Recently I heard someone discuss about how his abuse did not prevent him from maintaining his strong faith in the Lord and his belief that not all priests are bad and that forgiveness is the key to peace.
I think everyone has a different viewpoint on how they feel about the church and its teachings and those that it employs. I for one grew up with the church literally in my back yard and without question believed what I was told. I believed in human nature, but viewed those who wore black vestments with reverential awe.
As I grew older, my belief system changed as did my life. Yet, as I made decisions, I based things on whether or not God would be pleased or if He would understand. And as life went on, and I began to come to what I would call my own relationship with a higher power, I indeed felt that I was not alone and could totally identify at times with the song, “Jesus Take the Wheel”.
I did, however, begin to question the rules. My oldest son was over a year old when I took him to get baptized. When I called to set up the baptism, I was firmly chastised by the priest who read me the riot act as to how dare I endanger my son’s soul by waiting so long….was I planning to raise him Catholic….did I even go to church….did I even care?
Ironically, I’m not sure if it was that priest, but one of the priests in that church is now in prison for child rape. And that man did baptize my youngest son.
In any case, as life went on, I began to question many things about my religion. Not my faith…..as I considered that a separate thing. Religion….that is a building, traditions, a congregation, prayers, songs, rules, priests, rabbis, etc.
Faith is the belief that there is a higher power. It is the belief that you are connected to that higher power. It is the belief in the power of prayer and intent and of something solid to hang onto when the ground is crumbling beneath you. It is my belief that we as humans need that feeling that we aren’t going through life without an invisible best friend or guide or savior.
But beliefs can also get complicated when buildings, traditions, people, rules and spiritual leaders become attached as one without question to our faith.
When you have been betrayed by your religion….that is, the physical manifestations of your faith….through sexual abuse and lies and cover-ups, it’s hard to know where to draw the line and find comfort. What do you hang onto when everything that has been a sure thing and something you can hang onto is now something that creates feelings of unworthiness and not belonging and physical issues like nausea and panic attacks?
For me, I have a serious trust issue when it comes to the church. Once I lived through seeing what a priest was allowed to do to a person and get away with, and then learned how widespread abuse is….I heard tonight four women for every child by a priest….I cannot go into the church and look at things the same way I used to. I question everything.
Are they visiting older folks out of sheer goodness or do they want to remind them to put the church in their will? Are the sacraments there to bless and guide us or to control us with fear of damnation if we don’t do as we are told? Is that priest molesting those children? The woman in the office? The man playing the music at mass? These thoughts go through my head now.
I guess it has helped that I always thought of myself a spiritual more than religious. I could never quote a bible verse by number, felt that it was nobody’s business but my own if I wanted to give my heart to Jesus, and once stirred up a prayer group by questioning why they thought that homosexuality was a sin if God created a person to be that way. Was it not more of a sin not to be as God created you to be?
So, being a bit of a rebel anyway, it is probably not surprising to note that one of the ways I found best for me in my search for healing is spirituality and searching for the soul’s truth. I have for many years been involved in Qi gong for balancing energy and also Tai Chi as well. Lately, I have gotten into meditation and connecting to spirit guides as well as Reiki…..the laying of hands.
This has helped me I think gain some wisdom and peace from the inside. This does not mean I am in any way healed. I have moments. Very dark moments aimed at myself. Those moments may always be there. But I do believe that meditation has helped to lessen some of the negative vibrations that have stuck to me like goose feathers on molasses throughout my life.
This is my spirituality. My Yada Yada Yada. My getting away from rules imposed upon me by men of questionable integrity and the belief that a building makes all who walk in there pure of heart. This is me getting back to my source, my light and my soul.
And the thought of needing to forgive becomes unnecessary and unimportant because my abuser is insignificant and not at all in control of my soul and its journey. His power is not given to him by God or any higher being. His is just an illusion of importance and power that vanishes like the Emperor’s New Clothes when the light of truth shines upon him.
The idea of forgiveness, for me, feels like an added weight on people who are already weighed down so much they are struggling to get up without another “should” placed upon their back. For me, I don’t think about my abuser as a person who needs my forgiveness. I look at the situation as one that needs to have a sufficient amount of anger behind it to fight against the injustice. That to me is more important. Self care and anger at a situation, not a person. Forgiveness is a religious concept and is something you are told you must do. I’m not a religious person anymore. I take away my spiritual beliefs and hopefully a healthier look at reality.