The name you use for God is the name you use. (Profound, I know.) Let me explain. Some people are not comfortable with the word He for God. Others are adamant that He is the only way to refer to God. As a Spiritual Director, I respect the way you (personally) meet with God, address God, and relate to God—because it is your way. Who am I to mess with that? As your Spiritual Director, I will honor your way of relating to God. This allows you to feel comfortable and at ease in expressing your relationship and how God speaks to you and relates to you. However, I’ve discovered over the years that I don’t always get the same respect.
I’ve been chastised for my use of him when I talk about my personal relationship with God. For a time, I tried it. For a time, I worked at being politically correct with the language I used when I spoke of my relationship with God. I stumbled until my Spiritual Director helped me see why I was tripping. So here it is.
I have trouble relating to God as She not because I don’t believe God is both/and. God is so much bigger than He / She. God is, in fact, beyond description. God is infinite. The reason I relate more easily to God as He is because of my past. Those of you who have read my memoir, already know that my birth mother was (ahem!) well, not the friendliest of people. She did not love—far from it. She was scary. REALLY scary! My father was my loving protector. The bottom line is I can relate and connect with God on a much deeper level and with greater ease when I say He or Him or many other names other than She.
Once, I tried to educate a woman in the church who was adamant about the use of the word He for God. She told me that if someone referred to God as She—that person should be corrected. <insert eye-roll> I disagreed. I personally (yes, personally) understand why so many women struggle when referring to God as He. One out of three women are survivors of sexual abuse. I get why it’s difficult for women to refer to God as male. Their scary parent or authority figure was the male who abused them. Their ability to relate to a male God as loving and kind—well, that’s just too difficult, not to mention the oppressive patriarchal attitude of male-dominated leadership in many churches. (Ah, but I digress. That is a post for another time perhaps.) Despite the rules of the church, forcing someone to refer to a loving God in terms they cannot relate to—is spiritual abuse. (IMHO)
My point is. How you relate to God is how you relate to God. There are many names for God (more than we know!) and it is not my purpose or position to tell you how you should connect with God. My job is to have the grace and respect to meet you right where you are and to use the name of God that you use. I’m blessed by the people who allow me the same respect and grace. I’m just being me and letting you—be you. And, our loving God joyfully welcomes us both.
*Photo by Aakansha Panwar on Unsplash