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.
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.
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).
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 🙂 )