The God of Montana is built Ford Tough. Mud bogging and snow slogging require four-wheel drive. You’re not much use to the neighbors if you don’t have a way to haul debris, a quad cab to snag your boozed up buddies from the bar, and a hitch to pull a flustered teenager out of the ditch down the road. God respects the ones who get it done.
Strength, grit, and endurance reign supreme.
There is nothing more valuable in a small town than Respect. There are no second chances. The grocery store checker still remembers that you toilet-papered her house when you were eleven. She’s not laughing. Speaking of the grocery store, they sure don’t carry namby-pamby almond milk. Food allergies are for the city folk.
I concocted God from the value system of my culture.
It was a white-bred, blue collar, gun slinging kinda town. Its people carried pride in their bones, earth in their blood, and winter thickened skins. They took care of each other. They believed in the power of Jesus and Beer. Many believed in the power of both! My practicing Mormon family rejected the sanctity of beer and chose Jesus. This conditioning deepened my assumption that God was a man, sober, in more ways than one, who rewarded achievement, stalwartness, and those who were kind to their neighbors.
It’s a fine thing, the breaking of everything we’ve known. It’s a threshold I presume we all cross, usually unwillingly. My world upended itself and poured out my belief system. The truths I’d collected for decades scattered. This loss of all certainty happened when I left the state of Montana and it’s sturdy beliefs and people. I stood instead in a sea of fellow Mormons, each trodding towards accomplishment and righteousness.
I couldn’t follow.
Ford Tough morality does NOT respect crumbling. I cursed, repeatedly, to the only God I’d known. He was a loving but strict man who’d given me specific instructions and mandated obedience. After failing to peel my crumpled self off the clean, concrete walkways of Brigham Young University, I proceeded to revolt against God’s instructions. I laughed at them. I spit on them. I turned my back to the Man who let me crumble.
Then I encountered a new God, a God of mystery and mischievousness. One day she’d be bright and buoyant, the next a dark siren. Some days she’d wink and flirt with symbols and stories, the next day she’d trample the dirt with anger. She threw things, this Deity! She ate mud and chocolate cake and she did not shy away from people who stumbled. She’d lie down with them instead, covering them both with leaves and turning the travesty into some kind of game or adventure. She, this Woman, had no comprehension of sacredness. How could anything be above laughter and mockery? How could anything NOT be sacred?
When I lay in pieces on the blessed concrete, she cuddled up to me gazed lovingly at the wholeness beneath the crumbling shell.
“OUUUUUCH!” she commiserated, then giggled. “Let’s say we move on from this joint?” Then, she and I danced together. We sang karaoke and closed down the bars. We called the heavens with Tarot cards and psychic readings and thank you letters. We loved hard and painfully. She broke me open, intentionally, time and time again. Every second of every single day, she loved me, not for what I did or didn’t do, not because I was sturdy or useful or joyful.(most days I wasn’t) She loved me for what I was, am, and will always be: A Being of Life
The Ford Tough God I knew was a man of diligence and action. He loved best those who would DO the virtuous act. The Twisted Sister saw me. She saw my soul. She peered into and past the worst things I’d ever done. She honored the darkest corners of me as a part of my carving. The Woman circled me when I slipped and fell over my own trying. She reigned as Divine Softness and the Holy Incarnation of Rage. She reigned as Divine Softness and the Holy Incarnation of Rage. “The Goddess of Unyielding Hunger and Adoration of all Life” as I called her, she celebrated that I was a soul alive in a body.
After all her play and rage and compassion, she rested. She loved rest just as much as the rebellion. She showed me still. She moved slowly and taught gently. She whispered sweetness and tattooed a blessing on the inside of my skin.
Somewhere along the path, a funny, ironic seed sprung out of the rich soil of her acceptance and mischief. I missed the DO-ing! I suddenly saw my Ford Tough God revealed. He wasn’t mean or strict or utilitarian. He was Her all along! He condoned the breaking. He cheered on the play. He, too, loved me without condition. I’d merely missed it. I now saw the value in his steady, simple kindness. The revered strength of my youth could only be claimed in the crumbling. The judgement I’d perceived from Him was never His. It was always mine.
Now I say Yes to the God of Mayhem, Yes to Unyielding Love, Yes to the God of Action, and Yes to Pure Being. Yes to Him. Yes to Her. Yes to all of them, because they are all each other. There is so no part of them or this that isn’t sacred and there is no part of me that isn’t the same.