I talk to God. A lot.
I fight with Him, cry to Him, crack jokes with Him and ask Him a lot of questions.
I can tell when He’s disappointed in me, proud of me, is disciplining me and wants me to draw nearer to him.
This relationship didn’t happen overnight.
Growing up, I hated church. Hated it. I grew up in the Catholic church and you couldn’t tell me a more boring church existed. Everything was so regimented, annoyingly so. The chants sounded like something out of a scary Scooby Doo episode. Making matters worse, the nuns in the church knew I hated attending, so every Sunday, they’d force me to sit next to them in a bid to make me focus. My poor attitude caused me to get pinched a lot.
At the time, my perception of God was very narrow. I knew I was supposed to love Him and worship Him, but I did so because I didn’t want to go to Hell, not because I truly loved Him.
When I hit my teenage years, my rebellion set in. I was a good child ordinarily, but I was obstinate when it came to going to church. I didn’t see the point and I wasn’t about to change my mind.
It wasn’t until 2009 that I discovered a Houston pastor by the name of Joel Osteen that I even gave God a second glance. I was in my house cleaning up when I came across a church program on television. I was about to flip the channel, but something that toothy-grinned pastor said caught my attention. I stood in front of my TV screen, broom in hand and could not move. I literally stood still for 30 minutes, digesting every word. It seemed like everything he was saying was directed to me. I remember reaching the end of the program and feeling like I wanted to know more. So, every Sunday without fail, I would turn on the TV and watch his Sunday sermon. Each time, he got me.
Weeks later, I ran out to my local bookstore to buy his book, Become a Better You. It was life-changing. Everything he said spoke to me. I knew I was led by God to read it. I still have that book to this day and every now and then when I need guidance, I go back to that book. It never fails. I often felt badly that I would read his book more than the Bible. But, I know God is pleased with me getting the message any way I can.
Since then, I have been on a good path. I’m still not a big church goer. I have tried many places, but always end up watching Joel or my favorite pastor to date, Dr. Charles Stanley. Between those two men, I get my fill.
They help me to understand God more. As I understand Him, I want to learn more and talk more.
I remember hearing people talk about hearing the voice of God. I never quite got that. I figured they meant God would use other people to talk to them. I never thought it was possible to actually hear God speak to us. Boy, was I wrong.
As I started developing a relationship with Him I started hearing that voice clearly. At first, I thought I was saying things I wanted to hear or losing my mind. But, then I started discerning the difference. He would check me every time I acted ungrateful or said something hurtful. I would be busy watching my favorite program and I would hear Him say, “Do you want to spend some time with me?” It was always a soft voice, never demanding. Almost childlike – the way my niece would gently ask me to play dollhouse with her when she was younger. I’d then turn off the TV and get into my Bible, some religious book or even prayer.
He would comfort me when I was going through rough times. I saw how He’d send people to call me or spend time with me when I was lonely. I knew it was Him.
If you’ve ever been disciplined by God, you’ll know not that He is not one to be trifled with. He is serious. I went through a period of my life where I was just being disrespectful to Him and not abiding by His ways. He warned me repeatedly, but I didn’t listen. So, like any good parent, He got to disciplining me. It was brutal. But, the lesson was learned.
I am grateful for those moments and even more grateful for his love and friendship. Above all else, I am happy to have his forgiveness and grace.