When I first had children, I can remember questioning my faith practices. I had long since given up on going to church finding the Catholic setting complete with Latin sermons incomprehensible and a tad intangible for someone like me. Fast forward years later with two small children in the house and immense social pressure to spiritualize them, I was once again compelled to chase God.
So we visited the local Baptist churches, full blown with fear based Fire and Brimstone preaching only to find that it left me empty. The faith community, welcoming at first began to seem pretentious and I was curious about how God would feel with the hypocrisy that was evident. Preachers sleeping with congregation members, other women who were friendly at church only to ignore me in other places and sermons that seemed to only be aimed at invoking fear to promote morality. Was this what I wanted to teach my children? Was the fear of burning in hell really all it took to make me a good person? I didn’t think so.
Despite the unsettling feelings left by a preacher who made me feel destined for hell, we continued to go. For the children of course. Then one day, either picking up on my own animosity toward fear based religion or their own, my children didn’t want to go anymore. They blamed it on the stuffy clothes with lace and pantyhose, and I took it at face value. So I was free once again to search for God through my own resources and spirit guide. Wings that had been clipped by rules and twisted laws were beginning to flutter again.
Life paraded on as it always does. Throughout the years, I researched the history of religion and acquainted myself with metaphysical schools of thought that revolved around energy, healing, and the ever abundant and loving spirit of God. There was nowhere to practice this sort of religion besides in the confines of my own home and mind; and that too felt right. It seemed like finally, in my chase to find God I was getting somewhere much closer to who He really was. At least for me.
Then came meditation, often irritatingly interrupted by the needs of a growing family. But I did find that when I was peaceful and when my mind was at ease, I could connect to something that felt much bigger than just me. I could feel a pulse in my veins that seemed to energize me and make me feel good about every decision, wise or not, that I had ever made. I could open my eyes to the future and know with a resounding faith that all was going to be well. I was simply headed towards the next best thing.
I knew that slowly but surely, the inkling that had been driving me to chase God for years was something real, and something certainly that is inside each and every person.
With freedom came choices. I no longer had to impress my children’s friends’ parents by going to a certain church. I no longer had to feel like a ‘less than’ because I wasn’t sending my kids to a summer revival or camp. I didn’t have to sit through blessings or prayers that had no real connection to who I was. I wondered if this was how the Pilgrims felt when they arrived in the New World. If so, it certainly would have been worth the trip, illnesses and deaths to be able to receive God in a way that felt both personal and inspirational all at the same time. And I truly believe that is how God wants it to be.
Far too often, women – and mothers especially are forced to accept and do things based simply on social expectations of what is deemed required by others. Most of us do this without thinking about the consequences it has on our souls and spirits. Then one day, we wake up realizing that chasing God doesn’t have to be like running through a haunted Halloween corn maze. He is with us the whole time. He doesn’t come to us through the lyrics of children laughing or while we sit in the neatly arranged pews in a church. He comes to us quite simply when we are ready and willing to accept him. And our form of acceptance CAN and SHOULD be personal. I have heard people say that you don’t have to attend church to reach God, that you can pray in a closet and he will come. I have to say I agree, because in the silence of our own minds, with wings now free to flutter – God IS everywhere. All it takes is the free will to find him in your own way.