Personal relationship with spirituality, religion weathers challenges

Originally posted in Asheville Daily Planet 10 June 2008

Most relationships in our life change as we change through the years. We find that when we take someone else for granted, or are taken for granted, the relationship can feel empty and distant.

This can also apply to our personal relationship with spirituality or religion. It seems important that our personal relationship with the Divine come from an authentic and very real part of us. If it is a relationship based on rules or childhood training, and has not been internalized as “clear and real,” then we might find ourselves operating with a lot of “shoulds” and “should nots” in our life, and not from a place of real moment-to-moment clarity.

So whether you believe in God or not, it only makes sense to get your personal belief confirmed from a deep inner knowing that can happen when asking from that deep inner questioning place. Over the years, when I would share with others about asking God on whether it (God) even existed, I would get comments as if I was doing something sacrilegious. Many religions have “trained” others to not question authority and to do what is “right” to do, and of course questioning God is definitely questioning authority.

But what does that leave us if we really don’t know or can not feel what the real “truth” is? It seems one of the most important questions to ask. Thanks to my lack of childhood religious training, I did not know that asking God itself to show me was against the rules; and fortunately did ask, and experienced a profound “knowing” that could not be given intellectually or even emotionally.

When I was growing up, the word “God” was hardly, if ever, spoken. My parents claimed to be agnostic and secular. The most religion that I was exposed to was from my grandmother telling me “to be like Jesus, and love them all.”

So my belief in Christianity was that Christianity was about love and acceptance of all beings. It wasn’t until I was 12 years old that I heard another version of Christianity. I was quite shocked to find out that not only did God judge people as good or bad, but that we would be sent to hell too. This mean and angry God did not sit too well for me, so I decided that perhaps religion was not my thing.

As my life moved on, and without a lot of clear direction, and very few guidelines, I made some poor choices in my life, and ended up in a lot of pain. When I hit a bottom that I could not imagine and ended up in a 12-step program that speaks about God a lot, I decided that if there were truly a creator consciousness that existed, then it (God) would tell me so. So with not a whole lot to lose, I asked God if it existed.

The answer to my question came a year later, with a lot of asking from the depths of my soul — but when it came, it came pretty big. The experience was very real and profound, and has changed almost all areas of my life since that incredible moment 24 years ago. My experience was so profound that words cannot describe to the mind what I experienced; so I will not even try. And besides, this article is not about my experience, it is about the importance of asking, and experiencing your personal and authentic relationship with the divine.

Or maybe like me, you don’t know if you even believe in a God. If that is the case, then no one can tell you the truth except for the “truth” itself.

After that profound experience, I decided to challenge inwardly every other belief that I was raised with so that I was not living as a very “trained” drone. I wanted to know the truth and live that as fully as I can. I am still asking questions and growing in my relationship with spirituality each day because we change with life, and relationships lose “soul” when they are taken for granted.
There are probably many other ways to cultivate a deeper and more profound relationship with the “Divine,” but for me, asking and inward listening has led me to such a profound place in my life and within my self for 24 years that I believe it is worth a try.

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