A Different Take on God-Bothered

I recently read a very thought-provoking blog post by Disirdottir over at The Presence of the Past. She talks about how she feels that the label of ‘god-bothered’ is disrespectful to the place of a Deity holds in many of our lives and, to my understanding, her thoughts on this come down to a single question that she poses:

“Why would you offer service or honor to a being you didn’t believe to be at least equal, if not superior in some way?”

Before I tackle that, I want to take a step back and define, for me, what ‘god-bothered’ means. Disirdottir puts forth what she believes a common definition of god-bothered is; that being a “sometimes insistent and inconvenient communication from a multiplicity of deities on a routine basis”. I don’t disagree with her in it’s entirety, but I want to add what I feel is an important aspect of being god-bothered. For me, I can’t control that insistent and inconvenient communication from my Patron. I cannot tell Him ‘no thanks, not in the mood today’. Well, I could try but it wouldn’t get me anywhere and from what I understand from talking with other spirit-workers I’m in contact with, this is not an uncommon experience. If I could control it and put Him off, that, at least to me, would show that I absolutely do believe He is lesser than I.

My experiences of being god-bothered has not always been positive. In fact, until I was claimed by my Patron, it was almost entirely negative. I have been put in complex and emotionally uncomfortable situations due to my ability to Hear and Speak. I have been a tool to deliver potentially painful messages to those around me and a catalyst for creative destruction due to being the closest pair of ears available. I have lost sleep, felt like my sanity was slipping through my fingers, and wondered what I had done to deserve the situations I found myself in where I gave up parts of myself in the name of the Work. The so-called Deity News Network channel was on at top volume all day, all night.

Since my Patron saw fit to take me, the divine television has been put on mute except for His voice and the voices of Any He desires me to communicate with. It is quite possibly one of the greatest gifts He has given me thus far and I can’t express how grateful I am for it. It has literally allowed me to gain my life back and live as normally as I ever will be able to.

For me, god-bothered does not connote an attitude of simply entertaining and tolerating the relationship I have with my God. Instead, it describes my experience of how I interact with the Divine based on my choices. I’ve made a permanent, lasting commitment to always seek and hear His voice irregardless of my life circumstances, desires, or personal feelings about what He asks me to do. God-bothered is an adjective that communicates clearly how I Hear and what my position is in the grand scheme of things.

Disirdottir further describes the term as containing a ‘lack of graciousness in it, a jarring tone of cynicism, an attitude of presumption feeling put-upon’.

I also don’t disagree here. My relationship with my Patron, my interactions with Him, and how I do my Job is very often lacking in graciousness. It is not easy to serve a Deity and choose everyday to accept that your will is not at the top of your to-do list for that day. I am not always happy with what I am told I need to do or the decisions He makes for me.

It IS cynical. I’ve chosen a life that doesn’t resemble anything I thought it would be and it’s not easy. While I celebrate what I have gained in my commitment to Him, I mourn the life I will never live. It is an unrealistic expectation for me to wake up every morning and be thankful and happy that He has shaken me to my core and demanded that I live to His expectations. Mortals are self-seeking creatures and I know that, at least for me, I am unable to always understand His logic.

I quite often feel put upon. I have to do and say things I don’t want to. I have to live my life in a particular way and work to make His expectations and goals my expectations and goals no matter what I think at any given time. It’s not easy. I can’t sit around in my metaphorical pajamas and be lazy.

Instead of looking at these qualities as detrimental, I sit with them and value them as markers keep my commitment no matter what my feelings may be in any given minute. I cradle my grief and let it inform my gratitude that my life did not continue on the path that I had set out on. It has been a hard lesson to learn, but being able to step forward while struggling with all of my reservations and grief is a testament to how much I want to be with Him rather than oppose Him.

So, I arrive back at Disirdottir’s question. I disagree strongly with her that holding all of the above feelings and labels mean that I do not believe Him to be at least equal to me. In fact, I believe quite the opposite as I already stated. These feelings refine, enhance, and inform my service and illustrate the difference between my current life and how I have lived before. I can’t speak to the intricacies of the relationships others may have with their Deities, but I know that mine does not want me to deny what I feel. It’s a counterproductive exercise that only breeds contempt and resentment. If anything, He is greater than I may ever be able to completely comprehend because He chose me; a stubborn wanderer who has trouble hearing that any way but mine is useful.

Service is not dependent on attitude. Obedience is an action, not a feeling or state of being. My devotion does not rest on how much I want or do not want to do as I am bidden. Instead, my devotion, service, and obedience is defined by waking up everyday and not giving Him a massive middle finger.

I agree with Disirdottir that perhaps the label of god-bothered is not for everyone and respect how she has challenged herself to think differently. How we relate to Deity is less important than how we give our service.

With all of this in mind, my desire is that my King continues to bother me, frustrate me, challenge me, and ask more of me than I think I can give. I can only hope that my service lives up to these expectations, as imperfect as it may be, and that He continues to mold me as He sees fit despite my ‘flaws’ of lacking in grace, being a cynic, and feeling put upon when He expects the best of me. It really is all that I’ve ever wanted and, regardless of my bad days when I snarl at Him, He knows this and perhaps even finds amusement in my snarling.

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~ by Alex on May 1, 2011.

One Response to “A Different Take on God-Bothered”

  1. I’m glad my post was thought provoking for you. In sharing my thoughts on the topics in this series, my hope is to inspire others to self-reflection, leading to informed decisions on what they think about the issues in question.

    From what I’ve seen, I am different from many of the god-touched, who often describe experiences more like yours. I intend no disrespect to you, or others who feel the term fits them; it seems that there is a spectrum, and I think putting the idea of that out there is valuable. Sometimes it seems to me that to be owned would be easier, but that’s not my call to make.

    I have a friend who has a geas against eating venison. I appear to have one against considering/describing myself as god-bothered. I think I have the better end of the deal, frankly. *grin*

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