Last fall, I took a class at seminary on Theological studies for Counseling and Ministry. And, the whole point of it was for us to uncover our own personal faith convictions in order to be aware of how they impact the way we interact with clients and, indeed, the world. This blog is essentially a paper that I wrote for that class so I hope that you will enjoy it even with proper citations and all.I was working with the following theological conviction: “If God is lawgiver and judge and God is omniscient then God is judging everything we do in terms of right and wrong.” This conviction was instilled in me through my upbringing in a Southern Baptist church along with a constant reminder by my family of origin that God, not unlike Santa, was always watching me and judging my behavior in terms of right and wrong.Let me be the first to say that I would be happy to chuck this conviction right out the stained glass window. It has impacted how I feel about myself for getting divorced (again). It has also made every single decision I’ve had to make (i.e. whether to separate, whether to file for divorce, how to keep my son safe) excruciating because the underlying belief for every single decision that I have had to make is that I have to get it right.This level of effort and striving for moral, ethical and parental perfection, however, is not only exhausting but impossible. So, that’s why I’m up for chucking it out the stained glass window but, if I’m going to chuck it, then it is important to replace it with some other conviction. Although, honestly, I don’t even care for the word conviction because it projects a moral certainty that just does not jive with me. Instead, to paraphrase Henri de Lubac (2008), I would like “to find and interpret the inscription written into” my heart by my Creator (p. 615). Yes, an inscription written into my heart feels much more authentic to me. The obvious place to start in my outdated and unhelpful theological conviction is at the beginning with “If God is lawgiver and judge.” Let’s see if we can swap out that cold, ungracious view of God for one that is more loving and hospitable by trying to understand why God chose to create me.Since the majority of my waking life these days is centered on being a good parent, it seems appropriate to start by asking myself why I chose to have kids (or create them) in the first place. I wanted to create life and experience life through, let’s be honest, tiny versions of me. In Dogmatics in Outline, Karl Barth (1959) wrestles with the “riddle of creation” and tries to explain why God created us (p. 54). Barth (1959) finally comes to the conclusion that, even though God does not need us, He created us anyway “because of the goodness of God, in which God does not will to be alone, but to have a reality beside himself” (p. 54). Yes, I had kids because I did not want to be alone and because I wanted a reality beside my own (Barth, p. 54). However, I believe that I really had kids because I wanted to love them and to be loved by them. I believe the same to be true of God. He created the world because he wanted to love it.Further, while I may sometimes feel like lawgiver and judge, I certainly don’t enjoy that part of parenting or see it as my primary function. Again, my primary job is to love them but part of loving them means raising them to be good men. I want them to be authentic and honest humans who know without a doubt that they are loved unconditionally by me and by God. Loving them unconditionally means loving them no matter what. It means loving them even when they make mistakes or break the rules and actually force me to, heaven forbid, parent them. If this is true for me, then must it not also be true of God? Again, Barth (1959) argues that “God does not grudge the world is creaturely reality, a creaturely nature and creaturely freedom, an existence appropriate to the creation, the world” (p. 55).Let’s move on now to the second piece of my theological conviction, which is “and God is omniscient.” I don’t think I care to argue against this belief but I can add to it. God is all-knowing and, therefore, always knows when I have broken one of His laws. However, doesn’t his being all-knowing also mean that He knows and understands why I broke it? I continue to love my children when they have broken one of my rules even when I have no earthly idea why they did it. Surely then, an omniscient God who created me out of His own Goodness and understands my every motivation and desire can still love me when I break His rules.We are so close to finding God’s inscription now that I can taste it. The last piece of the conviction was, “then God is judging everything we do in terms of right and wrong.” This just doesn’t fit at all any more. In, On Christian Theology, Rowan Williams (2000) argues that “…God cannot make a reality that needs to be governed, subdued, bent to the divine purpose away from its natural course. If God creates freely, God does not need the power of a sovereign; what is is God.” (Williams, p. 69). God doesn’t need to judge everything because He created everything. God created us because he wanted to experience His own fullness…his own everything. Although I didn’t plan for it, I am going to end this paper with a different, “religious” experience. A few months ago, my yoga teacher and I sat facing each other on our mats. She has sat with me many times as I have agonized and suffered over what to do with my marriage. On this day, she looked into my eyes, motioned towards me with her hand and said, “This…all of this…in its totality…is an expression of the divine.” As my eyes filled with tears, so did hers and she said, “Allow that truth to wash over you.”The past twenty some odd months of my life have been quite the initiation but perhaps they have all led up to this moment. Perhaps they have led to my releasing that outdated and painful conviction so that I can look into my own heart and illuminate God’s inscription, which is this: “If God created the world so that He could love it and God’s love is unconditional then God loves all of his Creation unconditionally, including me.”As a final thought, it occurred to me in yoga class today that it hasn’t been God who was judging me all this time.It was me.References (I told you.)Barth, Karl. (1959). Dogmatics in Outline. New York, NY: Harper & Row.De Lubac, Henri. (2008). Total Meaning of Man and the World. Communio: International Catholic Review, Volume 35.4. Retrieved from http://www.communio-icr.com/articles/view/the-total-meaning-of-god-and-the-worldWilliams, Rowan. (2000). On Christian Theology. Oxford, U.K.: Blackwell Publishing.