By Lydia Meredith
(Values, Beliefs, Stances)
“According to the most recent United Nations estimates, elaborated by Worldometers, the current world population [people count] is 7.8 billion.” Christians (2.5 billion of this 7.8 billion count) believe, “In the beginning God created …,” ergo, God is. The Pew Research Center reports that other faith traditions also believe, “God is,” estimating that nearly 90% of the world’s population believe God exists. Such data suggest that God consciousness is innate to humankind. Maybe yes, maybe no.
Lydia Meredith & Mom
(who taught me to pray)
I don’t know how these billions of people came to believe God exists; but, for me this is how it happened, take a listen: Growing up in a Christian home, I came to know God at an early age. My mother taught us to pray; she said, “Ask God for whatever you need, and tell God about everything.” As a practice, most often, I did as my mother advised.
3 of My Sisters & Brother – Before the singing group formed
I remember this story as if it was yesterday: The Mitcham Sisters were always practicing for this event or that event. Cookie (my elder sister of 10 girls and 3 boys) managed The Mitcham Sisters and was pianist. Learning piano was expected of all the girls; however, Cookie had a special gift being able to play by ear, and by sight reading sheet music. Whenever we performed we sang in 4 part harmony.
Cookie – Group manager & pianist
Cookie would always chastise me when I forgot my part (alto). Now, from singing in choirs all my life, I eventually learned to sing all 4 parts – and even sang solos in gospel choirs. However, at age 7, staying on pitch AND singing my alto notes were difficult for me. During one of our many rehearsals, Cookie got so mad at me, she spoke to me cruelly, yelling: “What’s wrong with you, we’ve been practicing for hours and you’re still messing up. Remember your part!” I started to cry and ran into the bedroom that we all shared. I fell on my knees and started to pray, “God, please help me to sing my part, please God.”
I believed at age 7 God answered my first prayer.
(Photo credit – Google Media)
“The Mitcham Sisters aspired to be Stars just like this pictured singing group.”
When we performed the song, “There is No Secret what God can do,” I sang in perfect pitch and didn’t forget my notes. The audience was dazzled and gave The Mitcham Sisters a standing ovation after the performance.
From that moment, I surmised God was listening. I felt God listening whenever I prayed. So, just like my mother counseled, I prayed whenever I needed God to perform a miracle in my life – whether it was finding the nickel I lost (the price of a butternut candy bar I craved from Mr. Doc’s general store next door); or, helping me sing the alto part in harmony with my sisters. God never let me down.
“Lydia & Paul”
This childhood God experience kept my faith strong until I became a sophomore in college, and started dating a heathen boyfriend — heathen not because he was an atheist, but because he pulled a knife on me when I refused to have sex with him.
Never being scared of any real person, I dismissed him, ignored present danger, and told him, after gazing at the knife, then the door to his dorm room, then back at his face, not rattled one little bit, “What makes you think I want to have sex with you, I’m not going to do anything with you, take me back to my dorm!” He put the knife away and drove me back to my campus at Vanderbilt. (He was an Alpha Phi Alpha senior from Fisk University, and I was his fraternity ball date.)
(Photo Credit – Google Media)
“Freshman dorm at Vanderbuilt (Vandy)”
When we got back to my dorm, we chatted a while in the lobby. I don’t remember exactly how we got on the subject of faith, but we did. He told me he was an atheist, and I must admit I was somewhat rattled because I thought everyone believed God existed.
I resolved to convince him that God did exist. I started by employing a fellow engineering student to help me prove God did exist via differential equations. Funny, I never thought to use the Bible. I guess because I knew God, I experienced God, and had a God relationship, way before I read the Bible, or understood the purpose of the Bible. Boy, was this a good thing for me. Otherwise, I may have ended up an atheist, just like my heathen boyfriend. I decided to be his girlfriend because he was pre-med (promising future), handsome, and a project. He asked me “I guess” because I was smart and ambitious (the only African American Engineering Major in my class); the “first” African American cheerleader at Vandy; and being admired and voted Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Sweetheart, along with my friend Vanessa Roussell from New Orleans.
“Kirkland Hall anchors Vandy’s Campus”
“First African American Cheerleader at Vandy”
“Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Sweetheart – Lydia Meredith”
Long story made short, I was never able to convince him that God did exist and he was never able to convince me that God didn’t exist – so, we ceased any discussion about God. He fell deeply in love with me; but, eventually we broke up. He graduated from Fisk and left the city; and our fragile relationship couldn’t survive long-distance.
Now, what was I going to do with the challenge of proving God existed!
Well, the challenge never resurfaced, until after my divorce from a church pastor, and after my master’s degree from seminary, (over 3 decades later).
Dr. G, (the pediatrician volunteer attending my children at Beacon of Hope – Renaissance Learning Center), was an atheist. He was the most miserable soul alive to himself and all that knew him. Dr. G knew I believed God existed. He grew up Catholic in Germany, and he would always raise questions about why God didn’t end suffering, or why God let bad things happen to good people, etc.
Nothing I said ever convinced him: neither mathematical, scientific, physical, or moral principles/considerations, such as: (1) if “a” is equal to “a”, then “a” cannot equal to “zero”, ergo “a” is; and if “a” is, then “a” is created, because what is “a” can never equal “zero” or derive from “zero”; something “a”, cannot evolve from nothing “zero” (and vice versa); first life “a” cannot emerge from lifelessness “zero”, ergo, a formation of first life (is explained via Source/Creator/God); or (2) human conscience is “inner thought” and “inner thought” is not matter, is not tangible, and is not generated from science, not from one’s physical organs, not from biology, not from physiology, and not from anatomy; “inner thought” is the essence of the soul, it is spirit energy, and spirit is God; or (3) virtue (Moral Excellence) is God – somehow humans acquire it, value it, strive to have it, and retain it, or dismiss it and lose it; or (4) God is peace – a person who does not know peace, does not know God; or (5) life is meaningless without a notion of eternity or purpose; or (6) God’s creative force is beyond our comprehension; ergo, we simply conclude that God is Creator; God’s creative energy formed a universe of life that never ends; because God can never cease to be, God is life; or finally (7) how I lived (my faith in God) puzzled Dr. G and made him want to know God as I did; still, my life was not enough to convince him.
Consequently, I couldn’t help him; although, he appeared to desperately want to know God. To transcend doubt, requires a leap of faith. Dr. G. was unwilling to take that leap – therefore, I left him to himself, to find God on his own, by his own devices.
“My mothers 90th birthday celebration – with brothers & sisters”
Today, I know that experiencing God cannot be explained by any apologia or understanding lifted from any book – because experiencing God is just that, unexplainable, as Gorgias (an ancient Sophist) declared nearly 3000 years ago. You have to experience God, to know that God exists. Nothing in life can ever convince you to let go of this faith once you do experience God – neither good times nor bad times.
Knowing God, experiencing God is surreal. So I am so, so, so thankful to my mother, who taught me to pray, when I was just a child.