Tuesday, January 22, 2013


TRUTH: It's a topic that fills up thousands of books. Here's just one post to add to the myriad of thoughts on this idea.

Throughout my process of deciding what to do about church, I would go through and still go through, roller coaster moments...trying to sort things out. "What is really true?" Because I just internalized what I was told I should believe, if something didn't fit for me I would stuff it, and often wonder "what's wrong with me? Why am I feeling so frustrated or rebellious or prideful inside myself?" I would feel guilty as though it was all my fault and I would attempt to swallow the feelings, and brush what didn't fit under the rug (because there was enough that did fit I suppose, and it helped me feel connected to those around me by keeping the waters calm, and not rocking the boat). The problem was that when I finally began to let myself question without the guilt, torrents of pain and anger rose from years of stuffing certain questions and things that hadn't made sense to me.

I would sometimes feel very confused..."I don't know what's true anymore," I would think. I couldn't deny certain "spiritual" experiences I had had, and still was having. I also couldn't deny some of the new awarenesses that were coming up, and the realities I was seeing that I had previously denied (i.e. someone could be genuinely at peace without any religious attachment).

I remember a moment of self-pity after I'd stopped attending church...so confused about whether or not the church was really true. "WHAT'S REALLY TRUE?" I begged. I put it out there to the universe, or God, or intuition, or whatever/whomever it was that I had felt would sometimes show a presence of clarity when my confused self was genuinely ready to hear the answer.

In that moment I felt a presence of clarity, and a thought arose from it... "you're asking the wrong question." I had a flash of knowing...it was so quick, it's difficult to put into words, but the sense was something like this... "it's the wrong question. It assumes an all-or-nothing thinking pattern. It doesn't allow for growth and evolution as it assumes that the meaning I made from what felt true to me last week or last year, would have to be the same meaning I would make of what feels true to me today. It assumes that my experiences are static. It also assumes that I cannot hold both truth (clarity) and untruth (unclarity) together in an experience.

I realized that there were PARTS of my perspectives from things I learned through the avenue of religion that still felt clear and important to me. There were also PARTS that no longer felt helpful to my process, and rather felt blocking to my growth, as they fed what I now perceived to be fear-based beliefs.

Awhile later I ran into this quote as I was reading:

"So we're pretty skittish about this God-is-my-source thing. And, perhaps rightly we should be. We don't want to swallow whole everything that others tell us, simply because they claim to carry a message from the Most High.

But how can we know for sure what is Divine Inspiration and what is not? How can we be certain who is speaking eternal truth?

Ah, that is the great question. But here is the great secret. WE DO NOT HAVE TO KNOW. All we have to know is OUR truth, not someone else's. When we understand this, we understand everything. We understand that what others are saying doesn't have to be The Truth; it only has to lead us to our own. And it will do that. It cannot help but do that, eventually. All things lead us to our innermost truth."

- Neale donald Walsch in "Communion With God."

So, now I watch for those moments...those moments I'm trying to decide, "Is what this person telling me right? or true?" I realize that in those moments I'm asking the wrong question. Instead I'm finding it more helpful to ask myself..."how do I feel about this or that? For me?" maybe it's not about being right or wrong...maybe it's about honoring what feels best to me in that moment...not because it's absolute truth, but because it's my truth, it's how I can best make meaning of the world from all I've experienced up to that point. In the same way, I get to honor others, and their experiences.

I'm going to use an example here:

I had a client come in for therapy. The first few sessions he told me what was going on, from his perspective. He'd had a history of addiction and hiding things, however, as he was sharing his story I felt what, as a mormon I had called "the spirit." I felt warmth in my body and goosebumps, as he explained how he had changed, was loving his wife, not hiding things, etc. I had learned to translate these feelings to mean that what he was telling me was TRUE.

The next week his wife came in. They sat there together as the wife explained the lies and deception that were still going on. I suddenly felt confused and disoriented. Had he lied to me? It couldn't be...I'd "felt" sure he was telling the truth. I looked over at him as he had his head down, eyes on the ground. When he looked up I asked if he was understanding where his wife was coming from. He said yes, admitting that he was still lying, deceiving, etc.

This was an opening moment for me. I realized that "my" feelings about what someone was saying had nothing to do with what that person's truth was. It did, however, guide me to my own truth. I resonated with the ideas of honesty, change, and love because those principles are beautiful principles to me. I realized that people may be honest or they may not, but I don't need to know whether or not someone is being honest with me. If the information I'm getting from someone else changes, then I can adjust my reaction as needed, but all I need to do is stay committed to what I feel, for me.

This has been helpful to remember as I've been sorting through understanding "the truth" of religious dogma. I grew up believing that someone's experience was what they had said it was (or what I had been taught it was). This was especially true with Joseph Smith and church history. When I started learning other aspects of the experience & history, the confusion set in. Because I had assumed what I'd been taught was the full and honest story, I reacted to it as such growing up. And if my own personal feelings didn't mesh with something, then I dismissed my feelings...believing that the story was more true than my own feelings.

I didn't step back from the church because of historical or doctrinal issues. I ran across those after I left. I stepped back because I decided to be honest with myself about MY own truth. To acknowledge that certain perspectives felt blocking to my own personal growth. I decided to honor my own story more than someone else's. So, when I began to find out parts of the church story I had previously not known...my own personal story and the more dynamic, story of church history began to merge. This was a healing part of the process for me. It still is. and somehow I can't help but visualize this perfect merging happening as we really face with honesty all parts of our own experience.

1 comment:

  1. Sweet Jenny....I believe one of the main experiences in the beginning of many religions is this interpretation of feeling spirit as "divine truth".....and then a new Bible is written. If all of the world could know what you came to know in that therapy experience, we would all allow the warm, wonderful feeling of spirit as the individual, personal visitation that it is. Bravo, girl.