Wait– I get to decide what I believe? A journey to spirituality and freedom.

The girl was raised in a loosely Christian household. She went to church with her family as a child, went to Sunday school, participated in Christmas plays, and prayed. She never felt hate in her childhood church, and to this day, this church holds a special place in her heart. She sold painted rocks to the pastor, used to run away from home and go to the playground behind the church. It was always a place she felt welcome.

Sometime around the time her parents separated, they stopped going to church. The girl participated in youth bible study with a friend and their church, but this was mostly to spend time with her friend. During the summers, she went to stay with her aunt and uncle. They were devout and went to church every Sunday, prayed before every meal, spent mornings in bed reading the bible to each other. She wanted to please them and be as happy as they were.

At the age of 14 or so, she got baptized in her aunt and uncle’s church. She loved her aunt and uncle and always wanted to make them happy and fit in–her uncle being the closest she had known to a real father. It was around this time, however, that the girl was coming to accept that she was not straight. She had kissed a girl earlier that year and it awoke in her something that she couldn’t ignore. She had always been attracted to women, but this was the first time she had acted upon it, and she loved it.

That very same summer, while in the car with her aunt and uncle, her view on organized religion changed forever. The news was discussing prop 8 in California–a proposition to ban same-sex marriage. She was young and didn’t fully understand what it was about. But the words that followed changed her life forever. Her uncle, the only father-figure she’d ever truly loved, stated “all gays should be stoned to death.” He claimed the bible condemned gays and they should all die.

Her world shattered.

She had just lain with a woman, a capital offense worthy of a brutal death according to her uncle–the man she loved and respected most in her life. That day led her down a path of rebellion against all things spiritual for the next 12 years. Her relationship with her uncle was broken, she could never trust him fully again. How could she when she knew he believed she should be murdered for her “sins?”

She lost all faith. She was alone in the darkness.

She lived her life detesting the word “God” and mocking all who believed in such a hateful deity. She refused to believe in anything greater than herself. We lived our lives on this Earth, and when we died, we all rotted in the Earth. There was no greater purpose.

12 years later, after years of self-hatred and self-abuse, she entered the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous. She had detested the thought of ever going to these people because she saw them as bible-thumping and delusional. She had been down the road of religion before and it had only left her feeling more broken and alone than before. It was better to be alone in the world than hated.

Her world had collapsed on her. A few years of heavy drinking was all it took for the girl to be desperate enough to try anything. She was convinced by her mother and therapist to attend just one AA meeting. Just one and, if it wasn’t for her, she never had to go again.

She attended at women’s meeting. Shaking, scared to admit to strangers that she had a problem, she sat in her car waiting for the building to be unlocked. She almost left–but she didn’t. She went in to that meeting and her life changed forever.

She learned the AA wasn’t about following the bible. That the “God” in the literature could be whatever she believed. One woman told her it could stand for “Good Orderly Direction,” another said “Group Of Drunks.” All that mattered is she believed in something greater than herself. This sparked a spiritual awakening for the girl.

What did she believe? What did her higher power look like? She began thinking of what she believed. She believed in a life force that influenced all on earth. The Universe, she began to call it. It didn’t care about each individual, more like it had a set of natural rules and when followed, there was less chaos. When you went against those natural rules, the universe would seek to correct it.

"she stopped fighting the natural flow of life"
paddleboard on river

She stopped fighting the natural flow of life–instead exploring different ways to feel connected to the pulse of the world around her. She began meditating, drawing, spending time sitting in nature. She opened her mind to the bigger picture.

She started getting signs that she was on the right path. Things started working out for her. She felt at peace. She started loving herself. She started trusting that she was finally on the right path. She followed her dreams, did what she felt compelled to do. She took spontaneous trips, apologetically did what was right for herself. She was kind, but she was not a doormat anymore.

While her spiritual practices are still growing, she had found many things that worked for her. She didn’t care if others believed her–all that mattered was that she believed. She surrounded herself with healing crystal, meditative tools, learned about different religions to find common threads, and listened to what the universe told her each day. She learned to trust her intuition. She healed.

"she felt at peace"
milky way galaxy stars

It didn’t matter what others believed. All that mattered is that she believed in something greater than herself. That belief would lead her to take risks she would have never dreamed of–to become the very best version of herself. To show up as her authentic self and not be afraid of being disliked. She as a child of the universe and she had a purpose. She mattered.

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