Religion, Spirituality and Love

A Request: a moment of your indulgence, please, whilst I vent my current thoughts on religion and God. This is not meant to offend anyone or to say that anyone’s opinion is wrong. We are all on our own spiritual journey; I am simply expressing where I am in mine.

I don’t like the word “religious”. To me, it conjures up a stuffy, old world version of worship. It is, to my mind, more suited to medieval Italy than to today. Of course, if you identify with the word and it works for you, by all means use it. It just doesn’t sit well with me or gel with my personal beliefs.

“Spiritual”, on the other hand, doesn’t totally work for me either (although it is a decidedly better fit than “religious”). A part of me does associate the word with yogi’s chanting in meditation caves before their lunch of kale and bean sprouts – which is totally cool but just not very me. However, I do like the inclusiveness of the word. To say that you are a spiritual person could mean any number of things. It simply indicates that you have an interest in the divine, an interest in the possibility of God. It says nothing about how you choose to approach the subject of God or divinity – and that works for me.

I haven’t had the most traditional relationship with religion. I was brought up a Catholic by my very religious mother (religious is the word that she used to describe herself so I’m going with it here) but I was never particularly interested. I later became a Jehovah’s Witness – which is a whole other story – and eventually left that religion because of it’s controlling nature. I reached a point where I felt that it was taking me further away from God and the person that I wanted to be instead of closer to Him/it. Now, I’m not really anything. I don’t subscribe to any particular religion or religious theory. I am allowing myself to search for God in my own way and to decide what my relationship with the divine will be as an individual, not in a collective. Which brings me to my most recent thought process.

I truly want to believe that there is a being out there who is listening to our prayers, assigning us guardian angels and continually helping us on our journey through life. However, recently I’ve been wondering if I use my desire for that being has become too much of a crutch. I feel that I have allowed it to become a manifestation of my control issues (e.g. requesting specific outcomes or events in my prayers and then becoming frustrated when it doesn’t happen). Therefore, my current relationship with God or the Universe or whatever divine being is out there isn’t working.

Now, I still want there to be a divine being. I really do with all my heart. However, the way that I am relating to said being at the moment isn’t bringing me happiness or making me a better, more loving person – and isn’t that precisely the point of having a relationship with the divine? So, the other day I was thinking: what if there isn’t a God or a universal spirit or anything out there? What then? In that moment, a scripture (yes, a scripture from the Bible) popped into my head. Now, I don’t even own a copy of the Bible anymore but I used to read it avidly in my JW days. The scripture that came to me was 1 John 4:8, which simply states that “…God is love.”

And that is how my current philosophy hit me. If I am currently feeling disconnected with the big man in the sky theory then why not search for the divinity inside myself and work on that? Instead of focusing all my attentions on a God who I have been treating like a genie meant to grant my every wish, I can turn my focus inwards and seek out my own truth and light. That way, it’s ok if there isn’t a God and it’s wonderful if there is but I won’t reliant on the idea anymore. I will have attempted to cultivate my best self and to live my best life right now – and maybe I’ll even shake some of those control issues in the process. Right now, maybe God can literally just be love. My own love, for both myself and for those around me. Love is where divinity resides with us. Maybe I need to start embracing my own divinity and working on better expressing it instead of relying on someone or something else’s.

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