I see God first of all as the stereotypical, stern grandfather of the Universe, the omnipotent, omniscient one who can see everything and anything He likes, including me, even when I'm not aware. A Santa Claus figure, a Zeus-like character.
My first words, in Romanian, was the name for God or Lord which is 'Domnu' and my baby talk translated it to 'Nomu', much to the delight of my church-going parents.
But then my first words also included the words for milk (lapte) and lollies (bomboane), so maybe I shouldn't read too much significance into them at all.
But then again, knowing this makes me feel less distant from God when I remember that he had been there since my birth, or really, my conception, and that he knows me.
This is radical stuff when these days I'm not sure what he's really like, since the messages about him from other Christians range from the God who pre-destines people to hell, all the way to the God who embraces every single human - the disabled, the homosexual, even.........women, as sons and daughters.
And they all have Bible verses to back them up, so it does mess with one's head at some stage.
I see God as the best-friend-Jesus-who-will-never-leave-me and the 'buddy ole pal' who I can stay up chatting to all night, like a girlfriend at a sleepover. He's the non-threatening God of my teen years, when perhaps I needed that most. He's the God that wants me to DO BIG THINGS and CHANGE THE WORLD and makes me feel less alone, more sure of the ground under my feet, and pity for those who aren't 'saved by the blood.'
I think I know this God inside out, and am quite happy feeling that there's nothing that will shake my faith. Until eventually I find myself doing less BIG THINGS and more ordinary things like loving my husband when it's hard, or being patient with that student who is constantly high and aggressive, or forgiving friends when it hurts.
My faith is rock-solid, my feet up on the rock, isn't it?
Until it gets shaken. Or perhaps stirred, like the wind across a placid, stagnant lake stirs the surface and causes ripples to fan out into faint whirls. And the fragile, shakily built house on the lake that was my faith is blown to pieces with a whisper, the walls crumble, the windows collapse, the roof folds in.
The paternal grandfather God and the best-friend Jesus don't quite match up, and the incongruence makes my head spin and my heart falter and the 'hallelujah' on my lips fall away.
But I am faithful, I am strong. I surround myself with Bible verses, prettily scrawled out on paper, blu-tacked to my bedroom wall and mirror, reminding me of everything I know.
And yet, it seems I know so much, assent to so many intellectual propositions, hear so many verses, but feel so little inside. What was once alive in my chest, a burning conviction, a simmering slow heat of certainty is now a smoking pile of coals and ashes (and already I can hear the phrase 'ashes to beauty' resounding my head from the Old Testament). But it's ok.
My faith isn't gone.
The god of grace and unfathomable welcome isn't dead - he just doesn't look the same anymore and it is scary. He is not scary, but the unfettered view of him is.
He is better than I thought, he's the best type of god I could ever imagine but the god I see now looks very little like the god of my childhood and it is not easy to adjust my eyes.
Even typing the word 'god' without a capital letter seems a tiny act of alarming rebellion, but it's not. It's a symbol to me of the freedom I've found. It's a reminder that he won't reject me if I'm not perfect, if I literally don't dot my i's and cross my t's.
I see God as the one who is the essence of goodness and beauty and truth and he is slowly letting me become acquainted with him the more I adjust my view.