There is no way around, but through.
There is no bypass to the process of healing.
I grew up in a culture that begged God to heal things that needed counselling to sort out. It asked God to move and change circumstances so we could be comfortable, or even protected from situations we had created. We held meetings to beg for divine intervention in surgical procedures, marriages that were on the rocks, kids who went awry… We begged for revival, behavioural changes, miracles.
And we never asked people what happened to them. We didn’t address abuse, provide a safe haven for those wounded by people in authority over them. We made the rough feel unwelcome. We created social groups for ourselves and discouraged interaction with the rest of the community unless it was for the specific motivation of evangelism.
We didn’t even know each other’s struggles. Emotional connection was carefully guarded for the sake of spiritual purity. We didn’t want to be sullied by the world. Considering the depth of connection Jesus revealed in his ministry, I wonder if the religious disconnect isn’t the essence of being sullied. It definitely negates oneness and intrinsic inclusion in the whole, as sustained by the Breath and Being of God.
I’m not the only person who followed Love out of this structure and began to look at life and scripture from a different perspective. Some have seen God in science, mediation, affirmations, fields the churches they left consider new age, or witchcraft. I’ve heard people preach on the Bible from the perspective of symbolism, quantum science, it’s parallel references to other religious texts. There are so many templates to impose on spirituality, so many external “methods” and view points, lenses through which we can assess not only scripture, but also life itself. So often, rather than learning to listen to our own internal resonance, and choosing connection, we try and find something else that someone else has tried, and then apply it to ourselves, flummoxed when their steps don’t work for us.
Religious life teaches us that there are prescribed ways. I can remember when I first encountered grace theology, I was in a women’s bible study group that was based on finding our identity in Christ as bible believing Christians. The teacher developed a curriculum that encouraged living out of secure identity, and trusting God, rather than a system, to sustain us. It even went so far as to suggest that for God, resting in being his child was enough “doing” and one might just “be.” It sounded good, but to a room full of women who had been attacking their spirituality with an hour a day of devotions, regular prayer meetings, church on Sunday, and bible study during the week, with the potential augmentation of an accountability partner, this felt like mayhem. One woman even said “But how do I do that? What is the formula?” She, as did many of those in the room, found it disconcerting when the answer was that there is no formula.
So imagine then, one who grew up in the box, moving outside the box, trauma and difficult experiences in tow as they try and “deconstruct” their “faith” and then build a life in this unsrtuctured world. It is mayhem. They still want to experience spiritual connection, but without church and her peripheral social garments, they look for a practise, a habit, an approach. I think that’s why we gravitate towards gurus, attend conferences, read self help books, and find someone to follow. It is comfortable to adopt an external structure, follow a plan.
But unless we are looking for something that hums in tandem with our own internal resonance, it might as well be religion. And the difficulty with that? It often leaves us feeling defeated and left out of the group, just like we did at church. Why? Because that person knows how they healed. They know how they came to grips with their spirituality, they know what mended their heart… but they don’t know you.
I have had people ask me to teach them how to heal. What can I take? What habit can I form? Which emotions can I address? What prayer can I pray? What Affirmations will make the lies go away? Rub my feet and make the pain stop.
I did not begin to heal on deep level until I learned to have my own internal discourse. Can I point you there? Yes. Jesus did that as well. He let those who wanted to follow him know that the Kingdom of God was within them. He showed them compassion. Asked them to love themselves. He addressed their self destructive behaviour while pointing to the experiences they had gone through as if they mattered. He understood that there is no way but THROUGH. If you think about all the mindsets he addressed in his relatively short ministry… belief that what your parents or culture believed could define your personal wellness, belief that mental illness was borne of something outside you, oppressing you. Belief that they way one person interpreted scripture could define the sanctity of your soul… that where you are born could define your worthiness. The list is actually quite long. One might even say it is exhausting in it’s inclusivity of the human condition under the dictates of religion.
Reciting Mantras. Looking for good vibes. Controlling breathing. Managing anger, anxiety, diet, thoughts. Adopting strategies for overcoming addiction or insecurity. Understanding cognitively that that there is a relationship between thoughts and manifestation. Systems of self medication, but not, healing. These are, if you will, the way around our individual trauma, but not the way through. Are they tools? Yes. But much the same way in which bloodwork helps a physician make a diagnosis. If these systems fail to bring us into alignment, we feel like we are somehow unhealable. However, if our doctor ran tests and found out our hormones were imbalanced, or we had a nutritional deficiency, or inflammation or disease, would we assess our diagnosis as a reflection on our ability to be well? No. Diagnostic tools allow us to find out where we are unbalanced so that we can work on balancing ourselves out.
If I am using a tool to cope with my anxiety, and I cannot make it disappear, I have learned that something under the surface is driving it. This is not something to hide in shame. It is the body bringing a wound to the light to be healed. I don’t need to embrace another method of coping, I need to Love the person having the experience — myself. I need to learn to hear her voice at whatever age and stage I was when I lost secure connection and mistook my identity for a role I was expected to play, and give voice to the violation. I need to learn to listen not just to my own voice, but the the voice of my Source in that space, who always remembers what is true. There is no method that I can apply, no matter how religiously I may chase it, to deal with the blocks to my own internal resonance and integration so that I am in perfect control of my life or my contribution to the life of others. However, I can use my reactions, cognitive and visceral, and apply my intuition to help myself through the process of healing.
The journeys of others are useful to us because they give us tools and diagnostic instruments. We are enlightened and made aware of knowledge that exists in the collective consciousness of the universe because someone put the effort into expressing what they learned. We can make a religion — a formula for life — out of any discipline or system. If it worked for us, we can preach it with confidence and evangelistic fervour. And perhaps, we are right to do so, for our experience is valid and our own. But, if we cannot hear the voice of another who says “why does this not work for me” and approach them with compassion, allowing them to give honest expression to their experience, we cannot claim that our method will heal their disease, strictly because it worked for us.
There is no way around, but through. Becoming an uninhibited, fully integrated person involves cultivating internal dialogue, listening to our own intuition, and developing harmonious resonance. Spirituality that rests isn’t found in a method or practice, but in communion with our Source, and choosing to love our neighbour as we love ourselves, with honesty and void of judgement. Authentic connection and secure intrinsic identity embraced without fear creates a space in which we can heal. And the path to that? It is as individual as the person walking it. We do not have to leave ourselves behind and abandon our experiences to wholly embrace our spiritual essence. That is not holistic integration, it is spiritual bypass. True spirituality holds space for the person who went through experiences that accompanied us on our journey. It is Love that embraces the person, and understands that the only way around the pain that seems to stymie growth, is through.