The Face of God. (What it looks like.)

When I was a young girl, I sat with my family in the church pew every Sunday morning listening to our minister preach about how if we wanted salvation, if we wanted to be healed from our sins, if we were going to pray, that we must seek the face of God. As a teenager I would occasionally sing solo’s for the congregation, and one song that always stuck with me referenced finding the “face of God.” Whenever I heard that phrase as a child in church I would always visualize the God I’d been taught about in Sunday school, the old man with the white beard. I suppose I was thinking he might look something close to Santa Claus, minus the belly that shook like a bowl full of jelly, and the red suit of course.

As the years went by, I got older and stopped going to church. Life experiences taught me that I didn’t resonate with the whole religion thing. It wasn’t just the heaven and hell aspect of what I’d been taught, but more that it never caught on with me. I didn’t feel it. That’s not to say I didn’t believe in a sort of Creator, a higher power or something greater than myself. I just didn’t know what that was exactly, and I didn’t think I could find it inside a brick and mortar church building. I was actually quite fearful of God as a kid because I didn’t want to make him mad, let him down or be punished by him. I often lay in bed worrying about the possible sins I’d committed throughout my day, and hoped I’d go to Heaven anyway. But, then the thought of going to Heaven scared me too, because that would mean I was dead. Kind of a catch-twenty-two it seemed to me. I didn’t like it much and throughout my twenties and thirties I steered clear. Funny though, one thing I always had no problem believing in as a child were angels. Now, “they” were something I could relate to and envision easily. Maybe because angels were always portrayed as beautiful, loving spiritual beings. I didn’t feel judged by them, or worrisome when I thought they might be looking over me. I felt a sense of peace and joy when I thought of angels. Angel.jpg

Recently, a friend of mine who is quite religious wrote about how her twin boys were facing illness and a life of possible difficulties due to a health condition. She went on to mention how in times of struggle we all need to look for the face of God. I hadn’t heard that phrase in years and there it was again. It brought back a lot of confusion and questions for me from my child hood. I decided to go on a quest of sorts to find out exactly what the face of God looked like, and more importantly how I could find it. I set out reading some bits of a small pocket bible my mother in law had given me when I first married my husband, but I didn’t find what I was looking for there. I moved on to the internet and began researching topics about the face of God, and what came up was to be expected. A plethora of different religions with different physical depictions of God’s face. Not exactly what I was hoping for and certainly not helpful since there were so many opinions on the matter.  I even brought the subject up over coffee one morning with one of my regular church going friends. She was unable to elaborate beyond simply saying, “It’s something you feel. Not something you see.” But, as vague as that was, it did stick with me. In fact, it was likely the best information I could have been given. So, I began to try really hard to feel for God’s face, but that seemed easier said than done.  At a certain point, I just let it go and decided seeing God’s face wasn’t something that was ever going to happen to me, at least not in this life time.

Life moved on for me and into my forties I experienced a lot of contrast. Our youngest child was diagnosed with autism and we were given a grim prognosis for his functionality as he grew older. I experienced many other challenges sadly including the unexpected death of my beautiful sister Amy. I found myself frequently at a loss for happiness, depressed and many times just sleep walking through my life of hardships. Suffice it to say, it was a very rough several years. I continued to talk to the angels and to find comfort knowing they were there. That was the extent of my (religion) or rather, spirituality. It is in fact, what kept me getting up out of bed every day to face whatever life threw at me.  If I ever needed to see “the face of God” it was during those years.

But, then it was all at once a new day. Those years were finally behind us, our son healing and doing well, and while my heart still broken, not quite as tender over losing my sister.  And then one really, really good day as I was sitting on my porch looking out at the gorgeous blue sky, I said out loud in a moment of rare euphoria, “Thank you God for all of my blessings!” And God answered inside my swelling happy heart, “Ah, my child you have seen my face.” And I cried, and cried, and cried…tears of joy.

No matter what is happening around us, we can reach for a better thought, and we can choose to look for something that we truly want to see which makes us feel better. Every time my son hugs me and tells me he loves me, every time my husband safely walks through the door after a long day of walking the thin blue line, every time my Great Dane puppy licks my face, every day I wake up and see the sunrise…I am seeing the face of God.

“There are times I can’t forget, dressed up in my Sunday best, tryin’ not to squirm and to maybe learn a bit of what the preacher preached. And later lying in the dark, I felt a stirring in my heart and though I longed to see what could not be seen, I still believed. I guess I shouldn’t think it odd, until we see the face of God, a yearning deep within us tells us, there’s more to come.” Searching.jpg

Carolyn Arends – Reaching Lyrics


{Photo credit to: Diana Feil, SOMMI, Samantha-Gades@Unsplash}