Talking about God in Mixed Company: How God has Become My Four Letter Word

“We are not of this world. We just live in it.”

What a crock! It’s a true statement, but how does one apply that sentiment when you’re with friends, at work, feeding the homeless, at a dinner party? Yes, I know we are spiritual beings having a human experience. We are also humans in a world of other people who can sometimes believe differently.

I’ve always admired women over 40 or 50. It is a generalization, but have you noticed how they exude confidence? Sure, that’s from wisdom, but I have found myself tight lipped about God and it’s so annoying. I feel bad about it because I grew up in a Christian family where you weren’t really serving and loving God if you did not shout it from the rooftop. I think there is something beautiful about people who share ones faith and yet I have felt tied by the culture to watch my words.

We say things like “Universe” because God is too heavy a word. And even universe in the wrong crowd will get you that glazed over look. Christians will rip you to shreds if you don’t capitalize G in god and a Jewish friend gave me a good talking to about the importance of “G-d”. I gotta be honest. It scares me to even embrace the God I feel inside when I don’t know which God is right and which one is left. Is it a he or she? Do I talk about it or will I be stoned? It’s a lot of pressure. I recognize it “shouldn’t” matter, but if you’re like me, you’re aware of how you are in direct response to the world.

There’s the other side of this, you know? The side that says be a representation of God and love and all that is good and you don’t necessarily have to talk about it. But I kind of want to. I build a business on the back of faith. I wish it wasn’t such a dirty secret. Maybe if it wasn’t such a weird thing to bring up I could ask some real questions of my peers who too have ideas.

You can’t always be the preacher on stage or the choir behind her. Sometimes you’re in the world and from that place how do you talk about faith when some have grown cold to it, don’t want anything to do with it… and those are the ones that go to church on Sunday?

I love grace, connection, the sense that the mystery of life can’t be explained by my perfect agnostic friends or my atheist peeps. Do we get comfortable with differences and the response to differences or do we continue to conform?

The truth is all Christians don’t hate gay people. All Muslims aren’t zealots. I don’t think atheists are going to hell and I think there is a place for god/universe/jesus/muhammad/creation/evolution in the dialogue.

I’m still figuring it out.

By Ebonni Bryant