I've written before about the abusive parish in which I was raised. In the years after I left that parish, I was very angry at God. How could God allow such horrible cruelties, especially upon children? How could these Christians preach about compassion and divine love out in public, but in private lock children in their basements without food or make children kneel on broken glass? In my mind, largely because these abusers had told me so for so long and so violently, there was no distinction between God and them.
Although my relationship with the Divine continued, it was very narrowly compartmentalized. MY God was loving and giving and powerful, THEIR God was malicious and preyed upon the weak. Great pains were taken to differentiate myself from organized religion altogether. Anger, obsessive defensiveness, and passive aggressive vengeance dominated this time.
After college, I mended my relationship with a whole God by separating God from humankind altogether. This was when the healing process went from painful to soothing. All the boundaries began to fall between God and I. Could this have been done if I hadn't put up such a large wall between other people and us? Probably not, as at that time the only people I knew who were interested in spirituality at all were very aggressive anti-theists. Ultimately, I wasn't going to allow anyone to damage the new, awe-inspiring relationship I had with God. And the most direct and effective way to do that was to separate God from humankind altogether.
That doesn't seem to be working as well anymore. The need for spiritual community has arisen regularly for the past few years, only to fade away as I refused to make myself that vulnerable again. Now that I'm seeking and finding community, though, I'm questioning if that boundary should still remain up. The last thing I want to do is to let down my barriers only to have someone or a group of someones give me good reason to put them back up again. As to seeing God present in any human being, that is a long way off yet.