By: Antonio Stephens, Wellness Coach
Our religious and faith-based beliefs shape so much of who we are and how we lead and carry out our lives. Many of us grew up with teachings spanning one or maybe a few religions – including Christianity and Judaism to name a few.
As society continues to move through its collective awakening, and we experience events such as the pandemic, damaging floods, wildfires and record-breaking hurricanes, more of our faith-based perceptions are shifting and being tested as we reckon with the concept of God – that which is unfathomable, one, source, brahman – and what we’ve been taught over the years.
I was born and raised Christian (Baptist). Growing up, I did everything that was asked of me to be a “Child of God.” I very quickly felt there was something off with what was being taught and what was deemed “right and wrong.” By the time I was 13 I realized that my sexuality was some sort of hindrance. I also felt unseen and not loved based on the teachings at the time – and to some degree still today.
This feeling of alienation drove me to challenge everything I’ve come to know and understand about the church. In fact, for a moment, I told myself I was an atheist and that this would be better than living in a blanket of shame, guilt and self-doubt created by Man.
For far too long, Man has used religion and God as a means to suppress and outcast certain minority communities and cause them harm. The consequence is something I myself and countless others have and continue to suffer today.
It’s much easier to do as we’re told and follow the rules that have been laid out to reach, have a conversation or get to sit with and experience the ever-present and loving being we call God.
Are you willing to explore the boundaries of your own mind to seek truth?
What I’ve found is that there is no one or right path to God and anyone that tells you otherwise, is a fool to believe so. There are many benefits to being part of a spiritual or religious community, but your connection stems from the depths of your own heart and your understanding of the life you’ve been granted and your experience here on earth.
Getting to Self
Religious practices and faith-based beliefs can help you identify and understand the divinity that sits within. We all possess it. Based on your learnings, how you practice and engage is up to you and should be unique to your lived experience. A church or religious institution is not the only place you can find God. God is ever present –- in me, you, that flower and the chaos of our melodrama – and can be experienced in the split second of a thought. Slow down. If you pay close attention, you’ll recognize that life is always speaking to you, and you’re always being tested.
Can you move your thoughts past earthly pleasures, desires and outcomes to sit in a place of true equanimity for the way things really are?
In the last two years, I’ve taken the time to explore mostly all religions; researching and reading historical texts and scriptures. I’ve come to realize that they all have their flaws, but what’s made the most sense and has stuck for me is Hinduism. I’ve enjoyed the philosophies, rituals, practical teachings and most importantly the fact that all religious or faith-based Gods are honored and included.
Embarking on this journey to truth has led me to my true self. The one unafraid to step into my authentic power to work out my Karma and live my Dharma to change and touch lives; leaving the world a better place from which I found it.
It’s Never too Late to Begin Your Quest
Don’t be afraid to question or go deeper. If you feel caged or stuck, your situation can change with inspired action. Put one foot in front of the other and continue to notice the space in between the fleeting moments. Trust your intuition and respond when life calls. Your divinity is unmatched – learn or continue to find more of who you are through your practice(s) and make the most of this life and your time here.
Thanks, and speak again soon. If this touched you, feel free to share the message with others. Happy Holidays.