Everyone Experiences God

mountain hike

I can say, with no reservations, that everyone experiences God.

  • We might not all use the same language for the experience.
  • We might not recognize the experience as having anything to do with God.
  • We might not share that experience with others, because it is deeply private or because we’re not sure how to communicate it.

But the Divine seeks us, desires us, and waits for the opportunity to meet us. Fortunately for us, God meets us where we are and in ways we are able to perceive the encounter.

A friend of mine described a field trip she took with some teenagers who were struggling, some of them in trouble. They hiked up a mountain, and when they stood at the peak and looked out across the breathtaking scenery, one of them uttered an expression I cannot print here. To me, it would have sounded like profanity. But my friend knew that this was that kid’s only way to respond—in awe—to what lay before him. He experienced God then, but he possessed a limited vocabulary for the encounter.

In the book Days of Deepening Friendship, I describe what I call significant moments, situations that a person might realize—at the time or in retrospect—are actually experiences of the Divine:

  • You experience a sharp, unmistakable desire to connect with God or with authentic spirituality as you understand it.
  • You become acutely aware of God’s presence through an overwhelming sense of peace, gratitude, love, awe, or joy.
  • You understand clearly and powerfully something about your life.
  • You discover an answer you have been looking for.
  • You witness divine love and power in a situation, such as rescue from danger or the healing of illness.
  • You experience vivid awareness of life’s wonder/mystery/beauty.
  • You experience vivid awareness of others’ suffering, which leads you to compassion.
  • You are able to accomplish something beyond your own abilities or knowledge.
  • You are able to bear something beyond your own strength or endurance.
  • You witness a change of circumstance that seems miraculous, or at least right on time and in the best way.
  • You are touched to the core by a work of art, which turns simple appreciation into an occasion for transcendence.
  • Your spirit is awakened mightily by a song, a passage of Scripture, a poem, or the words of someone speaking.
  • You know, suddenly and unmistakably, what you need to do, what the next step of your journey will be.
  • You receive the help you need, possibly before you even know you need it.
  • Another person, for no particular reason, commits an outlandish act of love or kindness, for you.

Feel free to add to this list. When you talk with other people and hear their stories, listen for clues that God was present in a situation or a conversation. And please remember, Divine love comes looking for us, and finds us no matter who we are or what we’ve done or how much we struggle or don’t understand. Divine love knows that our desires are trying to take us to God.

About Vinita Hampton Wright 160 Articles
Vinita Hampton Wright has served as senior editor at Loyola Press for 16 years and recently became managing editor of the trade books department. She has written various fiction and non-fiction books, including the novel Dwelling Places with HarperOne, Days of Deepening Friendship and The Art of Spiritual Writing for Loyola Press, and most recently, The St. Teresa of Avila Prayer Book for Paraclete Press. Vinita is a student and practitioner of Ignatian spirituality, and from 2009 to 2015 she blogged at Days of Deepening Friendship. For the past few years, she has co-led small groups through the 19th Annotation of the Spiritual Exercises. She lives in Chicago with her husband, three cats, and a dog. In her “spare” time these days, she is working on her next novel.

18 Comments on Everyone Experiences God

  1. Hi Vinita, I love your writing and your perspective on God.
    I put on music and come to this site when I need a boost. And here you are. Thanks a million!

  2. Since I started my way into academic life I enjoy Ignatian Spirituality. Praying with Sacred Space in the morning helps me teaching Sacred Scripture to my students. Ignatian Spirituality helps to connect the Bible text with life.
    Your contribution has touched the deepest corners of my heart. It opened my eyes for so many moments of God’s graceful presence in my life. I feel deep gratitude for all Divine moments.
    I will also distribute your thoughts among my students as they often think that God was only present in the stories of the Bible and the life of the Saints.
    Thanks a million and God bless you!

  3. Thank you for all your insights Vinita

    I have been able to share this with my spiritual care colleagues in the hospice I am associated with

  4. Waiting in hospital clinic this morning for a regular treatment my wife began chatting to the rather nervous lady sitting next to her who was attending for the first time. As they chatted the time passed so quickly that her new friend forgot all about her worries. God was there with them both.

    • You can learn more about Ignatian spirituality right on this site. Just click around and explore–there’s so much information and many helpful articles. Thanks for posting!

  5. One day, I had a particularly terrible day at work and I went home grumpy, tired and hungry. There was a small package waiting for me and when I opened it, there were two beautiful crucifixes. At that time, I had a collection of crucifixes hanging on my apartment wall, and my friends had admired them. One of them got those two crucifixes during his trip as a surprise me. I thought it was God’s way of telling me that He was with me all along, and used my friend as His instrument.

    • I love these sorts of stories. What you call a coincidence unless you have faith in a God who interacts with us and sometimes interrupts us!

  6. Dear Vinita thankyou for your contribution today. You blogs are always insightful and helpful. Cheers, Heather from Australia.

  7. I just bought your book, because no one has ever explained this as well for me before. And I’ve been reading stacks of books since my recent baptism. Thank you for saying it so clearly, in words that even a “newbie” to the Faith can understand and repeat!

    • Cynthia, I’m glad the post was helpful, and I hope you enjoy the book. Please keep in mind that the book covers a lot of topics, so just go through and pick and choose–no need to read it from beginning to end. Peace.

  8. I found your site through the link to the 31 days with Ignatoius that was on Sacred Space.
    Thank you so much for such a prayerful retreat. I have prayed with Sacred Space every morning for years & it has kept me grounded & focused my energy on God’s will for me.
    Spending additional time with The Ignaition 31 day retreat has renewed me, helped me to look at where I’ve been & where I’m going. I am inspired to do the exercises. I purchased “The Ignatian Adventure, by Kevin O’Brien & once I connect with a Spiritual Adviser, I hope to begin. Now in the 7th decade of my life, Who knows what God’s plan is for me.
    Thank you for your inspiration!

    • Cheryl, we’re so happy that the Sacred Space and Ignatian Spirituality sites have been helpful to you. Kevin O’Brien’s book will provide much help and inspiration. Peace.

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