October 13, 2010

I Call Him My God

 This was my election. I monitored every election segment on the news and received daily campaign e-mails. Although I voted for president in 2000 after I turned 21, the race in 2004 seemed much more like my first time. I scheduled my day around National Public Radio coverage and checked polls on every news channel Web site. One site even allowed me to investigate who donated to each candidate. I could rebut opposition arguments almost better than the campaign manager. I was obsessed.
For six hours on election night, I listened to election results simultaneously on NPR and hopped from CNBC, Fox News, ABC, CBS, and CNN Web sites while I shifted in my chair, eyes glazed. I needed to know who won. He was not just a presidential candidate; to me he was my candidate.
2010 1533 page23The word “my” clarifies for whom I voted. I use it to indicate which candidate best represented my value system, my ideology, and my vision for theUnited States.
One semester at Union College I enrolled in a four-credit grammar and linguistics class, a requirement of my English education major. In the first few weeks I learned a new description of the word “my.” In elementary school we identified “my” as a possessive pronoun. Other possessive pronouns include your, his, her, its, our, their, and whose. In addition to diagramming sentences and dissecting verb usage, our professor taught us that “my” determines the noun that follows it. “My” tells the ?reader he or she will see a noun. “My book.” “My house.” “My dog.” Grammarians call “my” a “determiner.” “My” determines what will proceed after it.
In two letters the little word “my” not only distinguishes, but it also intensifies. “My” changes everything. For example, think of how it transforms “father” when changed to “my father.” That two-letter word gives the term “father” entirely new meaning. I see his fading gray hair and bib overalls. I hear “little one,” the name he calls only me. I go with him on the endless highways of his life as a long-haul truck driver across the western United States. I smell the lingering diesel that spills on his shoes. He tells me, “I’ll see you in the fall, if I see you at all” as I leave. No longer is “father” some abstract, paternal male; he is the one with whom I share my genes and countless memories. “My” indicates a per-sonal relationship. He is my father, my hero—not just a man.
The word “my” clarifies, intensifies, and determines. I call Him my God.
Of course, He is the God, but He created me. He answers my cries. He protects me. He heals my hurts. He forgives me.
During my reckless late teenage and postadolescent years God was not personal. I drank, smoked, and moved in with my boyfriend after graduating from high school. I still prayed to God, but more in the fashion of a child on Santa’s knee, listing all my wants and offering nothing in return. While God often answered my prayers and sheltered me from harm, there was no relationship—nothing to indicate He was any different from any of the so-called gods of the universe. I mistakenly thought of God as a genie, someone who would grant my wishes when I rubbed the magic lamp.
No longer do I see God as an abstract being of my past. He is now my friend. I seek time with Him and pray for a better relationship with Him. He is still the omnipotent, incomprehensible, supreme ruler of the universe, but He is also close enough that I tell others He is my Savior.
As in most earthly governments, we are given the choice of whom we will choose to guide our futures. We could remain impersonal, deciding to be indifferent about where the world takes us.
But even in our indifference we still ally ourselves with a cause.
The battle is never irrelevant; the controversy is yours and mine. 
Elena Olson King is a native of Central Nebraska. This article was published October 14, 2010.