The other night when I was at Rose's soccer practice, I overheard a couple of the other soccer moms discussing a book called The Shack. Their discussion went something like this:
Soccer Mom 1: Oh my goodness I couldn't put it down. And I'm not a reader! (Note: she had a different book in her hand as she was saying this to us. What does "not a reader" mean exactly?)
Soccer Mom 2: Well what about it was so good?
SM1: Sometimes I was laughing hysterically and sometimes I was just sobbing my head off. Its so cool because it sort of takes God out of the box, you know? I mean I know the God I grew up with and what my church told me. I don't know, this book really helped me to see God differently and not at all like the "God" I knew as a child. It really opened my eyes.
I stood there listening and I smiled to myself. I remember having that experience with a book called Conversations with God probably about 10 years ago. I'd been questioning my church since I was 12, much to the dismay of my priest!! This was the same priest from which I took my first communion and this was the priest who saw me every Sunday with my mom, sister and brother. I still remember our conversation about confession:
T: I guess I don't understand why I have to come to you to confess because it seems like I can talk to God myself.
Priest: (blank stare, mouth agape) That's just the way we've always done it here.
T: But why? It doesn't make sense to me. During my confirmation retreat, the teacher had us write our sins on a slip of paper and then we threw them into the fire to release ourselves from them. Doesn't that work too?
Priest: (grabbing a pen and paper) What was her name?!?
It was a frustrating time for me because I so longed to understand it. Something in me was insisting that God wasn't this horrible judgmental being to be afraid of and who only talked to priests. I had many conversations with friends who had similar questions. A few of my friends became self-proclaimed atheists as well. Perhaps 'atheism' should be redefined as a 'non belief in organized religion' rather than a 'non belief in God'. It seemed that the God we all knew didn't fit somehow.
I went straight from recovering Catholic into a practicing Bahá'í. Sure it was a huge leap for me but I suppose I needed something completely different before I could decide what was right for me. I went on to study Buddhism and the teachings of the Dalai Lama. I even looked into Kabbalah (thanks Madonna) and Hinduism through yoga. I was still struggling. I still had too many unanswered questions. I took from them what felt like truth and kept up my voracious search for more.
I have a very close friend who always seemed to point me in the right direction spiritually. We had differing paths (he was raised Methodist) and we always had stimulating spiritual conversations. It was through him that I first encountered Jonathan Livingston Seagull, The Road Less Traveled and No Man Is An Island. And it was through him that I was introduced to Conversations with God and finally, A Course in Miracles. All of these books have changed my life in some way. Throughout each of them, I have grown and created my own spirituality which fits me just fine.
We all have different paths and ideals that feel like truth to us. If you are in tune with your own truth, you will know what fits and what doesn't.
Still I can't help but remember the moment 10 years ago, in my bed with my husband watching TV, as I held Conversations with God, Book 1 in my shaking hands. I was crying, sobbing uncontrollably and my husband looked at me perplexed.
"I can't help it", I told him, "These are the answers I've been looking for since I was 12 years old!"
I thank GOD everyday for those books that helped me to get Him out of the box and into my life.
Inspiration is everywhere, isn't it?