I was raised with a lot of religion. It was mostly the “thou shall not” kind, the warning kind, that always had the message somewhere below the surface (or not) that human beings were bad, sinful, fundamentally flawed, creatures. Growing up in this atmosphere was like trying to walk a tightrope…..one, by the way, that I was bound to fall off. The question was never, “Will I fall off or not?”, it was more like,
“When I fall, will it be fatal: death in this life, and eternal damnation in the next? or “Will I fall off, get really hurt, repent, learn to walk that very thin line (and gratefully accept the suffering that this entails) for heaven in the next life”.
So for years when I got into a tight spot, or didn’t know which way to turn, or felt worried about how a situation would turn out, I had nowhere to turn but to myself, and that wasn’t much comfort since I believed that I had gotten myself into the current mess in the first place, so I really believed I deserved to suffer. …and I didn’t deserve help.
Spiritual help was reserved for “spiritual, hard-working, and good people” and I certainly didn’t count myself among them. I was way too selfish, lazy, and self-centered. In my mind, you had to be the sacrificing, silently suffering, servant to get help, and I wasn’t any of those.
The idea of God helping me was foreign. In my life it was more like, “God help you Mary!” Which of course meant there was no help, and I was about to get nailed for being….well, really, just for being me. The only trust that I had in a higher power was that I would get punished eventually for my transgressions. I was basically trying to stay underneath the radar when it came to trusting God.
God is inside of each one of us, is each one of us. What isn’t God? We can’t offend God, anymore than we can offend ourselves. I found this out when I was at a very low point in my life and I screamed at God. I screamed at what I believed was a very distant cold, uncaring power that demanded I follow impossible rules, and was always silently watching me, ready to pounce on me for being the offensive sinner that I was. So I yelled at God. And I wasn’t destroyed or punished. I was flooded with love, and this experience changed my life.
I cannot say that life was easy after this, my mind still needed a lot of work to change old beliefs. The image of a frightening old man (the God I was raised with) still came up, but it began to fade, and be replaced with something much larger, wiser, kinder.
I think that we all might need to pass through times like this; places so dark that there is nowhere to turn but inside. In some way, we need to have our showdown with God/Spirit/Universal Energy to find out that there was never a reason to fear, or doubt or hate. It seems to be a necessary component to our awakening process….at least it was for me.
It is like we have to shake ourselves alive, or be forever living partial lives; trusting in only our small, human selves, following impossibly small, rigid little human-created rules of right and wrong… living in fear of being annihilated.
I love the scene in Forrest Gump where Lieutenant Dan is hanging on to the mast of the boat, which looks like it is about to be destroyed, and he screams at God:
“Lt. Dan Taylor: Come on! You call this a storm? Blow, you son of a bitch! Blow! It’s time for a showdown! You and me! I’m right here! Come and get me! You’ll never sink this boat!
Forrest Gump: [voice over] After that, shrimpin’ was easy.”