Sunday, December 14, 2014

In men we trust?

This year has been very enlightening for me in terms of my spirituality.
I've taken a huge step back in the "religion" aspect of my life to evaluate myself, my beliefs, and my relationship with God.
I've gone through a lot of painful experiences in the name of church and religion, but last year was a breaking point for me. It's interesting to read back through my posts and see how much stress, turmoil, and unnecessary heartache came into my life again and again. I think that even though I made it through each experience, every time I struggled and pulled myself up off the ground I was a bit more damaged. I moved forward each time more broken, licking my wounds and thinking that things would get better.
This year I've learned so much about myself. What makes me truly happy, and I've strengthened my personal relationship with God. I've removed myself from situations that are negative, toxic, or just plain harmful to me or my family. It has come with plenty of criticism and misunderstanding.
It hasn't been smooth sailing, and I'm still figuring out what works for me... but what I finally know is what DOESN'T work for me. Sure... it sucks sometimes, but it's such a better place to be.
Extended family situations have been tough for a few years now. In a family like mine with such a messed up history I know there is bound to be issues. I've never thought that things needed to be perfect, or even that everyone needed to get along. However, my family is so far beyond not seeing eye-to-eye or having differences. People are cruel, they hurt each other intentionally, it ranges from snarky rudeness to lengthy plots of manipulation and lies. I've learned that putting distance between myself and those family members is the best for everyone. I'm not good at pretending anyway... so being open and honest just gets me in trouble.
It's a similar situation with church. I thought that removing myself from that situation would be hard, but it has been so good! I have felt so much better about myself. I have been happier than I've been in a long time. I've realized how much of my life I've lived motivated by fear and guilt. I've realized how hard I've worked to please other people... people who can't be pleased, and people who don't matter. I haven't been doing things because I love the Lord, or because I want to live a life that makes my Maker proud of me.
I think the breaking point was at the end of last year. I was asked to pray about something... which I did. I poured my heart out to the Lord, went to the temple, fasted, and did everything I could to feel the spirit and come to a decision. When I was told that my personal revelation was wrong and my decision was incorrect I thought at the time I had no choice but to basically discredit my own spirituality.
As the next couple of months progressed and my life basically came crashing in on me I was forced to look at my situation and decide just how I got there... and how to never be there again. I felt helpless and not in control of my own life. I was hurt, angry, and confused. Not only was this situation somewhat familiar to me... it was forced upon me by a person who had "power" and "authority" he abused.
I have so many childhood memories of feeling the same way... helpless, bullied, and not in control of my life. As a kid, you don't really have a choice. If the people who are supposed to love and protect you decide not to do so... you really are stuck. I was abused by the hand of someone who told me it was because he loved me. It was tolerated and sadly "allowed" by others who had the power to stop it, but for many reasons felt out of control as well. My childhood felt like a trap. A trap I couldn't get out of. I made some very poor decisions trying to take that control back, but once I got that control back, I found that I actually have the capabilities to make my life pretty great! I look at where my life is now and realize that I've willingly given way too much control to other people in the name of "religion"... and not because I trust them, or love them... but because I'm told that I HAVE to.
If I put my faith and trust in the Lord instead of in people I don't have those feelings. It doesn't mean life isn't hard, or that tough decisions are easy. But, my life feels like mine again. I am motivated by love and happiness... not fear and guilt.
I am trying to separate what is truth and what is right for me from what is just familiar or what is culture. Stepping back and looking at things through a clear lens is helping me sort out what I really believe and what feels right in my heart. Taking my faith from people or men, regardless of their "power", and putting my faith back into God. Listening to my own personal revelation, knowing that God loves me unconditionally... and His acceptance is all that matters.
I have't felt this good in a REALLY long time. My family is happier and I feel SO much better about my life and the direction I am taking. I love to serve my family and friends. I love surrounding myself and my family with positive people who love us and want what is best for us. I appreciate supportive friends and my amazing husband. I'd be lying if I said it is easy... this culture I live in does not like people to express thoughts that are different than theirs. I've heard some pretty vicious rumors and people who were once "assigned" to be my friend have turned their backs on me. The nice thing is that since I'm not playing "the game" anymore... I hear things and it just makes me sad for them. Sad that they are living their lives the same way I did for so long. I can only hope that they find their own happiness or move to another target.
I pray that I can teach my children to develop their own personal relationship with God... and whatever that looks like for them. I want them to live a life that makes them happy and learn to stand up for themselves and the things they feel are right in their heart... even if it goes against those around them. My job is to protect them from bullies (both physical and spiritual) and teach them to protect themselves. I want them to be motivated by their love of God and appreciation for their Savior... and never feel forced into situations that harden their hearts or damage their spirits.

I read a great quote recently...
“The problem is that if we trust in man we are always let down. No, we shouldn't trust in man-- not ultimately. If we don't trust in man or God, we are in an awful lonely mess, too. You see, if we don't trust anyone, we live in fear, but if we trust in God, then we don't have to fear man anymore.”

I'm not sure if I can define my spirituality just yet, I think it will take a lot more time. But I know that if I trust in God and only God, my path will be the right one for me. I know that I will never allow myself to be in the damaging situation I was in a year ago and many times over the last years. Whatever this journey looks like, it will be what is right for me. If something doesn't feel right to me I will no longer just accept it. That's the beauty of being an adult... I am no longer at the mercy of someone's poor decisions! I don't have bitterness or anger in my heart... only thankfulness for the good I've received and things I've learned. I believe that everyone's journey is different, and we all need to do what is right for us. I often look back at my post called "messy roads" and think about the place I was in. As difficult as it may be... sometimes we have to chose happiness over acceptance.