Choosing the Path of Love…..

What does a spiritual journey look like? The path is unique to you, designed by The Divine to speak to your soul, the dwelling place of your spirit energy. What we are not aware of is that our spirits are speaking to us all of the time, calling us to seek The Divine; some will answer, some will not. For those who answer, the path taken will resonate within and we will recognize the path as ours. All paths bathed in love lead to the same place, to the source of Divine Wisdom, to God, to the Creator. The phrase “bathed in love” is critical because not all paths are bathed in love. Divine Wisdom is pure love and cannot be anything else, so we needn’t worry the path one travels looks different than another’s if love is at it’s core.

If you think about it, the individual paths can be a problem for many. So often doctrinal truths are based upon the experiences of a few people who cannot recognize, or choose not to recognize, that although one path looks different from another on the surface, the core is the same. Take church history, for example. Ever wonder why we have so many different denominations, yet seem to all be working from the same book? We share the Bible, but our interpretations of Biblical events are different. I’ve said before and will continue saying I don’t believe God ever had denominations in mind after Yeshua returned to the Divine. The doctrines and tenets for each denomination may be somewhat similar, but the differences are significant enough to the adherents many will defend them to their death, or the death of a friendship. Wars have been fought over them, much blood has been shed in the name of the church and its doctrines. We focus on the minutiae instead of the bigger picture, argue small points from one’s unique path that is formed and fashioned into a blanket doctrinal truth for the masses. One denomination believes dancing leads to hell, others that salvation is the only way to heaven, and yet others believe the various rituals and strict hierarchy were the sole intention of God. What if none of those resonate with me? What if I find my way to the Divine through meditation, through understanding the life of Yeshua from a metaphysical standpoint, through believing that my thoughts create my reality and that angels whisper higher spiritual truth? Am I the oddball? No, I don’t think so, and here’s why.

People are leaving organized religion en masse. Studies have been done showing that many of us are seeking substance in relationship with God, that many do not find God within the walls of a building where all are encouraged to believe, look, and act the same. The prosperity box churches appear to be growing in numbers, but again people are searching for substance and it will only be a matter of time before their numbers dwindle as well. The old time religion of the past isn’t cutting it any longer; we realize we don’t all have the same journey. Each one’s journey is and should be unique to their life and individual needs.

Immersing myself in the metaphysical world, I have found others who believe our journeys do not all need to look alike, we don’t all have to believe the same, yet still respect the views and opinions of others as we share our journeys. The overall goal is to live in love and appreciation of all the Creator provides, and strive for higher spiritual understanding.

However rainbow and lovely this all sounds, the living in love thing has proved challenging at times! Have you ever noticed not everyone is altogether lovely? I will go so far as to say I am not altogether lovely at times! I don’t have the luxury of living in a monastery on a Tibetan hillside; I am stuck in the here and now, the hustle and bustle of the work-a-day world and quite truthfully not everyone acts lovely. So, how do we balance the flaws of everyday life and the people around us with living in love?

For me, self-compassion and gratitude are key to walking through life in love toward all. An “attitude of gratitude” is more than a trite cliche. When we get beyond the surface of thanking the Creator for family, friends, a job, food and clothing, we begin to dig deeper into who we are and what our place is in the here and now. We have the choice each morning before getting out of bed to set our intention on love; gratitude opens the door to that intention. Sometimes I need to step back and thank the Divine for those I find to be “prickly”, those who are harder to love than others, realizing they too, have a purpose in the here and now and may be struggling with something of which I am unaware. I thank the Divine for the ability to choose only positive energy and reject negative energy flowing from others and in this way choose to remain neutral in situations I may have taken offense otherwise.

For example, as a nurse subject to the whims and warbles of doctors, the other day I had a doctor step into my office and unload her negativity, vomiting, as it were, the days trials and tribulations all over my office. I could have chosen to be offended, chosen to accept and internalize the negativity, but I did not; my intention had been set to love. In truth she was not angry with me, just the situation. Love recognizes the negative as not being directed at me; rather it was a result of a circumstance, a load on her shoulders not related to me. The next day she called me and we had a nice conversation. Did choosing love over offense excuse her behavior? No, but it allowed the behavior as a result of stressors unknown to me that I do not need to know and accepted her as a human, created in the likeness of the Divine, struggling at that moment; a human in need of love.

The unlovely will be a part of all of our journeys despite the fact that our journeys will differ. Were the unlovely part of Yeshua’s (Jesus’s) journey? Unequivocally. He chose to love them, and if He chose love over hate, love over offense, who am I to do less? His last words as He gave up His earthly existence were, “Forgive them Father, for they know not what they do”…..

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A Journey of Truth…..Leaving Fear-Based Religion Behind

I am a seeker of truth and wisdom, and have spent the better part of my adult life on a journey for higher truth. The interesting thing about journeys is that often there are bends and twists in the road, sometimes we detour as the road less traveled beckons and the journey becomes an adventure.

In my nineteenth year I attended a religious crusade and left a born-again, saved Christian. Not altogether sure what that meant, I did feel differently, refreshed, and as luck would have it, fell headlong into the Charismatic theology by virtue of marriage. Immersed in this exciting twist on the rote religion of my childhood, I soaked up knowledge like a sponge. Any number of events were likely to happen on any given Sunday; prophesy, laying on of hands, speaking in tongues, people being slain in the spirit, in other words, falling out under the power. Praise and worship was fresh, not the dusty tunes retrieved from the catacombs found in every hymnal in the country, not that I think that’s a bad thing, just boring at times. Let’s face it, the majority of the hymns aren’t the liveliest melodies known to man.

Over the years I studied, prayed, listened, and asked questions. The more questions I asked, the more questions I had, and the crazy thing is the answers didn’t always make sense to me, which usually ended with, “it will all make sense in heaven”, or some similar response. But, I didn’t want to wait for an answer, and more importantly, most of the whole didn’t resonate with me; it felt like a puzzle where the pieces didn’t quite fit together so the puzzle-builder pushed and squished the pieces together so they kinda-sorta fit together, but not really. No one else I knew seemed to have the questions I did, and they seemed pretty content swallowing doctrine that didn’t make sense to me, so I concluded I was the oddball, God’s problem child.

An abusive relationship and life got in the way, so I put aside the questions in an effort to merely survive. Once out of the relationship, and mad at God, which is another story, God and I found tolerable ground and we declared a truce, of sorts. The truce became the journey I am on, and here we are today, still journeying with God although we took a detour.

Before I go any further I need to be clear; I am not a church-hater. I think for many the safety of church life is necessary, comfortable, and easy. Lots of people sit in pews week after week and then go about their daily lives keeping the two separate. Some earnestly seek God trying to understand the deeper truths, doing their best to live lives within the boundaries of the Bible and church doctrine, some just like to belong to a group. All are welcome, or so they say. The truth is that all are not welcome; those of us who poke and prod, who are judged as not fitting in, as not having enough faith, or just plain being trouble-makers are not welcome, not really. And so, we fall away, some for good, and some looking for God elsewhere, outside the church walls, and, hold onto your hat, He does exist outside the church walls!

Being outside the church walls has been a blessing for me. The journey, much like that of the ancients who have passed before me, those without advantage of church walls, doctrine, theology-educated pastors, has brought me to the place I am today; a place of deeper and broader understanding of God, of life, of people, and of myself. Free of doctrine that was confusing, suffocating, limiting and most of all, fear-based, I am able to see myself through the eyes of God, not through the eyes of the church, or the world, a view devoid of judgments, thou shalt-nots, and shoulds. It’s not a journey that all can or want to take, but all are welcome on the journey; it is a journey of self-discovery, gratitude, forgiveness, and most of all love; learning to love self and others through the eyes of God, and not through the harsh lens of the church and the world.

The teachings and doctrines of western Christianity are fear-based. A founding tenet of fundamental, Bible-based churches is the need for salvation. Why? Because in their eyes we are born corrupt, evil, we are subject to a “fallen nature” before even one breath is drawn. The “Sinner’s Prayer is a mea culpa of sorts; it’s my fault, I’m guilty, I’m not worthy, and so we come to Jesus asking forgiveness for all of our sins, faults, flaws, we are in need of forgiveness for being human. The purpose of salvation is the avoidance of hell, we gain entrance into heaven through confession of unworthiness, some even go so far as stating that without salvation we are deserving of eternal damnation. If that isn’t fear-based I don’t know what is.

Studying church history and reading the Bible through the eyes of a loving God I have come to a radically different conclusion than what the church teaches. Man has meddled in the texts that became the sixty-six books we know as the Bible. The meddling, by and large, is a result of man’s insatiable, ego-driven, need to control, the desire for personal power, leading to the development of man-made rules and boundaries not necessarily in line with the mindset of God. The Bible declares that God is love, that He is merciful, slow to anger and quick to forgive, that all are welcome in His kingdom, all are welcome to ask and receive, and yet man has decided that none of that is quite true, making God out to be a liar, a fabricator of half truths that reel us in only to find out that there is a high ladder reaching toward heaven we must climb to be considered worthy. Am I reading it wrong? I don’t think so.

In the beginning God declared all He created “good”, and yet somehow we became fallen, tainted beings, worthy of eternal punishment for being human, for exercising our free will and making a poor, ego-centered decision, in need of being rescued from eternal damnation through a spoken prayer. All who speak the prayer will be saved, but what of those who speak it out of fear, their heart motivation being skewed by the desire to avoid the fires of hell more than establishing a relationship with Jesus?

Rapidly approaching my 60th year on planet earth, well in a few years anyway, I am done with fear-based theology. No longer do I choose to be held captive by man’s hellfire and brimstone teachings, nor do I choose to be elevated above others. That’s the other side of the coin of western fundamental Christianity; those who believe themselves to be the chosen of God, worthy of elevated status by virtue of the Sinner’s prayer, the us/them mentality that looks down on those outside the church walls, those who say they accept and love but judge nonetheless based on their set of standards that are not accepting or loving in the least. What I have chosen is to live a spiritual existence, in communion with God, the Universal Light, the Creator, the label we attach inconsequential; an existence living in communion and seeing others through the eyes of love and not judgment, an existence that acknowledges the worth and value of the whole of creation, not just a select few, on a journey to bring God to those who need to know He is a God of love and mercy, compassion and acceptance, a God who declared His creation good, and still believes in the goodness of all…..