Let me first say that I’m a little bit tired. I had a busy day. But, if I’m going to make any headway, I’m going to have to forge ahead. If it sounds like a good idea, I should probably go ahead and do it before I rationalize my way out of it, and you can quote me on that!
What I want to consider is an idea that came to me and actually made some sense the other day. Blame it on God and religion. Now I know that this is true for a lot of things and a lot of people and I never thought I was one. But, here I go, none the less.
If our shadow beliefs are mostly formed by the age of 10, then I have to think back and consider what went on back then. Not to drag out the boring details, but in my opinion, it was a pretty uneventfully normal childhood. Normal family unit, mother, father, sister, brother, and dog. One of the things that was always a constant was our involvement in our church. My parents weren’t the hell, fire and brimstone type, but they did believe that we should attend every Sunday and Holy Day. My brother and I also went to a Catholic Elementary School. And I never thought of God as a anything but just God.
But, God, and the church, were judgmental. I remember never being able to wrap my head around the whole idea of confession. Weren’t mistakes OK? Hmmm. Apparently not. At least not some of them. I remember being given a list of acceptable but not so bad sins. These were the ones that I thought it was OK to confess. Whether I did them or not. After all, I couldn’t be perfect, not in God’s eyes. But I also learned to not consider doing anything worse than the acceptable. Not when I was young. Not that I’ve ever admitted to. So, maybe God was a little scary. Or may be it was more and it was the fear of being judged as bad or wrong. Maybe I would go to hell. What then? Hmmm.
I remember being about 8 or 9 and walking to a neighbor’s house with my mother. Our neighbors were mostly elderly couples and one of them was sick, I believe. Well, I also had a period where I was surrounded by a lot of death. My grandfather and two aunts died within months of each other when I was six. I remembered, with them, the priest coming to the house and the religious services associated with their funerals. With our neighbor, there was none. So I asked my mother if people from other religions went to heaven, after all, didn’t God love us all? She couldn’t answer me. It bothered and confused me, but I decided not to press the issue. According to my family, we were on the right side of God so why question that….even though I was sure there was a side door to heaven some where.
Oh, and let me just add a side note about St. Peter and the Gates to Heaven and Judgement Day and if you haven’t done enough good you are condemned to purgatory. Kind of stuck in an endless loop where you’ll never pass go or collect $200. No sir! Didn’t want that.
I’m sure that not everyone who was raised in a religious family has come away with the same perceptions. I can’t even say that others in my family share mine. But…I also may not be the only one who’s felt this way.
But I think that what effected me most were the stories of Jesus and Easter. Every room in the house, had a crucifix. I often had a crucifix that I wore on a necklace. Jesus on the cross was a constant reminder, he died for us. He died for me. He died for my sins. Well, if I sinned and I was born with sin then what did that say about me? But in thinking about the stories, I was particularly struck by the one on Good Friday when Jesus fell to his knees and begged his father to take this cup from him, but not as my will but your will be done. And later before he died on the cross, asking why God had forsaken him.
Without knowing it, I had always believed that God had a plan for me. That if something wasn’t meant to be, it wouldn’t. But, that if something was meant to be…meant for me to go through; if it was God’s plan, then it was out of my hands. So for years, I’ve smiled at those who made fun of me, because they were really good people and if they were mean, it was what I deserved…part of God’s plan. I tolerated being told I was ugly and stupid by people I loved because I believed, it was part of God’s plan. I have blamed myself and tried and tried again to prove myself worthy because if no one else recognized it, I mustn’t be (worthy)…because God has a plan. For many years I have tried to find intuitives or astrological readings that might tell me what I’m supposed to do or be. Teacher I would hear, only to be deflated because teacher has become so hollow and shallow. Deflated, my shoulders would fall…it is part of God’s plan.
As I write this, I would tell you that someone who talks like this is slightly crazy. But as I consider my story, it makes sense. It is not a belief that has lived on the surface, but in the shadows. One that has caused me to shut off and abandon myself and my truth. I never asked what my truth was…after all, wasn’t it out of my hands.
So, as I said yesterday, I’m truly doing some heavy digging and some deep diving. I am not sure what I’ll unearth, but I do know that it feels good to ask the questions and it feels good to remind and reinforce my new belief. God, a Higher Power, lives inside each of us. And there is no Higher Power that would want me to go through my life unhappy. My Higher Power is one of love, kindness, and compassion. So I will use those as guides, not only for those I interact with, but for myself. I will turn to my inner power with kindness, compassion and love and use them to guide me on my journey forward.