My language has evolved significantly. I find myself being unwilling to use words that were common to me because of the connotations that I have become aware of. So much of life is language and as I understand more, I find myself less and less comfortable with specific ideas that we have coined phrases for.
This is specifically true for the word “God.” Think about the word God and what that means. God is a perfect example of a word, that defines a concept, that I have become super hesistant to use frivously. When I use the word God I am evoking an complex plethora of stories inside myself and to those I’m talking to. If I’m talking to a Conservative Christian, I don’t even believe in God at all. If I’m talking to a Muslim, I’ll say Allah. If I’m talking to an environmentalist, I’ll say Nature or Energy. If I’m talking to an atheist I have to learn new language because a lot of the times the God that they don’t believe in is also the God I don’t believe in but I still do believe in something else, maybe then I’ll call it Love. Religions try and come to agreed ideas about what God is and they write these things down and have myths that try and explain and then they tie all those ideas up in the word.
Sometimes what I find easier to do, is to come to an a term that can be used so that the conversation and my own understanding can progress. For instance, what if instead of saying “I believe in God” you say, “I believe in Great Mystery.” I think this is an accurate translation based on readings of the Bible, but it gives much insight when allowing it to be appropriate. Considering Christians have many words to describe God, it should be acceptable to keep this up. Backtrack through your conversations, and even through scriptures replacing this new word. Watch what happens.
“In the beginning, The Great Mystery created the heavens and the earth.”
So now, instead of saying “God” and all the baggage that you, me and the rest of the world believe about God all tied up into this sentence, we are making room for our own ignorance, and allowing the word to not be subject to our limited imaginations. See the problem now is that when we say God we mean something and we don’t really allow the definition to include mystery, and everything we don’t know.
Or what about now when you say I don’t beleive in God? It’s just a non-sensical statement to me now. It’s like saying I don’t belive in mystery. Which is ludicrous. There is lots of things I don’t believe about God, probably all the same things as an athiest, but to say one doesn’t believe in God? What does that even mean if the word God includes more than just what we believe God to be? Can the word God include the existence and non-existence of a diety? Can the word God include not just the things we know about God but also everything we don’t know or include what I don’t believe as well? Can a word do that?
I’m learning to not just use language differently but to hear language differently. When someone says God, instead of thinking about the term as in all the things that I don’t believe in or things that I despise, I’m learning to hear the term as a word that is communicating a set of ideas about how this person views the world. It has allowed me to have way different kinds of conversations with people and has given me much more insight into my own faith.