How Can We Know What God is?

If we take a drinking straw and look up into the night sky through it, we would see about 10,000 stars within the tiny circumference. Multiply the objects in that small space by the entire night sky and the number of stars, planets, and universes is beyond comprehension.

How can we know what God is?

We are told what God is, but the truth is, we do not know.

To me, God smells like a rainy day. God feels soft, like the fur of a kitten. God sounds like songbirds. God looks like spring, summer, winter, and fall. God’s grace is each act of forgiveness, compassion, equality, responsibility, humility, respect, and honesty. I believe the best way to view God is to see God in everything and everyone, because that view of God motivates us to treat all people and all life as we want to be treated.

Let’s look for God’s magnificence of creation in one another and in all life.

Wouldn’t this view of God be the universal acceptance necessary for us to stop fighting one another over God, our differences, and religion? 

An expansive spiritual education is not achieved by taking one course.

You and I do not come to a place of expanded wisdom of God’s Divine plan of the interconnectedness of all life by staying in a comfort zone where we are spoon-fed what someone else wants us to believe. Just as we do not receive a well-rounded education that serves us throughout our entire life by having limited experiences or by taking one course.

Achieving a high school diploma requires years of work and the study of many different subjects. To receive a bachelor’s degree involves more years of commitment, challenge, and immersion in an even wider variety of subjects. Pursuing a master’s degree demands additional years of even harder work. And to receive a Ph.D., M.D., J.D., or other terminal degree necessitates an unwavering commitment to many years of intense hard work and dedication.

With each level of education we achieve, the reward is a wider amount of knowledge. Our skill levels increase as do our deductive reasoning and critical thinking abilities. Our values and priorities change. We develop our inquisitive nature.

In all educational pursuits, beautiful things come from challenging ourselves to learn and grow. We also learn and grow from the vast opportunities we have to experience different societies, information, and people. The same is true of our spiritual development, because the more we question ourselves, our beliefs, and our religious and social practices and traditions, the more we learn, grow, and change for the better.

How can we know what God is?

Be Committed to Caring for Yourself First

I grew up hearing I had to love other people first, or Jesus, or God. I was raised to believe it is selfish to put my physical, emotional and spiritual needs first.  I had to sacrifice my dreams, wants, and desires for those of others, especially those of the men in my life.  If I stood up for what I wanted or I refused to follow along with what other people wanted me to do and be, I was being self-centered.

It took many years but I finally figured out each of those “beliefs” is a controlling lie. My experience is women struggle with the societal and religious expectation we have to love other people by putting them first, or we’re being selfish.  The continued misogyny of our global society (devaluing of the feminine vs. valuing the masculine) originated with ancient religious texts and was written in times when women had no power. The belief of gender inequality continues today in part to keep women controlled by the idea we must take care of everyone else before ourselves.

A devaluing of ourselves in favor of others causes us to lose ourselves in relationship, to believe our love is strong enough to change other people, and results in our having a hard time setting boundaries. In general, women have been conditioned to love others before we love ourselves. But the truth is whether we or women or men – we cannot give to others what we don’t first give to ourselves. To have fulfilling relationships, to not lose ourselves, to set boundaries, we must have an appreciation for what is involved in loving others, which we can only develop through the experience of loving ourselves first.

Love is caring and affection displayed through positive action. You know you are loved by how positively others treat you. You know you love yourself by how well you treat yourself. Unless you focus on your needs, desires, wants, body, time, energy, attention, values, beliefs, you end up losing yourself in relationship. A “me last” approach creates resentment and feelings of being unfulfilled in relationship. Plus, attempting to love others before we love ourselves perpetuates the false idea we can give anything to anyone we do not first give to ourselves.

Finding BALANCE is the key to loving yourself first because what you want to do for yourself cannot always come before your children’s and family’s needs. Loving yourself first means you make time daily to take care of yourself so you do not run yourself ragged and become resentful because you’ve lost yourself (your needs, desires, values) in relationship.

No one is capable of being a better friend, confidant and advisor to you than you. It is empowering to realize you can treat yourself as you want to be treated, support yourself as you want to be supported, and love yourself as you want to be loved.

Regard yourself with the utmost compassion, forgiveness, and respect. Look within to change feelings of helplessness and hopelessness into self-reliance and optimism. Focus on forgiving yourself and other people to repair the holes within your heart. Become familiar with what you value in yourself, in others and in life. Concentrate on being comfortable and content alone before seeking someone to share your life with. Stand up and cheer for yourself. Depend on yourself to create the life you want by being your own biggest fan.

Download my free “101 Ways to Love Yourself” guide here:


Define Success for Yourself

I no longer own a car or drive with any regularity, and I have never felt more free.

Over my lifetime I have owned three homes. Today, I live in a one-bedroom apartment and have never felt more at home.

I do not have the latest mobile technology, and I have never felt more connected.

I may seem a failure to those whose main focus is cars, homes, and gadgets, yet I have never felt more successful. I wake each day contented, peaceful, and fulfilled, and more in love with life. No thing has ever offered me this.

It took many years to identify what success means to me. Each time I look at my dog, I am reminded of what a joy it is to responsibly provide for their well-being. Today, people tell me they want to come back as my pet. When I think of purchasing a car, fuel efficiency and environmental and financial responsibility top my list of must-haves. Instead of surrounding myself with many items, I save up and purchase fewer things of better quality. Years ago, I learned that no matter what the item is, whether toilet paper, toys, or appliances, cheap is actually quite expensive, since something of inferior quality neither lasts as long nor is as reliable, and so much waste negatively impacts the environment.

I am no longer impressed with people who set my worth by what I wear, what I own, where I live, and what I drive. After successfully climbing out of the turbulent waters of debt, living within my means has become an important standard I’ve set for myself.

While I do not have the car or home or popular technology, I am free of debt. Each day I enjoy friends, family, strangers, and the breathtaking beauty that surrounds me. I am free of the burden of too much stuff. Every day I work on doing my part to make the world a better, more peaceful, cleaner, more cooperative place. I am connected to my heart, to other people, to the natural world, and to our planet. I am in command of and responsible for my thoughts and behavior. I am at home in my charming apartment as well as in my heart. Now these are my benchmarks for success.

There is nothing wrong with having wealth, positions, and honors. I believe what we want to receive from life and what we want to leave as our legacy are important questions to ask. Regardless of what other people use as their benchmarks, we have to define success for ourselves. If the only thing we achieve in life is a reputation for being compassionate, honest, and responsible, that is legacy enough.

Healthy Relationships Have Healthy Boundaries

People will treat us as we allow them to. A boundary is a limit we set to protect and take care of ourselves. Boundaries let other people know our availability, values, and the conditions under which we will interact. Healthy, clearly communicated boundaries identify our needs, feelings, and rights in relationship to others. Boundaries let others know we respect and value ourselves.

It’s essential that we establish and maintain limits to protect ourselves and create positive relationships with others. Boundaries help us determine the things we want to do and those we don’t and if we’re clear on what those boundaries are from the start, they help us to stand up for ourselves without guilt for putting our needs first.

Without establishing (and articulating) the behaviors we will and will not tolerate from others, we leave ourselves open to becoming angry and resentful about how we are allowing ourselves to be treated. That leads us to taking our pain out on others and ourselves. So, healthy, clearly communicated boundaries let others see we respect and value ourselves. And, respecting the needs, feelings, and boundaries of others lets them see they are valued.

What Boundaries Are Not

Establishing how we want to be treated is not about control or manipulation. We do not set boundaries to change other people. We do so to change us—to create a better, more positive life for ourselves by demonstrating a commitment to self-love and respect.

Boundaries clearly state what behavior is hurtful to us, yet we do not have expectations of any particular outcome. That is, we set boundaries for ourselves while realizing the other person is completely responsible for making changes to his or her behavior.

How to Set Boundaries

Through counseling and a lifetime of trial and error, I learned that setting strong, lasting boundaries with ourselves and others requires us to do four things:

  • Define acceptable behavior;
  • Accept that doing nothing is condoning bad treatment;
  • Express our feelings calmly and clearly; and
  • Be comfortable with not being popular.

My free guide on how to set boundaries goes into great detail about how to follow these four steps.

Download it here: