Friday, November 8, 2013

God - The Greatest Whole 2, 11/15/13

I want to re-iterate that I do not think what I wrote in my post titled, God - The Greatest Whole,  is inconsistent with most of today's major religions, or at least not more inconsistent than they are with themselves. I am not at all trying to convince anyone to leave their own religion.

For me though I need to see, hear, feel, or experience God here and now in today's world. I simply cannot believe strongly in what did or did not happen thousands of  years ago.  I cannot and then I get worried about the fact I cannot, and if then I can fit in with this group, and it keeps me from others and therefore God. If this was the only way I might still try it, and I did stick with it a long time, thinking it was the only way. 

Then I finally got desperate enough and found God in today's world. At that point being in a religion that said they were the only way to God, just seemed wrong or inauthentic or against what I had found that was so real and wonderful. Again though, I am not suggesting others leave their religion or that religions are wrong or bad. Certainly, if you feel your religion is keeping you from finding God here and now, like it was for me, then find a place you do find God here and now and pursue that. If your religion is helping, by all means stick with that and maybe augment it some if you feel that is wise or prudent.  

Above all, be honest with yourself.  By this I mean listen to what is coming from deep down inside yourself and have the courage to follow it.  You cannot do it alone though.  Find a person or group that is not threatened by what you may find.  This is harder than it may first seem.  For most religions common beliefs are what hold them together, and it feels like a wide open search is off limits or against the rules.  This is somewhat true, but most permit real exploration or at least you can find a person or two that will allow it.  Of course depending upon what you find deep down within yourself, you may have to move on to be true to yourself.  Actually, this is also the only way to be true to God.  

Hopefully, you will not have to get as desperate as I did.  I remember vividly being pissed off that I had a child because it meant suicide was not an option.  I was in bad enough shape that I could convince myself that everyone else in my life would end up being better off without me, and I did not want to be here anymore.  But I could not convince myself that my son would ever get over it, and I could not do that to him.  At the same time I was completely convinced that whether I was clean and sober for many years or numbing out with drugs and alcohol that I was going to keep screwing up and hurting those I cared about, which then meant I could not live with myself.*  

That is what it took for me to be willing to try the desperate Hail Mary of being true to myself and following what I found deep down within myself.  At the time I was our church's leader for faith forming relationships, and about a year into a self imposed discernment period before planning to go to seminary and become a pastor.  I knew that my favorite thing and the thing I wanted and needed most was to spend time with myself and others in the places that we connect to each other and God.  So being a pastor seemed like the thing for me.  However, after a year of talking to a lot of people about it and trying to find the denomination I might fit into, or at least not feel like I was fighting myself to fit in or fighting others to adopt my beliefs, I realized this was not possible for me.

I needed to be free to follow whatever I found deep within myself and share that with others, whether that was consistent or inconsistent with accepted doctrine for a particular denomination or religion.  Time spent trying to fit myself into any particular beliefs was rejecting the best evidence I had of what God had made and was, which was me and my connections to him.  Time spent trying to get others to adopt my views or beliefs was rejecting that sacred place in them where those beliefs reside, as well as in a round about way the same place within me.  Most people never do the wide open search because they are deathly afraid of what they will find out, basically that they are just rotten at the core or that God is not really a God of love or because it threatens their important relationships.  The first 2 are never true, unless the person is unable to continue and has to turn back.  The 3rd can be, and it is almost impossible without some support and friends who you feel will be with you no matter what you find.  

Fortunately, I have found that if I am connecting to that place within myself that connects with things beyond myself, I am connecting to God.  I have even found that I am connecting to the eternal because I am connecting to everything that has shaped me or my world from the past and everything my actions have even the tiniest influence on in the future.  Most people seem to prefer God to be a little more mysterious than this.  I do not have a big preference other than I like and need to experience my Creator and Provider.  To do that I have to realize God is everywhere, ready and willing to be experienced.  Then, I have to remove the things within me that block me from being ready, willing, and able to experience that Great Reality that is God.  

*Of course the main reason that this deep visceral belief, that I would keep screwing up and hurting those I cared about, was true was because I had the visceral belief in the first place.  I had seemingly always had it and desperately tried all sorts of things to get rid of it or suppress it.  To get rid of it I had most commonly tried worldly success and material things, but also religions, therapy, etc.  To suppress it I had tried alcohol, drugs, food, diet, exercise, and various distraction techniques.

Often these things did a good enough job that the visceral belief and associated feelings were primarily just a nagging emptiness and unease, that kept me a little depressed and constantly some degree of overwhelmed.  However, at times of perceived failure, whether real or not and whether major or not, the visceral belief and associated feelings would become completely overwhelming and cripple-ling, basically major depression.