God among us.

pay-it-forward-2014-random-act-of-kindness

God is everywhere, but sometimes it seems like he’s nowhere in the universe when we’re depressed or in emotional or physical pain.

You don’t have to go to church or read the Bible to find God.    God doesn’t live on a lofty cloud always passing harsh judgment on us underlings far below on this little planet.    He isn’t a being we can only know after we die, or only in religious settings.  He can’t always be found in that hellfire and brimstone preacher in the megachurch on the outskirts of town, and He certainly isn’t present in those television evangelists who prey on the poor and gullible by insisting you make a large donation to their organization in exchange for salvation.

In 1977, there was a little movie called “Oh, God” starring John Denver as an assistant grocery store manager, who was searching for meaning in his life.  God (played by George Burns) appeared to Denver as a kindly but slightly eccentric little old man who was one of his customers.   At first, Denver was unbelieving, but over time it became clear this old guy was the real deal, and his life began to change.

Twenty years later, there was a popular song by a singer-songwriter named Joan Osborne called “One of Us.”  The lyrics speculated about the nature of God, and whether He (or she) would appear as “one of us” —

If God had a name, what would it be?
And would you call it to His face?
If you were faced with Him in all His glory
What would you ask if you had just one question?

And yeah, yeah God is great
Yeah, yeah, God is good
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah

What if God was one of us
Just a slob like one of us
Just a stranger on the bus
Trying to make His way home?

If God had a face, what would it look like?
And would you want to see?
If seeing meant that you would have to believe
In things like heaven and in Jesus and the saints and all the prophets?

And yeah, yeah God is great
Yeah, yeah, God is good
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah

What if God was one of us
Just a slob like one of us
Just a stranger on the bus
Trying to make His way home?

He’s trying to make His way home
Back up to Heaven all alone
Nobody calling on the phone
Except for the pope maybe in Rome

And yeah, yeah God is great
Yeah, yeah, God is good
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah

What if God was one of us
Just a slob like one of us
Just a stranger on the bus
Trying to make His way home?

Just trying to make His way home
Like a holy rolling stone
Back up to Heaven all alone
Just trying to make His way home
Nobody calling on the phone
Except for the pope maybe in Rome

Joan Osborne – What If God Was One Of Us Lyrics | MetroLyrics

The song in its time was somewhat controversial, because it had the temerity to suggest that God might be just a little too much like us — eg, too human (and therefore, not perfect).

While I don’t believe God would take up permanent residence in a human body, as He does in Osborne’s random stranger on a bus or as Burns’ unremarkable old man buying groceries,  I do believe God (or Jesus, if you are Christian) can use each and any of us as a vessel (for a short time) to touch the lives of others, and sometimes even change them.    We are all made in God’s image, and sometimes, when we least expect it, after feeling disconnected and ready to give up on spiritual life, God is suddenly right there, speaking to us, encouraging us,  or offering comfort — through another human being, often a total stranger.  That other person doesn’t even have to be Christian or believe in God, because I know from my own experience that sometimes God can even use a nonbeliever as a vessel to spread his love and care.

Here are some examples from my own life of times I knew God was there, using another person to communicate with me or perform those “random acts of kindness” that seem so rare in today’s complex world:

  • When I was buying groceries a few days before Christmas a few years ago and my debit card was run through and showed I had insufficient funds, a man behind me suddenly handed the cashier the $40 I was short of.
  • A customer of mine who recently bought me four new tires because he didn’t want me driving on the old ones (the man happens to be an atheist)
  • Every time my therapist  is able to feel my feelings with me and due to that high empathy (which is a gift bestowed on him by God, even though he is a non-Christian), know exactly what I need from him emotionally.
  • A hug from a random little girl of about 4 who told me, “don’t be sad.”   I wasn’t crying, but was going through a dark time in my life and was being abused at home.  Somehow she knew how much I needed that hug.
  • A man with Down Syndrome standing in line at the store who was pointing to things, smiling and laughing at everything he saw.   His eyes sparkled and he just seemed so excited to be alive.  People around him were laughing too, but not at him.  They laughed with him, because he was so happy and made everyone just feel so good (as an aside, it’s interesting how often God appears through people standing on line at the store).
  • Random thoughtful gifts or kind words from my children when I didn’t expect it and other people I never expected a gift or a kind word from.
  • A woman I met online and wrote about last November who offered to pay for me to attend a 4 day seminar addressing trauma from a spiritual/Christian perspective, after I told her I didn’t have the funds and couldn’t go.
  • Another woman I met online and became friends with, who sent two thoughtful gifts to me exactly when I needed them, without my asking.

littlegirlwithflowers

There are so many other examples, but these are the first ones I thought of.

Think about the times that God has reached you through another person — who either gave unselfishly of themselves, or just made you feel comforted or happy during a dark time or when you least expected it.    Make a list of those times and refer to it when you feel like God has forgotten about you.

Think about how you can touch the lives of others.  Ask God to show you how He can work through you to help others in need.

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About luckyotter

Recovering from BPD and C-PTSD due to narcissistic abuse from childhood. Married to a sociopath for 20 years. Proud INFJ, Enneagram type 4w5. Animal lover, music lover, cat mom, unapologetic geek, fan of the absurd, progressive Catholic, mom to 2, mental illness stigma activist, anti-Trumper. #RESISTANCE
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22 Responses to God among us.

  1. Aura Gael says:

    Someone’s cutting onions in here…lol.
    As I read my eyes increasingly welled up. The one about the little 4 year old got me the most. Kids are quite intuitive.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. nowve666 says:

    Mother/Saint Teresa used to see God in everyone. She would pick up the dirtiest, scroungiest most diseased beggar in India because to her he was Christ. And many New Agers say everyone is god. In Stranger in a Strange Land, they developed the greeting, “Thou art God.” A friend of mine wrote a version of that song, “What if Brad Were One of Us.” She was a fan of Brad Pitt.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Reblogged this on A Blog About Healing From PTSD and commented:
    “God among us,” a new post written by my friend Lucky Otter, is beautiful and uplifting. She talks about how God often works through random acts of kindness to encourage and bless us when we need it most, sometimes using total strangers to do it.

    Lucky says in her post that it is “interesting how often God appears through people standing on line at the store.” That statement reminded me of something that happened 40 years ago, when I was a young woman living in Houston, Texas.

    The first part of 1977 was one of the worst times in my entire life. My two children, who were 5 and 2 years old at the time, had been taken out of the country by my estranged, abusive husband. Every moment without my babies felt like hell on earth. Back in those days, law enforcement would not get involved in what they called a “domestic matter.” I had gone to the police, the District Attorney, and the FBI, all to no avail.

    One day during this time, I walked into a small convenience store to pay for some gas to put in my car. Emotionally, I felt like I had reached the end of my endurance. I was just putting one foot in front of the other, with no idea of what to do next. Coming from an abusive scapegoating family, I had no one to help me, I was completely on my own. I could not even turn to God, because I had stopped believing in Him when I was 12 years old, after my minister father had come so close to murdering my mother that I had thought she was dead.

    There was a long line in the little store, and only one open cash register. So I got in line behind a young African-American man and waited my turn to pay, shuffling forward a few steps at a time as the line inched its way toward the cashier.

    The man standing directly in front of me, had his back to me the whole time. He had not seen me walk into the store, I was sure of that. So he could not tell, by looking at my face and my body language, how desperate I was feeling. But suddenly, this young man turned around and said, “Do you know how much Jesus loves you?”

    Then, with people all around us, he spent the next several minutes telling me how our Creator God had sent His only begotten Son into the world to save the world from sin, and that Jesus would have left the glories of heaven and come here to earth to suffer and die on the cross for Me Only, if I had been the only one who needed salvation — because Jesus loves me that much!

    “And there isn’t any good thing that the Lord won’t do for you,” he said. “All you have to do is call on the name of Jesus the Messiah and ask Him to lead you!” Then the young man turned around again, moved up in the line, paid for his purchases, and left the store.

    I had not said one word, the whole time. All I had done was stare at the young man in wonder. His face and his eyes were literally glowing with a beautiful light! LOVE was shining all over his face!

    If that young man had not turned around and said what he did that long ago day in Houston, I might not have survived that night. That’s how miserable, hopeless, and utterly desperate I had felt when I walked into the store. But his words brought me back from the edge of the dark abyss. Although it would be some time before I began to believe that the things he had said might be true, God used a total stranger, “standing on line at the store,” to turn my life around!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Axis says:

    Also never forget that even the worst of the worst, the psychopaths, malignant narcissists and narcissists can(indirectly, and most definitely NOT on purpose on their part) in a way help us, as the unimaginable pain, loss, fear, sorrow, shame, distress, destruction, isolation, abuse, trauma and crime they dish out on us can actually (ONLY IF AND WHEN WE MANAGE TO NC THEM) help us see the bigger picture and draw us closer to God. Again, only if manage to GET AWAY

    God is great

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Alice says:

    Beautiful post, Otter. My eyes welled up too.

    Like

  6. Cypher The Wolf says:

    Hey luckyotter, I read your post about your son, ya know, um, being a furry. And, I just wanna say that he is the bravest person I have ever read about. Ever. I am 15 years old, I am also a furry, the only difference is, that I am Genderfluid. It’s different right? I wanted to talk to you, is there a way I can contact you through perhaps an email? Call or text me at 1 (775) 621-8849

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Terrant says:

    Have you watched the Bruce/Evan Almighty movies? Bringing up “Oh, God” made me think of them. Under the childishness in those movies, there are some deeper positive themes. At a high level, they bring to light how miracles and the works of God are performed through people.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Beautiful, just beautiful!

    Liked by 1 person

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