Many of us left childhood with some seriously warped understandings about God. It’s hard when the early teachings of our little selves bump up against the infinite and timeless being we actually are. A spiritual practice is going to bring these bumps along for healing on your journey to wholeness and it’s important you allow yourself to heal the “religious-icky” (that’s what I call it) you may be carrying.
We often find a curiosity at first about how this spirituality thing goes together with the limitations of our early religious upbringing. We worry yes, but we’re also curious, spurred by the peace and freedom we’ve experienced inside our hearts as we practice. Something inside our hearts urges us forward, asking to find the ways to connect which feel good to us. We’re curious about prayer and devotion. Curious about having a sacred place to sit and having little altars filled with love and healing. We want to feel free to study different philosophies, we want to open more fully.
Eventually our spiritual practice becomes a call to go beyond the depths of the fearful rules and regulations we once knew. We’ve touched the peace in connecting to something greater than ourselves and we want to know we are loved and welcomed and wanted by that “something greater” exactly as we are, in exactly the way we practice.
But how to heal the stuff somebody else put into our heart space? How do we heal the religious-icky we carry? I know it can be scary to question the foundation we’ve been standing on for such a long time. Be kind and gentle as you ponder these offerings here, ok?
I have been on the journey of healing my own religious-icky ever since the second grade when my teacher told me Jesus was gonna scour my heart with Comet cleanser and a scrub brush.
I have a lot of bad memories and experiences under my belt, in fact up until my mid twenties, my relationship with God felt more like one with the dictator of a regime…rules and regulations, lots of inspections to pass, not to mention the fear and terror of feeling like I wasn’t marching along right.
It really comes down to you questioning all you once believed and deciding if it is still true for you.
I meet a lot of people in my healing room who have also been told that their hearts needed to be scoured out with the Comet cleanser.
Only loving thoughts are true. Everything else is an appeal for help and healing, regardless of the form it takes. — A Course in Miracles
I often tell people: however you know God in whatever aspect you know God is the right way for you. This is the kind and gentle policy which I carry in my own heart and I invite you to do the same. Every time the worry or the question comes, go and look up the policy written inside your own heart and follow what it says to the letter. You must practice because as you make your way on your journey things will come to the surface for healing. It’s natural.
For a time, you will continue to bump up against the beliefs you were raised with and you will also bump up against the opinions of other people.
In any given week I will receive messages like this:
I really like your website. Are you a Christian?
I love what you have to say about God. It would really help me if you could explain your background…like what religion do you practice and where do you get your philosophy? I’m not trying to be judgmental! I just want to understand, thanks!
You should be careful about worshiping false idols! You’re worshiping false idols! God said “You shall have no other gods before me!” “…false idols!!”
Hello! I read your post about the ashram… we are an organization that can help you heal your broken relationship with Jesus Christ.
I have had friends who were “seriously concerned about the state of my salvation” and others who think I am burning for sure. What can I say to you? I could allow myself to get caught up in the energy of thinking, How dare this person? What they said is so rude and so inappropriate! But the thing is, I am not interested or curious about stuff like this anymore. I choose to spend my energy consciously. I choose to affirm what I know to be true and leave the rest. I am clear on where I am, I am loved and all is well and there is nothing I need to do or even could do in order to cinch this love tighter or make it bigger.
I am loved and all is well, period. You are loved and all is well, period.
You are a mirror of truth in which God shines a perfect light. To the ego’s dark glass you need but say, “I will not look there because I know these images are not true.” – A Course in Miracles
My family wasn’t religious
They didn’t practice or attend church themselves but my mother was convinced that I could be SAVED if I attended a Christian school. I owned a bible, I learned the verses, I was taught a prayer to say each night, and for extra goodness my mother sent me to church with families in the neighborhood on Sundays.
Each Tuesday, we’d attend church in school too.
The minister would invite us to come forward and accept Christ as our personal savior. I was instructed that doing this would guarantee I would be going to Heaven when I died. Being a kid in a family who often felt forgotten and missed, I did not want to be a kid that was not SAVED by Jesus. I remember going down to the front of the church, kneeling down and accepting Christ as my Personal Savior. I never really understood the part that this was something you only did once, and then forever you were saved. I only knew I was scared shitless that I could be going somewhere extremely horrible when I died unless Jesus scrubbed my heart with the cleanser.
So I didn’t exactly trust that it took, all that scouring and saving. I needed to be sure. So I went down to the front to be saved pretty much every Tuesday, again and again, from kindergarten on through the second grade. I had nightmares that Jesus was forgetting who I was before the week was over. I worried about not making it to next Tuesday before I could renew my subscription to Heaven.
On Tuesdays it was fresh and new, again. And after Jesus scoured my heart with the sacred cleanser, I pictured him sitting at the control panel inside my heart with his paper and a cup of coffee, ready at the microphone to give me blessings or correct any infractions.
Which was a comforting feeling, except when it wasn’t. There was an inner turmoil which never seemed to be quelled.
As a very small child, I already had a relationship and I didn’t need anyone to instruct me. I loved God all on my own. I remembered the light where I came from. I knew the feeling of being loved unconditionally. But once I was in school, I was not taught about that kind of love. The school’s teaching came from a place of shame and fear. Do it or you’ll be shunned. Accept HIM or you won’t be OK. You won’t fit in. You won’t belong. Go ahead let Jesus scour your heart with the sacred cleanser and then all will be okay again.
A hard thing for such a little person to contemplate. At night I would lay in bed and wonder about all of this.
People often compliment my way of being gentle and respectful about belief and God.
You may be figuring out that my own history has taught me the importance of this. I have been terrified of damnation more ways than I can count, and finally I had to take a break from God. And then we didn’t speak for a very long time. Not until my mother was dying and once again I got on my knees. Things are so much better now. But my concept of the religion I was given had to change first. I had to do some scary sitting with things that kept me up at nights and find my own way to clear the shadows, until I could see that I had always been standing on the inside only thinking I was on the outside.
I am a big believer in the practice of being the change you want to see in the world. If I would like the courtesy extended to myself of being free from religious persecution, I must also offer this courtesy outward. If I want to be free to love God the way I love God, I must also allow others the same courtesy. If I like to call God by another name such as Source or Divine or Infinite, and I want to refer to myself as a child of God or a spark of the Divine I am free to do so. And so are you.
Could we please mind our own business and get back to the business of love and peace?
The policy is: your way is the right way for you and this should also apply to every other human being on the planet, no exceptions. My feeling is that whenever we are judging each other or setting hard lines about belief, we’re closing the door on our own hearts. As long as we think certain people’s beliefs are bad and ours are good, we’re in separation and we will suffer. As long as you’re judging someone else about what they believe, you’re kicking yourself out of the kingdom as well.
No I am not talking at all about what people do to each other in the name of their religion because that behavior is wrong and against the code no matter how you slice it. I am simply saying we are all free to honor the call to God in our own hearts our own way and we can honor the way the same is happening for other people too, even though it differs from our own.
“If you don’t see God in all, then you won’t see God at all” –Yogi Bhajan
Sometimes people tell me they cannot access God.
I tell them no problem! What can you access? There is so much here in our world and universe which is pretty mind blowing, why not start with something there… like how do the birdies and butterflies know the way to fly at just the right time of year? Or the way the entire message for a huge tree live inside a tiny seed. Or how about the cosmos? Galaxies, black holes, stardust! Connect to your own sense of wonder and awe and let it be good enough for you.
Sometimes people tell me God doesn’t love them.
You my dear are loved and cherished always in all ways. The truth is: you were born good, no matter what anyone else has told you. There is no redemption that has to happen, just let yourself off the hook right now. Go ahead and see if you can allow the flow of love to come to you. You are a spark of the divine flame, you are loved and wanted and welcome here. Trust in your goodness.
Don’t let the words of other people hold you back from a connection with Spirit
You give power to the story you tell. I know all about the dingalings out there who preach their One Right Way. It’s okay, they need love too. You can love them from a safe distance and keep on with your beautiful practice. I promise, you are welcome here exactly as you are in exactly the way you believe. There is nothing you need to do to change who you are. I would love it if you’d embrace your own heart and its longings more… let’s work on it!