do I believe deeply enough?

St Zephyrinus became Pope in 202 a.d. and was martyred in 217 a.d. defending his belief in the Divinity of Jesus Christ. As I read his story last evening I wondered just how strong my belief system is. Do I believe deeply enough, strongly enough to suffer for it?

Around the world, every minute of the day persecution for one’s religious belief goes on; it is not isolated to one particular faith but runs the spectrum of all faiths and even to those who don’t believe in God. Why must we strive against each other so? Do we hate ourselves so much that we feel compelled to attack any person or group who doesn’t believe the way we do, think what we think and look like we look?

The big answer is yes. We aren’t in the Garden any more, nor have we been there for millenia. Humans as a race are not designed to get along. We come pre-built with petty jealousies and angers, passions and desires to be companionable for any length of time. We have to learn to get along, concede our own point of view willingly, or have it beaten/terrorized out of us – both as a larger group and as individuals.

The small answer is no. Once I realize I’m not in the Garden any more, meaning I realize I am responsible for my own in/action I have a choice…to get along with others in spite of their faith, their color, their country, their gender. To persecute or not is a question I must ask myself each day. To quietly accept persecution from others is also a question I have to ask and answer each day.

Is my belief in a Loving, Benevolent God strong enough to stand up against persecution? Is my faith in God big enough and strong enough to not persecute others who believe differently? Those are questions whose answer is fluid but I pray I will always be able to answer yes to both.

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What if a woman trusted her own tears enough to listen to them,
make real changes in her individual schedule….
What if she trusted her anger, her irritation, her illness, even her depression,
as signs that her own life was calling to her?
Judith Duerk, Circle of Stones, Woman’s Journey to Herself

What would happen if I trusted myself? What would happen in my life if I even liked myself? How much would I change? Would I be so hard on myself? Would I continue to take the blame for everything that goes wrong in the world, in my partner’s world, in my family’s world or even in my work world? Would I finally be at peace?

I try to listen to my body but I am not always successful. In fact, I am more unsuccessful than not. Growing up not trusting myself, not trusting my body or even what my head and heart were telling me, has led to the great big bowl of mess I am right now. It is hard to trust myself let alone anyone else.

But, I must try. Little by little I inch forward on the trust spectrum. I try not to look at how far I must go in my lifetime, only how much further I need to go right now, in this moment, in this day. I am learning that when I am upset by a seemingly meaningless event or comment I need to check in with myself and find out why that incident rattle me so badly. I may not learn anything new but in checking in I am learning to trust myself when something sets off the alarms in my head.

The other day at work I tried to transfer a call to three different people, anyone of who could help the person better than I could. The last attempt resulted in me arguing with the person on the other end of the phone and I had to help the person who called anyway and against my will, “because its’ your job” is what I was told. I was in tears. And it is my job to help customers to the best of my ability.

I reacted badly to the whole situation. I checked in with myself, asking, “Why did I get so upset about such a minor thing? Why was I reduced to tears?” I had no answer at that moment – something about being so wrung out that I would not have been able to hear God even if He came and stood in front of me.

Now, a day or so later, I know it has something to do with my male parental unit and how I was treated by him. I still don’t know what specifically and I may never know, but at least now I know a source and I am learning to trust myself that when I react badly to a mundane situation, something is going on. And until I am willing to expose that wound to the healing breath of God I will be forever trapped in my own misery. What if I trusted my bad reactions to normal problems signaled a need for healing? What if I trusted God with that healing?


conditioned to be more

What if woman were to allow herself to trust her own unhappiness and to make life changes – changes that would allow time and place for her to experience her life as it lives itself out slowly, moment by moment? To allow herself time and place to be present to her own burning fire, the water springing from the rock of her own experience…to allow herself to leave behind the jet plane, the express lane, and simply to be, there, for a moment, present to her own life?

Judith Duerk, Circle of Stones, Woman’s Journey to Herself

            Women are conditioned from birth to be more than men but not to show it to anyone. Women must take care of the children, the house, whatever other job she has to take on because the pocketbook or society demands it, her male partner’s needs and never, ever, ever put herself first. If she stands up for herself, she is aggressive and labeled a b****. Women have been so degraded throughout the eons of time – in both Western and Near/Far Eastern cultures, she degrades herself and her sisters. Is there any release? Is there any hope for women?

            The refuge of women is the refuge of man as well: God. But even there, in Him, women are conditioned to think of God as male. To think otherwise is blasphemy – at least to the male-dominated religions.

            God is neither male nor female; God is neither black or white or any color/ethnicity in between; God is not Christian, Catholic, Buddhist, Muslim nor any other faith any person or society can dream up. God is none of those things – He or She or It is Spirit – a Being that encompasses all those things and more. God is Indefinable in God’s Totality. As mere humans we are unable to comprehend the full Majesty of God. But that doesn’t mean we can’t try.

            And to try means we open up ourselves to the possibility that God is more than what we think or perceive. We also need to open ourselves up to the possibility that women are more – way more – than we give them credit for. And if we want balance in our lives, we open up our hearts to the women around us and give them space to be who and what they want to be and to not criticize them for it. After all, God is as much female as He/She/It is male as well as everything thing in between.

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