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How Can You Tell If You Have Spiritual Courage? A Guest Post by IRENE

Following your own spiritual path can take courage. Modestly, IRENE describes hers.

Spiritual courage can be difficult to recognize. Modestly, IRENE describes hers.

Spiritual courage can be hard to recognize.

In this gorgeous guest post, IRENE comes to terms with her own humble, human version of spiritual courage.

The fact that Rose considered that I had a difficult upbringing — See her intro to my last guest post— took me by surprise.

People in my family didn’t hate me or ostracize me. They just guilted me. They were (and still are) sad about my choices.

I wonder, does emotional manipulation count as something that makes a childhood difficult?

Spiritual Courage to Defy both Family and “God”

In a follow-up comment on that post, Rose asked everyone, “How did you find the courage to defy both family and ‘God’?” Today’s guest post is my attempt to answer that question.

I’ve never thought of what I’ve done as something that required courage. It was my only option.

Trying to fit into the “Christian” environment I grew up in? That was the most isolating and soul-destroying task I’ve ever attempted.

Deciding to stop that attempt was the only choice I could possibly make.

Nothing about Religion Mattered More to Me than Honesty

Honesty is probably the most important value to me. In order to fit into that “Christian” world, I would have had to try to internalize “Christian” beliefs and force myself to accept them as true.

I couldn’t do that.

Why not?

The “Christian” ideology never made much sense to me.

  • I couldn’t shut down my brain enough to just simply accept what I was told without question.
  • I couldn’t shut down my heart enough to accept that everyone who didn’t believe exactly as I did was eternally damned.
  • I couldn’t shut down my soul enough to refuse the things I wanted and people I loved… and then settle for what was “approved.”
  • And I couldn’t shut down my spirit enough to accept a religion without my own direct experience of it as true (hard though I tried to manufacture that for myself).

There had to be something more. Something I wasn’t finding by being a “Christian.”

What Got Me Through

I didn’t know what was true, but there was one thing I did  know, one thing I could hold onto, one thing to serve as a guide.

I knew that no matter what, God, in order to be God, must be complex enough to be beyond my human understanding.

This meant standards for any interpretation of scripture, or “Divine teaching,” that I came across.

If it simplified God so that I could totally understand it and so that it “all made sense,” it couldn’t possibly be the whole story.

These standards left room for other religions to be true.

They also left room for paradoxes in biblical parables (that I only started to understand after a decade outside of “Christianity”).

How strange a standard is it, really, that God, in order to be God, must be complex enough to be beyond my human understanding?

Not stange at all. This left room for me to start exploring a path that could work for me.

How I Handled the Pressure to Be a Good “Christian”

For me, leaving the church was a gradual process. I was fortunate to attend a public school, so I had friends who were not religious.

I always tried to have “Christian” friends, since I knew I was supposed to, but these never developed beyond acquaintance-level.

At the time I was an unskilled empath, so I regularly did unskilled empath merges. These made it hard for me to deepen friendships with kids who were “Christian.” I always knew when a new friend was just doing her “Christian duty” and didn’t really want to spend time with me. (Which happened a lot.)

Because I so rarely felt comfortable with “Christian” people, my life developed so that I had other interests: work, a romantic relationship, friends, and living situations. All of these happened to exist outside of the “Christian” community.

When I left home it became easier to just not stay involved in the family religion. Even though I did try for a long while even then.

The Hiding

For a number of years I hid my non-“Christianity” from my family. Only gradually did I reveal that I wasn’t even trying to find a church in my new home town.

Family members also started to see what was happening. They disapproved. And eventually came the despair. My lifestyle choices were not those of a practising “Christian.”

For example, I wasn’t getting married or having children or wearing skirts. Not to mention automatically voting for the most conservative political candidate (and never, ever a female politician).

What Helped?

When I eventually joined the not-going-to-church crowd, I didn’t have to cut off relations with my family. Some other family members are also not “Christian,” so that helped me deal with holiday celebrations.

When I didn’t manage to avoid the church service, I spent the time doing logical rebuttals in my head or daydreaming about something entirely different.

A lot of what is taught there seems so far outside of what I consider to be reality and a lot of what I have actually experienced in the non-“Christian” world.

The difference was sometimes astounding.

Once I found out that personal development was a possible activity to pursue, I explored some New Age-type things. They were a bit too “woo-woo” for me to fully accept, but I went far enough to end up in spiritual addiction before finding Rose and Rosetree Energy Spirituality (RES).

RES seemed to be further into “woo-woo” from my perspective at the time . This changed after I explored deeply enough to both directly experience results and also to more fully understand how energy works and why this system makes sense (especially now in the Age of Awakening).

None of this seems particularly courageous to me. This was just my life, and the only way I could keep on living.

But looking back, I guess I did have to develop something like spiritual courage. It keeps me going no matter how hard life is. (And I do have other challenges in my life now 🙂 )

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  1. 1
    David B says:

    Thanks for sharing, Irene.

    I think many people go through something similar in the process of finding a real path. Sometimes they choose to involve themeselves in a group they later find they have to pull away from.

    Real spiritual progress may well take questioning beliefs of all sorts.

  2. 2
    Irene says:

    Thank you, David. Yes, I’ve found that it’s in the questioning and seeking the path that I find my way to growth.

    Not always exactly fun, but always worthwhile 🙂

  3. 3
    Kira says:

    I understand about not considering something you’re doing courageous.

    I had a supportive upbringing in many ways, so I can’t relate directly to your specific form of courage, but I do have instances of people telling me how courageous they think I am for something that to me is just carrying on.

  4. 4
    Kira says:

    For me, the part that took courage was more in getting to the point I’m at now, where I’m not afraid of things.

    It doesn’t feel like courage when I’m not afraid to begin with.

    It definitely felt like courage to do things, even tiny things, that I was afraid of doing.

  5. 5
    Kira says:

    For instance, it didn’t take courage to deal with needles for injections and infusions because I was no longer afraid of needles by the time I needed those things on a regular basis.

    But until I stopped being afraid of needles, it did take courage to get my annual blood tests for my health insurance and to get immunizations before going to Europe in 1998 and India in 2004.

  6. 6
    Kira says:

    I think your experience, Irene, might be somewhere in between. The closest situation of mine I can think of that is at all analogous to yours is peer pressure.

  7. 7
    Kira says:

    It never seemed like an option to me to try to be someone else just to fit in (whether in spite of or because of being an empath); I desperately wanted people to like me, but I wanted them to like *me*, not a purely artificial creation.

    Still, it bothered me a lot that other kids my age didn’t seem to like me, so even though it didn’t feel like courage, I think it actually was.

  8. 8
    Kira says:

    I think in both our cases, feeling like we had no other option is what gave us the courage.

    In my case, anyway, it’s not that I wasn’t afraid of the consequences of sticking to my own opinions and likes and dislikes, so it did take courage to do that; it’s just that I was more afraid of the consequences of giving in and being someone I really wasn’t.

  9. 9
    Amanda says:

    Irene, I very much enjoyed reading this. Thank you for sharing. Another courageous act!

  10. 10
    Amanda says:

    I have such sympathy for you. So many religions seem to become tied up and counterproductively difficult through the limiting beliefs that grow up around them in communities.

  11. 11
    Amanda says:

    On a personal level, I had been left with a suspicion of Christianity for these reasons.

    Recently that’s changed.

  12. 12
    Amanda says:

    I’ve become aware of some fundamental ways in which Christianity chimes with my view of God.

    When I take out the ‘being ordered around’ element of resistance I had, and the upset I have suffered from human interpretations, I like the Ten Commandments, and the Lords prayer, and a number of other elements.

    They chime beautifully with the desire for a sense of happiness, safety and confidence.

  13. 13
    Amanda says:

    I’m glad to have made some peace with Chridtianity and found a sense of the underlying support and peace that it shares with other paths that I have considered good.

  14. 14
    Amanda says:

    I am glad you posted, Irene.

    Amanda

  15. 15
    Amanda says:

    Nearly done! 🙂

    What triggered all this was picking up an old bestseller from the Seventies in a second hand bookdhop – ‘The Power of Positive Thinking.’

    It was fascinating because it was like coming across the whole idea of The Secret but with an intensive Christian flavour.

    Somehow that fact made lots of things meld together for me. This quest is such an ancient human one and in each generation there are restatements of it in different flavours. Like cookbooks, or house-clearing, or diet plans.

    🙂

    Amanda

  16. 16
    Lilian says:

    After reading these blog posts about”Christianity”, I do once again feel annoyed that the US managed to ruin a perfectly good religion with your need for conformity. Sigh.

    Here’s a clip from “The Vicar of Dibley” as some light relief.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b_VCuS67Ezo

  17. 17
    Lilian says:

    I remember hearing a public “lecture” from an evangelical Christian from the US at my university once. Plenty of gentle nerds attended, much like they would any other lecture about philosophy or Islam or history etc.

    By the end people kind of wanted to pelt him with sticks.

    But someone just stood up, have said evangelical a stern telling off for frightening people and we all left.

  18. 18
    Lilian says:

    *gave said evangelical*

    Anyway, there’s plenty of scope for spiritual self determination in today’s world. There’s all this cultural diversity and people being exposed to different ways of living and believing. It’s fascinating.

  19. 19
    Lilian says:

    Personally, I have felt like pursuing energy awareness was the path I was pushed to take. I knew I had to work it in my rational brain and to not ignore my intuition.

    I was very vexed by this and have often informed God how annoying it was to try to make sense of the endless woo woo and pseudo science. lol.

  20. 20
    Lilian says:

    Once day my sense of self will recover.

    And maybe in 100 years time science will measure energy things in numbers and none will have to go slightly mad trying to work out if anything they experience is real or not…

  21. 21
    Lilian says:

    Anyway, here are a couple of links to pay respect to the lovely, simple, thoughtful version of Christianity of my childhood:

    http://www.taize.fr/en_rubrique8.html

    http://www.silenceinthecity.org.uk

  22. 22
    David B says:

    Amanda
    Yes, so much of the journey is changing our relationship with our history.

    Letting go is not just of our burdens but out judgements. Then it’s all seen in a new light.

  23. 23

    Thanks to all of you who have beeon commenting here.

    This part gave me a chuckle, LILIAN: “And maybe in 100 years time science will measure energy things in numbers and none will have to go slightly mad trying to work out if anything they experience is real or not…”

    Long before then, God and humanity willing, energetic literacy will be as widespread as word literacy. We don’t need scientists or other authority figures to help us trust our reading. Not with either kind of literacy.

  24. 24
    Lilian says:

    You make me chuckle also. I know you are not a lover of technology.

    There’s nothing wrong with hoping science, especially physics, will someday expand its borders to understand more of the universe around us. I love when intuition and logical understanding align.

  25. 25
    Lilian says:

    Just think of Einstein special relativity. There’s no reason they should be at odds. The role of a scientist shouldn’t be an “authority figure”… it’s interesting that that’s how you see things. :-p

  26. 26

    LILIAN, your Comment 24 is quite right. I’m not opposed to having physics expand to help people to understand the universe.

    And maybe MATHEMATICS (your field) will become the most important of all.

    With any science, mathematics will be the basis, just as aura reading is the basis of all mind-body-spirit specialties.

  27. 27
    Lilian says:

    Just think of Einstein special relativity. There’s no reason they should be at odds.

    The role of a scientist shouldn’t be an “authority figure”… it’s interesting that that’s how you see things. :-p

  28. 28
    Lilian says:

    To be true, there are plenty of self appointed d*ckheads in science, but that’s true of any profession.

    Actually, here’s something of interest to those here:

    http://lifespa.com/science-confirms-ayurvedic-knowledge-of-brain-lymph-connection/

  29. 29
    Lilian says:

    And
    http://acceleratingscience.com/behindthebench/modern-science-backs-up-ancient-knowledge-of-ayurveda/

    It’s hard to fund this kind of research, but sometimes something interesting comes up.

  30. 30
    Lilian says:

    Lol. I’ve been itching to share those two links with the blog. So I guess I found my excuse. 🙂 Anyway, I shall be quiet now.

    Talk of controlling religions always make me a bit feisty. Much respect to blog buddies who have dealt with that in their lives.

  31. 31
    Irene says:

    Kira, Amanda, Lilian, David B, Rose, thank you all for the sweet comments here 🙂

    It’s been a fascinating journey for me to go through and learn from.

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