I never thought i’d be someone who talks about God. Growing up I was quite an enthusiastic atheist. I remember asking my Dad how a man that was seemingly intelligent would want to spend Christmas anywhere near the cold and uninviting doors of a Church. In my eyes God was a joke and a dangerous one at that.
At fourteen I read Richard Dawkins ‘The God Delusion’ and memorised the key arguments ready to take into school and have it out with my R.E teacher. I was an angry kid who was unhappy with the world and all I saw from God was conflict, war, judgement and betrayal. I had no need for the rules, hypocrisy and judgement of religion. Funnily enough I still don’t. But what I soon found out was the articulate and smartly crafted words of Richard Dawkins held no comfort to a human being at a time of great distress and suffering. Mr Dawkins could shine no light in the darkness I had found myself in and offered no solution to the unavoidable realisation that something was missing.
By now you might have guessed this article is going to lead to my ‘God’ moment that changes everything. As much as this is the case, I do want to mention a few things upfront. When I talk of God I do not mean the old man in the cloud who’s caught between the pages of old books and Sunday school classes. I am not talking about the almighty creator who, when the world is falling apart, is busy organising marches against the hellish concept of boys kissing boys. Oh no. In fact I try my best to shy away from definition. You see, I don’t think you can define God properly. God is experience. By defining something you reduce it to words and words are limited. Words can be misunderstood.
So let’s get back to the story. I’m 23. I drink. a lot. I’m on anti-depressants. I am unhappy. I’d go as far to say that I am unable to live without alcohol, too afraid to be sober, too afraid to be in my own company. I am homesick from a place i’ve never been and although my life up until that point had been one of love and comfort I am well and truly lost.
Going to get help was the first time I’d stepped into a Church Hall since i was a kid. I can’t say I was thrilled but the type of help i needed, although not religious, took full advantage of the cheap rent and coffee facilities these establishments provided. Who was I to argue. It was in these rooms I first met God. He didn’t come down from the clouds or anything weird like that. No. I met him in the eyes of others, in warm handshakes and compassion. It was also in these rooms I came to believe in miracles. How else could I explain the stories I heard. Countless accounts of men resurrected (excuse the pun) from the gates of hell and insanity and placed back to society as useful and loving souls. It was in these rooms I learnt that beyond our external differences we hold a fragility that unites us. It was in these rooms I realised I was not alone. I was told I didn’t need religion. I just needed to believe in a power greater than myself and hand my life back over to God, however I may understand the word.
It is now three and a half years since I made that decision and three and a half years since i last took a drink or any mind altering substance. I wake up happy (or near enough) each and morning. I no longer seek oblivion or feel that unexplainable knot tied so tightly in my stomach. A month after I first stepped into that old Church Hall I met my soulmate. As a kid who was previously too anxious to drive a car or answer the phone, I fell asleep under the stars in Tasmania, explored the back streets of Venice and fell in love. As the kid who previously didn’t know if he wanted to live, I got engaged, moved ,then bought a house, a home. That kid who was too afraid of his own sobriety brought life into the world and is now a Father to a beautiful little girl.
When we talk about God people sometimes relate it to blind faith but I disagree. For me, my understanding of God came firstly through experience and then by the three and a half years of direct evidence. I did not find God in a Church, or a Temple or through the pages of the book. I am not a Christian, a Muslim or a Hindu but nor do I believe any of these beliefs to be wrong. I met God in the darkness, a million miles away from what me and you would probably associate with religion. I met God surrounded by builders, ex drug dealers and one very messed up lawyer. There was no fancy outfits or crosses here. But it was here that my life changed forever.
I will begin to bring this article to a close by reciting a beautiful description of spirituality I heard recently, although annoyingly the writers name escapes me.
“God is like a song you hear but it’s in another room. You soon realise you have to get into the other room. As you listen closer you realise it’s playing in the whole house, you just hadn’t noticed it before. You want to turn up the volume because you love this song and it makes your soul soar. Soon enough you want your friends to hear the song. It grows, moment by moment. Spirituality begins in the little every day moments .Spirituality is the awareness that there is something more going on here. And it’s a thousand tiny fragments. The moment you have proven something, the moment it has the least power. No, you must experience it. Experiencing spirituality is like experiencing yourself for the first time.”
God is a complex concept and so as human beings we try and define and find ways to relate and respond to it. It’s in our nature. I feel in time however we have lost the essence of spirit we were trying to protect and instead have been left only defending old rules and dogma. My belief is that the horrors we see religion are not down to God at all. No, we do not fight for God but instead fight over the human structures we have created in hopes of defining him. Let this not be your battle.
So what is the purpose of this post. Do i want to convert you? Make you a believer? Not really. I don’t have the words to describe what I believe so it would be a pretty awkward initiation anyway. .
I guess I want you to know that you are loved, regardless of any condition. You are loved completely and exactly the way you are. I do not urge you to search and seek out for your own salvation but instead in the hope you might find the same beauty i have found. By knowing God i have grown to know myself. By knowing God I become present to the evolutionary impulse, the energy that connects us together and the ever present essence of love. By knowing God I am home.
David Gibbs x
p.s - i thought i’d list out a few books I love incase you wanted to get stuck into some reading.
The Untethered Soul / Power Of Now / The Surrender Experiment / The Book Of Joy / Converstions with God / The Autobiography of a Yogi / The Bhagavad Gita (introduced & translated by Eknath Easwaran) / The Shack / The Road Less Travelled