Well, I couldn't leave this one alone. My meditation from Richard Rohr today encourages the reader to repeat the mantra, "Your image of God creates you". He describes that this is the foundation to our theology, our approach to Scripture and spirituality. For me, this statement could not be more true. I see it in myself and I see it in people I meet.
When I was younger my image of God was of a loving, fatherly figure with very high expectations. God's rules were put in place to protect us and guide us, therefore, we should follow them. This image of God certainly created me as a young person. My main objective in life was to be good; to say and do the right things. Rebellious people were to be feared, but somehow intrigued me at the same time (especially if they called themselves Christians). Perfection was to be sought after and striven for in all things. I had very high expectations of myself and felt that everyone else expected the same from me.
It has taken me a long time to begin to change these things and loosen up a little. This has only been possible as my image of God has changed over the years. As I have studied scripture and theology and listened to the stories of people who have different life experiences, God has become too big for my limiting box and burst open the lid. My image of God has broadened, deepened and become more mysterious. As I have given more freedom to my image of God, so too have I found freedom. I am a little less concerned about God's rules these days and a little more inclined to think that life is messy, rather than perfect. Where my image of God had once been about perfection, it is now about freedom.
I am quite content that what I know is nothing. I am more open to the surprises God has for me. But I must say it saddens me to watch others with such different images of God create this in themselves. I have seen judgmental remarks arise from believing in a judging God. I have seen deep anger rage from an image of an angry, vengeful God. Our image of God, let's face it, is just that - OUR image of God.
Although my understanding of God is certainly limited, I can only hope that the image of God's love inclusiveness, grace and forgiveness will be created within me.