hevria emily image
girl ponders life

What If My Relationship With God Is All In My Head?

It always baffles me to ponder G-d in real life,
Off the page, away from the siddur,
Yelling for G-d in the middle of the forest,
Like a child wandering around in a parking lot,
Are you my mother?

Perhaps I walked for too long and forgot to look back,
Or maybe I glanced behind my shoulder and was utterly thrown off,
By how much was behind me…
I consider myself a spiritual person, as many people do,
But I refuse to acknowledge that being religious and being spiritual,
Are two separate things. This is where I believe the danger is, this is where people start to get confused;
Myself included.

I often ponder the difference between prayer and speech.
The significance of silence,
Moving lips, buzzing thoughts, communicated quietly,
For only G-d to hear.
Or the speech acts that becomes three-dimensional and airborne –
Waiting to be accepted and actualized.
Is someone really listening to me? To us? To anyone who calls out and means it?

An all-knowing, all-loving
Invisible being,
Of infinite might and power,
Cares to hear my prayers?
For parnasa, for refuah, for love and acceptance.
That my tiny mind and body are somehow deserving of a real relationship with the source of all things good?
How on Earth can that be?
Perhaps we’ve taken it for granted, or even worse, perhaps we’ve become so uncomfortable to get on the topic of communicating with the Infinite,
That it’s just better not to.

But my largest fears continue to echo in my head,
I turn the coin over, again and again,

Oh my G-d…

What if I’ve made this all up?
This relationship, this closeness, these endless conversations, these wishes, these hopes, these hours and hours,
For how can I feel close to Someone who speaks a different language from me?
How am I to call out in English only to search for a response among the trees and the leaves and the happenings of my day-to-day?
What if I don’t speak “G-d,” what if I’ve never been able to?
But I tell myself I feel connected, I feel close, I am a spiritual being,
I am in touch with myself. I’ve spent years developing a relationship with G-d, it’s something I practice every single day.
But what if that just isn’t true?

What if my relationship with G-d is all in my head?

Over the past year I’ve found it sporadically difficult to keep G-d and the Torah together in one sentence, even though at this point in my life, I certainly know better than that.
But the Torah is full of meticulous laws and ideals, accepted by man and elaborated upon,
To be people-friendly and practical.
And then I try to make a connection:
Between a G-d,
Mystical, intangible, everywhere and anywhere, and nowhere,
At all times.
My human brain can’t possibly understand this Being.
No face, no emotions – no way to ponder Him or His decisions.
So instead, we tie G-d to a face,
A fatherly role,
A king, a provider – a giver and taker of life.

And I’m given a brown leather book with crinkled pages and man-made prayers and the occasional lipstick stain,
And told to read from it – daily, perhaps twice, or three times,
Depending on my gender, or my mysterious placement in this book made for all of humankind,
Or perhaps mankind, depending on who you ask.

Get to know G-d, talk to G-d;
Hashem hears all prayers.
And the world is made out to be mysterious and confusing and outside of the bounds of our understanding.
So I speak, I pray, I become deeply invested; but humanly can’t help but find myself asking,
What are these Mitzvot?
Candles, bread and wine.
Two dishwashers, no touching,
Minyan, little white strings, dangling at the edge of four corners.
All for G-d, for us? For Jews?
And I stand here and I grapple as I try desperately to make the connection,
The same G-d who encompasses the world, who is the world, who removed a part of Himself to create the world,
The author of the Torah, the blueprints and instruction book to our entire existence,

The story book we read to our children before bed, the hours of toil we spend in yeshiva,
These G-dly attributes we’ve extracted  in order to somehow understand and relate,
We say G-d is angry, G-d is laughing, G-d is up to something,
We try desperately to speak of G-d with human words in an attempt to understand what may be going on up there,
But how can I engage in a conversation with a being who only answers cryptically?
I must hunt out G-d, seek, search, travel.
Keep asking questions, to the right people.

Pray for the answers,
Pray to understand them.
Pray for clarity and more clarity. 

But what if the conversation starts to feel one way?
Many of us identify as spiritual people –
We daven, meditate, and take hikes in the forest,
We close our phones for hours and do nothing other than think about G-d.
We become spacey, dissociated, consumed.
We becomes givers and lovers — we walk around with serious faces and heavy books in our hands.
We learn Torah and keep Shabbat and eat Kosher food and go to shul.
But have we ever properly experienced G-d?

And if so, how are we to know?

 

— with love, from someone who’s trying