God does care, and he does hear you and answer you, maybe you are just not listening. Sometimes we only hear what we want to hear, so if we don't like the answer, we assume that God is not listening or answering.

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  • 2 weeks later...

OCDMom, there are many of us in the forum with deep and profound spirituality and religious belief (absent any dogma). Like you, many of us struggle with what appears to be an unresponsive God... a God who seems absent, out of touch, unconcerned and distant, irrespective of our efforts to be connected or even our very real pains. Aristotle called him the "unmoved mover"- the one who created and then washed his hands of it!

I don't have any answers, but I do have life experience that somehow guides me. I grew up in Latin America under very brutal dictatorships- the soldiers would come and go into our village of 47 people, doing unspeakable things. My family traveled a path so narrow and took a journey so few in the US could ever imagine... and yet have never been able to speak about it in ways that explained it well to others.

As I matured I became increasingly angry, distant and disillusioned with the God of Christianity. I was never in danger of losing my faith, but I struggled with a belief in a God that would permit such things to happen then and still today.

I remember my Aunt Esther going before God to seek relief and understanding. For me, even today, seeking God can sometimes feel like approaching a place surrounded by a moat, a prison gate, and then double bolted doors. And throughout, for me, for my family, there stirred within us a shaking of our faith. Over the decades, we have slowly made our way back to God... but the journey has not been smoothly paved and filled with easy passage.

Like I said earlier, there are no easy answers, there is no way of skirting the issues we struggle with, and there are no trite sayings or axioms. In the final analysis, I can only say from my experience, that our disconnects from God and our efforts to understand and connect will always be a work in progress, which is likely as it is for anyone who takes this work seriously.

Too many folks view God in as this white haired, grandfatherly, warm, and reassuring being... as a balm (this is a Westernized perspective)-- surely little more than a shallow, untested, warm-fuzzies view of "him". However, through the eyes of those who have suffered greatly or are suffering, it requires hard work, energy, and commitment to look honestly at the relationship with this being.

My unclear response to your “question” only highlights a deep struggle that is lifelong. Heinrich Zimmer said "The best truths cannot be spoken. . . " Joseph Campbell went farther and said: "And the second best are misunderstood." The strange, almost pathological aspect to God is that his elusiveness blocks off transcendency by cutting you short of it the closer you get to him. And then we become worshippers and a devotees w/o really being inside or truly understanding. In the end, it may not be about you, your disconnect, or your lack of faith-- it may be about this elusive God we all seem to struggle with.

My hope is that this helps somewhat.

Edited by David O
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Hi David,

I think what you said in the last part is true. The fact that we will never fully understand how things are, is the reason why there will always be the possibility to doubt. And yet, somehow, maybe, there won't be any room for doubt if there is a conscious effort on our part. There are moments (and they really ARE just moments) where I felt this happen while praying (if you could call trying to clear the mind of everything else except God praying). Maybe it has nothing to do with us at all. Maybe it's GRACE?

Thanks, David.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Being Christian as humans is a hard thing. Humans believe what they can see but what God asks of us is to have faith in something that we can't even fully Understand. That's not easy and me being a Christian do have doubts but that's human nature. I'm sure that my bishop himself even had these doubts. You're going through a depression now makes you more vulnerable then usual and that's okay too.

As far as you feeling God's can't hear you, he does. The thing about God is that its not 100# on him to fix all your problems. Its up to you to make a difference in your life and God will guide you every step of the way. I remember when I went through a year of crippling anxiety my dad went on vacation and he heard God talk to him and tell me through dad that everything will be okay and He gave me the support I needed to get through this and now I'm over it completely and its no longer an issue. The cool part is that the last day I had a panic attack from anxiety is a week before I started going to Notre Dame because before then I was just home-schooled.

I hear stories from a friend who's powerful in his walk with God who could tell you incredible things that God did through him. He saw a random man with a crippled back from a surgery that went wrong and he felt compassion for him so he laid his hand on the mans back(with permission) and prayed with him and his back felt a little better and he kept praying and praying until the mans back was right back to normal. He also went to a party he felt he was strong enough to go to and he ended up betting a man to go to church if he beat him in a game of... well... beer pong (It was the other guys idea to play beer pong not his). Now that man goes to church.

Some people are in desperate need of a miracle and some people just need to be nudged in the right direction. God can be more powerful then anything known and unknown to man but he can also be as subtle as a breeze.

The only thing I can assure you of is that God loves you and hears you and you need to have faith and prayer because prayer is the most potent medicine of all.

Edited by Ob1one
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Guest ASchwartz

Hi Everyone,

I want to introduce another perspective to this discussion based on the fact that we human beings think in terms of metaphors and symbols. Please understand that what I am about to write has nothing to do with spirituality, God, religion or religious belief. This is more psychological in nature and that is all I am going to get at. And, here it is:

1. Just suppose that for a few moments we think in terms of God being a symbol or representation, in our minds, of something else, something different. Suppose we do this without in any way suspending belief in God, but, just taking a different look.

2. What if God, in represents or is a symbol for our real life father, whether our dad is still alive or has died? What if our frustration with God "not listening to our pleas, also represents the failure of our father and even our mother to hear our needs and cries when we were very tiny and helpless?

After all, we expect a lot of God, way more than what HE has already done: Creating the world, life, etc, according to the bible. Now we want HIM to do even more? Why should we expect this? Are we not really acting like children, infants, making demands on God, blaming God for the mess that we made?

A very popular book was written about twenty or so years ago that is still in print and is still very available in the book stores. The book is titled, When Bad Things Happen to Good People. You can look up the title and find the book on the Barnes and Noble web site or on Amazon. I do not remember the author at the moment. Its a good read and it makes sense regardless of your religion. It is really for everyone.

What I am saying is adding to what is in the book. The author says that God is not involved directly in all the things that happen, people are. People get sick, not because God made them sick but because there are germs. The same with war. With war, WE make it happen. ETC.

Well, I am adding the psychological dimension by saying that we use the defense mechanism of "Projection" in order to blame God when we are really angry at our father, mother or both and for things that happened long ago.

In other words, when things get bad, we kick and scream like children, blame God, and do not take personal reponsibility for making things better for ourselves.

I invite reactions.

Allan

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I always find these discussions (if handled maturely, openly and with great sensitivity) very fascinating. Allan, I do want to respond to your interesting post. Freud saw religion as a "universal obsessional neurosis... as a regression to primary narcissism (thus the father figure image)", Skinner ignored it completely, Albert Ellis saw religion and belief in God as completely irrational and as a form of emotional disturbance. The list of psychological interpretations is endless.

Let me use this quote to elaborate: "Did you know that-- Americans eat oysters but not snails.* The French eat snails but not locusts.* The Zulu eat locusts but not fish.* The Jews eat fish but not pork.* The Hindus eat pork but not beef.* The Russians*eat beef but not snakes.* The Chinese eat snakes but not people.* The Jale of New Guinea find people to be great tasting." All this to say that the westernized and analytic view you present is neither right nor wrong, it simply is one view much like the culturally bound food customs mentioned above-- one flavor of understanding among many.

Most non-westerners (and I personally) don't/can't see "GOD" as you present him (psycho-analytically). Western society is fairly linear in it's thinking, where everything that happens has a cause and every cause has an effect. This cause-effect linkage is followed until there is no cause found, and then it must be caused by God (as I thought and so did my Aunt when she prayed) and then this can be further interpreted to mean that this God is a projection of our father figure (as I think you're suggesting). So, like in the Wizard of Oz, everything seems to be orchestrated by the 'man behind the curtain', the wizard, and if it does or doesn't work, the Wizard becomes a symbol for our father and son/daughter relationship in some way.

Many non-westernized views of God envision us as a hologram of God. But if you take one element of a hologram, named holon, it represents the entire image in reduction. In a mosaic, one small stone is only a colored fragment of the image. In computer-science, they say it is a pixel.

In pulling these seemingly disconnected thoughts, what I'm suggesting is that the interpretation you proposed may be too simplistic, reductionistic, one-dimensional, far too culture bound and culture specific (our westernized language forces an interpretation as you have presented), and possibly too much like sitting in a Scientology lecture or an AA meeting, regurgitating axioms that are all too obvious and superficial as opposed to truly exploring and being mindful of the real answers and that which is hidden.

A true symbol or metaphor takes us to the very center of hub and not to another point in the circle (Merton). Too frequently, the symbol we use (i.e., father figure in your example) closes us off by crystallizing itself and thus keeping us stuck on the outside (while it may have therapeutic value for the moment). I see no separation between God and us, there is no division, no him and then me.

Allan, I've reread this a couple of times, hoping it does not come off as offensive, insulting or attacking. If it does in any way, please accept my apology. English is not my 1st language, so too often I write things that come off not as they were intended.

OCD mom, my apologies for hijacking the thread!

Edited by David O
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Hi again everyone, and thanks for taking an interest in this thread.

Allan, I have heard about projection and patterning God after my own father. And it does explain some of the things I am feeling about God, but not all. I know for example that I regard God as a punisher, like the way my father used to punish me when I was a child. (And I am not sure if I have totally outgrown this point of view.)

But what I am bothered with right now is God is seemingly "unknowing" and "unhearing." Could this still be part of my issues with my father? I know my problem with my father has to do with what he "did", but could I also have a problem with what he "did not do"?

I have heard of that book that you suggested, Allan, though I haven't read it. It sounds like a book that's perfect for a pessimist like me. I'll see if I can ask my sister to buy it for me. Thanks.

But I also agree with David in that God is more than just our thoughts, that He is a living being. Right now, He is a living being with whom I am having a hard time listening to. It's so hard and frustrating when you feel like you're just talking to yourself!

I agree with JFunk that God answers "NO" sometimes, but how do I know?? How will I know when I can't read the signs?

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Guest ASchwartz

Hi OCDmom, DavidO and all,

Please understand that my comments were not meant to express any doubts about God and His existence, just to look at this from a purely psychological point of view. What I was writing was not meant to imply an alternative version of God, but, rather, the way we try to think of Him from a purely psychological point of view.

OCDmom, if you feel that speaking to a priest would be comforting for you then do it, by all means.

As to your question, yes, IF you are projecting onto God, then, it can be related equally to what your father did AND did not do. It is possible. See what I mean. It has nothing to do with belief in God but some of our human ways of attempting to think about God. Another example is that if your father was punitive it might explain why you view God as punitive.

Kushner's book is good not for the pessimist but for the Believer. It helps explain things to the Believer in a way that is throughtful and helpful.

I am sure you can get the book used from Barnes and Noble or Amazon for just one or two or three dollars. It is a small paperback. I would even mail you my copy but I am in Colorado right now and not in Florida where the house is.

I hope this helps a little.

Allan

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Oh, your post helps a lot, Allan. Thank you so much!

And yes, I understand what you're trying to say. I DO believe in God, but I also know that my thoughts and feelings of HIM is somehow distorted by what I experienced with my own father.

The problem now is how do I overcome this.

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Guest ASchwartz

Hi OCDmom,

On a personal level, about one year ago I told a clergyman that I was very angry at God and the reasons. I guess I was fortunate in that I got a very sympathetic response in the form of something like: "Of course you are angry, but do not lose your faith." I felt relieved to not feel judged by this person.

I guess what I mean is that it is all right to feel angry with God.

What you might try, and I know various people who do this, is to write a letter to God and explain all of the things you are angry or disappointed about.

In fact, I know people who write letters to their mom, dad, etc, even if they are no longer alive. The writing is helpful and is a variation of a technique used in Gestalt Therapy in which you imagine your father or, etc, sitting in a chair near you and speaking to them.

What do you think?

Allan:)

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Hi Allan. I am not sure I am ready to do that right now. I mean, writing down all my grievances with God? Where do I start? It is such a big task. The thought foremost on my mind is that God already knows what's in my heart. Although I know that this writing activity is really for MY benefit, I still feel that this is unfair somehow.

I have to think about this some more.:)

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Hi OCDMOM,

There may be another way... instead of writing down your grievances, is it possible to approach this from the gratitude side. This is not a list of I'm grateful because I have this and that, but more so one can be grateful they have problems, because these problems also mean certain things (gratitude with a twist of lime):

1) I'm grateful I have bills to pay because it means I own a home and a car.

2) I'm grateful that my kids demand so much and drive me crazy, because it means I have someone in my life to take care of and who loves me.

3) I'm grateful I got yelled at today by my boss because it means I have a job.

4) I'm grateful that I've had this pain for a long time, it means I'm alive and it moves me forward towards resolving my conflict with God.

Just my 2 cents!:)

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I always "talk" to God in my journal, since. I figure, if he won't listen, maybe he'll read!

I've yelled at him, interrogated him (why?! why!? why?!), gave him ultimatums, promised to divorce myself from him, and even thanked him. I have never gotten an answer (never expect one), but I did feel some comfort later on just for getting it all out! Is that the whole point?

I don't know, but my most recent rant to him was tonight, ending w/ "God, I know you are going to strike me down dead for my blasphemous words and all I can say is---WHEN!?!!" :)

DavidO: Sorry, but I have to say this---that gratitude list seems like a masochist's list---just an amusing observation! :D

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Karia wrote- DavidO: Sorry, but I have to say this---that gratitude list seems like a masochist's list---just an amusing observation!
yeah... it would seem this way, wouldn't it:). I thought it was amusing and even somewhat distorted when I first heard it at an AA meeting I attended with a client. It took me awhile to understand the depth of it.

I do think we should look at this situation more broadly, it merits some critical discussion, especially when it comes to our perceived contract with God and how he permits suffering. Unfortunately it would take a dissertation to get through it. But, there is one book that has helped me tremendously-- The New Interpreter's Bible (vol. 4), the 1996 edition or even the 1956 one, explains the problem of pain and our relationship with a God who seems to allow such a pain. It's about 250 pages of reading; however, it may change your life and view of God. Some libraries carry it or you can buy it (the entire volume is 1300 pages) for around $30 used at Amazon. The interpretations and reflections have to do with the life of Job (my favorite book in the Bible).

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Guest GingerSnap

God has always been with me for as long as I can remember. Not overly religion at all and choosing to live my religion rather than "practice" it. I am not Christian but believe in God and love the principles of Buddhism. My husband is currently trying to "find" God. I actually looked it up on the internet "finding God" and with all the stuff on the internet, it really wasn't there. I couldn't really tell my husband how to find God but that I don't believe that the reading the Bible will do the job. He some how thinks that if he finds God that it will fix all the problems in his life and he will be a different person, rather than the hell bound person he is right now, my opinion. I told him that he should start living a good life that would please God and that through that action, I believe that God would coming knocking on his door and choosing him for the "team". I try to take in stride the things of the world that I don't understand and believe this is the dress rehearsal for the big show when we will be with God - an audition anyway. I can tell you that many, many of my prayers have not been answered but often, as time went by, I come to see that it would not have been a good thing. There is greater evil in the world now than ever before - as I tell my husband "Of the devil" or "without a soul". I believe that we have free will and that God does not micro-manage. I find what peace I can and trudge on knowing that if in all ways I acknowledge him, he shall lead my path and just go with it.

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