I don’t know much about God. I don’t presume to know. I know he is a great guy. Provided he is a he. Then again, what if he’s not?
I don’t mean to suggest God is a woman. But if God is indeed male, then who stands around telling him what to do all day?
You cannot tell me that God is an ordinary male. If God were a guy, the universe would have been repaired with duct tape and would have completely fallen apart a long time ago.
So this is just one of the wrongly preconceived notions I have about God.
For starters, I’ve always thought of God as a human being. Logically, I know God isn’t human. But that’s how I have imagined him. He had four limbs, a belly button, probably blue eyes, an American accent.
Also, I’ve always thought of him as an old man. White hair, long beard. Like the homeless guy who stands on the corner at Walmart. The same homeless guy who holds a cardboard sign which reads, “God Bless” while all the cars with the Greek fish on their bumpers motor past him.
Something else I always believed was that God lived far away. Way up in the sky. And I mean WAY up there. As in, billions of lightyears away. He was separate from earth and all its people by some unseen chasm. Distant. Aloof. He sure as heck didn’t care about me and my problems.
Which brings up the idea of heaven.
I’ve always believed heaven was a far off land. Like a fairytale kingdom where the only ones allowed inside are those who know the lyrics to Gaither songs.
I am a product of my Southern Baptist upbringing. In my childhood brain, heaven was a huge dry county, filled with Baptists.
A Methodist might gain heavenly entrance now and then, but only if they accidentally fell into the First Baptist baptismal beforehand.
Presbyterians were probably there, too, but you’d never know it because Presbyterians wouldn’t make any noise in church if a rat was crawling up their leg.
Church of Christ people were there because they were really just Baptists who couldn’t afford pianos.
Episcopalians definitely weren’t in heaven because they had Pabst Blue Ribbon at their Christmas parties.
And Catholics were most certainly in hell because they could gamble in Biloxi and they often smoked herbal incense during church.
At least this is what childhood me believed.
To me, heaven was a realm with mother-of-pearl gates, where an ancient angel stood before a ledgerbook and decided who would and wouldn’t go to everlasting damnation.
Truthfully, my image of heaven comes largely from the cartoons in the Sunday newspaper. Like the cartoon where there is a man standing in line for heaven is frisked by an angel. The angel says, “He’s clean.”
Heaven to me was merely a bunch of clouds and people in flowy tunics. Everyone was blonde, sort of like visiting Sweden, except with more harps.
And mainly, heaven was just a bunch of big mansions. Kind of like riding through the neighborhoods in Moutainbrook, only with more clouds.
What did people do in heaven all day? Because if what my childhood minister said was true, everyone would be singing all the time. Twenty-four hours per day. Endless singing. Which is a frightening thought.
Because if you’d ever visited my church, you’d know that most members of our congregation couldn’t carry a tune if it had been tattooed on their inner thigh.
Also, we would be eating a lot of fruit in heaven. Our Sunday school teacher used to have a flannel board illustration depicting the Tree of Life, which was basically a big apple tree. A tree which also, apparently, produced bananas and cherries.
So fruit was all you ate. All day every day. Fruit, fruit, fruit. And if you got tired of fruit, tough spit.
But I now know I was wrong about everything concerning God and heaven.
Because this morning, I got an email from a little girl. Her name is Jessica. She is 11 years old. Her mother died last year of glioblastoma. She has been having a tough time. Suffering from anxiety and depression.
She wrote to me saying, “Dear Mister Sean, I wanted to know what you think heaven is like.
“I think heaven is just like living down here, with all the same stuff we have right now like chips and Coke and cars and people and dogs.
“But in heaven, nobody’s parents die and there are no doctors or cancer to worry about. And whenever you want a hug from God, he just gives you one. And angels aren’t people with wings and halos like I used to think, all the angels are just everyone’s moms.”
Dear Jessica. I think you’re absolutely right.
Debbie - September 6, 2022 7:35 am
LOL! Sean, I love your description of little kid Heaven, God and all the different denominations! Took me 50 years to get past such ideas! I’m 70 now and have matured enough to know some of what Heaven is not.
Sweet little Jessica, I absolutely agree with you. Don’t we have so much to look forward to? I’m so happy you told Sean your ideas, now he is reminding me of the truth, because of you. Thank you, Jessica. 🤗👩👧✨💞✨
Ed Caldwell (Bear) - September 6, 2022 8:16 am
If anyone knows things, it’s kids! ❤️
Thanks Sean, for being you and kickstarting my day!
Dianè - September 6, 2022 8:38 am
I just love you! I mean like you’re a best friend! Thank you ever so much for blessing my heart., my life.:::♥️
Leigh Amiot - September 6, 2022 9:13 am
“Heaven” by Randy Alcorn is a phenomenal book on the subject (from a Christian/biblical perspective).
Just said some prayers for Jessica, it’s a tough go to grow up without one or both parents. I lost a parent when I was her exact age. Jessica has me wondering what doctors will do in heaven since their services will no longer be needed there.
My late mother, a nurse who worked in geriatric care, accompanied many people on the final leg of their journey from here to Heaven, and she said as a person was dying, they often would see/speak of/speak to their mother. The objective is to see Jesus, yet apparently He often sends a comforting person to welcome us home.
Thanks, Sean, for another good column which has given me something good to think about, such a refreshing difference from what else is out there in cyberspace.
Melissa Norman - September 6, 2022 9:18 am
Dear Jessica, I think you are right, too!!! God is soooo good!!! Sean, thank you for helping to heal a little child’s heart. I know that little child is also you and me. Heaven is here on earth in our love for each other. Now I must go and get a tissue to wipe my tears……
Lu - September 6, 2022 9:27 am
I believe that, too. Love to Jessica from a Mom who misses her children everyday. ❤️
Steve McCaleb - September 6, 2022 10:16 am
Best description of Heaven I’ve ever heard. God bless Jessica (and you as well my friend). From the mouths of babes……..
Nan - September 6, 2022 10:34 am
I also think Jessica is spot on about heaven. I sure look forward to seeing my angel Mom again someday.
Patricia Collins - September 6, 2022 11:22 am
I believe Jessica could be correct, but that and so much more. I am excited about seeing my family one day, all together and healed.
Edward Willis - September 6, 2022 11:48 am
And smells like, bacon, coffee and mamaw’s biscuits!!!
Stephanie - September 6, 2022 12:04 pm
And once again, I am crying in my coffee. Sean, thank you for meeting a little girl right where she is without preaching and pounding the pulpit. And Dear, Sweet Jessica, thank you for making Heaven so easy to believe in. I pray you feel your Mom’s (and God’s) hugs every moment of every day until you meet her again. And you will.
Lani Wilson - September 6, 2022 12:05 pm
And God looks just like Jesus!! I see how you did that God👍
Debbie g - September 6, 2022 12:05 pm
Beautiful Jessica I believe you are right too hugs from all of us here on earth waiting with you we love you !! And Sean. Amazing you are. !!!
Love you and Jamie
Regina Vanderneut - September 6, 2022 12:12 pm
Why! Mr Sean!! Bless your heart on your rendition of heaven!!! And Jessica s addition from a child s point of view just is the icing on ur cake!! GOD tells us through human writers SOME things about heaven. There are books written by trustworthy authors who reveal the passages from that Bible about heaven. But,… out of the mouths of babes…
Chasity Davis Ritter - September 6, 2022 12:25 pm
I’ve been mostly really good this week. So busy at work getting ready for inventory that I haven’t spent lots of time thinking and remembering. But it’s two days till my dads 4 year angelversary. Today. Was the day we decided we were going to unplug him tomorrow at 10 with the family there. And he held on one more day to make it to his great grand daughters 1st birthday because he loved her so. I’ve been doing good but I agree with Jessica about heaven. There is no cancer there. And for a minute I remembered. And well yeah leaky eyes. But you usually do that to me anyway with most of my morning reads but this time it was just a little more personal.
mccutchen52 - September 6, 2022 12:27 pm
Out of the mouths of Babes……
Cathy M - September 6, 2022 12:35 pm
I think Jessica nailed it. There is total peace in heaven and Jessica’s mom is whole again and flying free from pain and suffering. She is still with Jessica in spirit. Stay strong Jessica. You are brave and loved by many❤️🙏🏻
Pam Williams - September 6, 2022 12:41 pm
Amen, Jessica! ♥️
Sean of the South: Me and God | The Trussville Tribune - September 6, 2022 12:43 pm
[…] By Sean Dietrich, Sean of the South […]
PSC - September 6, 2022 12:51 pm
A dear pastor-relative’s last sermon was entitled “A Future Worth Waiting For.” His final words about Heaven: “What’s it going to be like? I haven’t the slightest idea, but I’m going to find out.” One month later, he did — and continues as one of the great cloud of witnesses we read about in Hebrews,
Brenda McLaine - September 6, 2022 1:06 pm
Great writing and thoughts. I’m 76 yrs. old and still don’t know what heaven will be like. Just have to believe!
Suellen - September 6, 2022 1:18 pm
After my Mom had been laying without speaking for several days she sat up in bed and said mmummmummum and I said no Mom I’m Suzy. Clear as a bell she threw up her hands and said “I KNOW that.” So I said do you want your Mom? and she said “YES!” and laid back down and went to sleep again.
Dolores - September 6, 2022 1:30 pm
I’m reminded of the feral cats I feed. Poor dears, in the wild all they know is self preservation.
If they only knew the heaven that awaits them in a loving home. Food, water and shelter for certain. Beyond that, there’s unconditional love. I currently have a one-eyed cat with extra attitude, an elderly sneezy hyperthyroid cat and lastly, a cat I spent 6 years gaining his trust.
We don’t know for certain what awaits us in the new kingdom. Everything we endure here is a loving God trying to gain our faith and trust. Because he wants us in His home. He loves us. I’m certain it’s more wonderful than mere mortals can imagine.
Jessica, I imagine, is pretty close.
Jocelyn - September 6, 2022 1:32 pm
I pray heaven has lots of snuggly animals…and happy people. Thanks for reminding me to think about heaven. Jessica is spot on.
Richard Owen - September 6, 2022 1:34 pm
Out of the mouths of babes…..
David Britnell - September 6, 2022 1:42 pm
Big ol’ bear hug to Jessica! Thanks Sean!
Jamie - September 6, 2022 1:45 pm
I love this and you! The rat up the leg and the 24 hour singing had me laughing out loud but then tears for this sweet girl and her pain. Thank you for just being you ❤️
Patricia Gibson - September 6, 2022 1:57 pm
Ann Thompson - September 6, 2022 2:42 pm
My idea of heaven is being surrounded by natural beauty, safe, at ease, content, with your self, and/or someone you love, inspired, healthy….in the present. I’m not waiting till I’m dead to be there.
Jeri Blom - September 6, 2022 2:59 pm
Hi Sean. I’ve often wondered why there are no Catholics or Lutherans in your stories. Would love to know.
Patricia Jones - September 6, 2022 3:08 pm
Sean I have also thought about heaven. When I do I think of all my love ones who have gone before me. I picture them around a big table celebrating and talking about the ones that are still on earth. I see my husband, who went to heaven 22 years ago, talking about his sons. He talks about how proud he is of the men, husbands, and fathers they have become. He also talks about each of his grandchildren, even though they were born after he has been in heaven. I see my Mama Daddy and brother together again. I see my mother- in- law and father- in- law. Everyone is happy and free of pain.
James Hudgins, PhD - September 6, 2022 3:44 pm
I read you every day and love your humor and sarcasm. your response to Jessie, however, was a great disappointment. It is funny and enjoyable when you make fun of our human misbehavior, but when you demean the eternal creator of this magnificent universe and forget to mention the Lord Jesus Christ who died on the cross for your sins and min you crossed the lin. I am deepley sorry that you do not know the Lord Jesus. A little sad to learn that little Jessica knows more about heaven and God than you, it makes me sad.
I will look forward to your next post, Jim
Ricky Nations - September 6, 2022 3:55 pm
Bill Wagner - September 6, 2022 4:04 pm
This is my second time to send a message to you. My first message welcomed you to Birmingham. I am glad you are here. Today I am responding to your ‘Me and God’ piece. You told us about 11-year old Jessica who lost her mother and asked about Heaven. I know you used humor to make your point. You are a gifted writer. I am a child of God who knows the Christian walk from experience. Nearly 60 years of experience. I trust God more everyday. I see Him at work in all situations. I want everyone to know His love is real and He gives peace and hope that endures. Heaven is promised to His children and we have been given an abundant life right now. Jesus lovingly told His apostles that their sorrow would turn into joy. Then He said “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
To you and Jessica and everyone else, Jesus is the only way to true and lasting peace. He is invincible.
Judith Harris - September 6, 2022 4:36 pm
Sean, You are my very favorite writer of all times. Your writings usually bring tears to my eyes but your last sentences in each usually puts a smile on my face. Now. how special is that! I am a retired teacher of 48 years in the classroom and I know a gifted writer when one comes along. I could use your works to instill a love for reading in the young and adult students. You are for real and write about what we all feel and sometimes have trouble expressing. Your writings touch my soul.
Beverley - September 6, 2022 5:05 pm
Bless Jessica …and you Sean!
cekey44 - September 6, 2022 5:53 pm
I am surprised and amazed. Your prejudices are showing and you seem to be proud of them.
Patricia Taylor - September 6, 2022 6:05 pm
The thing is, unless we have been to Heaven, we don’t know what it is like…I sing Jesus Loves Me to my cat, Miss Kitty. She loves it and it is her favorite song. Someone told me cats would not be in Heaven and I asked them if they had ever been to Heaven and they said no. I then asked, then how do you know what is in Heaven, since the Bible is not totally clear on some of it? There is probably not enough room to describe it. We all have a scene in mind, but according to the Bible, in 1st Cor. 2:9 , “But as it is written, Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God has prepared for them that love Him.” One thing though, you have to have accepted Jesus to make it in. Jesus was given as our only way to the Heavenly Father.(John 14:6) Sean was only trying to comfort the little girl, and if she believes in Heaven, she also believes in God and has probably heard about Jesus.
Veronica - September 6, 2022 6:41 pm
Yesterday we celebrated sister’s birthday for the first time without her. I can now smile a little just knowing that she is in heaven with my mom, brother, and another sister, and they are no longer hurting. They are getting hugs from God and they are all together.
Karen - September 6, 2022 7:08 pm
Hugs to sweet Jessica. You gave her a lovely response.
Kathy. - September 6, 2022 7:13 pm
Jessica’s right. And everyone knows your name. And lots of partying with those Cokes and potato chips. Also, pizza and spinach dip.
Heidi - September 6, 2022 8:02 pm
I had a dream a few nights ago. I died and when I left my human body I was greeted by my Daddy with a big hug. I cried so hard because I had missed him and his hugs so much. My Mama was there and all our old dogs. Healthy and happy. It was beautiful. Jessica’s Mama is watching over her every day and so is God. God that makes all things right and beautiful in the end.
Linda Moon - September 6, 2022 9:35 pm
You had me at the title, Mr. of the South. I guess My Guy is somewhat God-like, with all the duct tape repairs he’s done around here. Maybe Here is Heaven, or at least a little bit of it after we’ve been all fixed up. And Jessica is right, except she left out cats. Beautiful, Jessica…I’d like to hug you right now!
Brenda. Andress lewis - September 6, 2022 10:19 pm
Dina - September 6, 2022 10:22 pm
You are a GOOD man Sean Dietrich!
Kenneth Boone - September 7, 2022 12:26 am
Sean, you must have been at my Christmas party last year. Cheers!
Martha - September 7, 2022 12:59 am
Disappointed with this article.
s - September 7, 2022 1:36 am
Amazing as always! (Don’t read that comment from Martha, she’s wrong!)
Wendell Berry - September 7, 2022 2:18 am
Wendell Berry, from ‘Leavings’ VI
I know how you longed, here where you lived
as exiles, for the presence of the essential
Being and Maker and Knower of all things.
But because of my unruliness, or some erring
virtue in me never rightly schooled,
some error clear and dear, my life
has not taught me your desire for flight:
dismattered, pure, and free. I long
instead for the Heaven of creatures, of seasons,
of day and night. Heaven enough for me
would be this world as I know it, but redeemed
of our abuse of it and one another. It would be
the Heaven of knowing again. There is no marrying
in Heaven, and I submit; even so, I would like
to know my wife again, both of us young again,
and I remembering always how I loved her
when she was old. I would like to know
my children again, all my family, all my dear ones,
to see, to hear, to hold, more carefully
than before, to study them lingeringly as one
studies old verses, committing them to heart
forever. I would like again to know my friends,
my old companions, men and women, horses
and dogs, in all the ages of our lives, here
in this place that I have watched over all my life
in all its moods and seasons, never enough.
I will be leaving how many beauties overlooked?
A painful Heaven this would be, for I would know
by it how far I have fallen short. I have not
paid enough attention, I have not been grateful
enough. And yet this pain would be the measure
of my love. In eternity’s once and now, pain would
place me surely in the Heaven of my earthly love.
Billie Stumbaugh - September 7, 2022 2:25 am
Hugs are definitely a part of Heaven!!
Karen Snyder - September 7, 2022 4:54 am
Jessica, I am looking forward to getting hugs in heaven, too, hugs from God, and from my Mom and Dad, and many others I love who are already there. I am sure heaven is going to be ever so much better than we can imagine, but until we find out all the details, your description sounds just about right to me, too.
I have always loved an Eskimo legend that says, “Perhaps they are not stars in the sky, but rather openings where our loved ones shine down to let us know they are happy.” Who’s to say that wasn’t exactly God’s plan? That thought makes me smile, so maybe it will do the same for you. Sending a grandmotherly hug from Indiana. ❤️
Teresa Blankenship - September 8, 2022 1:59 am
CHARALEEN WRIGHT - September 9, 2022 2:14 am
Carole J Byars - September 9, 2022 9:09 pm
Sean, you are God’s beloved child & a co-laborer with Christ. That is the polar opposite of “nothing.” 😡
Anne Trawick - September 18, 2022 10:43 pm
Ann Hunter - September 19, 2022 8:39 pm
My husband suffered terribly with cancer for a year and he really wanted to beat it. It gives me so much comfort to know he’s pain free, has his young body again and shoots a hole in one everyday on those heavenly greens. It makes me smile when I think of it. There’s not a doubt in my mind that heaven is very real!!!
Renee Welton - January 19, 2023 12:14 am
Bless your heart Sean! I love your stories♥️