Is Religion More Than a Social Club?
A song came on the radio. It spoke to my heart… “Losing my Religion”. Most believers were provided a religion by their parents or family. Some adopted religion through friendships. Some people use their religion like an escape hatch to get away from something such as a habit, bad behavior or a routine that is no longer working for them. I was taught religion is something to blame. It was the “Reason for the Season” that was never discussed. One common place, in my world, was never discuss politics and religion.
In Mom’s jewelry box there was a beautiful black beaded rosary and small prayer book. I looked at them each time I was allowed to peer at her treasures. I had no understanding of what these items were used for therefore they held no meaning for me. My family had a huge King James Family Bible in our home that got dusted, but never opened. I remember opening it in secret. It was written in a foreign language to me, so I closed it and never opened it again. (I wasn’t much of a reader anyway, but I remember there were some pictures which reminded me of the museum artifacts seen only when I went on field trips). My hope is that you understand I grew up in an environment that was not appreciative of how beliefs develop in the eyes of a child. I grew up in a lower middle class family that was not interested in raising up or pouring effort into the next generation. I grew up within the assumption that I would grow up physically. The rest of my story would appear on a blank slate with luck through fate.
At the ripe old age of forty-seven, a song began to play in my head, “Is That All There is?” It wasn’t like hearing a tune on the radio as background music. It was repetitive. I was in a time of my life when a lot was always going on. I was multi-tasking before multi-tasking gained popularity and became an accomplished skillset. My purpose in life felt like it was controlled and directed by everyone I came in contact with. I felt invisible, yet forceful. I felt dependable, yet wayward. I felt longing, yet undeserving.
My life history is placarded with people and responsibilities. I had a family of four. I was the youngest child of my parents. My birth followed close behind the sudden death of my parent’s second child. I know there was a family plan that included two children. It was spoken about and I remember it as a part of my heritage. I know in my heart that when the second child died the family plan was not modified. As the story was told, I was the result of my mother beating fate. (Mom had been told by her doctor she could never have another child due to a physical condition.) The second child had been a son. I don’t know if fate was beaten, but what I do know now–being the third child and a girl is that there was an unconscious challenge for me that was never addressed throughout my life. My parents did not complete their grief process, but instead replaced their grief with me.
A clash of the deepest sort culminated in at age forty-seven. I found resolution when my most intimate challenge of who I am now collided in the grief process following the death of my mother. I began a transformation that I never imagined nor would have believed was possible. It included a profound shift of my perception in life while accepting that I live my own personal grief journey daily.
So I said that to share this… there are 5 Universal Elements of being human:
- Physical: The part of us that directly pertains to the body.
- Cognitive: The part of us that pertains to the process of knowing, judging and reasoning.
- Emotional: The part of us that is activated, effected, determined or motivated by feelings.
- Behavioral: The part of us that is an observable action or reaction under certain conditions.
- Spiritual: The part of us that can experience transcendence. It is the part of us where we feel the loftiness internally that is limitlessness. The spiritual element includes wondering, pretending, imagining and yearning about belonging to something larger than ourselves. It is the part of us that can experience something seemingly “out-of-this world”. Even words can’t describe the full extent of “what just happened”. The spiritual element is the capacity of experiencing good and bad at the same time that when explored awe is revealed in the form of awestruck, awful and awesome.
Religion is man reaching for something bigger than himself. Religion can be classified by denominations, worship centers, compounds of conviction, and the universe. Religion can also be less formalized, being more of an idolization of people, places, things or processes. Growing my religion included being respectful of people who were older, had expensive stuff and extending reverence to their supported circle of influence. My religion was not very complicated, but it was filled with people who knew more than I did, had a sense of humor and a polished presentation to others. I found myself in a desperate need of something bigger than myself or the people or groups of people in my world. My need became distorted in misinterpretation as a need to be rescued. I needed something more than resources. At the ripe old age of forty-seven, a song played in my head that had meaning with a sense of purpose, but I didn’t know what it was. I sought help. What I found was my religion, but I didn’t quit there.
My life took a turn like no other. In seeking help, I didn’t realize what I didn’t know. I discovered that my journey distinguishes the past, present and future. I have the capacity to shift my perception in looking at relationships, circumstances and situations. I discovered I can cultivate the appreciation of a variety of attitudes, approaches and strongholds, but I do not have to be stuck in patterns which are not cultivating goodness, authenticity and compassion. I discovered the reality of suffering. It is a fallacy that suffering can be eradicated. The abolishment of pain can create a pause in order to gain a sense of regrouping, but pain is real. Pain speaks to us with a voice of concern if we opt to listen. I concluded that pain has purpose. Yet, as my journey continued, I discovered my religion grew through well-intended people, because they only affirmed my religion through the validation of theirs. I needed more. I sought the unseen then received faith. Faith is something bigger reaching for me.
If you have read my website, I am a Christian. I needed God and when I turned toward Him in consideration, my life went from turning in circles to dancing. Next I accepted Jesus Christ as my savior and integration began. Now is not the time for me to talk about that, but only to note… everlasting means ever-changing. In reflection, perhaps my life didn’t needed to turn as much as it did, but I am not the best judge of my experience. An intimate collision transforms any of us. We as people are so much more than we make ourselves out to be and so much less if we do not consider the transparent, invisible and genuine parts of who we are spiritually. For me… I am in the great I AM.
“Spirituality: It’s not important what your heart hears. What is important is that you learn how to listen.”