Religion. A very contentious topic these days. Discussions about religious beliefs can escalate quickly into polarizing viewpoints. Ironic that many religions have peace as a central tenet, and yet so many adherents are unable to find true peace within themselves, or with a difficult neighbor, or with someone of a different faith. Of course, many believers do find peace through their beliefs and their faith.
Me? Not so much. The religious upbringing I had, (and I bless the hearts of those who gave of themselves in the process), taught me way too much about shame and guilt and being defective, and I tried to work with that for a really long time. Finally, I decided that I had had enough shame and guilt and feelings of being defective. And, as the boys of REM sang (with a slightly different meaning), I’m losing my religion. In place of it, I am finding peace.
For years I’ve thought that if you put these two tenets of Christianity together:
1. Man is created in the image of God, and
2. Jesus came to pay the price for the sins of mankind, thereby restoring us to God,
then voila, we could see ourselves as magnificent, beautiful, sufficient.
Strangely enough, I never heard that idea shared in any of the, what, 50 churches I’ve been in, or the multiple camp settings, or the hundreds of Bible studies and groups and meetings. The main message I heard in every one of those places was “YOU ARE NOT ENOUGH.” If it wasn’t that we weren’t praying enough, then we weren’t giving enough, or we weren’t humble enough, or possibly we weren’t grateful enough, not generous enough. Not enough prayer. Not enough.
I’m leaving behind the guilt and shame, and gaining accepting myself, seeing myself as enough, focusing on what IS working instead of what isn’t working.
I’m leaving behind the either/or, and I’m gaining both/and with more enthusiasm, which in turn empowers me to genuinely accept others, and be open to all kinds of people and ideas.
I’m leaving behind the us/them mentality, and I’m gaining a great big YES to all kinds of people with all kinds of beliefs.
I’m leaving behind the Thou Shalt Nots, and I’m gaining a peace and freedom in acting in integrity with my beliefs.
|photo credit: Lottie Nevin|
Most of all I’m leaving behind the idea that I am not enough, and I’m gaining the most marvelous gracious compassion which naturally flows both inward and outward.
What about your experience? What do you think about the phrase, “I am enough?”