Healing From Religion

Regardless of whether I like it or not, I was made to be a spiritual person. I have been praying since I was 6, I have been thinking existentially since I was 15, I am deeply moved and connected emotionally to the world around me. Despite my best effort at being an atheist, I just cannot deny this invisible personal journey I have been on for most of my life.

Reconciling my spiritual nature and the spiritual abuse I have gone through has been my greatest challenge to date. Learning to trust myself and my inner voice again is something I suspect I’d ever have to live through. I couldn’t open up spiritually again because previously ‘religious leaders’ in my life had used my open willingness to please God as a way to steal my money, my time, and use me as free physical labor without any form of compensation, not even verbal. I explicitly being reminded that this is what it meant to suffer for the kingdom of God. Why suffer though? Isn’t the pain of existence enough?

When I was a Christian, I considered myself a ‘prayer warrior’ but truly all I was was an incessant worrier who knew how to dress it up in fancy language and I called that prayer. Begging God to change things in my favor, tightly gripping the reigns of my life attempting to steer myself in a way I was truly never meant to go. Missionary? Not likely, I am agoraphobic and hate leaving my house. Pastor? Couldn’t be.. I have issues with people who assume they are authority. Worship Leader? The greatest hand job my ego has ever received. So what if I was just a church attendant. That’s probably where I was truly meant to be. I’m a sit in the back and watch everything happen without my involvement type of person now. I don’t want to be involved in the social circles I just want to see how they operate. I’m not a part of this, I am the observer, the writer. My true calling.

Religion fueled my ego like no other. Not only was I right (with just about everything), but I served a God who assured me I was right besides any scientific evidence to the contrary. I was hard headed, small minded and willfully ignorant. I was explicitly taught to be bigotted, intolerant, prejudiced and critically judgmental of any life style that wavered from mine. Truthfully, with all the shame I can muster, I believed any one who lived differently than me was not going to get to Heaven. I believed any Christian who didn’t get as deep into things as me was a shallow, luke-warm Christian and God was not pleased with them. I believed I knew the truth and anyone who disagreed with me was fatally wrong. (I still have this problem… see… in need of healing…)

The day the Christian God died for me, and the day I finally put him to rest in his grave, I felt the deepest emptiness I’d ever known. More than most of my identity was tied with religion. I was a Christian first and foremost. The most important thing about me was that I read my Bible, prayed (it wasn’t real prayer I just worried out loud constantly), and attempted to ‘act like Jesus’ everyday. I wanted nothing more than to ‘advance the kingdom of heaven’ and ‘fight for souls’ to ‘return to God’. I put all this in quotes because this is what Christianity taught me was spirituality but these are just fancy words that mean nothing.

I had to fill that empty part of me with something. I couldn’t be an atheist, my spirit and I were to well acquainted. To deny her existence was poisonous to my life and this is when I started to become a truly toxic person. Spirituality was the antidote to all this venom. I began a journey of learning. I opened my mind to all possibilities. I entertained any philosophy that popped into my YouTube recommended videos. I bought a couple philosophical books that had world views I aligned with the most (which are incredibly difficult to read and understand but I figure in attempting to do so I’ll become smarter, one day…) When philosophy brought me the intellectual understanding I needed to back this spiritual life I was living inwardly, I began to branch out to world religions. I started to compare and contrast and try to choose which was the best for me. Until I realized something actually quite wonderful. All religions are equally wrong about most of this life. All religions try to label that which cannot be labeled or understood. All religions attempt to intellectualize that which is truly emotional. The mystic and the scientist, two halves of a whole person. You need the scientist who does her best to grab hold of reality, facts and evidence and you need the mystic who tells you, “that’s enough understanding now just believe and be happy.”

I could be wrong, but this is who I have become thus far.

It took me a while to even begin to open up about my spiritual life. I still am nervous to do so, but I consider myself stronger now than ever before.  Thankfully, the great mystery of what the universe is gives us enough grey area to decide to believe in the magic of divinity, or the magic of ourselves, or the magic of anything really. So much happens out of our control we can still believe in something bigger than us that orchestrates all that happens around us. I love cosmology for showing me this. Everything is so big and spins so perfectly, I can trust everything else about life will just work out if I do my part. At least this is what I tell myself to ease my crippling anxiety.

I want to share how spirituality has changed for me since abandoning all religions. I want to talk about how things like prayer and rituals and journalling has connected me to my spiritual nature. I want to because I remember the deep emptiness I felt letting it all go and how long it took me to fill that hole with something worthy of consideration and how hard it was to find ideas I aligned with. It’s been a lengthy seven years at attempting to understand myself, my upbringing, my absurd existence, and how I can use all that to make art. (Art is my god now, art is what I worship and serve and obey.)

It all started with me deciding to think for myself.
I hope you’ll do the same.
Have a great day.

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