Relationships, Religion, Writing

View from above

No matter how blurred or undefined my picture of God is, no matter how my connection to religion swells or retreats; the one God-related belief I hold fairly dear is omniscience. If God were a storyteller, let’s say, he’d be third person with both a bird’s eye and a worm’s eye view of all that ever was and all that ever is and all that ever will be.

Which means, I also believe, that God laughs a lot.

Laughs at our missteps, our confusion, our despair — in a loving, playful way, the way a parent might smile watching her toddler fall hard on his bottom over and over again in his attempts to learn to walk.

Or the way a writer foolishly grins as he shapes his characters because a writer is, in a way, in love with all the characters he creates — no matter how ugly or beautiful, how wise or how foolish.

I don’t necessarily believe that God is omnipotent, however. I don’t believe he interferes in the doings of man, though I do imagine that he might adjust the direction or speed of the wind from time to time so that man might meaningfully turn his head or shift his gaze. I believe that God watches us, and more than anything else concrete, I understand God as a representation of that great unattainable knowledge and understanding I’ll never have, but will never stop seeking.

I imagine, too, from his third person point of view, God watches us with great compassion.

I wish I could borrow some of this compassion from time to time when I tell myself my own story; as I do when I lie in bed at night and review my day; as I do when I tell “truths” about myself or make claims about how other people see me (as if I could really know).

Or when I dig through the first person evidence of my life: When I read my old journals (and cringe at my naive innocence or unabashed immaturity); or remember (out of the blue or obsessively) the things I’ve done I wish I hadn’t or wish I had handled differently.

Did you ever notice how much compassion we can summon up for others? For strangers especially? How our hearts swell when someone else is dwelling on what they once did wrong?

Yet, it’s insanely difficult — if not near impossible — to summon up that same compassion for ourselves. To allow ourselves to view our stories as God might or as the third person omniscient narrator would– minus regret, minus shame, minus fear — simply with close observation, the space for varied interpretations, and occasionally, with a playful compassionate laugh out loud.

6 thoughts on “View from above”

  1. Yes! It’s crazy how difficult it is to love ourselves! You would think, with the vehemence with which religion and culture constantly drum into our heads the need to be unselfish, that we must be TOO good at loving ourselves. But it’s quite the contrary. And I think that one of the greatest spiritual milestones any of us can reach is to come to that point where we have a truly compassionate view of ourselves, when we’re able to see ourselves with that light-hearted, generous eye of God. Great post!


    1. Good points! I think it has to do with how we define “love.” I’ve been thinking about it some lately — how I define love, and how most of the ways I recognize love are “ego” centric (acknowledgment, appreciation, admiration, for instance.) Generosity — now that’s a way to show love I haven’t really considered much …


  2. I and so many of my friends struggle with that ability to simply observe ourselves and not judge. You put it beautifully. And elucidate perfectly how near impossible it is to achieve!


  3. Ah such true words Jen. I tell the children almost daily that they must be true to themselves, put themselves first, look after number one NOT to be selfish but to help them appreciate that if they don’t love themselves how can they truly love another or even expect anyone else to appreciate them (because they just wouldn’t recognize it). It’s a kind of selfishness that defies selfish. It’s a mission that’s so far from egocentric strangely enough because it’s so hard to do. We’re almost hard-wired for altruism – maybe it’s some evolutionary perspective – but at the end of the day I just wish I could take a dose of my own advice! Really hard isn’t it!


    1. Requires so much intention. All we can do is start over, again and again and again. today, I started my day with a guided meditation video on youtube — my type of start over button.


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