I come from a very religious background. Everyone in my family is either Christian or Catholic, and a select few are Jehovah Witness and Mormon. In High School and younger, I was really involved in my church, youth group, and mission trips, but it was always more about “following the rules” of the Bible that was going to lead to my “salvation”, than actually forming a relationship with God. When I was about 16, I really lost my desire to show up at church anymore. As a teenager who was hormonal and already trying to navigate a foreign path, something about being told, “if you don’t repent your mistakes you are going to hell” and, “you are not worthy of His love, but He gives it to you anyways” – never ever ever ever made me feel good about myself. In fact, it made me feel guilty and completely live in this pool of shame and unworthiness.
In my opinion, that’s not what anything was ever intended to be like, it just turned in to this over time. People are more focused on sinning and making sure others don’t think they do than their relationship with God and turning their mistakes into a shared space of honesty and vulnerability.
It wasn’t until college that I knew God was really with me.
It wasn’t until I removed every ounce of shame that came with religion that I fully felt the peace and grace that comes from our higher power.
God, energy, higher power, whatever you want to call it, we come from the same thing.
When I removed my fear of hell, my discomfort around making mistakes and “sinning”, and every bit of ego, my world opened up to the brightest light I could ever fathom.
When I stopped praying to worship and apologize for my mistakes and started to pray to profess my utmost gratitude, my entire life changed.
God is infinite. All-knowing. Positive. Kind. Bigger than our human minds can fathom. Connected to everything. Everywhere. When I started tapping in to that, when I started to form my spirituality and relationship to God (or energy, a tree, our higher power, etc. – I’m just using the term God over higher power because it’s easy, and you know what I mean) on a platform built on gratitude and love, that’s when God became real for me.
That’s when I could identity that I, as a human, am small, and there is something much more big out there.
When I acknowledged that I am not all knowing, and I could gracefully stop trying to put rules on life and pretend I know exactly what is going on, that’s when I befriended God. That’s when my inner spiritual peace was born.
I don’t think we all can 100% say what exactly will happen when we die, or even 100% say how we came to be (we can’t even access all of our brain, there’s so much we will never be able to process), but the point is that there’s something bigger than us. There’s something that deserves our gratitude. There’s something that truly connects us all, and when I focus on that, that is when I feel God the most.