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Editorial: A Jealous God by Ashley Thomas

I was taught somewhere in the smoke and mirrors of re-memory, movie scenes, and recurring auditory hallucinations, that God is a “JEALOUS GOD!”. It rings through my head with the cadence, bass, and volume of every Baptist, or Pentecostal pastor, bishop, and preacher lumped into a mass on an altar draped in purple and gold. I see a wild look in my mother’s beautiful eyes. “God is a JEALOUS GOD!”. I’m assuming that sentiment is scripture. I don’t know which one. It etched into my psyche, overriding the common sense in my spirit since I reached an age where I was conscious of my desires and emotions. I became a toxic codependent. I was too young. My interpretation of that sentiment put fear in my little bones.

I became afraid to love, adore, care for, and think about another human being too much, or God would be jealous and take them away from me. I’ve carried this into my almost thirty-eighth year of existence. Being naturally fervorous, this has been difficult. I was addicted to love like a gambler to failure. I looked at my youngest son sleeping the other day and felt the all too timeless sensation of fear in recognizing the depth of my love for him and terror of that consequence if I’ve overstepped my spiritual boundaries in the flesh. I realized that I’ve carried the insanity of this in me, now mixed with a mother’s worry, which can only be negated by sometimes hypnotizing pleads of gratitude.

Objectifying God is an ultimate act of the hubris of dominion; megalomania in the guise of worship. God is not jealous, because God is not insecure. God is not some man with his arms crossed, mad that you’re not giving him enough attention. I can understand stories of divinity as reflections of our own limited sensibilities. Ego necessitates context. Where was that ego when there was no name given for “God” amongst humanity; when “God” simply was all and didn’t need to be actualized to understand? God had situated in my head and heart as an envious master. In learning the history of how Christianity was forced upon my ancestors, this passed down dynamic suddenly becomes as clear as the moment when you fly above the clouds on an airplane.

Believing God was jealous affected my ability to love myself. It created guilt for every natural thought and feeling I had of adoration that was too big not be sinful. It is no surprise that I ended up in a coma from attempting to take my life. I believed I was a burden and couldn’t be loved, deservingly. The fear of God’s wrath is what put my life in danger.

The lack of harmony in how we are taught to love through fear and romanticism enables us to maintain the sociopathic tendencies of casual destruction of animals, nature, and each other in our everyday routines and choices, as long as things are being used at our convenience. I'm laying down in my bed, snuggled in torn down trees, synthetic fibers, factory smoke, sweatshop labor, fossil fuels, conditioned air, plastic, pesticides, and chemicals. I can understand God being angry. The creator being jealous is grimly laughable.

I reject the volatility put into my body. I will nurture the small child in me who was taught through violation that to be loved by a father was to be afraid. We do not deserve for God to be reciprocated as our image. We do not honor the synchronicity of our reflection as it is.

I will love with no limit because what we bind in our language, imagination, and reality as God, has none.

Paintings by Stephen Sawyer

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