Many people have a very complex relationship with their Heavenly Father/Mother, just as they do with their earthly parents. In fact, many attitudes and complexes toward God are simply projections of feelings experienced when growing up. Those from harsher backgrounds can see God as disapproving and vengeful, while those raised in loving and tolerant homes tend to see a loving God. Yet even the most loving parents can be misjudged.
When our son was six years old, we took him to see the classic movie E.T., about a small, frightened alien who was secretly helped by the children of a family. The scary men from the federal government and the scientists in protective suits didn’t frighten our son at all. But when the little alien opened a refrigerator, dropped a carton of orange juice, and spilled it all over the floor, our son covered his eyes and said, “The mommy is going to catch him.”
While we might chuckle at his reaction, there are many people who fear God because they’re subconsciously afraid that the Divine Mother is going to punish them for some trifling fault, or catch them with their hand in the cookie jar of self-destructive habits and bad attitudes.
How do we develop a sincere friendship with God? Most important are the practices of meditation and devotion. Here also are three other ways that have helped me:
Stay Positive. Thoughts are universally rooted, meaning that we tune the radio of our mind to a particular wavelength. Our preset stations — habitual reactions — determine our emotional “specific gravity.” If you are even-minded and cheerful, you will float on the surface of life, while those who are grumpy and judgmental will be pulled down into the depths. But we can choose to change these mindsets. Positive actions will generate positive thinking. Studies show that those with sunny outlooks are not only happier, but also more successful. Try the simple practice of thinking something positive about a person you are about to mentally criticize, and see if it doesn’t change your life.
Non-attachment. Most unhealthy attitudes grow from attachment. Free yourself by offering everything back to God. See each desire as a cord that binds you: Cut it, and soar into the skies of freedom. Tithing is a very powerful spiritual practice because it helps us release our anxiety and attachment to money.
Share little things with God or Guru. Don’t leave your guru hanging on the wall of your meditation room. Paramhansa Yogananda said, “To those who think me near, I will be near.” Bring him with you when you work, or cook, or go for a walk. Talk to him mentally and share you hopes and fears as you would with your best friend. If you see him by your side in little things, you will know he’s there when the going gets rough.
God is already our friend, in fact our own Self, and that will never change no matter what we think or do. But when we befriend Him in return, our inner joy begins to bubble to the surface.