Personally, spiritually, I am a theist. Communally, religiously, I am a humanist.
I believe in a god and have done so far as far back as I can remember. However, my belief in god does not require those around me, or strangers out in the world, to also believe in a god of any kind. My partner, Josh, identifies as an atheist and humanist, and we work hard to dialogue with each other about how to respect each other’s beliefs and encourage our spiritual and religious development.
For me, god is not omnipotent, but is omniloving and omnipresent. God experiences all that we do, all at the same time, and never falters in continuing to love the world. God is persuasive, not coercive or vengeful, and sends out “lures” to guide us towards a divine vision of a better existence. It is up to us whether or not we take up those opportunities to live better. No matter how many times we may turn away from or reject those lures, god never stops sending them. They may appear in the actions or words of those around us, or as dreams, or as revelations during prayer or meditations.
It was only after I was exposed to Process Studies and Whitehead’s “Philosophy of Organism” that I finally allowed myself to let go of the god as creator, ex nihilo, that had been so embedded in me by my surroundings growing up. It was the one aspect that I struggled with and never thought I could question without having to deny the the existence of a god I had intuitively known my whole life?. Thereafter, I have embraced a model of “god the creator” that is based on the model of loving and engaging as a creative act, like what turns the toys “Real” in The Velveteen Rabbit. We are made real, we are created, by being loved — by being seen and heard. And, in that way, we can manifest divinity for others by loving them.
My own experience of faith in God that is not predicated on others sharing the same beliefs has allowed me to seek out ways of providing support, love, and understanding to those around me without needing to have an identical experience. While it is not always easy, I believe in order to be the best friend, mother, wife, lover, co-worker, or any kind of human being in relationship with others, it is necessary to find ways to hold supposedly conflicting emotions and thoughts in tension with each other. As each person is a different set of experiences that make up their existence, one can never completely understand another’s perspective. But being in relationship means finding ways to listen to what the other needs to express, without overpowering with one’s own agenda or different reaction to the situation.