An Odyssey of Faith

“You are how you act, not just how you believe”-Mitch Albom, Have a Little Faith

This quote struck a nerve in me. We as a society have awakened and progressed socially in various aspects during my lifetime alone. Still, I must wonder, how many of us truly act in the manner in which we believe

I believe in equality for all. I believe we are all created equal. The strong, weak, intellects, athletes, every creed, race and kind known on earth.  Equality. Then I find myself acting otherwise. I don’t judge based on one’s social status or choices, but I do judge.  I have gossiped, I have found myself engaged in conversation that is unbecoming at best.  I certainly have been judgmental for no warranted reason.  I paint myself in one light and have found that I may be looking at myself through a lens of obscurity.

I set out on a spiritual journey of sorts this year. I find a need, a calling to not only understand my faith, but to adhere it to my daily living. I was not baptized nor was I brought up in a family that attended church regularly. My step-father insisted on Christmas Eve candle-lit service every year and that was the most diligence exemplified regarding the church in my upbringing. I have attended our local churches and sought counsel from a few pastors. I have listened to sermons that touched me and others that have flown over my head with their reference to biblical verse. I have been offered every kindness and acceptance within our local parishes and still have yet to find where I feel I belong. Could it be that I don’t belong in a house of the Lord, or that I simply refuse to adhere to the discipline it would require? I feel it is ostensibly the latter.

I read recently that religion is more than faith, it’s ritual also. Not only weekly worship, but morning prayer, evening prayer, fasting, communion, whatever ones denomination practices. I assuredly do not apply these to my life on a daily, weekly or even yearly basis so how is it that I cast a shadow of judgement on those that do attend worship weekly? I have peered down my nose and labeled others as six-day sinners and a one-day saint, when really those that I am referring to are taking the initiative to be present in their faith, at least weekly.

Society is now inflicted with the information age, we hide behind computer screens, tablets and phones. We check-in with our social media daily but not our God. We make and take time to scan our Facebook and Twitter feeds but not the time to say Grace before a meal. Is it that we no longer have faith, or have we as a society become idle in our conviction of faith?

When did worship become embarrassing? When did we decide it uncool to share our spiritual idealism with others and seek guidance from our neighbors? Did we get so busy in our laziness that we cast God aside? Have we become such an indifferent society that we find our social media a more necessary activity than participating in our faith?

I do not have any of the answers to my own questions, I am just another roving soul seeking security and love from my God. I will continue in my quest for a place of worship, I may have already found it and must simply apply myself in showing up. I will hope for understanding from others and I will practice returning the kindnesses and considerations I have been blessed with.

I urge all to take a moment to acknowledge the correlation between ones beliefs and actions. Our beliefs are what makes us who we want to be, our actions make us who we are.

Caught and Released

Have you ever felt trapped in your own existence? Paralyzed by your own intellect? They say when you know better you do better, but what if you don’t? What if you know better and still you stay true to the darkness. Prisoner to the obscurity of your mind.

I have lived nearly 40 years and only in the last year did I take the time to discover my crippling anxieties. The revelation of my own anxiety came to me after a near break-down brought on by my own actions.  I spoke of my disbelief towards anxiety for years, told those suffering that I just didn’t get it. Denial? At it’s finest.

Only now am I discovering that anxiety creeps into every facet of my life. Not only in my adult self, but I can recognize its presence existed in my youth. How is it that this quandary eluded my consciousness for so long? Simple. I allowed it. I allowed it to fester and flourish without worry of its inevitable rupture, hurling my realities into oblivion.

In the last year I have seen the murky depths of depression and anxiety. They gripped me and I succumbed to their clutches. I cared not for the love that was offered me, the patience displayed by loved ones. I wallowed and lingered in sadness, despair and fear. Even though I was fully responsible for ending up where was at that point I still couldn’t accept or voice aloud the disappointment I felt in myself. I believe this is what awakened my anxieties and allowed them the fuel to develop into the colossal villain they became.

I couldn’t leave my home, couldn’t breathe without a paper bag to decelerate my breaths. I found myself checking and re checking my bag as I left the house or office. Did I turn everything off? I over-analyzed conversations on the daily. Did I say something wrong? Did I talk too much? Not enough? I broke out in hives, my vision blurred.  I was destroying my family one moment at a time. I couldn’t see the selfishness they saw, couldn’t take any form of criticism, couldn’t see any good in the world. All I saw was dark. All I felt was shame, the depths of which knew no end. No end at all.

My antidepressants at this time decided to send me on a roller-coaster thrill ride. They stopped working which thrust me into a premature withdrawal. There was dizziness, loss of appetite, a feeling of numbness, bouts of sobbing that lasted for days, weeks. I was losing will to survive, succumbing to my own demise. My instincts gripped my psyche and instructed to detach. I was no longer capable of reason, I was believing all hope had disappeared. My purpose had been removed from my life.

I looked for God, and to be completely honest, believed Him to have forsaken me. I was completely rejecting the idea that I was responsible for my own free will. Where I was standing at that point in time was a direct result of choices I had made, choices only I was responsible for. God had not forsaken me, He just couldn’t help me until I was ready to help myself.

Without support I wouldn’t be writing this today. I don’t believe I wouldn’t be here, just that I wouldn’t have the secure footing I feel I am attaining now. Anxiety is with me, always has been I now realize and knowing is controlling for me. I am unable of preventing the attacks entirely, but now I can see them for what they are. I am beginning the tedious work of self-acceptance and allowing myself to forgive my past mistakes. Everyday I try to be an improved version of myself and some days, I fail this miserably. Some days I am angry for no apparent reason, some days I succumb to my tears.

We are, all of us, flawed individuals. We have all experienced, to some extent, indiscretions and lapse of good judgement. In this we are all alike. The same and altogether contrasting at the same time. Where one errs, another flourishes and where one is weak, another is stable. Those of us that are broken often recognize that healing must come forth from within.

I’m ascending from the bottom and have only up to travel. I’ve seen the bedrock of my soul and wish to never return. I must make conscious efforts daily to be kind, patient and humble. I own my faults, recognize my deceptions and have sought forgiveness from those I’ve mistreated. I cannot undo my wrongdoings, they are my reminders of a past I left behind. I can only move forward, however slowly and greet my future with a renewed hope of acceptance.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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