belongs to.

Part of our relationship with God is that we rely on Him, and not on any other power. He is worth more to us than anything in this world, and everything we have and are is a gift from Him alone in the end.

This doesn’t mean that we will never feel a lack of anything that is created. For example, at times we can be hungry or thirsty, and clinging to God doesn’t satiate the physical need. Perhaps a person is fasting; perhaps they are Jewish and have access to food, but not kosher; perhaps they give their food or water to someone else in need, so they remain hungry. Then that is a meaningful part of commitment with God, and drawing close to Him is very close on that level. Perhaps a person simply has no access to food. Hoping in God, trusting in Him, and being thankful for relationship with Him are all worth so much more than physical sustenance, but they don’t take away the physical pain. Instead, knowing God sustains us in our hearts, and we hope in His created blessings to sustain other needs as long as we live.

The same is true with human relationships. By imagining that a historical figure was God incarnate, Christianity encourages not only the worship of a human, but also a relationship with God that in part is like the relationship between two humans. Speaking as a single woman, I believe that for me it was not only idolatrous, but also immodest. My relationship with God does not belong to any human being. And also, my closeness to a man, in terms of opening my heart to another human to share life with him, wanting to see his face and be near him, belongs only to my future husband if I marry, or else to no one. (In traditional Judaism, men and women who aren’t married or family don’t touch at all or form close emotional bonds, and I think that this keeps marriages very special: they are exclusive on the higher level even of male-female friendship. No one else, historical or living, is welcome into that place of modesty.) Perhaps the worst thing though is to mix up the two kinds of relationship. In prayer and in clinging to my God, I no longer yearn to hold a physical hand, see a human face, or press my heart against the similar and finite experiences and personality of another human heart. I believe that flesh and blood, words and expressions, and the human heart itself, are created by my God and although they are precious, I will never bow to them as I do to Him.

For a couple of years, realising this has made the emotions and words of my prayers more quiet. I want to be careful not to come to God in the whole way I was taught, particularly in parts of it. It still leaves the question: as a single woman, whose circumstances of life and choices in front of God make it feel unlikely that this will change any time soon, it can be lonely not to have a partner in life. And yet I know that in every kind of situation in life, God is my fulfillment and closest companion, and holiness is the only path of joy and beauty. So how can I look to Him to be this particular kind of relationship? Or even, if I am not with people or at times don’t feel understood, to fill the need for human friendship of the more general kind? The answer is that I can’t, and won’t, but the relationship with God is enough for our hearts, and every blessing from Him is perfect.

“Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you.” (Psalm 63)
“For a day in your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere.” (Psalm 84)

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2 thoughts on “belongs to.

  1. This post probably invites speculation about whether my rejection of Jesus was because of relational issues or misunderstanding of Christian worship. I can’t prove if it was or it wasn’t, and I’ve been as careful as I can before God. But the point is, Christians read the gospels with affection for a human leader (whom they also see as God); they look at Jesus as one who ‘understands’ by being ‘like his brothers’; they read Song of Songs as the love between ‘one who is fully human’ and has a human heart, and themselves. I feel it is fair to say that both men and women in the churches bring elements of human relationship in to their worship in a way that I now believe is misled and unright. I just want to depict how it looks to my eyes to worship in truth and purity.

  2. And if God already knows our pain because He made us and holds us…
    if He is already the closest one to us, as our existence rests on Him and everything we have and experience is in Him, and amidst His personal blessings…
    and if obedience and love are a path of intimacy with Him, the potential He’s put in humanity from the start to be sanctified higher in holiness…
    then what more is there to add..?

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