As a young woman struggling with motherhood and old demons, I was initially overwhelmed by people who hugged me and told me they cared. Words - my love language - surrounded my initial foray into fundamental Christianity. Messages of unearned love and acceptance filled me with emotions I didn't have the ability to identify. Hope seeped into my heart. Comfort enveloped me at last.
The acceptance and outward demonstrations of love were amazing until they weren't. Acceptance was not based on my love-ability; but, it did have strings attached. Follow us; live like us; talk like us; dress like us, and, maybe we will invite you into our lives. As a new believer, the reapers of souls supported and encouraged and smiled and included. And then, they didn't.
I felt I was ripped from the fold when I faced the imminent end of my marriage. When the hidden infidelity of one strangled the relationship of two and the crumbling of marriage vows became public knowledge, I faltered. I blamed. I cried. I fought. I fled. I failed. When the flight from one community into the unknown left me stranded between cliques, I stumbled. Then, I became a divorcee and I no longer openly lived like them; talked like them; dressed like them; and, maybe I wasn't like them at all. I felt alone.
I am sure there was a lot of the image of divorce in my head that really grew from my own sense of failure and shortcomings. And, I did find solace in true friendships and the genuine outreach of love by people who tried to help, but my bubble was burst, my ability to trust was wounded and I no longer felt the acceptance I envisioned would encompass me no matter what. Perhaps it was unrealistic to expect invitations for dinner or barbecue parties when I was a single with four children. The words remained and yet, I felt that the doors of homes closed. I struggled to find my solid ground, threw myself into self help books and did find comfort in the words. I forgave. I accepted my part in all that had happened. And yet, I did not feel like I belonged.
I remained connected. I moved from church family to church family pushing to find a place to settle that would meet the needs of my family and myself. Not physical needs. Social needs of acceptance and purpose. I looked outward instead of inward; and then I would look inward instead of outward. It was a battle. I made big mistakes; suffered from my own foolishness and desperation; and, sadly, compromised my base values trying to find acceptance in a foreign land. Had I ever truly belonged? I immersed myself in a church community, accepting responsibility for my own alienation, forcing myself to be willing to serve and connect. I failed - again.
Years have gifted me with hind sight and forgiveness and a reality check of my own actions and responsibility. I needed a concrete, identifiable foundation. I faced down my belief system and challenged it from my own mountain of contemplation. Did I believe because I was weak and needy and lonely? That would mean that my belief was based on pretty shaky ground and was heading for an end. The big questions came and went. Enlightenment did not march in like the hero that I wanted. I slowly addressed my spiritual self. There was no epiphany of great magnitude. Only this. I must live authentically. My values had to stay intact. My beliefs could change. My actions would follow. And none of this was based on someone else's actions. It was between me and God.
I no longer followed the same path of traditional choices. I chose to separate myself from all the legalistic rules of the Christian church and then slowly re-build around what I believed - where I would place my faith - and what I would strip away.
I believe there is a power greater than me. I call this power God.
I believe I have a spiritual component inside of me that is the essence of who I am. It is that which seeks for joy, peace, love and life. It is not done in isolation but neither is it accomplished in a building of worship. It is me and a love that is personified by God. God is love - most religions teach it, describe it, and struggle to live it. It is when I try to control it and contain it and selfishly refuse to share it that I fall into darkness - a void of one.
So, as a person facing the end of my life in a few decades or even less, I continue to seek and find. I accept the promise of eternal life but cannot define that for you. As of now, I anticipate I will live forever even if it is as a spark of energy carried in the hearts of my loved ones. I cannot prescribe for you what that might be. I feel anticipation when I envision heaven's door opening wide to welcome me or that spark of energy home but my hope is that, heavenly home or not, I will be carried forward within the lives who continue after I am gone - my family and friends who loved me.
So I come to my question. Is spiritual reality an oxymoron? Can you or I describe it as it really is or is that, because of the very nature of spiritual, impossible? We look for proof, we expound on history, but for each fact I believe there is fiction that clouds. So, I accept my spiritual beliefs by faith, test them without trepidation, practice them how I am lead; and then, I stay true to the basis of the one spiritual epiphany I have fully embraced: ".....but, the greatest of these is love."