Monday, November 22, 2010

Religion vs. Spirituality

For most of my life I had a very specific religious world view.  It colored everything that I thought and did, whether for good or ill; based largely on fear and obligation.  Of course I felt that I was living righteously: loving others, being charitable, etc.  I somehow managed to gloss over the fact that my religion only had room for one viewpoint (The Truth, you know!), and was more than a little bit judgmental for that very reason.

However, there came a point for me where everything came crashing down, and the only one left to pick up all those pieces was me.  I don't know what I expected:  Angels? Jesus?  "The Church" to come and pick me up and dust me off?  But none of that happened.  I felt shocked, disappointed, hurt, and dismayed.  Where was all of the love I had heard about for so long?

I was finally forced to take a long, hard look at not only WHAT I had believed for my whole life; but WHY.  And it turned out to be mainly because that was how I had been raised.  Not a good enough reason to maintain an entire world view!  It was time for some deep soul searching. 

As they say, when the student is ready, the teacher appears:  Enter my beloved Louise Hay, with her excellent book You Can Heal Your Life.  "Aunty Lou," as I am fond of calling her, dared to write that "Beliefs are nothing more than a thought - and a thought can be changed!"  With that simple, profound sentence, I heard the chains of my religion drop to the ground with a wondrous CLANK!, and I stepped out of the prison that I had made for myself. 

It took a great deal of courage to give voice to the doubts - and then to my new found freedom of thought, especially as I was (and still am) married to a man who remains devout to that same worldview that I no longer espouse.  In addition, the majority of my friends were also still quite happily entrenched in the same, with no desire to change and a great deal of dismay over my apparent "backslidden" state.  But, having taken the lid off that Belief Box, there is no getting back inside it!  My thoughts are now truly my own.  I am free from the need to judge others, instead seeing that all are on their own journey of self-discovery.  I am free to explore absolutely EVERY belief system, with no fear or obligations holding me back!  And let me tell you, the freedom is deeelicious.

Do I still believe in Jesus?  Absolutely.  Do I still believe in a literal interpretation of the  Bible?  Not on your life.  I view it now as part history, part metaphor.  A terrific guidebook, along with many others that have been left behind for us all to encourage healthy living.  HERESY, you say?  That's okay.  I can live with that.  I prefer thinking of myself as a soul pilgrim, a seeker of truth and proponent of love and wisdom; but if others have a need to protect their own worldview by pointing fingers and judging, it bears no reflection upon me. 

I wonder if any of you have come out of mainstream religion to find your own place in the world of spirituality?  Jesus was all about the love - and so am I.  I finally can truly say that I love my neighbor REGARDLESS of their own beliefs, and that I love myself.  I will do my best to love, serve, teach, and learn with the rest of the days that I am given on this beautiful planet. 

In summary, I have found that the difference between Religion and Spirituality can be summed up in this one precious word:  FREEDOM.

I give thanks in the knowledge that I am one with the eternal Divine Intelligence, always working within me to reveal wisdom, give me peace, and fill me with unconditional love.  And so it is!

-Rev. Jan

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Who Knew Weight Loss Could Be So Dangerous?

Namaste, my friends.  Thank you for taking time to join me once again.  This entry finds me continuing just a little more on my own journey so far, giving you a better idea of how I came to be Rev. Jan.

After the most difficult year of my life serving as a pastor's wife in small town Sk, I began letting go of a few things which were no longer working for me.  The headcovering was gone; the makeup was back; and THANK GOD so were the pants!!! Brrrr... have you ever tried -40 in a dress?  I'm sure my long-johns added to the mystique... and that all of the women in that small prairie town new that I did not belong there!  We beat a hasty retreat back to civilization, which in our case meant Calgary.  It was during that year that I also gave up homeschooling, which was truly a sacrifice for me.  I loved every minute of homeschooling my eldest daughter, and it was hard to let that time in my life end.  However, finances dictated that I had to start helping with the family income, and I decided the best way to do that was becoming a medical transcriptionist, so I could work from home. 

It was a lonely year, a good year, and a hard year.  Again.  But not nearly as hard as the preceding one, and we were a whole province closer to my hometown and beloved mother, which helped.  Sometimes I would look out at those beautiful Rocky Mountains and just send her my loving thoughts, carried away on those Chinook winds.  How I missed her, and longed to return to my native Okanagan Valley!

I completed my course.  My marriage continued to unravel.  Eventually, we made our way back to BC!  This was a very difficult task, though it could have been a simple one.  Suffice it to say, when our primary relationships are not doing well, all things suffer.  When we do not learn the easy way, we must learn the hard way.  And when tied on this planet legally and spiritually to another, we suffer right along with them if we are not strong enough.  I wasn't - but I was getting there. 

After a brief and nightmarish stint in the wrong part of BC, we eventually landed exactly where we were meant to - back in my home town!  I should have been ecstatic, and part of me was.  However, I had not had time to heal from the tumult and pain of the previous several years.  My emotional pain had lead me to unhealthy habits, for which there was a price.  On this particular day I was very happy and proud:  My dear mother was receiving the Governor General's Award!  Our family has never known such honor.  We gathered for pictures with the mayor, who was awarding that day.  Imagine my surprise when the photos came back and there was a great fat woman standing with her arm around my mother - wearing my outfit!  Imagine my horror when I looked closely and discovered that the great fat woman was me.  I was wearing all of the pain and stress that I had been carrying for the past decade or so. 

This actually turned out to be quite wonderful, as it prompted me to take immediate action by taking my weight loss seriously.  Within about a year I lost over 60 pounds, and went from a size 18 down to about a 4.  It was crazy!  I never looked so good!  And I managed to stay that size for a full 3 days.  But I digress...  Along with the weight loss came a true awakening of my spirit.  I gained confidence I had never felt before.  I had a sense of power that seemed foreign to me.  I began to realize, for the first time, that ANYTHING is possible if you are willing to do the work for it.  This was a huge paradigm shift for me.  I began to see that I deserved more happiness than I was receiving from my marriage - which lead to a whole heap of new problems.  I entered marriage counseling and started reading many, many self-help books.  It wasn't just the outer me that was changing - the inner me was awakening!  I felt vibrant!  I was itching to get off the sidelines and into the game for the first time in my life.  The only problem was, my significant other did not have the same desire.  What to do, what to do.

Now in case those changes weren't quite enough, our eldest daughter, my home-schooled pride and joy, had taken up with "the wrong crowd" in public school.  This was causing a great deal of upset and pain.  However, this was soon eclipsed by the failing health of our youngest daughter, who began having terrible stomach pains.  There were other symptoms which prompted me to take her to our doctor out of fears that she had diabetes.  The doctor assured me such was not the case, so my daughter went on suffering for another six months.  As her health deteriorated, she started falling asleep in class; was emotionally labile at home; and started losing her vision.  After countless trips to our own GP, docs at Walk-in Clinics, and even the ER of our local hospital, I finally found a doctor who listened to me and BINGO - we entered the terrifying world of life with a type 1 juvenile diabetic.  This on top of incredible financial strain and a marriage that was crumbling.  Aaah, life. 

This time was important to me spiritually, because it increasingly distanced me from the faith I had grown up with.  For the first time I was confronted with the possibility that the "God" I knew didn't exist.  This surpassed all of my other crises.  This was the one that shook me to the core.  And yet, I wasn't afraid.  I felt that the answer was there; just not in the form I had always thought it was.  Enter Louise Hay and her incredible work "You Can Heal Your Life."  My eyes were suddenly opened, and I saw that all was surely NOT lost; all was simply different than it had appeared to me before.

This is more than enough for today.  I believe you are getting a glimpse of what has lead me to the very place I am at today:  A place of peace and joy, a place of simplicity and trust.

I know that there is Universal Intelligence, and that I am part of it.  I delight in my ability to receive wisdom, healing, and joy from the Universe - and I do so now, with gratitude.  I release these grateful, powerful words, knowing that I have already received what I need.  And so it is!

Rev. Jan

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Virgin Blogger

Phew!  Who knew it could be so daunting to set up something as simple as a blog?  Maybe I should have titled this blog "Technically Challenged!" And yet... here you are, reading my writings!  Amazing the age that we live in, my friend.

As a newly ordained minister with the University of Metaphysics, and as a Soul Pilgrim myself, I welcome you to join me on my journey of discovering what this life is all about.  I can assure you that I don't have all the answers.  Heck, I don't even have all the questions!  But I have learned a thing or two during my lifetime on this planet, and it would be my pleasure to share that knowledge with you.  Live, laugh, and learn with me!

I have been employed as a medical transcriptionist (that's a stenographer, for you old timers) for the past five years or so.  I've always been intrigued by the human body, but didn't quite feel up to spending all the time and money required for medical school - so typing out medical reports seemed like the next best thing!  In addition to now knowing more than I'd ever wanted about all things icky relating to the human body, I have become increasingly fascinated by our body's ability to heal itself!  Thus began my journey into the realm of metaphysics.

I grew up as a born-again Christian of the Pentecostal variety.  Attending church on Sundays was nonnegotiable.  While there were many positive things about this upbringing, it hardly left me wide open to dialogue with those who had religious views differing from my own.  In a word:  DOGMA.  It dragged me down.  I now feel that a great deal of who I truly am was hijacked and stuffed into an ill-fitting package for so many years.  I was certainly devoted, including going ultraconservative for a number of years.  This involved getting rid of all jewelry (didn't even wear my wedding ring), makeup, pants; and perhaps most radical of all, donning a "head covering" for a few years, too.   No one forced me to do those things; I felt it was the logical next step in my journey of faith.  I believed what I believed so strongly, I did not want there to be any doubt in the minds of those who saw me as to whether I was pious or not.  It has been pointed out to me since that I do tend to be a rather "all or nothing" type of gal...

I will say, my friends and family were exceedingly gracious whilst I took this little spiritual detour.  I am sure some of them were scared to death, wondering what sort of cult I had joined!  In fact, I took to referring to myself as a "Mennocostal," which sounded more human than a "Pentonite."  My poor husband!  Look up longsuffering, and you will find his picture, for more reasons than one!

At any rate, after spending several years with my husband while he attended a conservative Bible College, it was time for us to step into ministry, pastoring a small church in a very small Canadian town.  More of a village, actually.  Quite a change for this city gal, I assure you!  And what a miserable year it was.  It turned out to be a pivotal one in my life, however; and for that, I am grateful.  During that very difficult, lonely, thankless year as a pastor's wife, a number of calamities took place in my family of origin.  This caused me to look harder than I'd ever wanted to at what I believed, and why I clung to it so tenaciously.  Another very important step on my spiritual journey, to be sure!

Well, that's enough for this introduction. I am so pleased that you've joined me, and I hope you come again!  It is my intention to publish at least once weekly on this blog.  Let us reflect, learn, and grow together!

This I know:  God is love, and I am ONE with God.  All that I need to know is already inside of me, as part of my communion with God.  I am growing in wisdom every day, even as I grow in love.  For this I am thankful.  I release these powerful words back into the Universe, knowing that it is already so.  And so it is.