I was afraid of the questions in my heart so I pushed them down.
The moment I realized I was pushing them down it seemed as though they would so effortlessly float up again.
Doubling my energy this time, I pushed them down once more. Only to watch them float back up to the surface of my heart like a dead fish in the ocean... or perhaps more like a beach ball being pushed down below the surface of the water only to slip beneath the pressure of my hands and spring up above the water into the air nearly smacking me in the face on its way up.
Yes. These questions were here along with the realization that the effort I was using to rid myself of them was in vain.
The fact is, the answers, or lack of answers to these questions would change everything.
Everything I thought I knew. Everything I found my identity in. Everything I found my hope in. Everything.
I concluded that the energy I used to suppress my questions had to be directed at the fear that accompanied these question and in doing so I was finally able to confront my heart.
You see, my faith has always been a big part of who I am. If someone were to ask me to describe myself in three words one of those words would undoubtedly be "Christian".
I am the daughter of two ordained and licensed ministers. My mother tells me she read me scriptures from the bible when I was still in her womb and when I grew older I learned them for myself.
I was taught that Jesus was the son of God and that he died for all the sins of the world. Believing that meant I could go to heaven, not believing meant I was guaranteed a spot in hell. So you can understand why I would chose to believe...I did not exactly fancy the idea of going to Hell.
Along with the gospel there were many other stories I learned from the scriptures. Beautiful stories, dark stories, stories of triumph, pain, heart ache, joy, love. This Bible, this holy book, was jam-packed with action and controversy. This book, I was told was where all truth was found- the words of God Himself.
Before I could form the questions in my heart they were answered for me as a young child. My beliefs about who I am, and who God is and how we were to relate to Him were shaped for me before my mind was even fully developed.
I don't say this in a negative tone... these are simply facts. Facts free of regrets or resentment or any negativity attached.
My upbringing, not free of mistakes, was done with the most sincerity and Love one could ever ask for. My parents are two people that will always have my utmost respect and Love and I am grateful for the amazing job they did in raising me. They are devout in their faith, and they taught me the same.
However, what I was not taught was to ask questions... or I should say I was not taught to ask questions that came from a place of doubt. I was taught that one does not question God and if there are any questions, any questions at all, they would be found in the Bible and only in the Bible. And if my answers were not directly from the Bible they had at least line up with the Bible. To seek knowledge outside of that would be in vain because the only things to be discovered are lies and Satan is the Father of lies.
So you can imagine the fear and anxiety that rose in me when I noticed these questions in my heart about two years ago. Was I moved by fear? No. I could move once that fear in me was dispelled.
That began an evolution inside me.
I wondered if I believed what I believed because I knew it for myself to be true or because it was all I'd ever known. I knew, and I still know, that as a bible-believing Christian I encountered God- that formless, infinite, eternal Being. I did not doubt that. Those encounters in prayer and meditation were not fake, they were real- more real than anything I had ever experienced.
BUT, what about people who were not bible-believing Christians? Could they experience God this way? Could they experience real Love? Was a real God- experience something reserved only for bible-believing Christians? Was belief in Jesus the ONLY way?
Jesus. He is what it really comes down to in terms of Christianity. He is what separates the Christian faith from any other faith. You can't call yourself a "Christian" and not believe that Jesus is the only way. The very word "Christian" means follower of "Christ". To be a Christian means I have to believe that there is one way and that Jesus is that way and that anyone who disagrees goes to hell for eternity. Period. No gray, just black and white.
The truth was, I wasn't so sure. I wasn't convinced.
My heart and mind were at war.
My mind was conditioned to think one way and my heart wanted Truth. absolute Truth, not relative truth... at all cost.
Separating religion from spirituality was one thing. I knew I had no need for religion, I never really did...
but what happens when you separate culture from it all?... What's left?
The impact western culture has had on the church has always dishearten me. It seemed as though many of Jesus teachings have been distorted in order to fit in with the way our culture and society operates. It seems as though the church is not at all above the ugly affects that fear, greed, and desire for power have plagued upon the rest of the world.
I am not taking this opportunity to air out my list of grievances with the church. What I am saying is that there is a clear dysfunction in the minds of humanity as a whole. Christians call it "original sin". Hindus call it
"maya" or the veil of delusion. Buddhist call it "dukkha" or suffering. Whatever you call it... you can't really deny that its there. Just turn on the news. Look at the way we treat each other, better yet, look at the way we treat ourselves...
I can't disagree with the church when they say we need a savior, I can't even disagree with people that say they've found what they were looking for in Jesus. However, I also can not disagree with people who say they found it in the teachings of Buddha, or the Hindu gods, nature, or even themselves. I will not oppose any belief simply because it is not my own. I will only oppose indifference and hatred. I will take time to listen to my heart because it is forever connected to the formless, infinite, eternal Being and that will point me to Truth always.
So far in my personal spiritual evolution I have come to realize this:
Perhaps its time to take back the mind-shaping powers that other people have held over my lifetime. Perhaps I should let go of the anxiety that comes with doubt and embrace it and allow it to push me to search for Truth. Perhaps I should stop clinging to ideologies, beliefs systems, or doctrines for fear of hell and rejection. Perhaps its okay if people don't "get it" or agree and support me as I evolve.
Because the fact is if I don't evolve I die.