In a recent article, called The Link Between OCD and GOD: How Religion Impacts Symptomology, I shared the stories of people whose OCD experiences were formulated as a result of their relationship, or lack thereof with a divine presence. Each of the three had either been indoctrinated to believe that God was either punitive and judgmental or inconsequential. As a result, they responded with rituals that they felt would protect them and their loved ones from harm.
At the end of the article, I indicated that the intention was to befriend God. What a concept!
More than 20 years ago, I was on my home from an event with a psycho-spiritual theme. Not being attentive to the needs of my Jeep (meaning that I let the gas gauge go past bone-dry empty), I ran out of fuel on the way home on a chilly and windy November night. I called my husband to let him know and since we had one car, he couldn’t come to get me. I called AAA and was dismayed to discover that it would take more than an hour for them to bring gas to me.
I sent out a call to the Celestial Rescue Team, hunkered down with a blanket wrapped around me and waited. Within minutes, a police car pulled up behind me, an officer got out and asked what I needed. I explained my dilemma and he ushered me to his vehicle; the first and hopefully, last time I would be in a cop car. He drove to the nearest gas station and filled up a candy apple red container to feed the tank.
On the way, he informed me that he usually didn’t patrol that particular stretch of highway, but “Something told me to come by there.” I smiled and told him about my prayer. He shared with me that he believed it was this call that alerted him to head my way and added that he was a “God-fearing man.” I let him know that in my perception, God was nothing to fear and that I prefer to think of myself as God-loving. I thanked him for his kindness and then headed home, certain that there had indeed been some divine intervention.
I have had numerous encounters like that throughout my life. Not what mainstream psychology teaches are ideas of reference or magical thinking. Genuine, verifiable experiences that seem to be beyond explanation. I refer to them as cosmic coincidence; those events that have me shaking my head in bewildered awe, asking “What are the chances that such a thing could happen?” My answer is always the same: “100%, since it occurred.”
It is that encounter with just the right person, hearing a song on the radio right after you were humming it, getting a message from the Universe in the form of a book, letter, phone call or email. Right person, right place, right time. They occur every day in my life and likely, yours too. It’s a matter of being open to receiving them and then recognizing them when they show up. I have also heard them referred to as “God-incidences”. They feed my faith when it sometimes flags.
Recently, I was introduced to a new television show called God Friended Me. The main characters are Miles Finer, a young man who works in IT, whose atheist sensibilities fly in the face of the upbringing of his minister father Rev. Arthur Finer, his sister Ali who is a fusion of bar tender and psychology student, Cara who is a reporter following his fascinating story, and his best friend Rakesh who is also a computer dude.
Miles hosts a podcast during which he challenges spiritual teachings and questions nearly everything. His own beliefs come into question when he is “friended” on social media by someone claiming to be God. He reluctantly accepts the request and then a chain of events occurs as one by one other people are suggested as friends from the “God account”. Each one brings with them the opportunity for him to be a force for good in the world.
The first episode I saw involved a 15-year-old boy who had stolen Miles’ wallet. This teen’s mother was in jail and he was living alone. Turns out that in addition, he had lost a dear friend who had been his social worker, so this kid was really hurting. Another layer was that the detective who was investigating the theft had also recently suffered a loss; his wife had died, and he was grieving as well. It took a few back and forth interactions to discover that… wait for it, the detective’s wife was also this young man’s social worker. Since he had nowhere else to go, the detective took the kid into his home and heart.
Consider it Quantum Leap meets Touched by an Angel in which social media is the means by which Spirit reaches out and invites Miles and Company to interact with God in a casual and familiar way, absent the formal, ritualistic structure.
I call my own interactions “God-versations” in which I question nearly every aspect of life. I ponder why people get ill, have accidents, suffer trauma and loss at what seems a furious pace without ability to catch their breath. Sometimes the answers I receive make sense from a bigger picture perspective that can be challenging to accept. As is so for many of my clients, I have found myself sitting with the discomfort of what is when I would much prefer to live in the “what if?” It is then that I turn to the God of my understanding as is expressed in 12-step parlance for guidance. Who or what God is changes day by day. Sometimes it is expressed in dreams, license plates and songs, and at others in messages from other people who show up unexpectedly. Are they God in drag asking to be my friends? Perhaps, God really is one of us.