We all feel that pull for God
I remember the exact moment I broke up with God. I was 16-years-old and I had just learned the word for what I am. Oddly enough, my education came through an issue of Rolling Stone magazine – to which I subscribed throughout my teenage years. In this issue was a story about women who were something called “lesbians.”
I had never felt so seen in my entire life. Finally – whatever this feeling I had been having ever sense I could remember had a name. I didn’t like the name. “Lesbian.” It sounds like something you cure with a cream or shots. Over the years I came to like the term, “dyke,” because at least it felt like a strong word.
Anyway, back to God.
The moment we broke up was when I looked in the mirror and said out loud, “I am a lesbian.” (I didn’t know the word dyke yet.) Something clicked inside of me. I knew – at a deep level – that this was the end of my relationship with God. You see, I was raised in a religion that rejected homosexuality as an abomination. You could not be both a lesbian and a Christian. It was impossible. God hated homosexuals.
“Well,” I said to myself, “if God hates me, the least I can do is return the favor.”
All roads lead to … Jesus? Oh, Geez …
I lived just fine without God until my first girlfriend came home all excited with a copy of Atlanta’s alternative newspaper, Creative Loafing.
“There’s a church for gay people in Atlanta,” she said with excitement as she pressed the paper into my hands.
I read a little bit of the article and handed it back to her.
“That’s nice. If you go on Sunday, don’t wake me up.” I mean, God and I had been on the outs for at least five years or so and things were going just fine, thank you. I was enjoying my lazy Sunday mornings and had no plan to give them up.
She was persistent. Finally, I went.
As I stood in that church that Sunday morning, I wept. It was the first time I heard someone say from a pulpit that God loved me as a dyke (I had learned this word by then) because that’s what God had created me to be. That morning, standing in that Metropolitan Community Church, felt like a homecoming. I thought I had been content without God, but that moment revealed to me that deep inside was, what A Course in Miracles calls, a “pull for God,” or an “eternal fixation” on the Holy.
“You were eternally fixated on God in your creation,” A Course says, “and the pull of this fixation is so strong that you will never overcome it. The reason is perfectly clear: The fixation is on a level which is so high that it cannot be surmounted. You are always being pulled back to your Creator because you belong in God.” [CE T-5.IX.9-10]
That morning at the MCC started me on a journey to explore that eternal fixation – that pull of God – in my life. I had to begin deconstructing my Christian beliefs, which led me on a journey into other religions including Buddhism, Hinduism, mysticism, metaphysics, Zen, Sufism, and many other spiritual side trips.
Here’s the kicker, though – every single path I took led me right back to this guy named Jesus. Everywhere I went, I heard echoes of his teachings. I was raised with Jesus as my guide, and though I spent many years searching for another guide, I always ended up back with him. No wonder A Course in Miracles speaks so deeply to me since it’s purportedly dictated by him.
If you think about it for a moment, I think you’ll find it’s true that everyone has, at some point or another, experienced that pull for God – that eternal fixation on the Holy. That pull for God is real – it is strong – and to oppose it, A Course tells us, is a delusion, because to try to walk away from that pull is a trick of the ego.
How does the ego trick us? It convinces us that only the things of this world will bring us the ultimate peace, love, and joy that we’re seeking.
4 ways we defend against the pull for God
A Course says this delusion can manifest in our lives in four different ways, and we tend to gravitate toward one of these delusions of possession.
The first is a yearning to possess other people. This kind of possession is obsessed with the body, and usually centers around sex. We want to possess someone through what we call love, but it becomes an obsession — which is a perversion of true love.
The second is a yearning to possess things. Often, we are too afraid of what a possession of people may entail and the madness it can induce, which is what makes up so many stories on those murder mystery TV shows. So, we turn our desire toward being possessed by things. We think this is a safer way to sublimate our pull toward God. Possessing things is harmless, right? But greed can be overwhelming. So much so that accumulation of wealth can become such a fixation that we see people not only ruin their lives but the lives of those around them to achieve it. I won’t name names, but you’re probably already thinking about one guy in particular.
The third is a yearning to possess the spirit. This is where religion gets perverted into something that we think can possess us – but it turns into religions of violence, religions of control, hatred, and forced conversions. This kind of possession is where cults form or we get sucked into spiritual situations that tempt us to use spirituality selfishly in some way, perhaps by trying to conjure up wealth or power.
The fourth is a yearning for knowledge – not the true knowledge the Holy offers us – but worldly knowledge. We desire to be seen as better than others because we know so much and can spout off facts and figures at the drop of a hat. We think knowledge can make us safe and worthy in the eyes of the world.
Which one of these egoic possessions has you under its spell? I can tell you without a doubt that my search around the world for the right religious understand had me in a couple of camps – wanting to be possessed by both spirit and knowledge. In fact, I still want both of those – but here’s the difference – I am no longer looking outside myself for either of them. That’s the power we have, to choose which world we will live in.
If we think anything outside of ourselves, be it another person, a worldly bobble or gadget, a religion, or an expensive education can satisfy our eternal fixation on God, we’re sadly mistaken. As A Course says: “Do you really believe you can make a voice which can drown out God’s?
Do you really believe you can devise a thought system that can separate you from God’s? Do you really believe that you can plan for your safety and joy better than God can?”
The short answer is, yes. We do it both individually and corporately. We are genuinely afraid of this pull for God because we think that God will ask us to do something we don’t want to do – to give up something in this world that we treasure.
I surrender all …
A Course clearly tells us that God will never usurp our will but that eventually, after we’ve tried all of the millions of myriad ways the ego guarantees will satisfy us and we discover none of them ever do, we’ll finally surrender our will to God.
This isn’t as scary as the ego would have us believe though. Author and teacher Marianne Williamson clearly says that “God means Love and will means Thought. To ask that God’s Will be done is to ask that loving thought prevail.”
That’s all we’re doing when we align our will with God’s – we ask that “loving thought prevail.” If loving thought prevails, Williamson says, that “means that in a world where non-loving thought towards ourselves, each other and even the earth itself is so rampant, you are directing the forces of the universe – using the power of YOUR thought – to lift all things above the clutches of fear.”
Now, that’s a kind of possession worth pursuing – one where you’re so possessed by God’s will – by nothing but loving thoughts – that you have the power to “lift all things above the clutches of fear.” Your thoughts, possessed only by God’s will that Love always prevails, can end the suffering of the world.
Why are we not giving in to this pull for God? Why are we not leaping at the chance to live into this eternal fixation on the Holy?
Because we don’t know what it means to live in the light of God. We’ve been sold all these awful ideas about what God is or is supposed to be seen as.
We’ve been told that God is wrathful. We’ve been told that God is angry. We’ve been told that God is vengeful, jealous and will send us to an eternal punishment at the first whiff of our disobedience. Oh, sure, we’ve been told that God is love – but that allegedly loving God is also capricious, unpredictable, and exacting. God may love us, but God will not hesitate to send us to hell, too.
So many mixed messages, it’s no wonder we look to the things of this world to possess us. We feel like we can at least have some modicum of control if we’re possessive of people, things, spirituality, and knowledge. This God-thing, we fear, might annihilate us.
In John 6:37-39 Jesus says this is not so. We already have everything we will ever need to reach God – to align our will with the Holy’s. “Everything that God gives me will come to me,” Jesus says, “and anyone who comes to me I will never drive away; for I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me.”
What this means is that the pull for God is all you will ever need, and your response to that pull is inevitable, because you’ll eventually get tired of the ego’s seek-but-do-not-find game. Then, like the prodigal child, you will begin your journey home – and like the prodigal you will be celebrated by God and you’ll realize that God has already given us everything – because peace, love, and joy are always ours to claim in every moment.
Yielding for God
Herein lies the difference between what the ego offers us as substitutes for God and what God is offering us in Reality: care. The things of this world are fleeting – and they are also indifferent to us. Money doesn’t care about us. Power doesn’t care about us. Fame doesn’t care about us. Things don’t care about us. They may bring us bouts of happiness, but nothing outside of ourselves brings lasting peace, love, or joy. To get that, we must turn within and realize that we already live in the light of a loving God.
“You need be neither careful nor careless,” A Course say. “You need merely cast all your cares upon God, because God careth for you. You are His care because God loves you. His Voice reminds you always that all hope is yours because of His care. You cannot choose to escape His care, because that is not His will. But you can choose to accept His care, and use the infinite power of His care for all of those He created by it.”
This is what it means to do God’s will, to cast our cares upon God and allow the infinite power of that care to end not just our personal suffering but the suffering of the world.
How do we do this? The ego tells us we must make a choice – give up this world of enticements and pleasures in favor of some woo-woo peace and love idea.
In the beginning, we do try to make that choice – to stop being possessive of things in this world be they people, items, spiritual practices, or knowledge. We try to be good people – spiritual people even – but if that’s a choice made from the ego, we’ll soon be right back to where we started.
What A Course invites us to do is, instead of making some egoic choice, is this: we simply yield to that power of love within us. In Chapter 14, A Course assures us that “attack will always yield to love, if it is brought to love, not hidden from it.” Our worldly replacements for the pull of God are attacks upon God – attacks upon our true nature. We must gently bring them to love where they will give way. We need not overcome our egoic nature to want to possess and be possessed by worldly things, we simply allow God’s love to heal those desires and place us squarely within God’s care where the peace that passes all understanding will come to us.
Which egoic possession are you continuing to pursue in your lives? A possession of people, things, spirituality, or knowledge? None of these worldly gods care for you. There is only one God that cares. There is only one God whose light we desire with every fiber of our spirit to live in.
This is not a choice you must make – but an internal yielding you must allow to happen. We lose nothing in this yielding except our grasping and searching for peace where it cannot be found. Instead, we find that everything God gives us is already within us and will come to us when we yield to God’s love and care.
And in that moment when that peace that passes all understanding comes and stays with us – all we’ll know to say is: Oh Yeah.
Founder of Motley Mystic and the Jubilee! Circle interfaith spiritual community In Columbia, S.C., Candace Chellew (she/her) is the author of Bulletproof Faith: A Spiritual Survival Guide for Gay and Lesbian Christians (Jossey-Bass, 2008). Founder and Editor Emeritus of Whosoever, she earned her masters of theological studies at Emory University’s Candler School of Theology, was ordained by Gentle Spirit Christian Church in December 2003, and trained as a spiritual director through the Omega Point program of the Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta. She is also a musician and animal lover.