A glimpse into my “spiritual” journey. For lack of a better word.

I have memories from when I was very young (3 or so), being in a united pentecostal church and seeing a vision of while I was sleeping on a pew in church. The women were praying to cast out a demon from a man at the front of the church and I saw a man leave this man’s body and the women follow him all the way outside while they were “casting him out” and caused him to leave. I asked my mom about it later and she had no idea what I was talking about.
 
At about 5 years old, my mom and father got a divorce and my mom “backslid”. fast forward to age 13. On my 13th birthday party I had a few friends over and we got drunk, watched “thriller” on the television and looked at porn mags (pretty normal, I think). Sometime after that, before my next birthday, my step dad woke me and my step siblings up (they were visiting for the summer) and said we were going to church. He was not a good man (as far as most people would judge) so this was crazy talk to us. We had no idea what was going on. He had no idea where we were going, just that we were going to church. We ended up going all the way through town and parked in the parking lot of a united pentecostal church. My mom knew what it was and told him that he probably didn’t know what he was getting into. Of course, because of the way this all happened, my mom and step dad felt it a sign from god and later I did too.

So, from about age 13 until about age 35, I was in religion in some way or another. Some time around age 24 or so I became fully vested in my desire to please “god” and went all in. My life went from knowing and practicing what was told to me as the truth to trying to find the truth for myself and studying to find that truth. I spent the next 10 – 11 years fasting often, praying three or more times everyday, looking at life through a different set of eyes than most will ever find. I would be considered a radical by most outside of the united pentecostal and considered a good god fearing man by those in the religion.

During my life living in religion of some sort or another, I experienced many things that would make most people never question their faith and indeed, I never did. I knew without any shadow of doubt that I was following god truly and that I was doing the best I could to do what he wanted me to do. Sometime around 24 I began studying the bible intently. I bought other books to help me get to the root of the scriptures so that I knew for sure that it was translated or transliterated correctly. I was constantly listening to god and trying to follow his voice (which I did, actually hear a voice). I kept discovering more and more things that the bible said we were supposed to be doing to please god that we were not doing. So I kept changing myself to further align my life in such a way that it was as he told me it was supposed to be.

During this time of introspection and change. I experienced miracles that most only hear about. I have prayed for someone and they were healed, instantly. I have prayed for help with a physical tool that I had lost but needed it to be able to do my job and it miraculously appeared (trust me, this is the skeptic speaking to a real memory. It happened and there are no explanations). I traveled from Quinlan Texas to Flathead Indian reservation in Montana without any money to pay for gas and we made it there and back because “god” provided. I prayed for many things and experienced many things that happened in my life that would keep most people under the veil of deceit that is woven by religion. All I can say is that I still know that those things happened. I know that they were real and that they can happen. However, I now know that they were not the god of my religion that made them happen but myself. My connection with the universe on a level that most will never experience because they don’t know it exist, is what brought these experiences to me. I am sure that these things are still possible and probably even more possible since I am not restricted to those religious rules and paradigms any longer.

So, fast forward through all of those experiences to a fateful day sometime in 2005 (I would be 35). I had been using this tool I found online for studying the bible easily. It made looking things up really easy and had any version of the bible as well as the greek and hebrew along with Strongs concordance and many other tools. You could pull them up and have multiple windows open side by side and see it all easily. I was using this tool to share some “inspiring” scriptures with some guy online. I go over this elsewhere in a post called, What were they thinking?, if you are interested. This was the initial clue that something was wrong and it led me down a path to discover that it was all wrong. From “What were they thinking?” the next step was a serious study on the very origins of christianity, jesus’ birth. I wanted to start from the beginning and verify that things were like I thought they were. That study took me less than 15 minutes to discover that I had been following a lie for the last 23 years of my life. I talk about that study and realization in the post “A Hard Question”.

Now, imagine if you will. You have lived you life in total, complete surrender to pleasing a god (or make it personal, make it a person you truly love) only to find out that that person is a complete lie. That that person doesn’t even exist as you thought they did. Now, continue your imagination journey and add in that you have experienced all of these wonders (as in, how are they possible.) and then also add to that that you made choices in your life that quite literally could have changed the course of history for the world (it’s possible for any one of us). You don’t go to college because you were told if you do you would back slide, become a heathen and end up in hell. You don’t enlist because of the same reason. You don’t experience friends, television, going to things that are fun, wearing clothes you want to wear, seeing people you want to see, marrying people you want to marry or find attractive, even though you are connected and a match, because they are not in your branch of religion or because you are already married or engaged to be married (Polyamory is a natural human behaviour, by the way) all because of the same reason. Your religion says you will be lost. You will displease your god (which I loved with my entire being and wanted to please).

Now, imagine yourself, seeing that everything you gave your life for for over 20 years is a lie. Tell me, how do you think you would feel?

I felt like my heart was literally torn from my chest. The pain washed over my body in waves, almost so unbearable I thought I would physically die from the pain. I cried and screamed in pain. I cried and pleaded with the god I thought I had been following and dedicating my life to to explain it all away. I have never had someone really close to me die but I can imagine that it was like having a loved one suddenly die, right before your eyes, with no justifiable reason. Like maybe being mugged on the way back from the grocery store to your car and your spouse of 20 plus years is killed right in front of you and that person just vanishes. I’m not sure, but I would think it was similar although I don’t think that would be as horrific as what I experienced as most people do not give their every waking hour to their spouse in thought and desire to please. Along with worship and adoration with undying unwavering dedication to do whatever they tell you to.

For the next few months I desperately tried to reconcile what I saw and I tried to make it work but the more I looked the clearer it became. It was all just lies. Lies on top of lies. Too many discrepancies to ignore the obvious for me. no one told me it was wrong. No one convinced me of the errors. I saw them myself, through study, by myself.

When it became obvious that there was no going back. No sky daddy to make things all better. No religion to soothe my pain. I began the initial stages of grief.  Each stage was real and took some time to go through (about five or six years, I would say). Lora and I both went through years of depression. We were numb for several months (maybe even more than a year. It is hard to remember that time.) Not knowing what to do, who we were or where we were going. it took years to be able to come out of the depression and we had no where to turn. At some point during the acceptance phase but still somewhat unbelieving that it actually happened. I started the group on Facebook called “Recovering Ex-Christians”. I didn’t know for sure but expected that there were others out there that had or would be going through something similar to what we were/had gone through. It wasn’t long until I realized I wasn’t alone.

Over the next few years we began to explore and discover who we are. Trying to figure out what life is all about (you know, that thing that most people do in their early years. Sometime between teen and 30.) Our journey has been full and rewarding. We are happier now than we have ever been and we know who we are. It took us longer than most but we are here. We are 40 plus year old 20 year olds. We are confident in ourselves and know what we want and our life experiences have given us an insight into life that many will never find. We are grateful for each day and we live each moment that we can in awareness that it is special and ours. We embrace life. This is your only life, you should live it and enjoy it for you. Fuck the world and it’s expectations. Only you are responsible for you. You be happy and do whatever that means, as long as it is not hurting others.  🙂

Because of the journey I took and the pain I experienced when I discovered it was all lies. I have shut out and boarded up that door in my life for the last 10 years. I now know that it is ok to open that door again and to get back in contact with the universe and experience that power again. My fears are that I will deceive myself or be deceived again, into believing or following after something that is restrictive or manipulative. I think and I hope that because of my life experiences that I will be more sensitive to that now and that I will hopefully steer clear of anything that might try to enslave me or strap my thoughts into a paradigm that keeps me from experiencing freedom.

I am finally to a place that I am willing to venture back out into the unexplained. The area of woowoo. That place where most just shake their heads and assume that it is all bullshit or crazy people talk. My goal is to stay grounded in reality while still experiencing a complete and true connection with the universe… with everything that is. Not a god, not a religion, not anyone’s ideas or teachings. No, never again. I have found my way to being a complete person. A person that I am proud to be. I value my life experiences and the journey I have taken to get where I am. It has made me who I am and I like who I am.

I hope that life has brought you to a place that you know who you are and that you are enjoying life, as best you can where you are with what you have. It is a state of mind. A state of mindfulness. An acceptance of what is and an expectation of what can and will be.

I believe and know that there is much more to our existence than our senses allow us to observe. I have experienced, first hand, things that are not explained away. I don’t care who (or if anyone) believes me when I talk about those things. I was there, they were real for me. I don’t need anyone to approve or accept them as real. 🙂

I know that I am connected to all things on some level. I don’t know to what extent or how that benefits or affects me but I know it to be factual for me. I look forward to my journey to the end of this timeline. I expect many things will happen and I look forward to the people and experiences I will have along the way. If you are a part of my life, I value you and appreciate that you are in my life. You are part of that connection to all things. Sometimes, I think that I feel you thinking about me. I wonder if you ever feel me thinking about you.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could learn how to tap into and identify those “feelings”. To recognize when someone we care about is thinking about us. To realize it, return the feelings and just know that they know. 🙂

Thank you for reading. Thank you for your time. I wish you all the best. 🙂

My Religious Profile

After taking a religious profile test over at beliefnet I decided to write this short story of some of my beliefs.

I will attempt to record everything that I have went through and had happen to me through my religious journey.

I think I will write a little and update as I can.

My earliest memories of the spiritual are of attending a “Holy Roller” church when I was very young (maybe 3 or 4 years old). I remember seeing things in the spirit realm that others didn’t see. One night in particular I remember seeing a man at the front of the church and a bunch of people around him praying for him. It seems that there was another man standing right beside the man that they where praying for. They ladies started rebuking him and chasing him down the center aisle. The man stopped at the back of the church for a moment and then he ran out the doors with the ladies chasing him and stopping just inside the church with the exception of one or two of the ladies who continued in pursuit outside and returned within a few moments. I still remember this vision. The things is, when I asked my mother about it, and asked why those women were chasing that man she didn’t know what I was talking about. She said that I was asleep and didn’t know how I could have seen anything and that nothing like that happened accept that they were praying for a man and he “prayed through” (this is a term they use for when people are over taken by the “Spirit” and begin to speak in “other tongues” (a language that is different from their native tongue that was not learned)). This is a sign that they have repented of their way of life and have given over their will to “God’s” will and that “God” has accepted the invitation and has filled them with the “Holyghost”.

Please don’t think that I am proselytizing because I am not. I do not believe in the bible now. Please understand I am just trying to lay some foundation of who I am and what I have seen and where I have come from. To those of you who would try to convince me of the bible’s absoluteness and how infallible it is I have to warn you that I have been where you are and it is not likely that there is anything that you can say that I haven’t said to someone else at some point in time and later found to be false or in the very least open to subjection and speculation.

Not long after that, my mother and father divorced and my mother and myself found ourselves in very hard times and my mother no longer attended church. I had not attended church from that time (about age 5) until later on just after my thirteenth birthday. My stepfather who was anything but religious woke us up one Sunday morning and said we were going to church. Everyone was completely amazed and confused because he was not someone you would think ever thought about religious matters at all. The next thing we know we are sitting in the parking lot of a church on the other side of town that is just like the one my Mom and I attended when I was very young. My step father got the “Holyghost” and our lives changed dramatically.

Fast forward about twenty two years. I will come back and fill in more between here and the beginning and after here when I have time.

At this point in my life (about 2005 or 2006 or so) I have been supremely dedicated to finding out the truth about my “religion” and about what the truth is regarding the bible and how I should live my life in a pleasing way to my God. Through the years I noticed that there were inconsistencies with what people believed and what the bible actually said so I was a bit of an odd ball even in my religious circles. I was super conservative and full of faith and had compassion for other beliefs. I understood how others could believe in something ( that was not entirely true, unbeknownst to them) and believe enough to tell everyone else that it was true and that it was the way to follow so I was open to the possibilities that I might not have all of the “truth”.

I was very active on the christian forums telling other christians the “error of their ways” and helping them to see “the truth” along with encouraging others to not give up faith just because of whatever was going on in their life or what they saw around them. It was during one of these episodes that God opened my eyes to something that severely shook the very foundations of my entire religion and belief system. It was such a simple thing that I could not believe I had not noticed it before. It all revolved around one word in the bible and that word was LORD. You see, in the “Old Testament” it is known that the original name of “God” was hidden from the gentiles because the Jews believed that it was blasphemy for the gentiles to even speak the name of the most high, so they replaced the actual name of “God” with the all capitol word LORD or actually before the bible was translated into English it was written YHVH or something close to that. There is much debate on that matter but it really isn’t important once you learn it is all a lie anyway. So, I was looking up scriptures to encourage this gentleman when I went from Old Testament to New Testament and I noticed a big change in how LORD was used. This was like a red flag to me. Alarms and buzzers went off and it was like something was pointing out the truth to me. As I noticed the huge difference in how the word LORD was used between New and Old Testaments and the difference between the original (as far as we can know anyway) translations of these words in the New and Old Testament. I began researching the supposed fulfilled prophecies of the New Testament only to discover that all of the “prophecies” that where supposed to be fulfilled in the christ where all made up and unrelated. All of a sudden it was like a vale was lifted from my eyes and I began seeing more and more truth of the lies propagated in the “New Testament” and I could see it for the farce that it was. Needless to say this was quite an upsetting time in my life. I can not explain to you how troubling, how upsetting, how helpless, cheated, mistreated, abused, and more I felt when these revelations came to me. Everything that I had based my life on, everything that I had strove to live and believed with unwavering faith was a pile of lies. Both my wife and my self went through months of depression and soul searching trying to figure out what we were supposed to do now. My wife eventually had a nervous breakdown and we almost lost our family life to divorce.

As time passed  I began to search inside for answers and I began to discover that my “religion” had not changed much. I still believe in God, I still believe in the supernatural and I still believe that I can find the right way to live.

Even when I was “super spiritual” and I was very much caught up in the “Holly Roller” religion I still did not buy into the lie that if everyone didn’t believe like me then they were destined to burn in a lake of fire for all eternity. I knew that a wise and all powerful God would not be that stupid. How could you destine everyone that ever lived to a lake of burning fire if they did not follow “your way” when they never even heard of you. That is just asinine and very small thinking. Not only that but how could you expect everyone that had heard of you to follow a strict set of rules that are left up to interpretation and could be interpreted wrongly which would have you end up burning for all eternity? I never bought into that. I also never bought into the asinine idea of everyone having their own mansion in heaven. How stupid is that? OK, I live my whole life in total devotion to you (God) so that when I die I can spend all eternity in my mansion all by myself, without my friends and without my family? So, eternity in a lake of fire or eternity in solitude of your own mansion of which has no use? I didn’t believe that.

So I began searching within myself to come to an understanding of what I actually do believe and I am coming to some conclusions of which I am certain and other of which I am somewhat certain but not completely convinced there couldn’t be more to what I know.

For now, this is what I believe. 2013 – Updated.

There is a God and I believe he/she or it is all powerful (for lack of knowledge and a better way of referring to God I will defer to the he and him reference but I do not necessarily believe that God is a he).

I believe that God does not change the past to fit you.

I believe that God exist in all times in every place at every time at the same time and it is all the same to him.

2013 – I believe that anything is possible. Well… mostly.

2013 – I believe (as I always have) that every man woman and child has a inner voice or guidance that tells them wrong from right and that everyone makes a choice every day and every moment if they will follow the wrong or the right path 2013 –  (whatever that might mean).

2013 – I believe that wrong and right can be subjective in some (if not all) circumstances depending on which side of the decision you are on.

2013 – I believe that everyone has to make their own choices and has to follow their own path and if you follow your path you will be content in your life. You may be deluded and blind but you’ll be one happy S.O.B..

I believe that when you die there is more. More of what I do not know. — 2013 – Maybe.  I believe that when you die there could be more. More of what I do not know and it may be that no one will ever know whether this is true because there is no direct communication that we know of that exist between life and “after life”. Maybe someday there will be. Regardless, it really doesn’t matter because there is nothing you can do to keep from eventually finding out for yourself. 😉

I believe it is required that I do good to others and wish the best for others. — 2013 – Required? Well, not required but certainly the preferred way to live for the positive energy it returns.

I believe that you reap what you sow, what comes around goes around, karma if you will. — 2013 – hmm… well, I am not so sure about reaping what you sow cause if that were the case, my life would be a hell of a lot different. I have done so much good in my life, unselfish good even, you would think that if you reap what you sow then I would be reaping all kinds of good stuff by this point in my life. Karma… maybe, but I am not real sure what Karma really is. I think I need to learn more about karma before I accept or discount karma.

I believe that faith is more powerful than many know and that by and through faith you can do anything. Faith in what is not relevant. The degree of faith is. — 2013 – Well, in that it causes wars and murders. Yep, beyond that, not so much anymore.

I believe that everyone will have to answer in some way shape or form for the wrongs that they have done. Not the wrongs that others perceive but the wrongs that they knew were wrong. — 2013 – If only that were true… but somehow, I don’t think it is.

I believe that a man can love (actually love not lust) more than one woman at the same time and it not defer from his love for any of them. I am not talking about bigamy either. — 2013 – Yep, I still believe this. Not only do I believe this, I believe that a Woman can too. It actually goes beyond belief to knowing. I know that poly relationships can function well and do, even in our wonderful Monogamous states of America. Oh, and it doesn’t have to be religious for it to work. I know Atheist that are Poly.

I believe if you have sex with someone you are married to them regardless of what the state or anyone else says. 2013 – LOL!! haha… funny. Sex is a spiritual experience that bonds the two on a spiritual level that can not be explained through science. Sex is more meaningful than the tabloids and the tv propaganda machines intend for us to believe or at least can be if you approach it correctly.

2013 –  I believe that there is an spiritual unseen world all around us that can be more greatly perceived through faith and prayer/meditation that may someday be proven and measured through verifiable, empirical evidence.

2013 – I believe that we are all a part of each other and of everything. God is in us and we are in God. There is an energy (or something) that exists that connects everything and we are all effected in some way (no matter how small it is) by our decisions.

I believe that there are no coincidences and that there are reasons for what happens. They may not be good reasons or bad reasons. Just that there is a reason. 2013 – Nah.

I believe that anything is possible with strong and proper faith in God and I really do mean anything.  2013 – Nope!

I am sure there is more and I will add to this when I have a chance. 2013 – Probably not, I would say that I am done with updating this and if you want to know me better, meet me.

I have seen many wonders in my journey and I know there is more to the spiritual than many will ever know and I am very interested in exploring that aspect of my religion to the extremes. I have been a religious loner since 1999 (or maybe even sooner) even though I was surrounded by “like minded” believers so I already know that I can not expect to be surrounded by 100s of people that actually believe as I do. It would be nice though, to find others that believe at least in some similar fashion. I welcome all correspondence and I am eager to hear what others believe and more about others encounters with the unknown realm. I will not endeavor to convince others to believe as I do as everyone has their own path to follow and must discover truth on their own, but I would be glad to share my life experiences and would like to here about others experiences as well.

Gary