The God-shaped Hole


As a teenager, because I found the God concept presented to me in my youth so unpalatable and offensive (racism, homophobia, misogyny) I promptly through out the Baby Jesus with the bath water. But because the need for a “higher power” of some sort was still there, I soon learned to insert other things in the God-shaped hole. I’m done debating the existence of “higher intelligence” (isn’t it sad that I often have to let spellcheck help me spell “intelligence?”), a metaphysical plane, or Universal Spiritual Law. If you’ve reading my blog for more than a couple of weeks, you probably already know where I stand on all these things. But because there seems to be some psychological and/or emotional needs in humans that are met by “walking a spiritual path” or surrendering one’s life to Something that begins with a capital letter, that left me wanting in that department. Sometimes I’m sorry that I can’t believe what my brother believes as fervently as he believes it. But I just can’t. If I could, I presume I could come away with the same sense of emotional peace he has in his life, especially in matters of faith.

I have developed my own spiritual path over the years since I got sober and it continues to evolve. But it just never seems to fit neatly inside any religion or philosophy I’ve ever heard. Don’t get me wrong, I glean the wisdom of many traditions and I’ve for the most part been able to see some virtue in communities of faith (even if oftentimes… well, you know where I’m headed with that. No need to go there). There are some teachings by some groups that resonate with me very much. But when I first, in my late teens, proclaimed myself an agnostic and later an atheist, I got busy pretty quickly trying to find things that would provide for me what religion seemed to provide for the religious people I know.

I think that most religious people get from their religion a sense of purpose to their lives. They seem not to wonder about the nature of the universe because it’s all laid out for them in their doctrine. It seems to give them a sense of hope and self-worth. In their religion they find community and as a group, they and the people who share their beliefs can exercise their political will over others. But it was mostly the sense of ease and comfort that I was after.

Because I was gay and I grew up in a church that taught that people like me were “an abomination to God,” because I believed women to be equal to men and that religion taught that men had authority over women, and because I lived in a racially diverse community but our church was curiously monochromatic– I decided to step away from religion and therefore to dispense with all ideas of God whatsoever. While I am still confident in the first part of that decision, I regret that I leapt so completely to the position of scoffing at all things supernatural. No, “regret” is not the right word. All of this has been a part of what I now refer to as my spiritual path. In fact, “supernatural” is not quite the right word choice either because even though my current concepts of God do exist outside the confines of any religion, they need not exist “above” (super) the natural world. My God may include all of nature but does not exist outside of it. It is nature that has had to expand in my estimation to include my concept of God. And while I may be as content for the rest of my life as I am now to not “know” the nature of God, I am not content not to try and better understand how It works.

But for now, all that is required from me is willingness.

From the time when I renounced God as a teenager up to the point that has me reclined on this comfortable bed visiting with you tonight, I have put many things inside the God-shaped hole. To create or attempt to create the same piece of mind, ease and comfort, even sense of purpose and direction that a religious person might get from their religion– I have drunk alcohol, taken drugs, spent money, eaten compulsively, fucked at least a couple thousand men and a few women along the way too. I have tried to create a sense of security in my life by pleasing those around me, ingratiating myself to people whom I perceived to be powerful, kissed ass, and worked myself nearly to death. Been codependent.  I have been a full-fledged workaholic and a sloth alternatingly. I’ve acted out in rage to get that “high,” and I have eaten so much at times that I puked and when I found that that brought some measure of emotional relief, I started to make myself puke on command. When I got so frustrated that my outside body wasn’t reflecting the chaos and pain on my inner body, I started to cut myself with razor blades in places that wouldn’t show. I have medicated myself with the attention I got from my work and similarly from the self-imposed isolation that followed my brief brush with fame. For a time I even let the thoughts of potential romance be my drug, focusing on that fantasy life rather than doing anything that might move me toward a substantial and meaningful relationship of that type. In short, I have long been a spiritual seeker; I just continually went to the wrong address.

Thankfully, the great majority of these behaviors have been long arrested. I don’t share them for any reason other than to be honest with you and with myself about all the many ways in which I have played the “substitution game” where I tried to put anything other than a spiritual practice in the place where only that will fit.

I’m grateful for my life, even the painful parts. I’m grateful that, even seventeen years after my last drink or drug, an addiction to underearning finally brought me to me knees in a way that has humbled me like never before. I don’t know what is going to happen next. The great news is that’s okay. I have entered into a state of grace that has me living the way I have always wanted to live– simply surrendering and taking the next right action with the promise that if I will just keep that up, there is no limits to what I can accomplish.

I miss New York! I loved being there for those three weeks. I want to live there again. There are other things that have been presenting themselves though, other ideas, other plans, other opportunities that might lead me back to New York with the ability to establish a reasonable standard of living. I’m open and waiting for some guidance on what’s coming next.

When I stepped on this road a few months ago with the intention to live my life in a better and different way, I was warned by some trusted friends to expect a lot of disruption at first. Boy, they weren’t kidding. I’m grateful for all the hard things I’ve had to go through in sobriety. There have been many. It’s only because I lived through all that without picking up that I am able to go through what life has required of me over the past two years.

For now, I’m waiting for the next indicated step to reveal itself. When I know what that is, I’ll take it. In the meantime, I’ll be here doing pushups. “The more you sweat in peace, the less you die in war.” Semper Fi.

See y’all tomorrow.

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