Everything is Holy Now.

98 Ordinary

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Linda Irene

Finding Ourselves

If you’re anything like me, we’ve let christianity, too often, be defined by it’s cultural wrapping, not its essence. Knowing this has probably caused many people to judge me for not converting people to being believers of Jesus, or attending a weekly Bible Study.

That’s not it.

That’s not my Christianity.

In recent years, I’ve had to keep my spiritual walk of Christianity separate from my idea of Christians. This is true not only as it relates to people, but also to language. When jesus says he comes not with a ___, but with a sword, I think of this experience.

This process can be a challenging one because it asks us to step out of our paradigms and ideas about the Christianity of others, including our own family. This took me directly to the words of Jesus when he said we had to be willing to hate our own mother and father. Although I don’t suggest doing that. The point is to think for yourself, and to do it passionately. Bring yourself back to yourself where you connect with God as if it’s the most important thing you can do, because, ultimately, it is. It calls you to look into its essence for yourself without anyone else’s ideas, language, or interpretations. It asks you to do the real work of knowing God, and developing your own understanding. This is not to say one shouldn’t read what others have to say, and especially to read the red letters along with understanding the context, including the cultural context, of the New Testament.

PROCESS - PRACTICE
What becomes mandatory if we want it to work is we must let go of our preconceived notions of the Bible, of religion, of other people who say they’re Christians. We have to see and experience for ourselves to understand.

Our upbringing, culture, traditions are rooted in Christianity, so for many of us, it’s what we’re most familiar with - which sometimes means we’re also most comfortable with it even if we’re uncomfortable with the people who claim it. We may not feel aligned, or comfortable about a particular type of religion or attending church itself…and this is irrelevant to the experience. The experience, at the start, is a personal journey. One that will lead you where you need to be if you focus first on developing your listening skills, and the opening of your heart.

Understanding what the word God means is essential to this practice from the start. Next, it’s shedding all the old paradigms of what you think Jesus means, and finding out for what this holy teacher means to you. Forget what other people have told you. Forget other people all together. Release all the ideas you have in your head about the word or name of Jesus, other than your own personal experiences. If you have memories that were real to you when you were a child or a teen, let them be part of the process. If you have experiences as an adult, welcome them to the mix as well. But omit all thoughts and memories that are simply associations. This may include news stories about priests, an overbearing friend who drives you crazy talking about Jesus, a church that plays their music too loud, the church lady that scowled when you brought wine to the Passover Seder, or a church that plays the organ badly.

For some, the idea of God being a daddy creeps them out. While others are comforted. If it’s a positive memory and feeling, keep it. If not, let it go. It doesn’t serve you.

God is multi-dimensional. That’s the best part about this spiritual adventure. How can we possibly rope in our own knowing of God based on the experiences of others? How has this been the most traveled route when nobody can truly know God? That is the mystery! It’s this that makes it a journey worth exploring - for yourself.

Dive deeper into the journey of your own soul by connecting with the ground of your being, by finding the path that leads to the place it is well with your soul.

Spirituality exists in all you experience. It is not separate from who you are, nor is it different from your unique and authentic heart. It runs parallel with it.

Archaic language and religiosity has always kept people from religion. But nothing can take you away from your own spiritual nature. The question is do you just want to know it’s there and fool yourself into thinking you feed it with only a superficial yoga class from time to time, or do you want to do the deep dive that brings real awareness from within, around you, beneath you, above you? Do you want to feel the mystery, the spirit, the love that bubbles up from an endless source, bringing you a peace you crave?

The reason the Bible has cut like a sword is not because people have used it as a weapon - which is also the case, but because there’s truth there. That said, it’s still a book written by humans. That’s what so cool about it, but it’s also what makes it not work as the answer for a spiritual life. We are meant to read the bible, not worship it. To let it inspire us, not demoralize us. To learn from it, not control us.

It is filled with words. Words are sounds and letters we agreed upon to make sense of things. They’re not even the same in every language. If we take the context or history or culture or varied meaning out of it, we are left with something that we’re not always that sure of. On top of that, put Jesus’ parables that are amazing, but confuse everyone, and try to make sense of the past, present and future. It’s asking a lot. But don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater because it is also filled with rich wisdom, but most of all, it is a tool that can lead you to the spirit if you know how to use it that way. (MEL JOHNSON) By the way, the parables are my favorite part of the Bible because they ask me to show up with my brain wide open, and listening. They don’t ask people the obvious because Jesus knew questions with obvious and ‘right’ answers come from a linear, logical and ego based place. They don’t push us to look beyond what makes sense to our most basic and most logical sense of reason that usually fits within the context of our culture’s values. His parables take us to our non-linear and non-dualistic process of critical thinking. They make us cast aside our ideology to get to the lesson in it for us. This doesn’t come easily for most of us. We’re well trained and practiced at letting the obvious rise to the surface first.

Life, especially one centered in a spiritual practice, operates on many levels internally, and many dimensions spiritually. Can I prove this, someone is probably asking. I think I can.

We are complex beings, operating within a web of biological complexity. We don’t exist separate from each other or the natural world. We all know this intellectually and intuitively.

If you get a headache when a storm is approaching, or your knees hurt when it rains, or you menstruate during the full moon, or even if you get a sugar high, you are experiencing system responses. System responses are exactly what the earth’s processes do as it continues to do its job sustaining itself. It is at the mercy of itself, as it changes. So are we. The idea that God is separate from this is also unlikely, as we are in and of God, connected to All That Is which comprises God…and more. It’s not possible for us to define or explain God, just as it’s impossible to accurately express what something feels like. It’s completely beyond the capacity and limits of language to give words to something as multi-dimensional as God and emotions.

We can only describe it based upon agreements we’ve already made with each other through language. Self limiting language that can only operate within its own limits until we discover ways to expand, or that already expand, these limits language and words impose upon itself. (Which physics rule?) In this sense, even if there are ways to communicate what God is or what a specific thing feels like, we still cannot expand our own limits of understanding until we can.
It’s in learning how to connect to the Spirit that our spiritual life in Christianity begins. Jesus knew this, and told us in more ways than one. (Examples). It is the way of the heart. The way of opening to the Christ and the Holy Spirit, which is through opening fully from the heart. Knowing ourselves from this vantage point gives us a new way of showing up for the people around us, and ourselves.

CHURCH
Every time I tried to talk to him, he clammed up. I didn’t know what to do with this dynamic between Al and I. It was the same with Gail, the head of the worship committee. They treated me as if I were scum. No, even lower than scum. Anytime I attempted to talk to them about an idea, include or invite them to a function, bounce something off of them, they’d either protest or do the kind of talking that sends daggers deep into your soul with every word.

What do you do when you’re married to the pastor, and they are making it clear you have no authority in their eyes? Here’s the clincher. No authority were the words they used, but what they were really saying in word and action was I meant nothing at all. Zilch.

It hurt. And it hurt some more. When I was angry about it, it was easy to feel the tears underneath welling up so giving way to a primal scream wasn’t the answer. I just wanted to hide, but I couldn’t. I wanted to have a conversation with them and work it out, but they didn’t think I was worth a conversation. Their only concern was ‘the pastor.’ My guess was they had controlled this church for many years, and they weren’t about to let go of the reins now.

I’d come from a lifetime of working things out. A lifetime of inspiring and leading people to live their best life. A lifetime of growing communities and businesses through empowering the people that belonged to them. Now, I was in a place where the opportunity to do so much good was right in front of me and the two main characters wanted nothing to do with me. Anything that involved me was dismissed, and anything we requested, denied. They stopped us from moving forward at every turn. If we asked to purchase a sign, a handful of reasons it wouldn’t work were raised, and then the conversation was dropped before even going to vote. We tried asking for some basic things other than bulletin paper and ink for the printer on a number of occasions and it was met with criticism and discouragement at the get-go. Eventually we stopped asking for anything or making suggestions. We also paid for everything initiated by us out of our own pocket. Every time we had an idea or proposal about something, it was dismissed, denied, or put on the shelf ad infinitum. We kept praying for freedom from oppression because that’s just how it felt. They weren’t allowing my husband to lead, and treating me as if I were invisible. I couldn’t take it anymore. When I spent weeks of all nighters developing a new website that was desperately needed, and a state of the art, graphically beautiful, content rich newsletter, they made no comment other than tell me what was wrong.

Due to their age, they didn’t understand the idea of a website being a living, dynamic form of communication. They thought it was a printed brochure on a screen. My frustration was mounting, and I was powerless and helpless. Even my husband couldn’t do anything about it without us creating conflict and division. We weren’t about to do that.

One of the most difficult aspects of this dynamic was I knew they were just scared or threatened. There hadn’t been a pastor’s wife at the church in about twenty years. They’d also never had a part time pastor before, nor a pastor who worked a full time job which included most evenings. They were stuck with me if they needed to reach anyone. It put everything at a standstill. Meanwhile, my husband was determined that we were to be a team. He knew his limits and the demands of being a pastor. He also knew my professional background, fully aware that I had all the skills from the counseling, to the marketing, to the community building, to the creativity, to the teaching, to the faith, to the management skills to help him build a church. He didn’t want to do it without me, especially with people who’s primary goal seemed to fight change with all their might.

I understand change. It’s hard. There was so much we could do to transform the experience of resistance and discomfort that comes with change. The vision we felt led to was to create a beautiful and reverent experience that we thought could open hearts, build sorely needed relationships within the body, and a joyful celebration that bonded those who gathered togetether, ensuring they’d leave on Sunday morning with a spring in the step and hope in their life. We wanted people to have a new experience of church. One which connected people in ways they hadn’t experienced before - at least not in church. I knew those who’d secretly been getting their inspiration from personal growth workshops, and the like, would feel right at home as well. We wanted them to finally feel a freedom to be themselves, their whole selves, in a church environment. Most of us had waited much too long for the freedom to be all of who we are there.

SHAMAN

“I think this experience would be good for you and Thom,” she said. Carole was Thom’s mother who was studying to be a minister. I’d never met anyone like her before. She was the quintessential mother and wife. Soft spoken, kind, polite. Her husband was a senior engineer with the Department of Defense. She lived in the perfect suburban house outside Washington, DC. She had four children, three girls and a boy who was the oldest. I was in a relationship with Thom, even though he was five years younger than me and had lived a much more sheltered existence than my chaotic journey until then.

She didn’t seem like the new age type at all.

I hired a personal trainer to prepare for this journey.

MY GOD
I’ve always been at a disadvantage describing what God is and means for me. God could never be defined by language. This always bothered me because I felt desperate to tell my Christian friends. For some reason, I didn’t know that’s how it is. That’s exactly what the Bible says. Of course, theologians know this, but for most of us sad sacks sitting in the pew, it seemed God looked the same to all of them. At least how they described and communicated with God seemed to be a carbon likeness. It was never this way with me.

Although God didn’t change, my experience of God changed all the time - because I was always changing. This did not mean my faith in God changed. Well, not exactly. It only changed in the way a marriage changes. When a couple’s been married for twenty years, and one partner has a mid life crisis, is he less married? Of course not. He might feel more distant from his wife. He might be tempted by things outside the goals of the marriage - like women, fast cars, or other stimulants that feed his desire for escape from boredom or aging. He is changing, the foundation of marriage is not. However, the relationship within the marriage is affected. It is up to the two involved to choose whether it will change them.

In the case of God, we’re clear the essence of God will not change. At least that’s an assumption I’m making here. So we get to decide how to deal with it.

The essence of God is always there, whether you experience it as a knowing, a presence, a relationship, the feeling of love or connectedness, or a spirit. We all have different names for what God is experienced as. And it may change too.

The experiences of the human consciousness movement have made my experience of God stronger and more grounded. This is indisputable, from my perspective.

We grow by paying attention and responding to what we come face to face with. When we avoid what we don’t want to deal with, or deny something exists that we know does, we stunt growing into who we want to ultimately become. There are almost no exceptions if we’re healthy adults.

Being a follower of Jesus Christ and acknowledging God as the source of your being, all that is, or Abba Father, does not compete with most of what composes the human consciousness movement. This always confused me, and frustrated me, because I often had to omit part of who I am unless I was wanted to be inundated with fear based warnings about things that mattered to me, friends that meant something to me, and growth that benefitted me.

This seemed unnecessary, and I still think it is. Unless, of course, we are dabbling in negativity or evil.

Jesus told his followers to stop going to astrologers for guidance, true. But it wasn’t because all astrologers are evil. It was the climate of the time, when astrologers were dictating people’s lives, over God. If an astrologer warns you about something you think needs to be taken seriously, chances are what you’re willing to address is important to you or your life. You’re not about to divorce your husband because an astrologer said it was in the stars, right? If you answered yes to this, you shouldn’t be using astrologers. That’s the point.

If you look within and know the ground of your being is in God, you will likely look there for guidance as to what’s important to your life. If you don’t look within, or turn to prayer and listen for inner guidance, but take an astrologers advice for how to run your life, you are limiting what’s available to you and ignoring the wealth of data God sends to you directly.

Jesus says, —————-/ Anything that takes us out of the heart can mislead us away from the direction of God and our true spiritual truth. When he tells the disciples not to pray like the pagans do, or to go to astrologers for answers, he is saying stay in the heart. It’s from the heart, and your true self, that all knowledge meant for you lies. But if we try to look spiritual in public by attending lots of classes, workshops, or demonstrate spiritual abilities to others, yet don’t become honest, humble, and vulnerable with ourselves in our prayer or meditation life, we’re not accessing our true center.

The same is true when we look for advice or guidance from others. This is true as it relates to astrologers, psychologists, and other outside counselors. That said, having a few people you trust with your life is critical to a healthy and balanced life because we develop blind spots. We can also develop mental illness, which is beyond our control and not our fault. In these rare cases, such as with bipolar disorder, we may think we’re fine, but we’re not. This is the time to draw on those who love us, and want the best for us. This is something our heart does generally know at some level, even if we can’t see it. Mental illness will camouflage our vulnerable and self critical abilities, and our family or friends are the ones to lean on here - and trust. In most cases.

SURRENDER
This is where the rubber meets the road on my spiritual path, and why I’ve maintained my Christianity throughout my spiritual journey, no matter where its led.

The power in surrender is the ultimate experience of a spiritual life. At least it has been true for me. It’s not until we can open our hearts to the extent that we are lying open in full surrender before God that we’ve said a full, unadulterated, passionate YES to a spiritual life.

This is the part than can seem confusing until the moment we get there. When we come face to face with the surrender, everything falls into spiritual place.

SHAME AND LOVE AND MILT GOSSETT

GOD AS MOTHER AND FATHER. BALANCE.

Did you know the Bible actually opens up by saying God is male and female? No joke. That’s what it says in Genesis. Verse scripture here.
Both male and female were made in the likeness of God. Both. Male. and. Female. In the very beginning of the this chapter, it even says “we,” which I’ve noticed no Christian wants to talk about. I’m not sure why, but it’s right there. It leads me to wonder if this is why the Church of Latter Day Saints has always acknowledged God as having both male and female characteristics. Makes a lot of sense to me.
The Bible is making so much more sense to me lately. It’s a challenge not to let resentment rise up when I’ve been so worried about experiencing Christianity just slightly differently than how Christians around me talked about it. I thought I was doing something wrong, yet something deep in my being, in my soul, was at peace. The older I became, the more I knew this was right for me, not wrong. Why did I hide who I was all those years? Why did I let their fears and judgment turn me away from my own spiritual path? How many others did the same thing?

People get excited about stuff. Especially if it’s an experience of God. And they’ll go to any lengths to protect, promote, or ….. it. Who can blame them?

WORD OF GOD

REDEMPTION

SALVATION. BEING SAVED.

SCIENCE OF MIND.
Cognitive spirituality.

THE SPIRITUAL AWAKENING. INDWELLING OF THE HOLY SPIRIT. CONVERSION.
We all want to experience this. I can’t imagine a single human soul who is drawn to a spiritual life not wanting to have the fullness of this experience. I’d give anything to live it again like the first time. My guess is I won’t, but I’m eternally grateful for having known it at such a young age when my mind didn’t try to reason it away or deny it. The only thing to do was go with it. It’s like falling head over heels in love. The feeling is different, but the way it grabs and flings us so far inside the experience in, what seems to be, the flash of an eye, we can’t get out - and we don’t want to. And like falling in love, it calms in time.

It quiets to more like a hum that lives inside us.

You want that, don’t you?
Remember. I’m not talking about turning into a weird religious person. I’m talking about letting your idea of God transform you though

NEWER VERSION

If you’re anything like me, we’ve let christianity, too often, be defined by it’s cultural wrapping, not its essence. Knowing this has probably caused many people to judge me for not converting people to being believers of Jesus, or attending a weekly Bible Study.

That’s not it.

It’s because that’s not my Christianity.

In recent years, I’ve had to keep my spiritual walk of Christianity separate from my idea of Christians. This is true not only as it relates to people, but also to language. When jesus says he comes not with a ___, but with a sword, I think of this experience.

This process can be a challenging one because it asks us to step out of our paradigms and ideas about the Christianity of others, including our own family. This took me directly to the words of Jesus when he said we had to be willing to hate our own mother and father. Although I don’t suggest doing that. The point is to think for yourself, and to do it passionately. Bring yourself back to yourself where you connect with God as if it’s the most important thing you can do, because, ultimately, it is. It calls you to look into its essence for yourself without anyone else’s ideas, language, or interpretations. It asks you to do the real work of knowing God, and developing your own understanding. This is not to say one shouldn’t read what others have to say, and especially to read the red letters along with understanding the context, including the cultural context, of the New Testament.

PROCESS - PRACTICE
What becomes mandatory if we want it to work is we must let go of our preconceived notions of the Bible, of religion, of other people who say they’re Christians. We have to see and experience for ourselves to understand.

Our upbringing, culture, traditions are rooted in Christianity, so for many of us, it’s what we’re most familiar with - which sometimes means we’re also most comfortable with it even if we’re uncomfortable with the people who claim it. We may not feel aligned, or comfortable about a particular type of religion or attending church itself…and this is irrelevant to the experience. The experience, at the start, is a personal journey. One that will lead you where you need to be if you focus first on developing your listening skills, and the opening of your heart.

Understanding what the word God means is essential to this practice from the start. Next, it’s shedding all the old paradigms of what you think Jesus means, and finding out for what this holy teacher means to you. Forget what other people have told you. Forget other people all together. Release all the ideas you have in your head about the word or name of Jesus, other than your own personal experiences. If you have memories that were real to you when you were a child or a teen, let them be part of the process. If you have experiences as an adult, welcome them to the mix as well. But omit all thoughts and memories that are simply associations. This may include news stories about priests, an overbearing friend who drives you crazy talking about Jesus, a church that plays their music too loud, the church lady that scowled when you brought wine to the Passover Seder, or a church that plays the organ badly.

For some, the idea of God being a daddy creeps them out. While others are comforted. If it’s a positive memory and feeling, keep it. If not, let it go. It doesn’t serve you.

God is multi-dimensional. That’s the best part about this spiritual adventure. How can we possibly rope in our own knowing of God based on the experiences of others? How has this been the most traveled route when nobody can truly know God? That is the mystery! It’s this that makes it a journey worth exploring - for yourself.

Dive deeper into the journey of your own soul by connecting with the ground of your being, by finding the path that leads to the place it is well with your soul.

Spirituality exists in all you experience. It is not separate from who you are, nor is it different from your unique and authentic heart. It runs parallel with it.

Archaic language and religiosity has always kept people from religion. But nothing can take you away from your own spiritual nature. The question is do you just want to know it’s there and fool yourself into thinking you feed it with only a superficial yoga class from time to time, or do you want to do the deep dive that brings real awareness from within, around you, beneath you, above you? Do you want to feel the mystery, the spirit, the love that bubbles up from an endless source, bringing you a peace you crave?

The reason the Bible has cut like a sword is not because people have used it as a weapon - which is also the case, but because there’s truth there. That said, it’s still a book written by humans. That’s what so cool about it, but it’s also what makes it not work as the answer for a spiritual life. We are meant to read the bible, not worship it. To let it inspire us, not demoralize us. To learn from it, not control us.

It is filled with words. Words are sounds and letters we agreed upon to make sense of things. They’re not even the same in every language. If we take the context or history or culture or varied meaning out of it, we are left with something that we’re not always that sure of. On top of that, put Jesus’ parables that are amazing, but confuse everyone, and try to make sense of the past, present and future. It’s asking a lot. But don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater because it is also filled with rich wisdom, but most of all, it is a tool that can lead you to the spirit if you know how to use it that way. (MEL JOHNSON) By the way, the parables are my favorite part of the Bible because they ask me to show up with my brain wide open, and listening. They don’t ask people the obvious because Jesus knew questions with obvious and ‘right’ answers come from a linear, logical and ego based place. They don’t push us to look beyond what makes sense to our most basic and most logical sense of reason that usually fits within the context of our culture’s values. His parables take us to our non-linear and non-dualistic process of critical thinking. They make us cast aside our ideology to get to the lesson in it for us. This doesn’t come easily for most of us. We’re well trained and practiced at letting the obvious rise to the surface first.

Life, especially one centered in a spiritual practice, operates on many levels internally, and many dimensions spiritually. Can I prove this, someone is probably asking. I think I can.

We are complex beings, operating within a web of biological complexity. We don’t exist separate from each other or the natural world. We all know this intellectually and intuitively.

If you get a headache when a storm is approaching, or your knees hurt when it rains, or you menstruate during the full moon, or even if you get a sugar high, you are experiencing system responses. System responses are exactly what the earth’s processes do as it continues to do its job sustaining itself. It is at the mercy of itself, as it changes. So are we. The idea that God is separate from this is also unlikely, as we are in and of God, connected to All That Is which comprises God…and more. It’s not possible for us to define or explain God, just as it’s impossible to accurately express what something feels like. It’s completely beyond the capacity and limits of language to give words to something as multi-dimensional as God and emotions.

We can only describe it based upon agreements we’ve already made with each other through language. Self limiting language that can only operate within its own limits until we discover ways to expand, or that already expand, these limits language and words impose upon itself. (Which physics rule?) In this sense, even if there are ways to communicate what God is or what a specific thing feels like, we still cannot expand our own limits of understanding until we can.
It’s in learning how to connect to the Spirit that our spiritual life in Christianity begins. Jesus knew this, and told us in more ways than one. (Examples). It is the way of the heart. The way of opening to the Christ and the Holy Spirit, which is through opening fully from the heart. Knowing ourselves from this vantage point gives us a new way of showing up for the people around us, and ourselves.

CHURCH
Every time I tried to talk to him, he clammed up. I didn’t know what to do with this dynamic between Al and I. It was the same with Gail, the head of the worship committee. They treated me as if I were scum. No, even lower than scum. Anytime I attempted to talk to them about an idea, include or invite them to a function, bounce something off of them, they’d either protest or do the kind of talking that sends daggers deep into your soul with every word.

What do you do when you’re married to the pastor, and they are making it clear you have no authority in their eyes? Here’s the clincher. No authority were the words they used, but what they were really saying in word and action was I meant nothing at all. Zilch.

It hurt. And it hurt some more. When I was angry about it, it was easy to feel the tears underneath welling up so giving way to a primal scream wasn’t the answer. I just wanted to hide, but I couldn’t. I wanted to have a conversation with them and work it out, but they didn’t think I was worth a conversation. Their only concern was ‘the pastor.’ My guess was they had controlled this church for many years, and they weren’t about to let go of the reins now.

I’d come from a lifetime of working things out. A lifetime of inspiring and leading people to live their best life. A lifetime of growing communities and businesses through empowering the people that belonged to them. Now, I was in a place where the opportunity to do so much good was right in front of me and the two main characters wanted nothing to do with me. Anything that involved me was dismissed, and anything we requested, denied. They stopped us from moving forward at every turn. If we asked to purchase a sign, a handful of reasons it wouldn’t work were raised, and then the conversation was dropped before even going to vote. We tried asking for some basic things other than bulletin paper and ink for the printer on a number of occasions and it was met with criticism and discouragement at the get-go. Eventually we stopped asking for anything or making suggestions. We also paid for everything initiated by us out of our own pocket. Every time we had an idea or proposal about something, it was dismissed, denied, or put on the shelf ad infinitum. We kept praying for freedom from oppression because that’s just how it felt. They weren’t allowing my husband to lead, and treating me as if I were invisible. I couldn’t take it anymore. When I spent weeks of all nighters developing a new website that was desperately needed, and a state of the art, graphically beautiful, content rich newsletter, they made no comment other than tell me what was wrong.

Due to their age, they didn’t understand the idea of a website being a living, dynamic form of communication. They thought it was a printed brochure on a screen. My frustration was mounting, and I was powerless and helpless. Even my husband couldn’t do anything about it without us creating conflict and division. We weren’t about to do that.

One of the most difficult aspects of this dynamic was I knew they were just scared or threatened. There hadn’t been a pastor’s wife at the church in about twenty years. They’d also never had a part time pastor before, nor a pastor who worked a full time job which included most evenings. They were stuck with me if they needed to reach anyone. It put everything at a standstill. Meanwhile, my husband was determined that we were to be a team. He knew his limits and the demands of being a pastor. He also knew my professional background, fully aware that I had all the skills from the counseling, to the marketing, to the community building, to the creativity, to the teaching, to the faith, to the management skills to help him build a church. He didn’t want to do it without me, especially with people who’s primary goal seemed to fight change with all their might.

I understand change. It’s hard. There was so much we could do to transform the experience of resistance and discomfort that comes with change. The vision we felt led to was to create a beautiful and reverent experience that we thought could open hearts, build sorely needed relationships within the body, and a joyful celebration that bonded those who gathered togetether, ensuring they’d leave on Sunday morning with a spring in the step and hope in their life. We wanted people to have a new experience of church. One which connected people in ways they hadn’t experienced before - at least not in church. I knew those who’d secretly been getting their inspiration from personal growth workshops, and the like, would feel right at home as well. We wanted them to finally feel a freedom to be themselves, their whole selves, in a church environment. Most of us had waited much too long for the freedom to be all of who we are there.

SHAMAN

“I think this experience would be good for you and Thom,” she said. Carole was Thom’s mother who was studying to be a minister. I’d never met anyone like her before. She was the quintessential mother and wife. Soft spoken, kind, polite. Her husband was a senior engineer with the Department of Defense. She lived in the perfect suburban house outside Washington, DC. She had four children, three girls and a boy who was the oldest. I was in a relationship with Thom, even though he was five years younger than me and had lived a much more sheltered existence than my chaotic journey until then.

She didn’t seem like the new age type at all.

I hired a personal trainer to prepare for this journey.

MY GOD
I’ve always been at a disadvantage describing what God is and means for me. God could never be defined by language. This always bothered me because I felt desperate to tell my Christian friends. For some reason, I didn’t know that’s how it is. That’s exactly what the Bible says. Of course, theologians know this, but for most of us sad sacks sitting in the pew, it seemed God looked the same to all of them. At least how they described and communicated with God seemed to be a carbon likeness. It was never this way with me.

Although God didn’t change, my experience of God changed all the time - because I was always changing. This did not mean my faith in God changed. Well, not exactly. It only changed in the way a marriage changes. When a couple’s been married for twenty years, and one partner has a mid life crisis, is he less married? Of course not. He might feel more distant from his wife. He might be tempted by things outside the goals of the marriage - like women, fast cars, or other stimulants that feed his desire for escape from boredom or aging. He is changing, the foundation of marriage is not. However, the relationship within the marriage is affected. It is up to the two involved to choose whether it will change them.

In the case of God, we’re clear the essence of God will not change. At least that’s an assumption I’m making here. So we get to decide how to deal with it.

The essence of God is always there, whether you experience it as a knowing, a presence, a relationship, the feeling of love or connectedness, or a spirit. We all have different names for what God is experienced as. And it may change too.

The experiences of the human consciousness movement have made my experience of God stronger and more grounded. This is indisputable, from my perspective.

We grow by paying attention and responding to what we come face to face with. When we avoid what we don’t want to deal with, or deny something exists that we know does, we stunt growing into who we want to ultimately become. There are almost no exceptions if we’re healthy adults.

Being a follower of Jesus Christ and acknowledging God as the source of your being, all that is, or Abba Father, does not compete with most of what composes the human consciousness movement. This always confused me, and frustrated me, because I often had to omit part of who I am unless I was wanted to be inundated with fear based warnings about things that mattered to me, friends that meant something to me, and growth that benefitted me.

This seemed unnecessary, and I still think it is. Unless, of course, we are dabbling in negativity or evil.

Jesus told his followers to stop going to astrologers for guidance, true. But it wasn’t because all astrologers are evil. It was the climate of the time, when astrologers were dictating people’s lives, over God. If an astrologer warns you about something you think needs to be taken seriously, chances are what you’re willing to address is important to you or your life. You’re not about to divorce your husband because an astrologer said it was in the stars, right? If you answered yes to this, you shouldn’t be using astrologers. That’s the point.

If you look within and know the ground of your being is in God, you will likely look there for guidance as to what’s important to your life. If you don’t look within, or turn to prayer and listen for inner guidance, but take an astrologers advice for how to run your life, you are limiting what’s available to you and ignoring the wealth of data God sends to you directly.

Jesus says, —————-/ Anything that takes us out of the heart can mislead us away from the direction of God and our true spiritual truth. When he tells the disciples not to pray like the pagans do, or to go to astrologers for answers, he is saying stay in the heart. It’s from the heart, and your true self, that all knowledge meant for you lies. But if we try to look spiritual in public by attending lots of classes, workshops, or demonstrate spiritual abilities to others, yet don’t become honest, humble, and vulnerable with ourselves in our prayer or meditation life, we’re not accessing our true center.

The same is true when we look for advice or guidance from others. This is true as it relates to astrologers, psychologists, and other outside counselors. That said, having a few people you trust with your life is critical to a healthy and balanced life because we develop blind spots. We can also develop mental illness, which is beyond our control and not our fault. In these rare cases, such as with bipolar disorder, we may think we’re fine, but we’re not. This is the time to draw on those who love us, and want the best for us. This is something our heart does generally know at some level, even if we can’t see it. Mental illness will camouflage our vulnerable and self critical abilities, and our family or friends are the ones to lean on here - and trust. In most cases.

SURRENDER
This is where the rubber meets the road on my spiritual path, and why I’ve maintained my Christianity throughout my spiritual journey, no matter where its led.

The power in surrender is the ultimate experience of a spiritual life. At least it has been true for me. It’s not until we can open our hearts to the extent that we are lying open in full surrender before God that we’ve said a full, unadulterated, passionate YES to a spiritual life.

This is the part than can seem confusing until the moment we get there. When we come face to face with the surrender, everything falls into spiritual place.

SHAME AND LOVE AND MILT GOSSETT

GOD AS MOTHER AND FATHER. BALANCE.

Did you know the Bible actually opens up by saying God is male and female? No joke. That’s what it says in Genesis. Verse scripture here.
Both male and female were made in the likeness of God. Both. Male. and. Female. In the very beginning of the this chapter, it even says “we,” which I’ve noticed no Christian wants to talk about. I’m not sure why, but it’s right there. It leads me to wonder if this is why the Church of Latter Day Saints has always acknowledged God as having both male and female characteristics. Makes a lot of sense to me.
The Bible is making so much more sense to me lately. It’s a challenge not to let resentment rise up when I’ve been so worried about experiencing Christianity just slightly differently than how Christians around me talked about it. I thought I was doing something wrong, yet something deep in my being, in my soul, was at peace. The older I became, the more I knew this was right for me, not wrong. Why did I hide who I was all those years? Why did I let their fears and judgment turn me away from my own spiritual path? How many others did the same thing?

People get excited about stuff. Especially if it’s an experience of God. And they’ll go to any lengths to protect, promote, or ….. it. Who can blame them?

WORD OF GOD

REDEMPTION

SALVATION. BEING SAVED.

SCIENCE OF MIND.
Cognitive spirituality.

THE SPIRITUAL AWAKENING. INDWELLING OF THE HOLY SPIRIT. CONVERSION.
We all want to experience this. I can’t imagine a single human soul who is drawn to a spiritual life not wanting to have the fullness of this experience. I’d give anything to live it again like the first time. My guess is I won’t, but I’m eternally grateful for having known it at such a young age when my mind didn’t try to reason it away or deny it. The only thing to do was go with it. It’s like falling head over heels in love. The feeling is different, but the way it grabs and flings us so far inside the experience in, what seems to be, the flash of an eye, we can’t get out - and we don’t want to. And like falling in love, it calms in time.

It quiets to more like a hum that lives inside us.

You want that, don’t you?
Remember. I’m not talking about turning into a weird religious person. I’m talking about letting your idea of God transform you though

Backdoor Christian
Cowboy Encounter