About a month ago, I went to the Spanish Fork, UT "Festival of Colors," which is a celebration of springtime by the Hindu religion. However, it is mostly Mormons who participate in this festival in Utah. On our way out of the event, there was a couple of people handing out flyers. I took one, and read it as I walked to the car. The flyer was from some Christian denomination and condemned us for participating in the festival and declared that we were disgracing God. It told us, in no uncertain terms, that we needed to repent of the sin of going to the festival. I promptly threw my flyer down on the ground in disgust.
If I had read the flyer sooner, I would have turned around and said, "That may have not been a Christian festival, but I can promise you God was there." And He really was. One of my favorite scriptures of all time is 1 John 4:8, which says, "He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love." When we feel love, that is the time when we are closest to God.
Perhaps I have a radical view, but I believe that God is not inherently present in any church meeting. A church meeting or other religious event where all members of the congregation have negative feelings towards other members, where the church members feel a sense of pride or superiority, or where members are so selfish that all they focus on is what they get out of church or how they compare to others is not a place where God is present. Because we know that God is love, He is not present unless an individual or group of individuals feel perfect, charitable love towards themselves and others. Religion, without love, does nothing to bring us closer to God.
The Festival of Colors was bursting with love. I had not felt that overwhelming sense of love of unity in a very long time. We celebrated with people of all shapes, colors, and ages. There were people as young as babies and people as old as great-grandparents. And we all celebrated springtime together by throwing colored chalk on each other. For once, everyone was united in fun, laughter, and love. There was no anger when people threw chalk in your mouth because you knew it was all in good spirits. I felt closer to God for an extended period of time that day than I have in quite a while.
When you are feeling lost or like God doesn't care for you, focus on love. Love yourself. Love your strengths. Love your weaknesses. Love the opportunities you get to progress every day. Love your life situation. Love the good that you experience. Love the bad. Love others around you. Love them in speech, action, and thought. And, because I'm a hippie, I've got to throw in: love your planet and every organism that lives upon it. Learning to love everything perfectly can easily take a lifetime, if not more. Loving everything, I think, is they key to becoming the most like God that you can be; for God is love.