Recently I have had some great opportunities to reflect on my life, and particularly on my image of God: who God has been, who God is for me now, and who I hope God will be. My reflection is very simple, but meaningful for me. My image of God is just three letters: SSS. And right now, you might be asking: what on earth does that mean?!
As a child, my image of God was as SOMEONE. I went to Mass regularly with my family and we prayed together, but I didn’t have a strong personal relationship with God. There were, however, several important experiences which developed my image of God as someone there, present in my life. I remember, at the age of around seven or eight, attending Mass with my extended family at my grandparents’ parish, which is a big church with an organ loft at the back. We were sitting in the organ loft, and from there we could see everything. The church has Latin phrases all around the ceiling, and I remember asking one of my uncles what the particular phrase in front of us meant. He told me it meant It is I, do not be afraid, which I now know is from the Gospel story of Jesus calming the storm. At the time, I remember thinking simply, “Wow!”
My parents and extended family also helped me to develop my belief in God’s presence, particularly through their prayer. I was born with Moebius Syndrome, which causes lifelong facial paralysis among other issues, and all my life have had particular health challenges. I have strong memories as a child of my family praying for me, and of my parents encouraging me to see my health condition as a way of being closer to God, who knew I could handle difficulties.
As I became a teenager, God suddenly became a STRANGER. Throughout my adolescence and into my early adulthood I struggled with depression and low self-esteem and sometimes made wrong choices. I did very little to deepen my faith or to connect with God. God became someone who had abandoned me, someone distant.
God is simply a SEEKER. Within the last few years, I have had many rich experiences of God drawing me closer to Him.
Recently I was meditating on the Gospel passage in which Jesus describes the kingdom of heaven as a treasure in the field and as a fine pearl. I felt as I was meditating that God is that treasure and that fine pearl, and that I am meant to seek Him – and then all of a sudden I thought to myself, “Hey, I’m like that for God, too!” To God, I am a treasure in the field or a fine pearl, and He would sell everything to possess me. I am like that for God, and so are you. This image of God as seeking me, and as wanting me to seek Him too, fills me with deep gratitude and awe, and it is one I never want to forget.
At the end of my reflection on my Someone, Stranger, Seeker God, I believe that our image of God is closely connected with our image of ourselves. Coming to a more positive self-awareness has, I believed, helped me to see how much God loves me and how close He really is and wants to be to me. My prayer for you is that you also will experience, in your own unique way, God’s loving presence in your life.
Sr M. Sophie Boffa