Looking in All the Wrong Places

I was inspired. Betchya didn’t see this one coming ;).

If you’ve read enough of this blog, you’ve read the gist of my spiritual and religious history. It’s chock-filled with doubts, insecurities, and slamming the door in God’s face OVER and OVER again. You also probably know that when I lived in Rhode Island I fell in LOVE with my church and the family I made there. And three months after leaving I still miss them all like crazy, and I still try to keep in touch with my closest friends. I sometimes wonder why I connected so much there. Maybe it was the progressiveness of the church – and how they TRULY accepted every single person who walked through their door. They actively advocated for people of all race, gender identity, sexuality, ethnicity, monetary status, etc. They accepted me in, a single, 20-something who began attending by herself – and I was taken in like a daughter by my new pastors and friends.

Okay, soppy shit aside, the point is, we Love one another. They took me in, Loved me, and I Loved them in return. Because that’s what it’s about. It took me a while to realize this. Growing up in a Roman-Catholic church, I thought I had to confess to a priest and get through the seven sacraments and become a nun and never, ever sin to find God. I thought that the only way to experience God was on a Sunday morning after CCD, sitting in that gargantuan, stained-glass castle, while I listened to the Priest tell me I wasn’t good enough and I could never confess enough for God, and read to me from a big ‘ol book that made NO sense to me.

I was young. I stopped attending church when I was 12. Before that, I did sing in choir, which gave me a new experience, and gave my voice the training it needed to actually be decent as I grew up, but I digress. In the ten years between leaving the Catholic Church and finding a way to worship again, I looked for God everywhere. I looked to ancient religions, modern religions, obscure religions. I also began to fear the word “God” and refused to think of Jesus as anyone remotely relevant. Some worked for a time, and some didn’t. But at the same time…my life fell apart. Again, if you’ve read any of this blog, you have an idea of what my high school and college years were like – I won’t get into that here it’s not the time. I didn’t realize it at the time, but it was all for a reason. It was all a part of my journey. Do I hate that I went through it? Of course. But do I think God was smiting me and forcing me to suffer for no reason? Absolutely not. I wouldn’t trade my experience with my EDNOS or depression or self-harm with anything. Because it’s a huge part of who I am right now, in this moment, when I thank God for all the good that is in my life right now. 

Okay, I’m getting soppy again. MY POINT IS: I looked in all the wrong places, until I started to think of God differently. Instead of a big, angry man sitting in the sky judging me, I learned to see God as Love. Pure, unsurpassed, never-ending Love. And then I came to find my place in the church. And then I came to realize what I really believed about God, Jesus, The Bible, and worship. God is Love. And Love is everything. It’s everywhere. And it is the only thing that matters in this world. Jesus was a teacher, yep. And he taught about Love. He taught his followers to love God (or love, love, worship LOVE, experience LOVE) above all, and to Love your neighbor as yourself. That’s it. Not too hard.

I find God when I get on my yoga mat, and in the bustle of the downtown noise I find a moment of silence in my head and I can fully hear my breath, my heartbeat, and the essence of my life, that’s God. I hear God in your laughter, and I see Him when the world outside is so quiet I don’t want to move for fear of ruining it. God isn’t in a building, and he isn’t in a book. He’s in the people that make up your life – the good and the bad, because they are equally important. He’s in the ground and the trees and the storms and the wildlife. Do I love the Bible that I have on my nightstand? I do. It’s calmed me and comforted me in many a dark and distressful time, when nothing else could. Do I take every single word as rote law and creed? Hardly. Because I know it was written thousands of years ago by many, many hands in many, many languages and we often interpret it wrong. So I take what I need and leave the rest.

And I’ll always take the Love.

Have a beautiful day, xx.

 

“For your steadfast Love is before my eyes,

and I walk in your faithfulness.”

Psalm 26:3 (ESV)

Don’t be afraid to CREATE a practice that is YOURS.

In the realm of spiritual growth and personal enlightenment and well-being, there are a lot of different ways to go.

You can stick to a religious path, your birth religion in Christianity, Islam, Paganism, etc. Or you can follow someone’s spiritual jargon down to the letter. You can choose to become a vegan, if you so desire. You can choose to go to the gym every day in the name of Spirit and feeling more wholly yourself. You can choose to give up alcohol and other drugs that alter your mind or create problems for you if that is the case. You can choose to let go of your prescriptions and learn how to control your mind and body in other ways. 

You can do all these things.

But you don’t have to.

It’s taken me some time on my own spiritual wellness path to recognize that I can’t choke down a green smoothie. (Juices, when made properly, I LOVE…but the blender stuff…not for me!) I also really enjoy good wine and I swear that my anti-depressants saved my life. All of the ideas so many spiritual thinkers put forth are amazing. It’s great advice to cleanse your body in order to cleanse your mind. But you can’t go cold turkey and you can’t do it over night. And you shouldn’t have to, by any stretch. I love Shepherd’s pie and milk in my tea way too much to go vegan. And I’m so happy with the softness and curves of my body that I don’t think about the gym…like…ever. I’m good with a walk or two around the block with the dog and a solid 20 minutes of yoga 4-5 times a week. 

I do struggle to create a functional, stable Sadhana – but I’m working on it! I pray in the morning before I get out of bed. I try to stretch and/or meditate every morning. I take my time, I think about the moment, I’m grateful and I forgive. I eat foods that I enjoy and that get me going in the morning. I take my medication and my vitamins with care. I read. And then I get ready for my day/work/what have you. Sometimes it changes and sometimes I can’t finish everything I’d like. But I TRY. Which, to me, is the most important aspect of a spiritual practice. If you TRY in the direction of spiritual growth and bettering yourself so you may better the world, God is always on your side and your happiness will flow freely. 

So next time you’re reading and start thinking “well, I don’t know if I necessarily agree with that…” just let it be. DON’T try to force yourself to change too much. If you don’t like to call the Creative force or Spirit ‘God’ then…don’t. She doesn’t care what you call her, as long as you talk to her. Breathe into your own practice. As long as your thoughts and actions have Love behind them, you can’t go wrong. 

Have a BEAUTIFUL day, xx.