My quest for a deeper understanding of a Higher Power is taking me on adventures I never thought possible. I continued my sojourn of visiting different churches featured on the Anglican Barbados Diocesan Calendar. This month I went to the St Leonard’s Anglican Church. Also I continued to wrestle with the identity of God when a good friend of mine encouraged me to read a book called The Shack by Paul Young. This book was so riveting, for at times I was unwilling to read the next page as my preconceptions of religion and faith were challenged. Finally on this journey, I realised that when God is all you have, you have all you need.
First off, my visit to the St. Leonard’s Anglican Church. This building has an interesting history. Here was once a church ravaged by a fire, and the people rebuilt it. The traditional Anglican churches in Barbados look like a cross from a bird’s eye view. This church was made to look like a circle, symbolizing a continuum, no end no beginning just perpetual being. My connection to this church is through my father. In the beginning of his priestly ministry, St. Leonard’s was one of the churches at which he served. It was like a home coming as I remembered the church as a little girl playing with the other priest’s daughters while our fathers had meetings in the church hall and as a teenager when our Youth Group visited churches at festival Youth nights. This time around, the connection perpetuated as one of my father’s protégés, recently became the priest in charge of the St. Leonard’s Church. She moved back to Barbados after serving at the Holy Trinity Church in St. Lucia. Coincidentally the service we went to visit was celebrating Trinity Sunday, where the focus was upon God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit.
When Rev. Dr. Sonia Hinds delivered her sermon, the central theme was: Who is God to you? Our way of perceiving who God is, reflects our perceptions which are influenced by our thoughts and value systems. Everyone perceives God in their unique manner. For instance some perceive God as male, father and provider. Whereas for others, based on their life experiences may have difficulty experiencing that if their situation with father, male and provider was not a positive one. This is true for the protagonist of The Shack, Mackenzie Allen Philips whose father was overtly religious and abusive. Yet through his journey of life “Mack” as he is affectionately called in the book, perceives the Trinity of God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit in a very unique way which challenges the readers of this publication about their own perception of God, religion and faith.
The Shack examined relationships as humans experience them and hold them up to the relationship experienced among the Trinity: God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. We should strive to model our daily relationships with our children, our parents, our spouses and our friends in this manner. In order to honour our relationships, we need to limit ourselves. By doing so, there is the element of freedom which can only be achieved through trust and obedience to one another, especially to God who exists in each and every one of our relationships. When we trust God enough and believe in the surety of His goodness, then we will be protected because we are loved by God. Submission is the key characteristic of real relationships, even when the choices made by either party are not healthy or assisting their personal development. Submission becomes second nature as God becomes central in your relationships. Women and men need to turn to God and do away with the ideals of control. Women are wired to believe that a man can give them identity and demand that he meets all of their needs and that is far from the truth. Men are wired to believe that the works of their hands give them power over all. Yet these ideals obscure the real core of relationships. We are worthy of God’s love at all costs.
Let the power of forgiveness work its healing within relationships. Ask for forgiveness and risk it all on the path of honesty. Whenever you mess up in relationships, and believe me it is bound to happen, ask for forgiveness again. God has a way of making even those mistakes turn out to be good and phenomenal for the final outcome. God is always there even though your heart breaks and the pieces of your life seem painful to pick up and reassemble. Remember that true love does not fear and it never forces. So enjoy the beauty around you: the beauty of creation, culture, nature, art, love, music and laughter.
I know how I see God. As a constant companion for me in this journey of life, He is all I have and He is all I need and that’s all that matters. So the question remains: Who is God to you?