Monday, January 7, 2013

It's Really A Choice!

A couple of months after stepping back from attending church I was going through one of my many "moments of terror." The moments I felt fear arise so strong that I was sure that God was going to "punish" me eternally for not enduring. I was laying on the floor crying, "why God...why would I feel okay about leaving church if it's the only true church?"

Then came the awareness from somewhere deep within (whether from my "higher self," what Einstein called, "the old self," my subconscious, a God, or a devil?...though I will say the message brought deep peace and feeling of clarity and freedom):

"Jenny I don't care what you doesn't matter to me AT ALL. My love for you, and your value and abilities are in NO WAY dependent upon whether or not you ever go back to church. But, know that anytime you make a decision out of fear you will suffer." and it wasn't like..."you'll suffer forever," it was just matter of fact, that if I make a choice from that place it will be difficult until I get it sorted out more and adjust any parts of the decision that need to be adjusted to get in line with what I truly desire.

Because I'd spent a few days triggered back into overwhelming fear, it was all around me. If I go back to church, I'd be going back out of fear (fear based on things I'd been told growing up: If you leave the church you lose the Spirit, you can never be "really" happy, you won't have as much meaning in your life, you won't be able to serve mankind as effectively, how will I raise children without the church?....), and if I didn't go back I'd be staying away out of fear (at least in that moment). Fear of being hurt by what was said, fear of having to conform to perspectives I didn't agree with, fear of going back just to feel more comfort, or connect socially because I was struggling to find community and others who could understand.

"What?" I replied to the inner voice that had come..."I don't have a clue how to do that right now!! All I can feel is fear." So, I spent the next few days imagining what it would be like if there was no fear...either way. What would I choose simply because it was what I WANTED to choose. I could actually see things I wanted out of both decisions, but as I sat with it I knew that what I wanted most was to continue to explore a new way, a new kind of life where I could open room for perspectives based on my own experiences rather than what others were telling me I was supposed to believe. For so many years, my experiences had matched up enough that being in the church had worked well for me. When my own experiences no longer matched up with certain expectations and perspectives of the institution, and doctrine, it became more difficult. Some people may have a similar experience in the church and decide to stay in...feeling they could do (or want to do) in the church what I felt I needed to leave the church for. I think it made a difference that I was such a literal believer for so many years. I'd spent three years trying to work with the cognitive dissonance, and I knew I'd done what I needed to, but that to really make room for myself it was now time for me to go a different way.

Then I felt calm again.

If you're going through this, know that it's not uncommon to have to work through the decision process over and over. Every time fear or anger comes back up I have to sort through another layer of confusion. I will say, those moments come less often, and more and more I'm able to remember in the fear and anger that I've processed it before and can do it again. I've found that it does get better.

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