With the new year approaching, some people are considering working on their spirituality or strengthening their relationship with God. For Pastor Sara Cowan-Conner, cultivating a relationship with God has different routes, rooted in understanding God and His love.
“One of the best statements, I think, in the Bible is when He told Moses ‘I am that I am’,” Cowan-Conner told Flair. “For me, that means ‘I am your safe place, and no matter what you do or don’t do, it does not alter, increase or decrease my affection and love for you. My love is, because it is; you can’t undo it if you tried.’”
With this in mind, the Christian counsellor shares some considerations for people seeking God-consciousness.
No cancel culture — Because of His unconditional love, God is not into the business of cancel culture. Cowan-Conner said a narrative exists of God operating with a grading system that sees people rewarded for being disciplined and punished for falling behind. “We’re taught that if we do this and that, God will do this and that. But if you really understood the love of God, you’ll know you cannot earn it or lose it. There may be consequences for things, and that’s just natural consequences, but we’re talking about a relationship with God. He doesn’t cancel you because you were disobedient today or had a bad thought. What He does is comfort you and bring you back to Him.”
Keep it raw — Some consider God as a father; others consider Him as a friend. Either way, Cowan-Conner said you should feel free to be real with Him. “Look at how David talked to God; he said, ‘Let the wicked fall down’… . David was really pouring out his complaint to the Lord; he really had a lot to say. We’re not given the permission to be real before God, so when we have real problems, we try to fix them on our own because we only want to invoke prayer and God’s presence when it is something we cannot handle, and I think it’s really a sad thing because He’s so present.”
Bloom where you are planted — Earth to the misguided: allow people to emit God’s light where they are planted. As Cowan-Conner explained, “You’ll have a person that gets born again, and they work at J. Wray & Nephew, and now you want them to quit their job. Are you planning to pay for their job? Are you planning to supply their family? No, but you want to say, ‘You’re still working at that alcohol place? How [do] you do it as a Christian?’ It’s the same with musicians; they get saved, and people say they must do Christian music now, but every church wants them to come for free, so how are they supposed to live?”
Don’t become a bully — Allow people to have their experience with God versus telling them what their experience should be. “Christians [who are] longer in the faith, we bully other people into what we think a great Christian ought to look like, and when they don’t act under that form, we reject them. A lot of it is preferences and not really principles or from the personhood of God. You should be able to be free in the Lord. You can manipulate the Scripture 10 million ways; for instance, saying if it will cause your brother to stumble, don’t do it. So now, every woman must not wear their shoulders out because we’re responsible for men stumbling? Are you kidding me? No, that is not the intent of the Scripture, and that is not what it means. Women are now [burdened with] being the pious one, the perfect one. You’re responsible for your husband’s rise and fall because you know you can win them over with your conversation, then you’re responsible for the person that’s lusting after you because your shoulders are out — oh my goodness. We have to allow people to develop their own personal [relationships] with God. Allow God to minister on the inside, and if you see something that you wouldn’t do, it’s okay.”
A special note from Cowan-Conner for women and Christian girls: “A lot of times we dim our light and play smaller because it can be intimidating to other people. When you’re too loud, they tell you to be a meek or quiet spirit. When you have a lot of leadership, then you’re a Jezebel. When you want to venture outside, you’re not obedient. We perpetuate this idea that you cannot rule and reign when in the beginning, He gave both of us dominion, and we don’t have to be dominating to have dominion. I would love for women and Christian girls to know that it’s okay to live in their fullness and calling. Live brilliantly, openly, strongly, and it is not a disservice to the kingdom. It is actually a great service, because when we both walk in our power, authority and the greatness that God has for us, we expand the kingdom.”