I’m God, You’re Not

Blog by Sr. Anne Lythgoe, OP
Blog by Sr. Anne Lythgoe, OP

“I’m God, you’re not,” is what God said to me on a retreat a long long time ago. It’s also a way of thinking about the first commandment: I am the Lord your God, you shall not have false gods before me. From time to time I am reminded to remember the point, especially when I am frustrated about things I care deeply about but cannot change. I know I’m in trouble when I start sentences like: “God, if you would just…”

It’s easy to think everything depends on me, after all, who else will do it? (whatever “it” is). I get a little compulsive and uptight sometimes and ratchet up the control knobs, worrying if I will do things right, and thinking everything depends on me. I get a little afraid.

“I’m God, you’re not,” begs the question: who is God for you? It could be an invitation to explore who God is for you, in whatever way you know God. How would you describe God? Is God a pervasive, mysterious and benevolent force? A higher power, a father, a mother? A universal energy, a judge or a guide? There are so many names for God. A favorite name for God for me is from the image and message in Jeremiah 18: “You are the potter, I am the clay.”

Having worked with clay as a potter for over 20 years, clay is a powerful image of God working with me. God knows my “clay ” centering, opening, pushing, pulling, shaping and refining my life all the time. Making pots is a contemplative practice that is exhilarating and humbling at the same time. Finished work that is both functional and beautiful gives me great pleasure. And I love that people like my work. But it is also humbling – just look at my pile of failures: runny glazes, cracked bottoms, ideas that failed, lids that don’t fit.

Who is God for you? If you could hear God say your name, what would it sound like? Why not try it? Go ahead. Say you name OUT LOUD.

Sorry for shouting, but it makes a difference. When you hear your name out loud as if God were saying it, you speak it in a softer, gentler tone and this opens a door to understanding how you are with God. You might also find another favorite passage helpful. In Isaiah 43:1 God says: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine.”

When I am not being in the God-mode, I am happier, less stressed, more fun to be with, more of a team player, and I feel freer to live unafraid. “I’m God, you’re not.” It sounds simplistic, and it’s hard sometimes to remember that powerful phrase when responsibilities loom large, or that  feeling of being overwhelmed begins to intrude, or that sense that big things depend on me.

Today’s prayer:

Dear God, today, I want to resubmit my resignation from the job of being You. Help me to enjoy the freedom of not being You. Take away my fear and help me to know again that you are God and I’m not. Amen.

What a relief.

Posted in Wednesday's Word

8 responses to “I’m God, You’re Not

  1. This reflection reminds me of a song by my favorite female vocal artist, Joan Baez. On her album, Day After Tomorrow, is a song entitled “God Is God”. The last line of the refrain is “God is God, and God ain’t me.” It seems to me that this realization is a truth that can come to us only through experience.

  2. Dear Anne,
    What powerful and yet familiar words you wrote to
    remind us that “we are not God”. How true it is that some days we do really think we are God and yet without Him we would not be who we are.
    I will meditate on your passage from Isaiah 43:1 which is a good reminder that all things will go well. “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine.” Thank you for your assurance.

  3. Anne,

    Thank you for your humble, honest and humorous blog!
    I too submitted my resignation as being God; sometimes
    I apply for the job again, but it doesn’t work well. I appreciated your ending prayer.

  4. Thanks, Anne! This is great! I resonate on many levels… and yes, I do sometimes listen for God to say my name. Oh, yes, and aren’t retreats wonderful starting points?

  5. I love your blog,Ann.Yes I know just what you mean,every thing depends on me.Well I tell you
    God just smiles at my attempts,and takes charge
    And a plink of an eye the problem is solved and I realize if I just stop playing God, things go much
    smoother. It is a hard lesson to learn . Thank God
    for the grace to be able to go back to be one of
    His children. Thank you Ann.

  6. Dear “Not God.” Thanks for your thoughts. Really, really, really appreciated them. To me, God is “Life-Giver.” That sort of gets it down to the “nuts and bolts” of life. . .can’t dig any deeper than that. However, I have to admit that leaves me some wiggle room in our relationship to say in desperation, “Look, you started this ( “mess”?) so fix it!”

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