I wanted to go back to bed at 8:30 this morning, but instead I picked up my phone, got on my Facebook ap and saw a posting from the Oprah Winfrey Show Page about today’s show with Iyanla Vanzant. I read through the comments, and I found one that got my heart-a-pumpin’ and there was no going back to bed.
The commenter said, as a Christian she is suspect of people calling themselves spiritual. She went on to say she does not like Iyanla’s belief that her power comes through herself because she believes power only comes from God.
Do you have awhile? Because this might be a long post.
My relationship with “God” began before I got into the double digits. I put God in quotes because during this time in my relationship with “God,” God wasn’t mine. He was everyone else’s. Others defined Him for me and it didn’t feel right. When my aunt took me to church, and I sat in the pew staring up at the people raising their hands up high, looking toward the sky, praising Him, I wondered what made these people act this way. Why were they raising their hands? Swaying their bodies, and whispering, sometimes yelling things like, “Praise Jesus. God save me?” And who the heck are they looking up to?
I didn’t like church. It made me uncomfortable. It felt wrong. Strange. False. Weird.
Both my parents were raised Catholic. My father, as a little boy, stayed up nights worried Satan was going to grab him and take him to the depths of Hell, and my mother got beat up because she was Catholic. Needless to say, neither of my parents cared to take me through confirmation with the rest of my family.
I didn’t mind. I liked having the freedom to explore my own spirituality. To create my own religion. Sometimes my mom thought I’d be damned, or my daughter would be when I decided not to baptize her in the church where my grandma, her, me and my oldest daughter were baptized, but I wasn’t scared. Why would I be? I wasn’t raised to fear God or Satan.
Yet, this didn’t stop the weird feeling I couldn’t shake for most of my adolescence and young adulthood that I was being watched, judged, controlled and punished by some big bearded man sitting on a cloud in the sky. But because I had choice about religion in my family, I chose to create a movement toward what felt right- myself. I became a sort of psychologist to myself. The more I dug into who I am and why I do what I do, the more uncomfortable having this big bad man breathing down my neck became.
Working within the self, I discover there is nothing outside of me. Nothing. And I realize this statement is controversial. I remember having a conversation with a Christian friend. At the time I attended a Unity church. She asked me what their beliefs were.
“They speak of the Christ within,” I said. “They believe we hold the Christ light within us.” And further, “I believe my work is to become that light because I am that light.” Her response: “We don’t believe God is in us. We believe in seeking God, and doing right by God’s will, but we could never become God.”
Where do “they” seek God? I mean, really. I want to understand this. It is difficult for me to even fathom a concrete answer that would make sense to me other than God is everywhere, including within us. Tell me, if not within, then where is God? Is God in the clouds? And further, what do I have to do to be worthy of God? What is His will for me? What must I do to make Him love me? To save me? What happens if I don’t do those things? Spiritually and personally, I don’t worry about any of these questions or the answers, but I am very curious about the answers from others who believe God is “out there.”
I had one such opportunity with my cousin, a born again Christian. She enlightened me on their beliefs about other spiritual teachers, like Buddha. She told me to follow anyone other than Jesus is a deception used by the devil. So basically what she is saying, is Buddha is Satan in disguise. I appreciated getting a window into the mindset, and I also appreciated not being frightened of Satan coming to get me because I have Buddha heads in my house.
Fear is fear, whether cloaked in religious dogma or not. It is fear, and to use beliefs to instill fear, in my “spiritual” opinion is wrong. Not helpful. Not useful to the health and growth of our human civilization. Either is any religion urging too much looking out and not enough looking in.
Recently, my husband had some work done on his car. The man doing the work came to our house. Before long, this man was asking my husband about God and Jesus and the Holy Spirit. “Do you believe in the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit?” Oh, how I wanted to get in on this conversation, but I just listened and observed. I noticed in this man’s car he had a pack of cigarettes. I also noticed he inhales paint fumes all day long not wearing a mask, yet he goes to church a few days a week.
Observing this, I realized there is too much focus on dogma. On beliefs and getting others to believe. On pleasing God. Jesus. And with this, a neglect of the self. Who we are. What is within us. What moves us. What represses us. Liberates us. Frees us. Limits us. Where is the interest of our own soul? Our destructive habits? The health of our bodies? When we look for our power and our answers on the outside, what hope do we have for change? For resurrection? For truth?
I was at a workshop recently and I overheard someone say, “It’s in God’s hands. I will wait to see what God wants.” I thought to myself, you’ll be waiting. God, when all else fails becomes our crutch. What we lean against when we don’t want to get down and dirty with our own shit, our own dreams, our own life, our pain. And it is socially acceptable. Everyone gives everything to God and we just nod our heads in agreement. We even find it noble. Which might be fine, but I am not convinced many of us have truly taken the time to understand what this idea of “God” is and if this idea is healthy for us and if it supports our evolution.
So does this make me an atheist? If it were up to the commenter on the Oprah page, yes. She said she’d rather people who say they are spiritual call themselves atheists. I am not an atheist. I believe in God, but I refrain from using the word God right now. To say God makes me feel scattered and powerless, and I choose to feel whole and powerful.
The inner work I have done has shown me I am 100% responsible for my life. This means I create my life. My beliefs. My thoughts. My desires, create my life. To look to anything outside of me right now is detrimental to my growth. To my evolution. I am on a Soul Guiding Journey, and I believe I hold everything within my Soul, and that is where everything emanates.
Some may say I’m crazy. Arrogant. Just bought a quick one-way ticket to hell. But I know how I feel. I am liberated from foreign forces that have bound and gagged me. I feel free and I don’t care if you are a Christian, a Buddhist, or an Atheist- we all have the capacity and desire for freedom, which means we are free to believe what we trust brings us to freedom.
I am returning to the knowing I had as a young girl, before the beliefs of others penetrated my soul. I am special. I belong to SomeThing Special. I understand it to be an Intelligence, or what was called the Force in Star Wars. I am a part of it. It is in me and I am in it. Nothing is separate from me. Nothing. No person. No God. No force. No tree. No plant or animal. Nothing. As I have heard it said, we are all a concentrated universe. Everything is contained within us. We are all here together composed of the same matter and material and God spark. And we are all in different spaces within this reality. For me, this feels right. I feel enlightened by it. And it motivates me to expand deeper into “knowing thyself.”
I dream of a world we can dialogue of these things and come from an understanding of solidarity and a respect of where we are within this sanctified whole. Which is why I would love to start having a conversation about this taboo topic of God and religion and spirituality. To literally get our head out of the clouds and not just nod our heads in the name of God, but really examine it for ourselves.
And a moment on the word spirituality. Recently someone said it was overused. The commenter said she is offended when someone say she is “spiritual.” Is the word getting a bad name? Do we really know what it means? The dictionary says spiritual means, of, relating to, or affecting the human spirit or soul as opposed to material or physical things.
For me, spirituality is the movement toward truth. And truth is inside of me.
No Soul Tip Today- Just Questions:
In my attempt to dialogue and expose our beliefs: What are your thoughts? How many of you feel watched by a man upstairs? Is this comfortable for you? How would you describe your relationship with God? How would you define the word spiritual or spirituality?
Namaste, which by the way for those who don’t know is a greeting which means the divine in me honors the divine in you. I shared this with my cousin. When I told her what it meant, I never heard from her again. Through these conversations, I expand in trust, knowing we are all where we need to be in our evolution.
The Soul Reporter