I was never totally at peace with the religious beliefs that I had been taught.

I was never totally at peace with the religious beliefs that I had been taught. If God is Love, how could He have created such a flawed world with so much suffering; and why did he create the physical universe? Why did his "only Son" have to "die for the sins of the world?" Surely God could forgive sins, if he wanted, without a blood sacrifice. There was a divine Father and a divine Son, but why not a divine Mother?

I also was not at peace with a fearful, jealous, angry, punishing and retaliative God. That seemed like such a contradiction to a loving God. I found it difficult to embrace a God who could cause a flood that wiped out all of humanity (including babies and children) except Noah and his family, a God who apparently allowed the devil and Hell to exist, a God who could ask Abraham to sacrifice his son as a test of his faith and blind obedience.

After years of bouncing between being a believer, to being agnostic, to being an atheist, I resolved to discover what I could believe in. After reading more than one hundred books about the origins of religions, I came to my own conclusion that religion was man-made. I also decided that if there was a God — that God was the Spirit of Love, period. Neither male nor female, no religious dogma, no religious rituals. But who else believed this or did that matter to me?

Then, strangely enough, I came upon writings that took off right from where I had ended my search. The teachings even challenged how open-minded I really was. They turned everything I had been taught upsidedown. God was Love — eternal Spirit — who creates only what is eternal (only what does not change): love, joy, oneness, spirit, freedom from limits. These are God's "children." God created the essence of you and me as eternal spirit — in the "image of God" as spirit. Everything God creates is connected and nothing God creates can change its reality.

Here is where it gets weird, but no stranger than a virgin birth, resurrection from the dead after three days, walking on water or destroying the world with a flood. God did not create the physical universe or anything in it, because all of that changes and none of it is eternal — not even the sun and stars. So who or what did?

The "children of God" did — with all the power given them by God. They had wondered what it would be like to "create" apart from God. God's loving answer to this insane request to be apart from All, apart from Oneness, was to grant the request with the stipulation that nothing can change what God created eternal — but separation from God could be experienced as an illusory world. Illusory because, like all illusions, even this Earth appeared and will disappear in time.

God did not throw us out of heaven. We have done this to ourselves. God does not punish. What is an illusion but something that changes within time? One moment there is an empty hat and in the next moment a rabbit is pulled out of it. Perfection does not change with time and God creates only perfection. This world and the whole physical universe changes constantly — so the God of perfection could not have created any of it. Fortunately, we can awaken to our reality.

These teachings have given me more peace and joy than I had ever known before and also ever-increasing freedom from fear. Finally, I can again believe in God — a totally loving God, a God who is never inconsistent or angry, a God who I can believe in with my whole heart without any doubts or reservations.

J. Meissner is a student of A Course In Miracles. Rogue Valley residents are invited to share inner peace insights and experiences. Send a 600- to 700-word article to Sally McKirgan@innerpeace@q.com