Bars and Bonds: Believing When There’s No Light

Last year when I attempted the Pagan Blog Project, I started half way through the year and I attempted to do a “catch up.”  I planned out every week from A to Z and then started writing.  Somewhere around F, I stopped.  This year, rather than planning everything out in advanced, I’m going to let my weekly experiences dictate to me my writing.  It’s forcing me to see the spiritual in my every day life and really take hold of those times that the Gods are working in my life.

One of my New Years Resolutions last year was to “Get Back To the Gods.”  I had felt a sort of spiritual crater in my life, and I wanted to fix it.  I wanted to fill it with the love I knew was out there waiting for me to realize it.  When I started to examine what my problem was, I realized something very quickly: the crater was created by pain and anger that was associated with my spiritual past.  I wasn’t able to fully let go of it because I hadn’t fully forgiven it yet.

When I was growing up, I went to a fairly average sized Presbyterian, U.S.A. Church.  My family took me to Sunday school every week, and we went to services right after.  We were there for Easter and Christmas Eve and all the other big events.  It wasn’t something my parents really brought home with them, and when I got into late middle-school, they stopped going all together.  (At the time, I didn’t really know why.  I later found out the minister was talking a great deal about giving money to the church rather than being a good Christian, and my parents didn’t like that.)  I continued to go with a family friend who would pick me up.

When I got into high school, I was in church multiple times a week with friends at various places.  I would go to Wednesday and Thursday services at two different places, but always went to my PUSA Church on Sundays.  I started to realize that I didn’t really fit in there, and then in my sophomore year of high school I realized why: I was gay.

After that realization, I found myself with about one-forth of the friends I started with and zero of the churches I had gone to.  I had one friend even tell me that she didn’t want to be seen as gay because she was hanging out with me.  At the time, that really hurt, but now I realize it was just a product of the time.

But the church, which was supposed to be so loving and accepting and supporting, was what really hurt.  It took me a lot longer to get over that.  In fact, it took me until last year to really get over it.  I had thought I was, but all I was really doing was repressing the hurt emotions I felt over the betrayal I experienced.

And then I met this girl, and she completely transformed my life in ways she’s probably very unaware.  I told her about my spiritual journey, she invited me to Jubilee Community Church.  I did some research, and I was really skeptical.  This place taught The Bible.  Yeah, they looked interesting, but it’s Christian.  I’m not Christian and they’re NOT going to be okay with that.welcomeB

But we went, and the first time was “okay.”  I try to not judge a book by its cover, so I told Erin (this girl I’d met) that I would give it a second chance.  It was one of the next services we attended where Howard Hanger, the minister, was telling the story of Joshua saying, “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”

Joshua 24:15 (ESV) says, “And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”

Howard Hanger taught this verse not from a “You should pick the Christian God” but from a “You need to pick something.”  He talked about the beauty of religious pluralism and how even Jesus knew he wasn’t for everyone (because if he had been for everyone, there would have been no one left to arrest him.)  Howard said, “Doesn’t it seem, then, that there has to be differences for something greater to come to fruition?”

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And I think it was at that moment when I forgave my Christian past for all the pain and hurt and started seeing Jesus for who he really was, and not who the Church has turned him into.

Now, that seems like a lot of background information for a post that’s supposed to be about belief, right?

As part of my Kemetic Faith, I believe that all Gods and Goddesses are aspects of The One.  This affords me an ability to learn of other spiritual truths from other paths incorporate them into my faith practice.  I don’t think it makes me “eclectic,” and I don’t think it makes me any less my denomination of Kemetic.  After all, I’m fairly certain that the only two people who are Independent Family Reformed Kemetics are myself and Erin (that girl I’d met who’s now my partner).

I love that my faith relies so heavily on experiences rather than blindness of others stories.  We have our myths, but we don’t believe they’re real or “actually legitimately happened.”  We see them more as fables or stories with morals about the greatness of the Gods and they’re power and they’re ability to work greatness in your lives.  You aren’t expected to have faith without first experiencing it.

There’s a Christian teaching about giving all things up to God, who will take care of you (Psalms 55:22, Philippians 4:6-7, ESV).  A few weeks ago, I read a blog by someone who summed up this idea fairly nicely.  It make the rounds all over Facebook, so maybe you’ve seen it too.  It’s called, “God Will Give You More Than You Can Handle: I Guarantee It.” Kayla talks about how God will give you more than you can handle, even though the old saying says he won’t.  The idea isn’t to suffer in loneliness and silence, but to give it all over to God and he’ll keep you safe and take care of you and help you through it.  It’s like a test of faith.

But I want to take that one step further and say maybe it’s not so much a test of faith but a chance to gain experience in the power of the One.  The Netjeru (Gods) are constantly working in the world around us.

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Their faces (and by faces, I mean the different aspects of the One.) are always working around us and in us and through us in whatever it is that we do.  Some of us are more aware of it than others, but it’s there.  It’s happening.  There are times, though, when we may not necessarily realize that this is happening and the Gods feel we need a “reminder.”

This entire blog was inspired by another B-word Pagan Blog Project Post over at The Grumpy Druid titled simply “Belief.”  The post caught my eye because it started out by saying, “Believe it or not, I consider myself a skeptic.”

Anthony defines belief by saying, “When people talk about ‘belief’, they usually mean ‘faith’ and ‘faith’ to me means accepting a fact without proof.”  He then goes into explain how his beliefs are a working model based on his experiences, which I love.  I wish everyone was like this.

But I wanted to expand a little bit on the idea of faith.  My definition of belief is having knowledge about the workings of the divine in my life based on my experiences, which is pretty much the same idea as Anthony.  Faith is continuing to hold on to my beliefs even when my experiences aren’t always working in my favor.

We all have times when we feel like we’re trapped behind bars or bound into a course of action without any escape.  It’s in those times when we gain experiences of the working divine through our faith.

In our ever day life, we tend to take things we never think about for granted.  Did you wake up in good health today?  Did you make it safely to work?  What about to lunch?  Or home from work?  Have you ever done something repeatedly foolish and managed to get away with it each time?  Think about every moment of your day when something could go wrong and it didn’t.  We have so much to be thankful for and those are times when the divine are working in our lives.  We almost never see them.

It’s my belief that the Gods send us little reminders: Oh, you’ve been speeding and getting away with it for awhile now… Here’s a traffic ticket.  It could have been worse.  You could have killed someone, but you didn’t.  Maybe you were going to but the cop that pulled you over was working under divine influence (because, let’s face it, everything is) and saved your life and someone elses.

To think the Gods have limits and aren’t working in your life right now is to put limitations on the Gods.  I’m not willing to do that (mainly because they’re, you know, Gods).  My spiritual belief comes from experiences of when I felt like I was in jail, realized how lucky I’d been in times past, and being extremely, extremely thankful that things could have been worse but weren’t.  My faith comes from knowing that those experiences will continue in the future and that the Gods will always, always be there… Working in my life.

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Posted on January 22, 2014, in Belief, Faith, Kemeticism, Pagan Blog Project, Paganism, PBP, Religion, Spirituality and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. What a lovely essay. I really enjoyed it. If I had known a bishop in my church like the minister you described in this essay, I might still be in some form of Christianity today. Probably not. Well, maybe, lol

    But thanks for sharing! I always enjoy hearing from a fellow in the pagan blogoshphere who appreciates nuance in his or her spirituality.

  2. Interesting story of your journey. I do “like” your understanding that faith/belief comes often through experience of your own rather than blind faith based on other people’s stories.

  1. Pingback: Favorite “B” PBP Posts | The Lefthander's Path

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