Today, I Reclaim God
I have felt inspired to share with you a very significant aspect of my life, namely my personal discovery and journey of spirituality. Like many other children on Earth, I was raised in a devout religious community. From a very young age, I felt that I did not quite fit into this group. I went to church, I read the scriptures, I prayed, I confessed and repented - it never seemed to be enough to quiet the fear and anxiety that came from the idea that I may not be enough, or that I may be unworthy of this god’s love. This god in which I had been raised to believe, accepted their children conditionally; that is to say, only when they were behaving in the way that this god deemed acceptable. I believed that there were answers to my spiritual questions available in the world which were not being taught in this community.
It seemed to me that I had two choices. The first of which was to stuff the doubts and fears that I was experiencing and live a life of inauthenticity that was within the acceptable boundaries of the religious tradition of my family. The second was to risk rejection by my family and community to pursue the path to which I was feeling beckoned. Finally, I decided that in order to be true to my inner being and to connect with the loving god whom I felt was there, I must pursue a path outside of the imposed boundaries deemed acceptable by this religion.
By choosing to leave this religion I was outcasted and made a pariah by the only community that I had ever known. The perceptions of “god” with which I had been raised, however imperfect they were, were stripped away from me at this time. How could I possibly maintain a healthy relationship with a god whom I believed to scorn and condemn gay people, like myself?
I was fortunate to have a family who continued to care for and love me during this process, though I felt their pity, shame, and fear for my eternal salvation. This process can be a horrifically traumatizing experience for a person of any age, but especially for a sensitive, young child.
As happens to so many who have been religiously wounded and traumatized in this way, I averted to a different extreme. Having not yet learned how to develop my own spiritual practice or awareness of God, the only alternative that I saw at that time was to give away my divine connection and seek fulfillment through artificial, temporary, and unhealthy channels. Superficial relationships, substance abuse, shallow sexual encounters, atheism, spiritual denial, anger, and resentment began to fill the void which had been left inside of me.
I traded my ideals, my principles and values, my body, my time, my will, as well as what love I could muster for illusionary acceptance and any semblance of love that I could get in return. I was angry at the idea of “god” and any person who claimed to have some sort of exclusive right or ability to connect to a god.
Worst of all, I shared this resentment and anger with people who called me friend. I told them that faith was a sham instituted to oppress and control people. I encouraged them down the very path that had brought me such pain and turmoil. I thought that I was opening minds and sharing universal truths, but instead I was perpetuating the very same sickness which had left my young self burned and scarred, alone, frightened, and hopeless. I was creating my own exclusive club, where the religious were not only unacceptable, they were scorned and ostracized. Only now, instead of calling it religion, I called it anti-religion.
This beast of scorn takes on many names: Christian, Muslim, Mormon, Scientologist, Atheist, Catholic, Protestant, Baptist, Hindu, Shiite, or Sunni. People, burned and scorned, have hidden behind these titles; each spreading doubt, fear, and hatred about the other. Each claiming to have some sort of divine monopoly on the concept of connecting to what it is that each and every one of us possess: an infinite, eternal spirit with incredible capacity for unconditional love and connection to God.
The Great Spirit is much more vast and powerful than any one religion, list of spiritual practices, or philosophy could ever encompass. Because of this, spirituality (our divine connection to the Creative Source) must be practiced on a very unique and personal basis. One human being does not possess an exclusive right to decide how another individual ought to practice and experience their spirituality. One religious group or community does not possess this right. Be wary of any individual or philosophy that claims otherwise.
Call yourself Christian, call yourself Muslim, call yourself Atheist, call yourself Latter Day Saint, Scientologist, or spiritualist. Follow the suggestions of any prophet, sage, savior, or philosopher with whom you connect. But please, keep open your mind to the world of truths that are available to us. Pieces of truth are held by many different philosophies, communities, and individuals. Each piece is as real to the beholder as anything in this existence can be. I implore you to gather whatever it is that resonates with you. More importantly, allow others to exercise, express, and experience their individual spirituality as they feel fit, without judgement, pity, or shame.
Further, as you teach your child to express their unique spirituality, approach this subject from a place of absolute unconditional love. Allow them the freedom and the opportunity to explore various techniques and philosophies. Be open to the idea that they may choose something different than what you have chosen for yourself. Trust that in time they will make the decision that brings them to their greatest joy and fulfillment.
Most importantly, if your child chooses a path which looks different from your own, strive for love instead of pity, guilt, shame, or disappointment. It may also require a bit of patience, as building a spiritual practice seems to be a lifelong process. I assure you that there are as many unique, fulfilling, and correct spiritual practices on this Earth as there are individuals who have existed on it.
Unconditional love is the language of God. It is the only language understood by the spirit. Unconditional love has never been, nor will it ever be the exclusive right of one religion or spiritual philosophy. It is our divine right as individual expressions of the Creative Source to feel the immense power and peace that comes from the experience of unconditional love.
Fortunately, I have come through the turmoil and pain inflicted by, what were for me, unrealistic expectations imposed by a religion. I have been able to develop my own spiritual practice and rebuild my own relationship with God. Others may not be so fortunate.
In a time when suicide rates are higher than ever, especially among youth, mass violence is happening on an extreme scale, and people seem to be more disconnected and conflicting than ever, we must search for the similarities that we each possess, rather than focusing on the differences.
It is our divine right to maintain a relationship with God as we see fit. It can look any way that we desire! A personal relationship with Great Spirit is beautiful and powerful. This relationship may look as unique as the individuals within it. Today, within myself, I reclaim God!
Sending to you unconditional acceptance, gratitude, and love,
Your brother, Colter Wild Watson Dye