The God of our heart is not always the God of our head. Our minds may agree with the scriptures that declare God is love and God forgives; but our gut doesn’t necessarily trust these statements. Doubts about our value, our inability to forgive ourselves (just to name a few) evidence our disbelief. In our best moments, we know that God is indeed love; his presence is palpable. But in our worst moments, down in our gut, these truths become translucent, we question and doubt.
The proverb says, “a chain is only as strong as it’s weakest link” and our faith is only as strong as our greatest doubt. In the light, we can believe God is love, in times of crises or darkness a different god rules our thinking and actions. The ‘god of our gut’ more frequently than not, determines our identity. We need to figure out the nature of this god. Toward this end, I’m going to ask you to reflect on some questions I pose. They are worded to help you identify ‘the god of your gut.’
I’d love to read your responses in a comment, if you feel comfortable sharing them publicly, or email me for a more private exchange. My responses are written in italics below the questions.
Please, spend a few minutes recording your responses to the following questions, try not to overanalyze your responses, just let your answers flow.
- What are my worst fears about God?
- When I find myself avoiding God, what thoughts and feelings about God are causing me to pull away?
- At my worst moments, how do I think God feels about me? or relates to me?
- What pictures come to mind when I think about God?
- What do my behaviors and feelings tell me about how I see God (who is your gut god)?
1. I am afraid it is all a joke, that Jesus isn’t the savior, that I’ve built my life on a sham.
2. I avoid God when I am doing something that is unhealthy (emotionally, physically). God wouldn’t approve of what I’m doing/thinking/feeling, and I want to keep doing/thinking/feeling this so I ignore God. Deep down, in my better self, I want to quit these unhealthy actions, and I know God’s power could carry me away from them and that’s the very reason I avoid him. I want to be healthy and whole, but not today; today I want to hang on to these unhealthy, but satisfying habits.
3. I think God sees me as his beloved, screwed-up daughter; the one who is never going to get it together, and needs to be constantly rescued. God willingly does the rescue, but with a tsk-tsk in his demeanor. “When are you going to learn, Debby?” Secondly, the Psalmist felt forsaken by God (Ps. 22). I have never felt deserted or abandoned by God, but often, I feel set aside, or put on a shelf. I’m sure this is born of my own neurosis. I fear I am unneeded by God, useless; like an old pair of shoes, I am kept but never worn. I am inconsequential to God’s plan. I fear I am like an item purchased because it was on sale, an un-resistable bargain, but not really needed or useful.
4. When I think about God I see Jesus – loving, accessible, truth-telling, righteous and requiring righteousness of me. When I’m in my dark place, I see God chuckling over my failed attempts at righteousness. God doesn’t take me seriously, I’m an amusing anecdote to the Trinity. (Again with the tsk-tsking.)
5. My gut god is loving, yet detached. Loves me because he has to (it is his character after all) but probably wouldn’t choose me. My gut god condescends toward me and my “cute” little attempts at pleasing him.
Who is your gut god? One who……minimizes you …tolerates you …punishes you …doesn’t get involved …is indifferent toward you …demands perfection?
This is an interactive post, let me know your response. Next Monday we’ll begin to let God speak for God’s self.
1. I’m terrified that I’m on my own; that he hasn’t planned for me; that I’m truly just looking for lost donkeys out in the wilderness and I perpetually, chronically pick the wrong path that moves me away from any kind of purpose, connection or provision. But that’s it – there’s no table being prepared for me. That this “something more” I am craving and longing for is my narcissistic and hollow imagining that I am as beloved and special as I hope he thinks I am, but there isn’t actually any truth or reality behind it. I’m terrified that the voices of “you’re a burden; you’re too much; you say the wrong thing all the time; everyone else has it together; you are less than…” are the real truth about me rather than that he LOVES me and is making a profoundly significant and healing way for my life.
2. When I pull away, it’s usually because I’m thinking, “This doesn’t work. He’s not listening. I must be doing this wrong. He’s not speaking to me. My prayers are bouncing off the ceiling. I’m not becoming anything different.”
3. In my worst moments, I feel like he’s looking at me like a crazy selfish person who’s throwing a fit in the middle of the mall – metaphorically speaking. That I’m unbalanced and emotionally a lose canon. He’ll talk to me when I’ve pulled it together, but in kind of a superior, askance-glance, “there she goes again” kind of way – maybe even laughing at me with others – not a loving, “Are you okay? Come tell me about it” way. I feel like I have to beg him to make me more like him and to use me in his kingdom; like he doesn’t really want to and it was my idea in the first place.
4. Immediately, the cheesy one with Jesus holding a sheep. In my darker, smaller-self moments, I see him as absent, remote, thinking I’m annoying and a burden. In my more centered moments, I see him as this enormous, kind, SOLID presence who’s smile is healing. Who’s presence is acceptance. Who has options we don’t know about and would never imagine. Who can and will do anything for me and for us.
5. I worry so much and am so anxious. I wake up with a reel going through my head of all the ways I’ve messed up. I analyze myself to death after social interactions and always come up short or having failed in some way. This tells me I don’t believe God when he says I am his beloved daughter. That it’s done – that’s my identity. It tells me I don’t really trust him when he says, “Be anxious for nothing” and “There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” This tells me I see him, in my shrunken dark moments, as distant, uninvolved, and about to leave me hanging at any given moment.
Thanks for the questions, Debby, and for sharing your answers. This is illuminating. I’ll pray God comes into these places and heals our knowing of him.
Alisha, Fear lies at the root of our gut gods. In your sane moments you know the true God. Cling to that God. Your trust, even in the face of fear, brings God pleasure. You are increasing in the grace of God’s kingdom. I am pleased to witness your growth.
Re: #4 — I realize that I haven’t got a visual image of God. Yet, I really need that visualization. Maybe something to be “prayed upon” – ?!
I pray with you. Dear God, show Nancy your face of love. You know her heart and what is needful in her soul today. Surprise her with your presence. Amen.
1. I am really on my own and, when I fall there is no safety net – I am simply faced with my failure and imperfection.
2. “It is all up to me” “I need to figure this current problem out” “I am so busy” “I am so unsupported” “I am so alone”
3. God looks at me and says that “I get what I deserve – if I had done better I wouldn’t be in this current situation”
4. sorry – no pictures!!
5. My gut god is someone who demands perfection and consequences for imperfection.
Wow – this is all yucky. But, I was just faced with a “failure” last night – so my gut god has been very real to me in the past 12 hours. Thank you for this post. My gut god has far less power now that some light has been shown on him!
Praise God for the light of truth. As Henri Nouwen said…”demons love darkness.” Remember, every day (minute) is a new beginning. God’s mercies are abundant and present.
Pingback: God, the bully | The Mentored Life
We were studying Jacob in BSF and how he tricked his father and Esau … and then how he himself was tricked by Laban (re: Rachel) God allowed him to suffer the consequences of his actions.. BUT he greatly blessed Jacob the years he labored for Laban… I was amazed at God’s dealings with Jacob… which revealed to me how I view God… that he would have just put Jacob out to pasture for disobedience… Instead our God is WITH Jacob suffering the consequences AND blessing him too…
Thank God, we’re not put out to pasture when we err. Thank God, he joins us in our consequences and (in theory) God’s presence is blessing enough.
1. That God does not exist.
2. That God can/will not help me in desperate situations.
3. Pity & Empathy, for my lack of vision during my suffering.
4. Sad Helpless Parent only able to watch as their child makes bad choices.
5. God Loves me, but is detached. I have fears because I feel that God can not protect me against harm & death.