Past Images of God…

In this discussion, we were asked to reflect on our past images of God; in effect, to tell our stories with God. The guys in my group know each other VERY well, and love each other deeply. Bill Z is the professor. I grew to deeply admire Bill’s perspective (he is catholic) and experience with God.

 Past images…
by Larry Williams – Wednesday, 25 January 2012, 11:22 AM
(You guys know my story nearly as well as I do by now, but…. here goes
I was a preacher’s kid. A Second-Blessing Holiness preacher’s kid. Although my dad was considered liberal in that faith tradition and was very tolerant of the way in which people lived their lives and held their faith, the tradition marked me with a feeling of external, legalistic expectations and personal inward shame. I lived most of my life by an equation:
church + family + performance = worth.
Eventually, all of the terms on the left side of the equation crashed and burned. It felt like God loved me when I performed well, and was waiting to thump me on the back of the head when I was weak or failed. I am currently rebuilding my life, and have moved to Florida with my FOO family in the same geographic proximity for the first time since I was in first grade. I wrote a 4-part post on my blog about my transition. The name of the posts is: Symmetry and Redemption. You can find it here:
I am in the process of reframing my own heritage in a healthier manner. So far… so good…


Re: Week 3: Past images…
by Darrel Harvey – Thursday, 26 January 2012, 07:53 AM
I do know your story and I’m glad to know the person behind it.

So just to make sure I’m seeing the correct picture, was the American Idol Judge God – equally as affirming with your good performance as he was agitated by your bad performance? Or was he one that always leaned to the negative?


Re: Week 3: Past images…
by Larry Williams – Thursday, 26 January 2012, 03:09 PM
I guess I felt that when God loved my good performance, He really did love it, and me; the one who performed. But the good performance never lessened his high expectation which I felt I disappointed in my weakness. It was definitely a “good boy/bad boy” relationship.


Re: Week 3: Past images…
by John Ray – Thursday, 26 January 2012, 01:46 PM

Reading this and your blog posts, I wonder if God as the football coach plays in somewhere as well. I mean, that is the ultimate in performance, glory and risk, right? The culturally acceptable means of intimacy with another man/men.


Re: Week 3: Past images…
by Larry Williams – Thursday, 26 January 2012, 03:14 PM
That is a great point, JRay. Yes. Like a coach, God cheered my good play, but was always looking for the perfect game from me. And you could only celebrate a win until the next day of practice. Always in pursuit of perfection. No matter how well the performance… there was always the block you “should” have made, or the penalty when you “should” have had your head in the game. Exactly. The pursuit of perfection that was never achievable.


Re: Week 3: Past images…
by William Zuelke – Thursday, 26 January 2012, 05:12 PM

Dear Larry,
will try to get to the blog…… you think of your process of symmetry and redemption as an event, a one time process or a way of life?



Re: Week 3: Past images…
by Larry Williams – Thursday, 26 January 2012, 07:55 PM
I originally thought of symmetry and redemption in light of the move to Florida, and back to my family of origin; as a new growth process I believe I will live out. However, now that you mention it… I definitely think redemption is a way of life. We are constantly being redeemed to who we were created to be, and the life “we find ourselves in” (to steal and kind of paraphrase Brian Maclaren’s title) sometimes needs to be redeemed to us. I guess you could also say the same about God. We are redeemed to God, but God is also redeemed to us, as we throw aside former images of God as God outgrows them in the course of our life experience and relationship to God.
As I think about it some more, symmetry is also a way of life. Jesus spoke of a symmetrical life: Love God with everything we are, and love others as we love our self. Living in this pattern brings symmetry to a well-lived life. Loving God, I believe, allows us, and gives us permission to truly love our self. Our love for others, then, is tied to the way in which we love our self. Not loving God directly relates to the way in which we see our self. Counter to the teaching with which I was raised, not loving God leads us away from truly loving our self in a life-giving manner. Instead, we live with a vacuum of value on the inside, and we treat others and all of life as commodities with which we try to fill the vacuum. An asymmetrical life.
So, I definitely think that symmetry and redemption are a way of life.


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