I had forsaken all priests. . . and those called the most experienced people; for I saw that there was none among them all that could speak to my condition. George Fox founder of The Religious Society of Friends
My parents took my two older brothers and my younger sister to church and Sunday school every week. I went to summer church camp a couple of times and was confirmed.
I never really took to church.
Over several generations of my adult life, I tried church again, several times. I felt disappointed in my experiences and left.
Church, religion and religious leaders didn’t often “speak to my condition.”
In 1974 I spent a month in an alcohol treatment center. I’ve been chemical free for almost 41 years now. Treatment was a spiritual encounter—one of the most enlarging experiences of my life. I connected with fellow suffers and had a powerful experience of love and community. The Twelve Steps of AA discuss a higher power. I thought about my higher power. I realized that I prayed to the traditional God of my youth throughout my adult life–church or no church.
No one knows if God exists or if we have consciousness after death. Part of me believes in God. I continue to pray. But I have doubts. My relationship with God can be contentious at times as I struggle to understand how an all-powerful God can allow such evil and suffering in our world. Injustice and unfairness cause me to believe that God, if real, does not intervene in our lives so I don’t ask for things in my prayers. Instead I pray for strength, wisdom and courage. But on occasion the urge feels so strong that I ask for outcomes too.
Like George Fox, I don’t look to outside authorities for guidance. I follow no religion. I am my own learning laboratory. If God guides me, his direction and voice come from within me–from my deepest authenticity. But who can know for sure whose voice I hear?
I was born with consciousness. I can ponder my purpose in life, the values that I live my life by and I can imagine and create visions for my life. I can reflect on my experiences and learn and adapt from them. I strive to know and understand myself and to live true to my best self. I demonstrate my faith when I live my values and purpose even when times are uncertain and difficult. My belief in God is strongest when I am in nature and see her wonder and amazement.
I respect the beliefs and choices of people to take their own spiritual journeys and to express their beliefs in their own ways. I feel contempt for those who use religion to justify their evil deeds and stupid beliefs.
I can see, know and understand so little.
My spiritual journey continues.