I grew up with a lot of religion. Not the “God loves you” kind of religion, the “you’re going to hell if you don’t repent” kind of religion. When I was five or six I remember lying awake at night wondering what I had to do to get “saved” so I wouldn’t go to hell. (Children are a lot smarter than adults give them credit for, many times.)
Then my parents joined a different church that celebrated a Saturday sabbath, which meant that from Friday sundown to Saturday sundown we weren’t allowed to do anything other than go to church, pretty much. There were a LOT of rules at that church, everything from what you could wear to following all of the biblical Old Testament dietary laws and holy days. After my dad died when I was 14, I stopped going to church altogether.
I felt at that point I’d had enough religion to last a lifetime. When I met my husband-to-be at the age of 18, his mom was a churchgoer and I (more or less) got coerced into teaching Sunday school for about a year. I escaped as soon as humanly possible; it just didn’t feel authentic to me. I’ve always felt that spirituality and religion aren’t necessarily mutually exclusive, but one doesn’t guarantee the other, either.
I’ve always believed in a higher power, a higher intelligence, a greater love than we’ve been able to manifest here on earth so far, with a few notable exceptions.
Now, I resonate with what the Dalai Lama says, “This is my simple religion. There is no need for temples; no need for complicated philosophy. Our own brain, our own heart is our temple; the philosophy is kindness.” Imagine us all treating each other (and ourselves!) with love and respect and kindness, what an amazing world it would be.
The metaphysical path has also been an enlightening spiritual journey for me. It has taken many years and much reflection and growth for me to acknowledge myself as a spiritual being, loved and worthy and celebrated just as I am.
And so are you.