God does not equal religion. There is a big difference and here it is.
We live in a heavily Christian society. That’s just a fact. Many people go to church and follow the passionate sermons of the pastor (well at least they say they do.) Church can be a place of unity, faith, and brotherly love, but not for everyone.
If you feel different or out of place in church, or any religious setting, you’re not alone. I used to go to services every Sunday, and on the outside I looked like an eager attendee, but on the inside I felt nothing. I couldn’t even figure out why I was there, and why I kept going. It took time, but and a lot of reflecting and questioning but I figured out that there just wasn’t a spiritual connection that was being built and nurtured. I had to leave because I felt nothing in that place, and it was disingenuous to pretend I did.
Truth is there are a lot of people who go because it’s a habit, and a chance to be social. They go through the motions because it’s all they know, and it’s comfortable. And there is nothing wrong with that. But what is dangerous is when people try to use church, or religious scripture/teachings to convince others to stay out of fear and manipulation. This is not kind or loving, which is the basis of all religions.
Look, we live in the age of text, tweets, status updates, and Instagram filters. Trying to follow the doctrine of any book written over two thousand years ago is totally unrealistic. Back in those days slavery was acceptable, women were basically sold by their dads, and people who engaged in adultery were stoned to death. Not only is it impossible to try and do everything as the Bible says you should, but is it still legal?
Look my point is not to bash organized religion. There is a tremendous amount of good and service work that churches do. What I am trying to get across is that if you’re struggling to stay in church because you think that’s the only place to find God, it’s not. God doesn’t live in a church, a mosque, or synagog. He’s* much bigger than any of that.
(*Please note, I do not believe God is gendered. It’s just not possible in English to write an non-gendered pronoun, and have it sound correct.)
Now, let me make this perfectly clear, when I say ‘God’ I do NOT mean a white man in the clouds passing judgement on everything we do.
When I say God, I mean whatever it is that you have faith in that is something bigger than yourself. The Universe, Source, Allah, Buddha, Infinite Intelligence, Light, the name is not important. What is, is the concept.
How I see the concept of God, connected with religion goes like this.
God is an enormous tree. It gives cooling shade, succulent fruit, pure oxygen, and water held in massive leaves. The tree provides everything you need to flourish. It gives unconditionally, and asks for nothing in return. It is unchanged and perfect.
Religion is a wooden mask made from the tree’s bark. It’s whittled and shaped into what the crafter decides, and then decorated with paint, jewels, and extravagant garnishes. The crafter then puts on the mask and tells others that their mask is the one true mask. They tells others how to make it, and that they must do the same to honor the tree. There are lots of different crafters, all claiming to have made the best mask, while pointing out the flaws in others.
Do you see the difference?
If you’re tired of wearing the mask you have right now, there’s good new. There is a ton of bark, so if you decide you want to make a new mask you absolutely can! You can craft it into what you want, or you can not wear one at all. Just thank the tree with your bare face. The decision is yours.
Now, like I said before, I do believe there is a lot of good to be had in religion, all religions. But there is a lot of baggage that comes with it too.
The point I’m trying to make is this; don’t let someone tell you what God is and isn’t. Don’t listen to them when they tell you what God means. Don’t believe the ‘rules’ that you have to follow to stay on God’s good side.
I have known so many good men and women, who believe that they aren’t deserving of God’s love and grace, because of something that is out of their control. They have been ostracized because of their skin color, sexual orientation, past actions (because you can’t control what has already happened), and so on. The worst part is, these good people believe the condemnation.
Don’t. Don’t believe that you are unworthy. Don’t believe other peoples opinions. Find out what God means to you. Focus on building that relationship, and feed it, strengthen it! At the end of the day what goes on between you and God is your business, and no ones else’s.
If you’re struggling because you don’t match the perfect ideal that others tell you should to win favor with God, well, fuck ‘em.
I can promise you that if you ignore the voices of the critical, and the hypocrites, and focus on you and your life, your connection with God, you will know peace like never before. Peace and love will fill your life in countless ways, ways that you can’t even begin to imagine.
Believe me I know it’s not easy to undo years, and years of dogmatic brainwashing. The only thing you need to have is willingness. Willingness to write a new story, and open yourself up to the possibility of finding a God that you love, and loves you, unconditionally.
I know with every fiber of my being that God is something that we can’t put into a box, or a book, or a religion. God is so much bigger than that, and it’s something I can’t tell you. It’s a feeling and place that you have to arrive at yourself. And you will. If you put in the work. God wants you to find Him. He’s not hiding. Look inward. Pray, meditate, do what builds that connection, and keep doing it.
Look, I can’t give you any answers that will get you to that place. All I can do it tell you my experience, and the things I have learned and done in my life. I don’t claim to know what is going to work for you, but I know I can help you find out.
If this resonates with you and you want help, email me. I want you to succeed, and I know that together we can make it happen for you.
Wishing you a blessed and wonderful life.