Continuing my spiritual journey

This next part of my journey takes you through my high school years and into my college years . . . I am enjoying the process of writing this out. It’s reminding me of where I’ve been, which helps to clarify where I am. There’s beauty in the search, which is why I will always be searching . . .

In my high school years, I spent a great deal of time in bookstores. I would walk in for one book and come out with six. I spent a lot of time in the “New Age” section. I liked the books on angels and George Anderson’s We Don’t Die. They helped with the clarity that I was so strongly searching for. And then I stumbled onto a book of Buddhism in my senior year.

I found a new home between the pages of that book (though sadly, the title escapes me now). There was a core set of beliefs that just felt fundamental. The purpose of life is to end suffering. Who can argue with that?

I admit that I did not delve full force into all things Buddhist, but I did try to live by the 5 Precepts as best I could, or as best I understood them at 18 years old without actually knowing any practicing Buddhists. More than anything, I just focused on being a better human being. I meditated daily, which in and of itself was a very powerful thing. I strived to make a positive impact on the world around me. I volunteered for anything and everything I could. It felt wonderful.

I don’t think I’ve ever actually called myself a Buddhist, but I have certainly been influenced by those philosophies. For the most part, I considered myself a non-denominational Christian. I think at the core of it, if you separate out the teachings of how a person is supposed to act, Christianity and Buddhism are not that different.

I met Mike, the man who would later become my husband, when I was in college. He belonged to The Church of Jesus Christ, not to be confused with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. I made that mistake early on in our relationship after a couple of young Mormons knocked on my door. I said, “oh, that’s the church my boyfriend goes to. I’ll talk to him about it.” Later on I was corrected.

I attended a youth group with Mike at his church and thought that maybe I had found the next twist in my road. His uncle was a minister in the church and handed me their welcome booklet that he had written. I was excited about this new exploration. And then I got home and read the welcome booklet.

I didn’t expect to like everything about his church, but there are a few beliefs that I just cannot follow. I found three of them in the welcome book. The first was the separation of men and women. It’s professed that women play a very important role in the church, but they could not be elders. I’m innately opposed to religious segregation of the sexes. The second was that anyone who commits suicide goes to hell. I have a serious problem with this statement. I’ve lost friends to suicide. I’ve also dealt with my own psychological issues. Depression is an illness. It’s real. And sometimes it can be fatal. The third had to do with the unbaptized and their state in the afterlife, though for the life of me, I can’t remember exactly what the argument was. I’ve tried researching that church’s beliefs, but I keep coming up with sites for LDS.

I decided that I couldn’t partake in Mike’s church services or events. I still supported him in his faith (as I did for many years to come), but I couldn’t share in it. We came to a mutual respect with that. We argued a few times, but he always said that he liked the way I challenged him. At one point I remember asking him a question about what he believed. He told me that he wasn’t sure what his church believed and that he would ask his uncle. After a bit more debate, I finally said, “F*** what your church believes! What do YOU believe?!” I, obviously, wasn’t indifferent to his church’s beliefs, but I take issue when people can’t think for themselves.

That moment with Mike, which I intended to awaken him, was actually a spiritual awakening for me. What did I believe in? Where, if anywhere, did I fit in? What path was right for me? How was I supposed to find it? I was in college . . . learning, growing, changing . . . Who was I? My next step was to try to answer those questions.

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9 responses to this post.

    • Thank you for sharing the link. I’ve only briefly skimmed it, but I am looking forward to reading more about Words of Peace. 🙂

      Reply

  1. I’m not usually so direct about this, but you sounded pretty desparate. Another site you could go to would be a site video site in Canada: http://www.wordsofpeace.ca/WOP_TV_Episodes/current_episode.asp

    check out my own blog – you might find something to inspire you.

    Good luck on your journey. . ./John

    Reply

    • Thank you

      ::Smile:: I should have put a note on this blog for those who didn’t read the last one . . . This was me 10 years ago. I am in the process of recounting my spiritaul journey, but there’s so many twists and turns that I felt it was easiest to break it into parts.

      I did browse through your blog a bit though . . . and subscribed . . . I like your message 🙂

      Reply

  2. Posted by poolman on March 12, 2011 at 9:29 am

    I love corporate worship and the fellowship of church, but I feel we all need to develop our own unique relationship with our God. Sometimes churches restrict him with their doctrine, much like Mike’s does. We tend to put God in a box and can’t fathom that He cannot possibly fit our small concepts of what He is all about. I don’t think He likes us to limit our minds. We have no idea what His plans are for each one of us or the rest of creation. We only see through a glass darkly.

    In a marriage, the man is the covering for the woman and her spiritual head. But this in no way makes her less important or viable as a spiritual mentor or teacher. I know plenty of wives that are more spiritually mature than their partners. We all are given talents that are to be used for His glory. Jesus honored women and did not separate his followers. That did go against much of the custom at the time, as women were basically chattle.

    Our spiritual journey is a personal relationship with the author of the universe who made us unique, as He does every other created thing in it. Our worship toward Him would follow as being also unique, don’t you think? None of us are clones. At least, I don’t think I’ve met any. Some act like it, however.

    Reply

    • I’ve never thought that it was contradictory to have faith in a church and to think for yourself. I think of my uncle to support that. He’s the most devoutly religious person that I know. We’ve had discussions about faith for hours on end . . . even though we far from agree. Since I was a child, he was like a father to me, and I have always loved our discussions. He spoke about scriptures and what the Catholic Church teaches, but more importantly he explained what was in his heart, what he felt and believed.

      Reply

  3. I was raised in a Baptist church…I was also taught if you committed suicide, you went to hell…It never set well with me and it still doesn’t.
    It just doesn’t seem right that God would punish a person for that choice….especially kids I have known that were depressed, prescribed pills, heard voice in their heads telling them to kill themselves because of the medicine and they did so….I just have a hard time accepting that which is one of the reasons why I’m a Christian that has been out of “church” for awhile.
    I no longer believe what I was always taught, which is that you have to go to church to be a practicing Christian. I think you can be just as good of a Christian without it…..in fact, I did a post awhile back about some of my religious background and more about why I don’t go to church.
    It’s called Sunday Hypocrisy…if you’re interested in reading.
    http://therealsharon.wordpress.com/2011/03/27/sunday-hypocrisy/

    Reply

    • That is exactly how I feel Sharon! I lost a friend in high school to suicide. He was 19 and dealing with a reoccurrance of brain cancer. He was facing some really paingful surgeries . . . surgeries he had been through the first time. He couldn’t handle it and he took his life. I can’t see a loving God damning his soul for that. I also lost my grandmother to suicide (long before I was born, my dad was only 8 years old). She dealt with some serious trauma as a child. She was bi-polar in a time when bi-polar wasn’t understood at all! She was basically given speed in the mornings and sleeping pills at night, making her highs higer and her lows lower. Again, can’t conceive of a loving God damning her soul after what she had been through.

      I’m looking forward to reading your post . . . as well as several others posts you’ve written this week . . . I love your blog, I just don’t want to skim through it. And my attention span sucks right now! (I’ve walked away from the writing this comment 4 times!)

      Reply

      • It’s OK 🙂 I understand.
        I’m actually married to a bi-polar man and it can be difficult at times. A lot of my family don’t GET it.
        He can lash out and say things he doesn’t mean sometimes and act out and I think my family thinks it’s easier than what it actually is for him just to act different, but it’s not. It’s hard for me to deal with it sometimes but I’m learning and I’ve come to realize that when he says stuff, it’s the bi-polar speaking and not him. 😦 It’s difficult though….but bi-polar people deserve to be loved too…I just happened to fall in love with a guy afflicted with it and while it may be hard, I feel like no other guy could truly GET me and my depression at times and no other woman could GET him and his bi-polar disease. And I love him regardless.

        Reply

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