First Amendment Freedom

I’ve really been struggling to find my way spiritually for years now. I’ve bounced back and forth from practice to practice, never really settling and never really feeling like I was HOME. One of my biggest problems was feeling like I didn’t know the rules. To anything. I felt pulled toward earth based spirituality, paganism, Wicca, but always felt lost. Where do I start? How do I know what I’m supposed to do? What if I do something wrong? What if I mess up? As soon as I’d get close, all these types of questions would flood my head and spirit and drown me, pushing me further away from that which I really wanted. What I really needed, was freedom.

I didn’t realize until recently, thanks to a few good friends, that there shouldn’t be any rules. This is MY spiritual practice. MY path. Why should I let the rules of others dictate what I believe, what I feel and what I put my faith in? Of course there are religious observances, dates that have meaning, holidays and other events that serve as landmarks, but beyond that. No God would come down and strike me for choosing the wrong gemstone in my prayer. There was no one watching me, to make sure the words I spoke in ritual were exactly what was written in some book. The only rules I was struggling with, were the ones I placed on myself.

I truly believe that no matter what your beliefs, Christian, Pagan, Catholic, Hindu, Buddhist or otherwise our goals are the same. The tenants of each one are similar and teach us to love one another. They teach us to be aware of other living beings and those around us, to be compassionate and grateful for what we have in this moment. They ask us to have faith, to pray and to feel hope where otherwise you may have none. They ask us to be both content and gentle with ourselves, yet to always strive to be better. We learn to help others before ourselves. We learn to love our neighbours as family and to turn inward, listening to our hearts. Should it really matter what the label is, or whether you pray on a Saturday while I pray on a Tuesday?

I really cannot stand religious zealots that preach such EXTREME measures that it is almost absurd that they claim to be doing it on behalf of some religious practice. Really? Truly? Your God told you to go harass someone who is making an already awful, HORRIBLE decision, to make their life worse on that day? Really? Huh.  Your God told you that all of a specific race/gender are inferior? Huh. But he’s a loving God.  Interesting. Your God said that certain people shouldn’t be able to marry, despite the fact they love each other? Well what kind of loving, understanding and compassionate god is that? It certainly isn’t one that I’d want to be leaning on and trusting with my heart. What people say or think is so wildly out of perspective sometimes that I just cannot really fathom or understand. I can’t help but laugh and shake my head. I wish I could ignore it, but it affects OTHER PEOPLE. Your insane extremism, is AFFECTING OTHERS. It’s a type of injustice I can’t get over.  You do you people, I’ll do me and everyone else will do themselves and we’ll be happy and loving and compassionate. Cool? I wish.

Oh right. Back to me.

My friend said to me in guidance, “start small.” And while so many worries and ‘what ifs’ ran through my brain, I tried. I started small. The very next morning before I fully woke, I spent a few moments in silent prayer to Kuan Yin, asking for peace and compassion in my struggles. And again the next morning. And the next. And..it was peaceful. It was a little breakthrough and lesson to trust myself. To trust my instincts and truly listen to those nudges that most of us brush aside. still feel somewhat nervous and fearful that I am not moving fast enough or in the right direction. These feelings of strength in my beliefs are new and budding but they are coming. I like them and want to keep going.

Truthfully, in my mind it comes down to this: if what you believe is encouraging you to be a better human being – a more compassionate, loving and grateful being, then who is to say you’re wrong?

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