Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Giving Away Our Power

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As a young child, I grew up with a family that attended church every Sunday, and usually a few times during the week. I remember going to many different churches and denominations of churches during my younger years. I’m not sure exactly why we went to so many different churches except that my parents were probably in the “searching” phase of their lives, and they were looking for the perfect church.

One of the last churches, a Baptist Church that I remember we went to, was while I was in high school. This was not just any Baptist church but one that was part of a group known as the General Association of Regular Baptist Churches. Their acronym was GARBC, and today those letters still make me cringe. I won’t apologize if I’m offending anyone who attends these because this is my story. While my story may not be the same as your experiences with the GARBC, it is my story nevertheless.

In this church, it seemed there were more rules than there are laws in our country. Couples in church were not allowed, or discouraged from showing any affection while in church. This included not holding hands and any type of kissing or hugging. According to what my ears heard, the church was not the place for this type of thing. It was reserved for the bedroom only.

At church camp, the boys were not allowed to go swimming with the girls. It was explained to me that this could lead to unwanted acts between girls and boys, which of course were forbidden by the bible. When you did go swimming, though, especially if the opposite sex was present, you were required to wear not only appropriate length swim wear but a t-shirt that covered your upper half of the body. In addition, you were expected to wear a towel wrapped around your legs as you made your way to the water, only taking the towel off shortly before you got in the water. If you were out of the pool, you were expected to cover yourself up with a towel so as to not expose yourself to the opposite sex. The t-shirt you were wearing never came off even when you were in the water.

Other rules by the church included boys and girls, if they were dating, to not sit closer than 6 inches apart and to act “God Like” in everything they did. No dancing was allowed because that could lead to sex. You did not frequent any restaurants or establishments that served alcoholic beverages because you might cause your “brother” to stumble. See, if you were seen entering an establishment like this, an unbeliever, or non church sinner type person (as they referred to them) might think you were going into drink and it was ok. If you were tempted to take one drink of alcohol, then it would lead to being an alcoholic, according to what was being preached to us.

I could go on with example after example of the rules in this church, and even though I’m talking about one church in particular, all churches have their rules. Some believe in one thing while others don’t. Some require certain statements or schooling in order to become a member in their church. So while some of the examples I gave may seem extreme, I would argue that most churches have requirements and rules that are extreme. However, the people that are part of these churches do not see or understand this. It all seems normal and in fact a necessary part of life.

Some in our society have turned away from the mainstream churches, partly because there were too many rules. Many have turned to new age philosophies that seem to have the everyday, regular people answers for questions to life. And while both of these approaches may have some nice tidbits in them for everyday life, much of what become the central teachings are nothing more than their own derived form of beliefs.

We as humans have a strong need to understand and describe what happens around us. When there is tragedy or loss, people find words to describe why it may or may not have happened. When there are unexplained events, people describe it as luck, being fortunate, “The Secret” and abundance, being spiritual and so forth. There are so many things going on around us and happening all the time, but so many times in our attempt to understand and explain to others, we develop a completely new set of beliefs that may or may not serve us well in the long run. I believe it is part of our human experience to do this. However when we lose sight of what it is that took place or what we are trying to explain and share, then we’ve lost the experience. All of the derived practices, teachings, procedures and rules will not bring the experience back because it is as a conversation; once spoken, the conversation is gone. You can imitate the conversation or the experience, but you can never fully bring that particular conversation or experience back exactly as it was.

And yet, we as humans try to do this every day of our lives as well as in churches and new age movements. What is sad, though, is that we then lose the overall impact of the experience itself. The gift that was given to us has now been watered down.

In an attempt to understand that which we cannot explain, we often turn to others who seem to have more experience or knowledge in a particular subject matter that resonates with us. While there may be tidbits of wonderful enlightening truths in what they tell us, we begin to give the power of our own experiences up to someone other than ourselves. They then have the potential of becoming the sole authority on some truth in life for us, and what we learn has the potential of becoming a danger to our own journey of growth. If it is not a danger, it may sidetrack us, at least, on our journey.

As time goes, these people who have had “experiences” explained and reasoned and taught to them, go on to share these same tidbits of truth with others. For they are filled with joy that someone has explained to them why certain things happen and they are eager to share it with others. The only thing is we need to be careful as humans, because we need to be fully honest with ourselves that what we are sharing is a pure truth, and not a truth derived through our sense of what is going on. The ego is an anxious filter for our lives. The ego loves to explain that which we don’t know, but the ego should never be accepted without independent verification.

So by now, you may be wondering, how do I know what I should listen to or what truth is all about? Have you ever had a gut feeling about something? If you have, you know that no matter what someone tells you, that you realize deep down you just know what you’re experiencing is true for you. Have you ever had a moment when something miraculously happened in your life? No events or laws of nature or explanation could prove its existence, yet you knew that what you felt in your life about this was true. No one could tell you otherwise.

So too, what we experience in our bodies is a moment of truth for our lives like no other. There is no better judge of verification for what has taken place. For when you know deep down within you at the core of your being that something has taken place, then you have found the source of truth in your life.

I have often said that the answers we need lie within ourselves. That has so much truth in it because when we look outward from where we are at, we are denying ourselves. We are denying that which is so sacred and time tested. There is no better truth verifier than the deep core of our inmost being. We do not need to rely upon others for the power of knowing the truth in our own lives. For we have that process readily available within our own bodies.

So the next time you come across something that is hard to explain or that doesn’t make sense, take a moment to go deep inside of yourself and find the answers which you need. Be ready to listen to what comes forth in the way of thoughts, future experiences, and others that you meet. Always, though, go and check out everything within your body and see just how it feels. Does it make you feel safe and secure, or is there much fear and doubt as if to say, don’t go there? Does it feel as if you are looking forward to hope and possibility, or that if you do this, it will be more of the same despair and pain you’ve already been dealing with? Does your body feel more or less tense at the thought of what you are trying to understand? Listen to your body. It is your teacher.

And be careful that when you listen to others, you are not giving away your power by letting them be the truth for your lives. They can be there as teachers if you are completely honest with yourselves and objective, but anything beyond that is most likely not a healthy thing for you. Many people have many things to say, but take them and compare them to other events in your life as well. Pull out the tidbits of truth in everything and then see how it feels deep within. For when you do this, you will not only take back your own power, but you will be empowered in life as well.

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