Friendship with God: An Uncommon Dialogueby Neale Donald Walsch
The first book in a new series by the multimillion-copy bestselling author of Conversations with God.
Neale Donald Walsch has changed the way millions of Americans think about God. His Conversations with God series, book 1, book 2, and book 3, have all been New York Times bestsellers- book 1 for over two years.
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The first book in a new series by the multimillion-copy bestselling author of Conversations with God.
Neale Donald Walsch has changed the way millions of Americans think about God. His Conversations with God series, book 1, book 2, and book 3, have all been New York Times bestsellers- book 1 for over two years.
The essence of Neale Donald Walsch's message lies at the heart of faith- the sacred place in every person, where he stands alone with his God. Walsch urges each of us to forge our own unique relationship with God, a God who is everywhere and speaks to us in all we do. It is up to us to stop and listen. It is up to us to respond...to begin the conversation. And a conversation is the first step, just as in any relationship, in establishing trust, in building friendship, in creating communion.
In Friendship with God, Neale Donald Walsch shares the next part of his journey, and leads us to deepen and strengthen our own bonds with God. He honors our heart's desire: a closer connection, richer and fuller. A friendship with God.
- Penguin Publishing Group
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- 18 Years
Read an Excerpt
Try telling someone that you've just had a conversation with God and see what happens.
Never mind. I can tell you what happens.
Your whole life changes.
First, because you've had the conversation, second, because you've told someone about it.
To be fair, I should say that I did more than have a conversation. I've had a six-year dialogue. And I did more than "tell" someone. I kept a written record of what was said and sent it to a publisher.
Things have been very interesting ever since. And a little surprising.
The first surprise was that the publisher actually read the material and even made it into a book. The second surprise was that people actually bought the book, and even recommended it to their friends. The third surprise is that their friends recommended it to their friends, and even made it into a bestseller. The fourth surprise is that it is now sold in twenty-seven countries. The fifth surprise is that any of this was surprising, given who the coauthor was.
When God tells you He's going to do something, you can count on it. God always gets Her way.
God told me, in the middle of what I thought was a private dialogue, that "this will one day become a book." I didn't believe Him. Of course, I haven't believed two-thirds of what God has been telling me since the day I was born. That's been the problem. Not just with me, but with the whole human race.
If we would just listen ...
The book that was published was called, unoriginally enough, Conversations with God. Now you may not believe that I've had such a conversation, and I have no need for you to believe it. It doesn't change the fact that I did. It simply makes it easier, if you choose to do so, to dismiss out of hand what I was told in that conversationwhich some people have done. On the other hand, there have been many people who have not only agreed that such a conversation is possible, but have also made communicating with God a regular part of their own lives. Not just one-way communicating, but communicating two ways. Those people have learned to be careful about who is told of this, however. It turns out that when people say they talk to God every day, they're called devout, but when people say that God talks to them every day, they're called crazy.
In my case, that's perfectly okay. As I've said, I have no need for anyone to believe anything that I say. In fact, I'd rather that people listen to their own hearts, find their own truths, seek their own counsel, access their own wisdom, and, if they wish, have their own conversations with God.
If something I say leads them to do thatcauses them to question how they've been living, and what they've believed in the past, brings them to a place of larger exploration of their own experience, moves them to make a deeper commitment to their own truththen the sharing of my experience will have been a pretty good idea.
I think this was the idea all along. In fact, I'm convinced of it. That's why Conversations with God became a bestseller, as did books 2 and 3, which followed. And I think the book you are now reading has found its way into your hands to once again cause you to wonder, to explore, and to search for your own truthbut this time on an even larger topic: Is it possible to have more than a conversation with God? Is it possible that you can have an actual friendship with God?
This book says yes, and it tells you how. In God's own words. For in this book, happily, our dialogue continues, taking us to new places, and powerfully reiterating some of what has been told to me earlier.
I am learning that this is how my conversations with God proceed. They are circular, reviewing what has already been given, then dazzlingly spiraling into new territory. This two-steps-forward, one-step-back approach allows me to keep in mind previously shared wisdom, planting it firmly in my consciousness in order to form a solid basis for further understanding.
That is the process here. It is not without design. And while at first this process is a bit frustrating, I have come to deeply appreciate its workings. For by planting God's wisdom firmly into our consciousness, we affect our consciousness. We awaken it. We elevate it. And as we do so, we understand more; we come to remember more of Who We Really Are, and we begin to demonstrate that.
In these pages I am going to share a little about my past, and about how my life has changed since the publication of the Conversations with God trilogy. A lot of folks have asked me about all that, and that's understandable. They want to know something about this person who says he's having casual chats with the One Upstairs. Yet that's not why I'm including these anecdotes. Snippets of my "personal story" are part of this book not to satisfy people's curiosity, but to show how my life demonstrates what it's like to have a friendship with Godand how all of our lives demonstrate the same thing.
That's the message, of course. All of us have a friendship with God, whether we know it or not.
I was one of those who didn't know. Nor did I know where that friendship could take me. That is the great surprise here; that is the wonder. Not so much that we can and do have a friendship with God, but what that friendship was designed to bring usand where it can take us.
We are on a journey here. There is a purpose for this friendship we're being invited to develop, a reason for its being. Until recently, I did not know the reason. I was not remembering. Now that I am, I no longer fear God, and that has changed my life.
On these pages (and in my life) I still ask plenty of questions. But now I also provide answers. That's the difference here. That's the change. I am now speaking with God, not merely to God. I am walking alongside God, not simply following God.
It is my deepest wish that your life will be changed in the same way as mine; that you, too, with the help and guidance of this book, will develop a very real friendship with God, and that as a result, you also will speak your word and live your life with a new authority.
It is my hope that you will no longer be a seeker, but a bringer, of the Light. For what you bring is what you will find.
God, it seems, is not looking for followers so much as leaders. We can follow God, or we can lead others to God. The first course will change us, the second course will change the world.
Neale Donald Walsch
I remember exactly when I decided I should be afraid of God. It was when He said that my mother was going to hell.
Okay, He didn't say it, exactly, but somebody said it on His behalf.
I was about six years old, and my mother, who considered herself somewhat of a mystic, was "reading the cards" at our kitchen table for a friend. People came to the house all the time to see what sort of divinations my mother could extract from an ordinary deck of playing cards. She was good at it, they said, and word of her abilities quietly spread.
As Mom was reading the cards on this particular day, her sister paid a surprise visit. I remember that my aunt was not very happy with the scene that she encountered, when, knocking once, she came bursting in through the back screen door. Mom acted as if she'd been caught red-handed doing something she wasn't supposed to be doing. She made an awkward introduction of her lady friend and gathered up the cards quickly, stuffing them into her apron pocket.
Nothing was said about it in that moment, but later my aunt came to say good-bye in the backyard, where I had gone to play.
"You know," she said as I walked with her to her car, "your mom shouldn't be telling people their future with that deck of hers. God is going to punish her."
"Why?" I asked.
"Because she is trafficking with the devil"I remember that shivering phrase because of its peculiar sound to my ear-"and God will send her to straight to hell." She said this as blithely as if she were announcing that it was going to rain tomorrow. To this day I remember quaking with fear as she backed out of the driveway. I was scared to death that my mom had angered God so badly. Then and there the fear of God was deeply embedded inside me.
How could God, who is supposed to be the most benevolent creator in the universe, want to punish my mother, who was the most benevolent creature in my life, with everlasting damnation? This, my six-year-old mind begged to know. And so I came to a six-year-old's conclusion: if God was cruel enough to do something like that to my mother, who, in the eyes of everyone who knew her, was practically a saint, then it must be very easy to make Him madeasier than my fatherso we had all better mind our p's and q's.
I was scared of God for many years, because my fear was continually reinforced.
I remember being told in second-grade Catechism that unless a baby was baptized, it would not go to heaven. This seemed so improbable, even to second-graders, that we used to try to trip up the nun by asking pin-her-in-the-corner questions like, sister, Sister, what if the parents are actually taking the baby to be baptized, and the whole family dies in a terrible car crash? Wouldn't that baby get to go with her parents to heaven?"
Our nun must have come from the Old School. no," she sighed heavily, I'm afraid not." For her, doctrine was doctrine, there were no exceptions.
"But where would the baby go?" one of my schoolmates asked earnestly. to hell or to purgatory?" (In good Catholic households, nine is old enough to know exactly what hell" is.)
"The baby would go neither to hell nor purgatory," Sister told us. the baby would go to limbo."
Limbo, Sister explained, was where God sent babies and other people who, through no fault of their own, died without being baptized into the one true faith. They weren't being punished, exactly, but they would never get to see God.
This is the God I grew up with. You may think I'm making this all up, but I'm not.
Fear of God is created by many religions and is, in fact, encouraged by many religions.
No one had to encourage me, I'll tell you that. If you thought I was frightened by the limbo thing, wait until you hear about the End of the World thing.
Somewhere in the early fifties I heard the story of the children of Fatima. This is a village in central Portugal, north of Lisbon, where the Blessed Virgin was said to have appeared on repeated occasions to a young girl and her two cousins. Here's what I was told about that:
The Blessed Virgin gave the children a Letter to the World, which was to be hand delivered to the Pope. He, in turn, was to open it and read its contents, but then reseal the letter, revealing its message to the public years later, if necessary.
The Pope was said to have cried for three days after reading this letter, which was said to contain terrible news of God's deep disappointment in us, and details of how He was going to have to punish the world if we didn't heed this final warning and change our ways. It would be the end of the world, and there would be moaning and gnashing of teeth and unbelievable torment.
God, we were told in catechism, was angry enough to inflict the punishment right then and there, but was having mercy on us and giving us this one last chance, because of the intercession of the Holy Mother.
The story of Our Lady of Fatima filled my heart with terror. I ran home to ask my mother if it was true. Mom said that if the priests and nuns were telling us this, it must be so. Nervous and anxious, the kids in our class pelted Sister with questions about what we could do
"Go to Mass every day," she advised. say your rosary nightly and do the Stations of the Cross often. Go to confession once a week. Do penance, and offer your suffering up to God as evidence that you have turned from sin. Receive Holy Communion. And say a Perfect Act of Contrition before going to sleep each night, so that if you are taken before you wake, you'll be worthy of joining the saints in heaven."
Actually, it never occurred to me that I might not live 'til morning until I was taught the childhood prayer ...
Now I lay me down to sleep,
I pray the Lord my soul to keep.
And if I die before I wake,
I pray the Lord my soul to take.
A few weeks of that and I was afraid to go to bed. I cried every night, and nobody could figure out what was wrong. To this day, I have a fixation with sudden death. Often when I leave the house for a flight out of townor sometimes when I go to the grocery storeI'll say to my wife Nancy, if I don't come back, remember that the last words I said to you were ÔI love you.'" It's become a running joke, but there's a tiny piece of me that's dead serious.
My next brush with the fear of God came when I was thirteen. My childhood babysitter, Frankie Schultz, who lived across the street from us, was getting married. And he invited memeto be an usher in his wedding party! Whoa, was I proud. Until I got to school and told the nun.
"Where is the wedding taking place?" she asked suspiciously.
I gave her the name of the place.
Her voice turned to ice. that's a Lutheran church, isn't it?"
"Well, I don't know. I didn't ask. I guess I ..."
"It is a Lutheran church, and you are not to go."
"How come?" I asked.
You are forbidden" she declared, and something felt very final about that.
"But why?" I persisted nonetheless.
Sister looked at me as if she couldn't believe I was questioning her further. Then, clearly pulling from some deep inner source of infinite patience, she blinked twice and smiled.
"God does not want you in a heathen church, my child," the nun explained. the people who go there do not believe as we believe. They do not teach the truth. It is a sin to attend church anywhere other than a Catholic church. I'm sorry that your friend Frankie has chosen to be married there. God will not consecrate the marriage."
"Sister," I pressed, way, way past the toleration point, what if I usher at the wedding anyway?"
"Well, then," she said with genuine concern, woe be unto you."
Whew. Heavy stuff. God was one tough hombre. There would no stepping out of line here.
Well, I stepped out of line. I wish I could report that I based my protest on higher moral grounds, but the truth is I couldn't stand the thought of not getting to wear my white sport coat (with a pink carnationjust like Pat Boone was singing about!). I decided not to tell anyone what the nun had said, and I went to that wedding as an usher. Boy, was I scared! You may think I'm exaggerating, but all day long I actually waited for God to strike me down. And during the ceremony I remained watchful for the Lutheran lies that I had been warned about, but all that the minister said were warm and wonderful things that made everyone in the church cry. Still, by the end of the service I was sopping wet.
That night I begged God on hands and knees to forgive me my transgression. I said the most Perfect Act of Contrition you've ever heard. (O my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended Thee....) I lay in bed for hours, afraid to fall asleep, repeating over and over again, and if I die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take ...
Now, I've told you these childhood storiesand I could tell you many morefor a reason. I want to impress on you how real my fear of God was. Because my story is not unique.
And, as I've said, it isn't just Roman Catholics who stand in frightened pose before the Lord. Far from it. Half the world's people believe God is going to get them" if they are not good. Fundamentalists of many religions strike fear into the hearts of their followers. You can't do this. Don't do that. Stop it, or God will punish you. And we're not talking about major prohibitions here, like Thou Shalt Not Kill. We're talking about God being upset if you eat meat on Friday (he's changed His mind on that, though), or pork any day of the week, or get a divorce. This is a God you will anger by failing to cover your female face with a veil, by not visiting Mecca in your lifetime, by failing to stop all activities, roll out your carpet, and prostrate yourself five times a day, by not marrying in the temple, by failing to go to confession or attending church every Sunday, whatever.
We have to be careful with God. The only problem is that it's hard to know the rules, because there are so many. And the most difficult thing is that everyone's rules are right. Or so they say. Yet they can't all be right. So how to choose, how to know? It's a nagging question, and not an unimportant one, given God's apparently small margin for error here.
Now along comes a book called Friendship with God. What can this mean? How can it be? Is it possible that God is not the Holy Desperado after all? Could it be that unbaptized babies do go to heaven? That wearing a veil or bowing to the East, remaining celibate or abstaining from pork have nothing to do with anything? That Allah loves us without condition? That Jehovah will select all of us to be with Him when the days of glory are at hand?
More fundamentally earthshaking, is it possible that we shouldn't be referring to God as him" at all? Could God be a woman? Or, even more unbelievably, without gender?
For a person raised as I was, even thinking such thoughts can be considered a sin.
Yet we have to think them. We have to challenge them. Our blind faith has led us down a blind alley. The human race has not progressed very far in the past two thousand years in terms of its spiritual evolution. We've heard teacher after teacher, master after master, lesson after lesson, and we're still exhibiting the same behaviors that have produced misery for our species since the beginning of time.
We're still killing our own kind, running our world on power and greed, sexually repressing our society, mistreating and mal-educating our children, ignoring suffering, and, indeed, creating it.
It has been two thousand years since the birth of Christ, twenty-five hundred since the time of the Buddha, and more since we first heard the words of Confucius, or the wisdom of the Tao, and we still haven't gotten the Main Questions figured out. Will there ever be a way to turn the answers we have already received into something workable, something that can function in our day-to-day lives?
I think there is. And I feel pretty certain about it, because I've discussed it a lot in my conversations with God.
The question I have been most frequently asked is: how do you know you've really been talking to God? How do you know it's not your imagination? Or, worse yet, the devil, trying to trick you?
The second-most asked question: Why you? Why did God pick you?
And the third: what's life been like since all this happened? How have things changed?
You would think that the most frequently asked questions would have to do with God's words, with the extraordinary insights and the breathtaking revelations and the challenging constructs of our dialogueand there have been many of those inquiries, to be surebut the most frequently asked questions have had to do with the human side of this story.
In the end, what we all want to know about is each other. We have an insatiable curiosity about our fellow human beings, more than just about anything else in the world. It's as if we somehow know that if we can learn more about one another, we can learn more about ourselves. And the yearning to know more about ourselvesabout Who We Really areis the deepest yearning of all.
And so we ask more questions about each other's experiences than about each other's understandings. What was that like for you? How do you know that's true? What are you thinking right now? Why do you do those things? How come you feel that way?
We're constantly trying to get into each other's skin. There's an internal guidance system that directs us intuitively and compellingly toward each other. I believe that there is a natural mechanism, at the level of our genetic code, which contains universal intelligence. This intelligence informs our most basic responses as sentient beings. It takes eternal wisdom to the cellular level, creating what some have called the Law of Attraction.
I believe we are attracted to each other inherently, out of a deep knowing that in each other we will find our Selves. We may not be aware of this consciously, we may not articulate this specifically, but I think we understand this cellularly. And I believe that this microcosmic understanding derives from a macrocosmic one. I believe we know at the highest level that We Are All One.
It is this supreme awareness that pulls us toward each other, and it is the ignoring of it that creates the deepest loneliness of the human heart, and every misery of the human condition.
This is what my conversation with God has shown me: that every sadness of the human heart, every indignity of the human condition, every tragedy of the human experience, can be attributed to one human decisionthe decision to withdraw from each other. The decision to ignore our supreme awareness. The decision to call the natural attraction that we have for each other bad," and our Oneness a fiction.
In this we have denied our True Selves. And it is from this self-denial that all our negativity has sprung. All of our rage, all of our disappointment, all of our bitterness has found its birth in the death of our greatest joy. The joy of being One.
And the conflict of the human encounter is that even as we seek at the cellular level to experience our Oneness, we insist at the mental level on denying it. Thus, our thoughts about life and how it is are out of alignment with our deepest inner knowing. In essence, we are acting every day against our instincts. And this has led to our present madness, in which we persist in acting out the insanity of separateness, all the while yearning to know the joy of Oneness once again.
Can the conflict ever be resolved? Yes. It will end when we resolve our conflict with God. And that is the reason for this book.
This is a book I had no idea I was going to write. Like Conversations with God, it was given to me to share. I thought that when the CWG trilogy was finished, so, too, would be my career" as an author by accident." Then I sat down to write the Acknowledgments Page for the Guidebook to book 1, and I had what felt to me like a mystical experience.
I'm telling you what happened then so that you can better understand why this book is being written now. When they heard that I was writing this book, some people said to me, I thought there was only supposed to be a trilogy?" It was as if producing more material somehow violated the integrity of the original process. So I want you to know how this book happened; how it became clear to me that I had to write iteven though now, as I sit here, I have no idea where it's going, or what it has to say.
It was spring 1997, and I had completed work on the Guidebook. I was nervously awaiting reaction from my publisher, Hampton Roads. Finally, the call came.
"Hey, Neale, great book!" Bob Friedman said.
"You mean it? You're not kidding?" there's always a part of me that can't believe the best and is expecting to hear the worst. So I was ready for him to say, I'm sorry. We can't accept this. You'll have to do a complete rewrite."
"Of course I mean it," Bob chuckled. why would I lie to you about a thing like that? You think I want to publish a bad book?"
"Well, I just thought you might be trying to make me feel good."
"Trust me, Neale. I'm not going to try to make you feel good by telling you you've got a great book if what you've got is a stinker.
"Okay," I said warily.
Bob chuckled again. "Man, you authors are the most insecure people I know. You can't even believe someone whose livelihood depends on telling you the truth. I'm telling you, it's a great book. It's going to help a lot of people."
I let out my breath. "Okay, I believe you."
"There's only one thing."
I knew it! I knew it. What's wrong?"
"Nothing's wrong. You just didn't send any acknowledgments. We just wanted to know whether you had any acknowledgments, and just forgot that page, or if you want to run without any. That's all.
Bob laughed. "Are those your acknowledgments?"
"They might as well be." I told Bob I'd e-mail him something right away. When I hung up, I let out a yelp."
"What's that about?" my wife Nancy called from the next room. I marched in triumphantly.
"Bob says the book is great."
"Oh, good," she beamed.
"Do you think he really means it?
Nancy rolled her eyes and smiled. "I'm sure bob's not going to lie to you about that."
That's just what he said. There's one thing, though."
"I've got to go write the acknowledgments."
"Well, that's no problem. You can knock something out in fifteen minutes."
Obviously, my wife should have been a publisher.
So I sat down on a Saturday morning and began my task by asking myself, whom do I want to acknowledge in the front of this Guidebook?" Immediately my mind said, well, God, of course." Yes, I argued with myself, but I thank God for everything, not just this book. then do it," my mind argued back. So I picked up a pen and wrote, For the entirety of my life, and anything good or decent or creative or wonderful I may have done with it, I thank my dearest friend and closest companion, God.
I remember surprising myself with the way I put that. I had never described God in quite that way, and I became consciously aware that this was exactly the way I felt. Sometimes it is only as I am writing that I come to know exactly how I feel. Have you ever had that experience? There I was, writing this, and I suddenly realized ... You know, I do have a friendship with God. That's just how it feels. And my mind said, so, write that down. Go ahead and say that." I began the second paragraph of the acknowledgments:
I have never known such a wonderful friendshipthat's exactly what it feels I have going here-and I want never to miss an opportunity to acknowledge it.
Then I wrote something without having any idea why.
Someday I hope to explain to everyone in minute detail just how to develop such a friendship, and how to use it. For God wants most of all to be used. And that's what we want as well. We want a friendship with God. One that's functional and useful.
At precisely that point, my hand froze. A chill went up my back. I felt a major rush inside my body. I sat quietly for a moment, stunned into a complete awareness of something that a moment before I had no thought of, but which now seemed perfectly obvious.
That particular experience was not new. I'd had it often while writing Conversations with God. A few words, a few sentences, would fly out of my mind. And when I saw them on paper in front of me, I would suddenly be clear that this is what is so, even though a few minutes beforehand I'd had no idea about this." The experience was usually followed by some kind of physical sensationa sudden tingling, or what I call a happy trembling, or, sometimes, tears of joy. And, on occasion, all three.
This time it was all three. The triple whammy. So I knew that what I had written was absolute truth.
Then I received an important personal revelationand this, too, has happened before. The feeling is one of abruptly being aware" of something in its totality. You know it "all at once."
What I was caused to know (that is the only way I can describe it) is that I was not going to be finished with my writing at the end of the trilogy. It was suddenly clear that there were going to be at least two more books. And then a knowingness about these books, and what they would have to say, swept over me. I heard God's voice whisper ...
Neale, your relationship with Me is no different from your relationship with each other. You begin your interactions with each other with a conversation. If that goes well, you form a friendship. And if that goes well, you experience a sense of onenesscommunionwith the other person. It is exactly the same way with Me.
First, we have a conversation.
Each of you experiences your conversations with God in your own wayand in different ways at different times. It will always be a two-way conversation, such as the one we are having right now. It could be a conversation in your head," or on paper, or with My responses taking just a little more time, and reaching you in the form of the next song that you hear, or the next movie you see, or the next lecture you attend, or the next magazine article you read, or in the chance utterance of a friend whom you just happen" to run into on the street.
Once you have become clear that we are always in conversation, then we can move into friendship. Ultimately, we will experience communion.
You are, therefore, to write two more books: Friendship with God and Communion with God. The first will deal with how to take the principles shared in your conversations with God and turn your new relationship into a fully functioning friendship. The second will reveal how to elevate that friendship into the experience of communion, and what will happen when you do. It will provide a blueprint for every seeker of truth, and will contain a breathtaking message for all humankind.
You and I are One right now. You simply don't know it. You do not choose to experience itany more than you know or choose to experience your Oneness with each other.
Your books, Neale, will end that division for all those who read them. They will destroy the illusion of separation.
This is your assignment. This is your work. You are to destroy the illusion of separation.
This was always the mission. It was never anything less. Your conversations with God were always, and only, the beginning.
I was stunned. Another chill went up my back. I began to feel an inner tremble, the kind that no one can detect, but that you feel in every cell of your body. And that's what's happening, of course. Every cell of your body is vibrating at a faster rate. Oscillating at a higher frequency. Dancing with the energy of God.
-From Friendship with God: An Uncommon Dialogue, by Neale Donald Walsch. (c) October 25, 1999 , Neale Donald Walsch used by permission.
Meet the Author
Neale Donald Walsch is the author of the New York Times bestsellers: Conversations with God book 1, book 2, and book 3, as well as Meditations from Conversations with God book 1 and book 2, and the Conversations with God book 1 Guidebook. Walsch lectures and hosts workshops throughout the country, in addition to running his foundation, ReCreation. His books have been translated into twenty-two languages. He lives in Oregon.
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