Saturday, March 17, 2018

A God in Our Own Image

I wrote this piece about six months ago, after a conversation with a friend who does not believe in God.  He asks the same difficult questions we all do, like how can a good God allow babies to catch diseases, suffer, and die?  He has come to a different conclusion than I.  Some of my thoughts are captured here, and I welcome you to add your own thoughts in the Comments.

We are willing to worship and praise a God that we have made in our own image. 

Even unbelievers might be willing to believe in God, if He conformed more to the God they would create.

This God would stamp out hate, prejudice, and injustice, so that we wouldn’t have to do the hard work of doing it ourselves.  This God would swoop in to save all children from deadly diseases.  This God would protect us all from suffering, depression, anxiety, heart attacks, strokes, dementia, artery blockages, broken bones, twisted ankles, paper cuts, and mosquito bites. This God would preserve us from the physical and emotional pain that we can’t bear to face, and can’t stand to see our loved ones endure.  

And along these lines, then, this God would have to eliminate death, because no matter when or how it comes, it causes such unimaginable suffering in the people who are left behind, grieving the loss of one they have loved so deeply. 

This God would never allow a hurricane to ravage a coastline and leave scores dead and thousands homeless. Come to think of it, He would have to eliminate any rainfall that could lead to flooding, or really any level of discomfort that seems like an all-knowing and loving Creator would not permit.  But He would also need to step in when the sun burns too bright, when skin gets burned or blistered; what loving Creator would permit such a thing?

This God would prevent us from making poor decisions that would hurt other people’s feelings or cause them any level of grief. He would not permit us to make friends with people who will ultimately betray us.  All gossip and rumor would be squelched before it could pass our lips.  Our children would be comfortable replicas of all that we understand to be the best in ourselves, so that we will perceive raising them as problem-free.  And God would be able to sort out the features that each parent would like to see in their children, even when those features are at odds with each other.  We don’t have to worry:  God will take care of all that messiness!

With a God we create in our own image of who God should be, we would have no worries, no hardships, no ailments, no diseases, no accidents, no natural disasters, no betrayals, no bad decisions, no lost keys, no telemarketing calls, no injustice.  

We would not have to fight for anything, stand up for anything, come alongside anyone who is hurting, befriend anyone who is lonely, feed anyone who is hungry, open our homes to anyone needing hospitality.  

With a God made in our own image of who God should be, it’s His job to keep us happy and healthy, and we can just go along for the ride. 

With a God we create in our own image of who God should be, what, then, is our purpose in life? Why are we here?  What makes our experiences different from one another’s? What makes us grow, develop, or change over time? What enriches our experience of one another? What would we be moving toward? What would we care about? What would make us reach out to one another?

Twice, I had taken from me the thing I wanted in life more than anything else, the thing I was living for, the thing I had attached my identity and dreams to: First, I lost my marriage when we were just on the brink of settling in to the American dream of living in a big, beautiful house while starting a family.  Second, after re-marrying, I lost two babies before they were ever born, when all I wanted in life was to be a mother and raise them in the loving home that my husband and I had established for them.

Now, obviously, given the choice, I’m not going to say, “Wow, am I ever glad that my first husband cheated on me and dashed my dreams to smithereens, and, boy, was I ever lucky to have a couple of miscarriages before I gave birth to my daughters.”

I might even venture to say that I wish those things had not happened, and that I didn’t have to go through all that excruciating pain and recovery. 

But then I would have to confront the reality that if the first event had not happened, I would not have met and married my current husband, and I would be living NONE of the life I am currently living. And if the second event had not happened, I would not have the two girls who right this minute are shouting in fun while playing LEGOS in the next room.

Yes, other good and wonderful things might have/ could have/ would have happened.  But I would not be the person I am now, strengthened by what I have been through, and I would not have the life I have now, sharing it with these people in this place.

And being the kind of person who likes to celebrate and value and BE in the here and now, I might just go out on a limb and say that I can worship and praise a God who has put natural laws into place and has given people the freedom to make decisions, both good and bad. 

I can worship and praise a God who is MORE than anything I could ever imagine or create, a God I DID NOT create in the image of who I think God should be, a God who CAN let things happen as they will and STILL not have His purposes and plan for the good of His creation be thwarted. 

It’s a hard-won place to be to be able to say that, and I certainly wouldn’t have said it back in 2001 during my divorce, or during 2006 during my miscarriages, so I don’t expect anyone to be able to say it now just because I feel like I can. We all have to come to our own conclusions based on our own path and our own relationship with God along that path. 

I guess I just share this in hopes that someone who discards a belief in God or a life of faith because God just doesn’t measure up to what he or she thinks God should be, would consider this: 

Instead of focusing on who you think God should be, maybe you could start seeking out who God really is.


  1. Once again you have shared your beliefs and written your truths with so much grace and precision that I can only sit here and marvel at your strength, your faith, your love. It was good to read this today.

  2. It’s easy for me to see how others want to worship a god created in their own image; it’s much harder for me to see how often I want that for myself. Thanks for a thoughtful article.


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