In childhood, my belief in God was shaped by my parents and my church community. I attended Sunday School, listened to sermons, heard Bible stories. My understanding of faith was very black and white, boiled down in my mind to a set of rules to follow. Do that well, and God would be pleased, make mistakes and God would be disappointed. Disappointment, I knew, was something to be avoided at all costs, since in my mind there was nothing worse than letting my parents down. My mother had a knack for the guilt trip, but for me Shame was always close on Guilt’s heels. Parents and Church and God all fused into one foreboding concept. It was clear how to be “good,” but there were seemingly endless ways to be “bad.”
Today my Higher Power looks different. I still believe in God, but not in the limiting way I once did. Gone are the rigid rules and judgment. Rather, I picture my Higher Power as a loving parent, one who is gentle, loving, responsive, accepting, open, understanding and forgiving. One who just wants me to be a human BEing, not a human DOing.
With this new concept, I feel free and liberated, not bound and shameful. I make good choices, I am kind and considerate, I am compassionate and empathetic. This new understanding has not given me license to shirk responsibility or be selfish. With love at the helm and not fear, I can step fully into who I am and embrace humanity free of judgment, condemnation and punishment.
Photo: Tuzigoot National Monument, Arizona, 12.26.22 by LA
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