The topic of religion comes up daily for me. With clients, with family, with pretty much everyone I get to know. It's a funny little thing, religion. I don't have a good definition for it, because really, it doesn't resonate with me. But here is what I know. Throughout every religion or spiritual practice, every good book, every human being that's trying to become better, there is one common idea. Love.
For most of my upbringing, my parents were practicing Lutherans. We were tucked in each night and had to recite "Now I lay me, down to sleep", which in my case, was recorded on a pink placard near my bed, but I couldn't look at it if Dad was tucking me in. I had to do that shit off memory. Then he'd rub his 5 o'clock shadow all over my cheek until I giggle-screamed. This eventually fizzled out with age and we were off to Sunday School, Church, Communion, Confirmation, and ready to face the world with our religion. But throughout each of these stages, I couldn't help but have questions. I wondered why we were supposed to fear God. I wondered why we worship crosses. I wondered why I felt like there were pieces missing. I wondered why everyone in church was so miserable and judgmental.
A year or so after my younger brother was confirmed and the last time we had been to church, each of my family members received a letter from the church. I cannot remember exactly what it said, but it was telling us if we didn't want to come to church, we don't need to be members. What in the actual fuck? At this point, I didn't know what I was, what God was, and if this was it, I didn't want anything to do with it.
I floated about high school and college without much of a connection to God, and didn't have a desire to seek one out. It wasn't until that one time I got married on accident, that I began to reestablish a relationship with God. Actually, it was through my divorce process.
I got married and I shouldn't have. So I decided to get divorced. And start a new relationship with another dude right in the middle of it. Half of my family shunned me, the other half tried to save me. Grandpa Hart was one that was trying to save me. He called me to come over to his house. I reluctantly drove over, knowing fully that I was about to share a moment with him I'd never forget.
His double wide smelled of stale nouns and rancid garlic. He had a lot of things, and they were all always on display. He sat me down at the deskette in the kitchen where the fluorescent light shined upon his open King James, with all the juicy parts about divorce highlighted in yellow. He was giving me a lesson in what God would do to me if I followed through with the divorce. That I had to obey. That I would have to pay for my sins for the rest of my days and the rest of eternity. I left there, feeling less than loved. By Grandpa and by God. This was intervention one of about a million, or so it felt like, by family members, friends and pastors that were trying to get me "back on track".
At this point, I was like, something has got to give. If it doesn't feel right in my heart, why the fuck is everyone insistent on forcing me what to feel and what to believe?!?
I threw my hands up to the sky. "FUCKING HELP ME. FUCKING SHOW ME WHAT THE FUCK I'M SUPPOSED TO BE SEEING!"
"Be still." I heard in my mind. In my head? In nature maybe? I don't know where the fuck it was coming from but it was very clear. I kept on about my day and went to my parents to see mom, my forever constant force of love. I walked into the kitchen and hugged her so tight. Tears welling up in my eyes and that love bubble trying to squeeze it's way up my throat. Mid-hug I opened my eyes and saw a leaf-shaped magnet on the refrigerator. "Be Still" it said, "and know that I am God."
I grabbed it off the fridge and said, "Can I have this?" she looked at me weird and was like, "Sure."
I'll save all the divorce deets for another time, but that's my first memory of an actual sign from God. So, I was still. I went through with the divorce and about 100 million fuck ups since. But here's where the magic is; For the first time, I prayed. Like, really prayed. Not the Lord's prayer or some Lutheran shit I was forced to memorize growing up, but I prayed with every ounce of love that is within me. I screamed it from the lowest level of my rock bottom. And I got an answer. Not like a step-by-step plan of each move to make next, but more of an overwhelming feeling of "everything is going to be alright."
Of course our relationship has taken it's share of twists and turns, and even breaks since then. But in digging deeper to find my soul purpose and what the fuck I was put here for, we grow closer. Sometimes I call it God, sometimes I call it the Universe, Creator, Divine Spirit, but most of the time, I just call it Love.
I used to think we had to name a religion or a belief to define who we are. For me, it's just not true. This is why I choose Love as the spiritual practice to follow. Because it's in everything. It's in all of us. I think we create our own heaven now based on how we live our life here on Sweet Mother Earth. That's it. You can practice Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism, Judaism, Islam, any fucking ism you want, and you'll be right. As long as what you're doing and how you're living is out of love. Because of love. For love.