Latest Posts

Post Library


Are You There, God? It’s Me, Susan

Susan Rutkowski, MDiv
Pastoral Minister of Family Religious Education and Social Justice
May 5, 2023


Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you for so long a time and you still do not know me, Philip?  Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.” John 14:9

At some point in our lives, we step back and wonder “Hmmmm…do I…could I…is it possible…that I have issues?” (A friend once told me I have more issues than Vogue!) Sometimes these are pointed out by others, but most emerge during deep introspection as we bump up against life’s struggles. We explore the genetic makeup and environmental factors which have a large role in determining human behavior. How we were parented is a key factor, indeed. In fact, relationships are the key training ground for issues to crop up.

To take the blame off of you and/or your parents, in the most scientific sense, we are animals oriented by evolution and toward maximizing our survival. Our issues in adulthood are all adaptations made in childhood to get our needs met. If these adaptations no longer work, we can shift our patterns. Re-parenting ourselves is not a new concept, but it is an integral one to become unstuck to live a more authentic life. Making sense of our stories and forming a coherent narrative of our earlier lives helps us heal.

Does this include our relationship with God? Yes! Our concern with our ultimate reality is a real struggle! Like our physical development, our spiritual development cries out for a coherent narrative as we move toward becoming more authentic disciples. Christianity tells a story about God, humanity and the world, a story that pivots around the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Father, Son and Holy Spirit are, despite serious limitations, still the metaphors traditionally used to describe the Trinity. Unfortunately, these images and language, can impede many women – and men – from identifying with our loving God. Like with our childhood experiences, we have the opportunity to reframe who God is to us as we grow.

For me, the image of a distant, abusive, and violent Father God, with no involvement in the world, took a long time to resolve. This God was a God of wrath sitting in heaven, wherever that was. I didn’t identify with, or even like, the stereotypical image emblazoned on my brain as a young person, of an old man with a beard in a white gown standing on a cloud. I didn’t “get” that vengeful, powerful God. But, Jesus Christ, who I grew to understand as the parable of God, revealed God’s concern for human wholeness. That touched me and was something I could relate to. The verse above from Sunday’s gospel was an important meditation for my spiritual maturation as I prayed with our Triune God.

Jesus experienced God as unconditional love, intimately connected to his personal experience of God. At the center of Jesus’ life and preaching was a message concerning the reign of God referring to God’s actual nature: “unconditional and liberating sovereign love.” This renewal of life was an experience that the reign of God was near; that God was near. So, I totally understand Phillip’s question. I wanted to be shown the Father too. But Jesus makes the connection for us: if we have seen him, we have seen God.

Are you there, God?   It’s me, Susan. My understanding of you has grown and I “get” you more now.   Thank you for sending Jesus. It made all the difference!